It’s hard out there for third-party and independent candidates. In a more open political system, they would be able to compete on a level playing field with the Democratic and Republican nominees. In practice, there are high campaign finance and procedural hurdles before such candidates even get on the ballot, and even if they clear those high hurdles, they still find themselves treated as somehow less legitimate than the Democrats or Republicans. Now, Jim Braude‘s NECN show “Broadside” is hosting a candidates’ debate tomorrow night, and Braude has declared that only two candidates are welcome, saying:
The party candidates went through the primary process and were chosen by the electorate, and having more people would not do justice to the cause or those party candidates.
What, they couldn’t find an extra podium? I seem to recall that the 2012 Republican primary had almost as many candidates as Jesus had disciples, and they still figured it out. Would having four candidates break the cameras over at NECN?
It can’t be simply a prior judgment that independent candidates have no chance of winning. Here in the D+14 Fifth District, there’s no meaningful statistical difference between the chances of an independent candidate and the chances of a Republican nominee. It’s more than that. It’s a prior decision by the media to not bother with the swaths of opinion not adequately represented by the two current party nominees.
I’m lucky. My views are usually well-represented by Democratic candidates. But let’s consider for a moment how many opinions get left out.
– The Populists: Maybe you’re socially conservative and have strongly populist and protectionist economic beliefs.
– The Cynics: Maybe you believe that the federal government is corrupt and predatory and out to screw people like you, and that both parties are to blame.
– The Peaceniks: Maybe you hate war, and long for the United States to play the role of peacemaker rather than peacekeeper.
– The Libertarians: Maybe you believe that both parties are too much in love with using state power for their different purposes.
– The Reds: Maybe you’re one of the eleven percent of the American public that believes that communism is “morally superior” to the US system, or one of the 36 percent who views socialism positively. In Massachusetts, and even more so in MA-05, both of those percentages are surely higher.
If you belong to one or more of these groups, who represents you in the halls of Congress? Is it any surprise that voter turnout is so low? Wouldn’t it be reasonable to take into account the vast numbers of disaffected citizens out there, and allow any candidate that has qualified for the ballot to participate? If you agree, why not give Mr. Braude a call at NECN on 617 630-5000 and let him know?
In an effort to make our own coverage more complete, we sent our questionnaire on surveillance issues to the independent candidates in the race, Mr. Jim Aulenti and Mr. Jim Hall (our article on Addivinola’s and Clark’s positions is here). Mr. Hall didn’t respond by press time, but Mr. Aulenti responded with passion and at length. You can find his full response here. Essentially, he opposes the surveillance state, and has some Second Amendment-related concerns about the wiretapping bill. For that reason, he probably comes in somewhere between Mr. Addivinola’s passionate opposition to the wiretapping bill, and Sen. Clark’s passionate defense of it. If we ever get a response from Mr. Hall, I will post it as an update here.