Seth Godin. John Oliver. And Bernie.

    October 17, 2016


    3rd party vote? Not this election. Seth Godin explains with ketchup, John Oliver offers his 18 minutes of persuasion, and Bernie, well Bernie could be a powerhouse in the senate with a democratic majority.


    Sir Kensington’s Ketchup is better ketchup. Most adults who try it agree that it’s more delicious, a better choice. Alas, Heinz has a host of significant advantages, including dominant shelf space, a Proustian relationship with our childhood and unlimited money to spend on advertising.

    The thing is, you can buy Sir Kensington’s any time you want to. And when you buy it, that’s what you get.

    You’re not buying it to teach Heinz a lesson. You’re buying it because that’s the ketchup you want.

    The marketing of Sir Kensington is simple: If you want better ketchup, buy this, you’ll get it.

    Elections in the US don’t work this way.

    I’m calling it a third-party problem because the outcome of third-party efforts don’t align with the marketing (and work) that goes into them.

    Ross Perot, the third-party candidate who ran against Bush and Clinton, cost Bush that election. The people who voted for Perot got Clinton, and it’s pretty clear that the Republicans learned nothing from this, as the next winning candidate they nominated was… George Bush.

    Ralph Nader, the third-party candidate who ran against Bush and Gore, cost Gore that election. The people who voted for Nader got Bush, and it’s pretty clear that the Democrats learned nothing from this, as the next person they nominated was… John Kerry.

    [Irrelevant aside: John Kerry was married to the heir of the Heinz Ketchup fortune.]

    [I’m calling it a ‘problem’ because I have such huge respect for people who care enough and are passionate enough to support change. The problem is that since Gus Hall, and then John Anderson and then the more recent candidates, just about all the changes that third parties have tried to bring to national politics have foundered. It just isn’t a useful way to market change in this country.]

    If enough people spent enough time, day after day, dollar after dollar, we could fundamentally alter the historic two-party system we have in the US. But it’s been shown, again and again, that the easy act of letting oneself off the hook by simply voting for a third-party candidate accomplishes nothing.

    The marketing of the third-party candidate is: Teach those folks a lesson, plus, you’re not on the hook for what happens. But…

    No one in government is learning a lesson.

    And you don’t even get who you voted for.

    The irony is not lost on me. A small group of voters who care a great deal are spending psychic energy on a vote that undermines the very change they seek to make. 

    It’s a self-defeating way of letting yourself off the hook, but of course, you’re actually putting yourself on the hook, just as you do if you don’t vote at all.

    No candidate has earned a majority of all potential (regardless of registration) voters, not once in my lifetime. Which means that the people who don’t vote, or who vote for a third-party candidate, have an enormous amount of power. Which they waste.

    Yes, it’s on you. Your responsibility to vote for one of two people, and to be unhappy with that conundrum if you choose. And then work to change the system, and keep working at it… 

    But it’s not like ketchup. With ketchup, you get what you choose. With voting, we merely get the chance to do the best we can on one particular day, and then spend years working for what we might want.

    It turns out that democracy involves a lot more than voting.

    John Oliver:

    And this.

    [The Nation]

    Paul Ryan: If the GOP loses seats in Congress, Bernie Sanders could become the Senate Budget Committee Chairperson.

    The senator from Vermont is the ranking member of the budget committee, and if Democrats gain control of the chamber on November 8, he would be in line to chair it. But Sanders could also end up chairing then powerful Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, which he could use to advance many of the proposals (for affordable college, empowering unions and investing in public-health programs) that made his bid for the Democratic presidential nomination so popular.’

    Bernie Sanders:

    “The Washington Post, in an excellent article, showed us how far the country is moving toward becoming an oligarchy. Incredibly, just TEN donors have poured more than $1.1 BILLION into super PACs in this election alone.

    The lesson here is that the political system isn’t broken, it is rigged and owned by the billionaire class. One of the best chances to un-rig the system is with ballot initiatives this November that will help get big money out of politics.

    California and Washington both have ballot initiatives that will instruct their state’s elected officials to do everything in their power to work to overturn Citizens United. And Howard County, Maryland, has the chance to enact a strong system of public financing to level the playing field for local elections.



    If these ballot initiatives pass, they will send an unmistakable message that the American public wants to get big money out of politics.

    As Abraham Lincoln reminded us more than 150 years ago, there must be a government of the people, by the people and for the people. That starts with taking the country’s destiny out of the hands of the billionaires who want to buy elections.”

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