(Originally posted at skepolitical.com on October 18, 2013.)
I have an idea that I have been delaying now for over a year. For almost that long, I’ve been working on a post explaining exactly why I think this would be worthwhile and how it would work. Just getting this post together has turned out to be a very big project, and I want to get the ball rolling, so let me state this proposal as simply as possible and use future posts to explain my reasoning. I am soliciting advice and criticism which can be given privately or here on the blog. Without further ado, here is my “mission statement.”
I will be working on creating a new political party that I provisionally call the “Protest Party.” I like the name because unlike a blank or Third-Party vote, its purpose of being a Protest Vote is unmistakable. The explicit point of the Protest Party will not be to elect candidates to political posts, but rather to use the media attention afforded to the Presidential Election to help give voice to a political agenda. (The possibility of electing officials to state legislatures may also be explored peripherally.) The exact political agenda of the Protest Party will be decided each election during the primary season.
Strategically, the Protest Party will promise to throw its support behind whichever of the two leading parties adopts its (very clear and simple) agenda. So, for example, if the Protest Party is polling at 1% in Ohio and the two major parties are vying for that state, it may be attractive to one of the parties to incorporate the Protest Party’s demand into its platform. Knowing the mainstream media, I think this is just the sort of simple yet compelling storyline they would not be able to resist.
The agenda can be pretty much anything, but it should serve a few purposes. It should be something that is under-discussed in the mainstream media. It should be very uncomfortable for either of the two major parties. It should be inoffensive to a wide swath of non-partisan voters. It should be something that, if actually embraced by one (or both) parties, will go a long way towards improving our political system. I imagine something like the following:
A) States must adopt Alternative Voting in all elections. This has the advantage of being very attractive to voters who are already voting Third Party, but it’s a little wonky and might be difficult to judge whether one of the Major Parties has adequately “acceded” to the “demand.”
C) Insist on some anti-corruption reforms, such as more evenly distributed Federal Campaign Funding.
That’s it for now. To those who think that using votes strategically corrupts our democracy even further, let me just say that if you don’t realize that other people are already gaming the system, then you are already being outplayed and your interests are being undermined. The mechanics of our voting system are inherently unfair, and the two major parties rig the game further to ensure no serious challenges from third parties.
In any case, I think something needs to be done and nobody else has figured out a good solution. It’s time to take the reins.