The Pragmatic Sophist


Rick Sorrels

Eight choices for president: A 2012 election commentary

In November 2000, George Bush Jr. won the presidency by less than 100 votes in a single state. The 2012 election could prove to be even more precarious.

In 2000, the Democratic Party’s platform shifted significantly left and the Republicans also shifted left in support of the more traditional Democratic planks. An even more radical left shift occurred in 2008. Many families who had religiously voted Democrat since FDR are no longer Democrats. Traditional Republicans are also disenchanted.

The latest survey reveals that more than 40 percent (and rising) of all registered voters nationwide now declare themselves as “Independents,” with no affiliation with any political party. Experts claim that the Independent vote determined the 2008 presidency.

We have always been a two-party system, currently bearing the labels Democrat and Republican, with the vast majority of voters declaring affiliation with one or the other. The small number of undeclared “Independents” used to be called “spoilers” with “wasted votes.” They might now better be called “the controllers” as there are more declared Independents than either registered Republicans or registered Democrats.

Will 2012 be the first time in our history for a president to be elected from a minor party? Will it be the first time for a president to be elected with less than 50 percent of the popular vote (the Bush election is still in doubt), or will the Independents at the last minute choose not to “spoil” their vote with a surprise landslide vote for a Republican or Democratic president? Whatever happens, 2012 will be an election year to be remembered, with its consequences long lasting.

Whoever wins the presidency will become the effective leader of his party, with great influence and control over the votes of other members of his party.

If the new president comes from a major party, this power, along with his veto power, makes it exceedingly difficult for the opposing party to pass legislation. If the new president is from a minor party, his power would come from his veto power, which would force the Democrats and Republicans to cooperate. What a remarkable and historic situation that would be; perhaps a new renaissance.

Let’s look at each of the eight political parties and their candidates for president and vice president.

“Planks” are a party’s position on individual issues. “Platform” is the collective of all of the party’s planks.

Democratic Party: Barack Obama and Joe Biden (the incumbent president and vice president). Democrats generally want a big government with lots of rules, providing lots of services, paid for mostly by businesses and the rich. Obama received 69,456,897 votes for president in 2008.

Republican Party: Mitt Romney (former governor of Massachusetts) and Paul Ryan (a six-term U.S. representative from Wisconsin). Republicans generally want smaller government, fewer rules and services, with lower taxes. This party received 59,934,814 votes for president in 2008.

Libertarian Party: Gary Johnson (former governor of New Mexico) and James P. Gray (Superior Court judge from California). Libertarians have the third-largest political party, which was founded in 1971. Members want the absolute minimum government, rules and services, with the maximum protections for individual freedoms and property rights. Considered as far right. The Libertarians hold 157 elected offices and received 528,686 votes for their 2008 candidate for president.

Constitution Party: Virgil Goode (former U.S. representative for Virginia) and James N. Clymer (lawyer in Pennsylvania). This party was founded in 1991 by Christians. Originally known as the U.S. Taxpayers Party, it later absorbed the American Independent Party. The party’s goal is “to restore our government to its Constitutional limits and its laws to its Biblical foundations.” The members have a large emphasis on stricter penalties for illegal immigration and are considered extreme right. They received 199,314 votes for president in 2008.

Green Party: Jill Stein (physician in Massachusetts) and Cheri Honkala (anti-poverty advocate in Pennsylvania). The Green Party believes in grassroots democracy, social justice and nonviolence, with an emphasis on environmentalism with social-democratic economic policies, and is considered far-left. It was founded in 1991. The Green Party holds 133 elected offices and received 161,603 votes for president in 2008.

Socialism and Liberation Party: Peta Lindsay (anti-war activist from Pennsylvania) and Yari Osorio (an EMT and social justice organizer in New York City). A Marxist-Leninist Party that split from the Workers World Party in 2004. Members want a revolution to pave the way toward socialism. If elected, Lindsay would be barred from serving as president due to her age, 28. Osorio would also be barred from vice president because he was born in Colombia.

Socialist Workers Party: James Harris (activist from New York) and Alyson Kennedy (a garment worker and union organizer from New Jersey). This party was founded in 1938 after splitting from the Socialist Party. It is considered left-wing, Communist, Marxist and Castroist. Members have a priority on doing “solidarity work” to aid strikes and are strongly supportive of Fidel Castro. They received 5,151 votes for president in 2008.

Justice Party: “Rocky” Ross C. Anderson (former mayor of Salt Lake City, Utah) and Luis J. Rodriquez (poet, novelist and journalist from Los Angeles). The party was founded in 2011. Members advocate for economic justice, green jobs, right to organize, trade agreements and universal health care, and are considered to be far-left.

You have eight choices for president and vice president in November. The only thing at stake is your livelihood and prosperity, and that of your progeny. Be sure to vote very carefully. And remember, the best way to tell if a politician is lying is to see if his or her lips are moving.

Rick Sorrels is a KP News staff contributor. The opinions expressed in his columns are his own and do not reflect the views of the newspaper or the publisher.