When talking about the best voting strategy for progressives, in our Plurality (Vote-For-1) elections, I’ve been assuming that we’re talking about a single election instrumental strategy for when all that matters is the current election. I spoke of that kind of strategy because I felt that, if we all used that strategy, in the next election, we could get immediate improvement by electing a progressive.
Sure, we all know that it’s unlikely that very many progressives will do other than vote Democrat in the next election. But my point has been that we should be more optimistic than to believe that. But it’s also true that we can acknowledge the likelihood that nothing will happen in the next election, without surrendering by voting Democrat because we expect that other progressives will.
Long-term voting strategy
How does it change our optimal voting strategy for the next election, if we acknowledge that, very likely, we won’t elect a progressive in the next election? Well, if we aren’t devoting our voting to _immediately_ electing a progressive, then we’re free of the constraint to all combine our votes on the same candidate in the next election. That gives us an unhurried evaluative freedom that we wouldn’t otherwise have. It means that we can vote for the nominee of _whichever_ progressive party we like best.
So here is the obvious best strategy under that assumption (This is so obvious and already well-known, that I certainly don’t claim it as my own):
Vote for the nominee of your favorite progressive party. Then, when we’ve been doing that, and when the combined votes of all the progressive parties adds up to a majority of the votes, then we know that progressives have the power to elect a progressive. At that time, then, in the next election, we progressives should all combine our votes on the nominee of the progressive party that received the most votes in the previous election.
One minor point: I said to vote for the nominee of your favorite progressive party. But of course, if you feel that the current election might be the one in which the progressive parties’ votes add up to a majority, then you might want to strategically assign your progressive vote to your favorite among the progressive parties that are most likely to get the most votes, among the progressive parties. In other words, if you feel that the current election will be the progressive-majority election, then you might want to vote strategically among the progressive parties –for your favorite among the top contenders, instead of for your true favorite. We probably aren’t at that point yet, though. So, in 2014, you might as well just vote for the nominee of your true favorite party.
Though I no longer suggest the single election instrumental strategy, I’d like to comment on the single election strategy that I was formerly proposing: When I was suggesting strategy based on the assumption that we can elect a progressive in the current election, meaning that we’d need to immediately combine our votes on the most winnable progressive, I was saying that the most winnable progressive is the nominee of the Green Party of the U.S. (GPUS), because the GPUS always gets more votes than any other progressive party.
But does that really mean that GPUS is more likely to be the party that will overtake the Republocrats? No. The GPUS has been around for a long time, and still only gets something on the order of 1%, or a fraction of 1% of the votes (…if we, for the moment, pretend that vote total counts and reports are valid).
But, in any case, we can find out, from conversations, that most people aren’t voting Green. Why not? The Greens have a few disadvantages against them:
- The Greens have an atmosphere and undercurrent of an elite subculture.
- The Greens, by their environmentalist emphasis, and by their environmentalist name, give the impression of a single-issue environmentalist party, even though they no longer are one. The perception of the Greens being a single-issue environmentalist party results in a perception that they don’t care so much about justice for humans, you and me, the ordinary person.
- The first Green parties were in Europe. So, the Greens are naturally perceived as foreign.
That’s where the Justice Party comes in. I first heard of the Justice Party when four alternative (non-Republocrat, and therefore media-forbidden) parties had debates, shown on the Internet, just before the 2012 presidential election. What stood out about the Justice Party in those debates was that its policies–as spoken by its candidate, Rocky Anderson, seemed identical to those of the GPUS (spoken by its candidate, Jill Stein).
Justice Party voting strategy
A number of people have been asking, “How does the Justice Party (JP) differ from GPUS??” I asked myself, “What is the point of starting a new party with the same policy proposals as GPUS?” I concluded, and said in an article, that the only reason for starting such a party was in order to split the GPUS vote in half. I suggested that JP appeared to be a strategic clone of GPUS, intended to split the GPUS vote.
I now believe that I spoke unfairly, and I apologize to JP for that accusation. There is a very good reason for starting a new party with the GPUS’s progressive policy proposals. The JP doesn’t share GPUS’s undercurrent of elitist subculture. JP is for all of us. No one will get the impression that JP is only for ecologists. JP’s emphasis, even in its name, is on _justice_ for all of us. Justice for ordinary people. That’s something that will make sense to every person, without being obscured by an appearance of elitism counterculture, or single-issue environmentalism.
JP is a thoroughly American party, with no foreign origin. For those reasons, JP looks a lot more likely to overtake and replace the Republocrats, in comparison to GPUS. As I mentioned before, GPUS has been along for quite a long time, and still hasn’t gotten very big. But the Justice Party, in its very first election, has already immediately become one of the top four progressive parties. I suggest that that shows that JP has a lot more popularity and winnability potential than does GPUS.
Therefore, if we were doing the immediate-results, single election instrumental strategy, I’d vote for JP, and would urge others to do so. But some of the progressives who actually vote progressive are likely to continue voting GPUS. So we wouldn’t be combining votes on just one progressive party. That’s a disadvantage of the immediate-results single election instrumental strategy: Different people will identify different progressive parties as the most winnable. I say it’s JP, and there will still be some who think it’s GPUS. I claim that the highest (but still very low) vote total doesn’t tell us which progressive party is the most winnable.
But my point is that any difference of opinion, among progressives, regarding which progressive party is the most winnable, will spoil the strategy of all of us voting for the most winnable progressive. We won’t all vote for the same one.
That’s why it’s better to just all vote for our favorite, and then, when the progressive parties, as a whole, receive a majority of the votes, _then_ in the next election, we vote for the nominee of the progressive party that has just received the most votes. One nice advantage of that strategy is that, when advocating and recommending it, I needn’t say which progressive party you should vote for. (…which could make me appear partisan). Instead, I just say, “Vote for your favorite party’s nominee.”
So: Look at the platforms of the progressive parties, and judge for yourself progressive party’s platform you like the best. And vote for that party’s nominees. It’s difficult to define “progressive”, but it’s probably necessary to try. Here’s an attempt:
Favoring (by concrete proposals, and not just by lip-service) pro-humans (as opposed to pro-rich, pro-corporate) policies, humane policies, strong enforceable ethical requirements, genuine democracy. Opposing corruption and unnecessary wars, occupations, invasions, etc. Which parties are progressive, by that definition? Green Party U.S. (GPUS) is. So is the Justice Party (JP).
Society-focused voting strategy
But they aren’t the only ones. All of the socialist parties are progressive too. I emphasize that my purpose here is not to advocate socialism (or to oppose it either). GPUS, JP, and, additionally, all of the socialist parties are progressive, as defined above. In fact, their platforms all offer a nearly identical set of progressive policy proposals. The only material difference between the socialist parties and the non-socialist progressives (GPUS and JP) is that the socialists additionally offer public ownership of at least the “commanding heights” of the economy…at least the largest and most important industries and holdings.
Without my expressing an opinion one way or the other, let me state what the socialist parties are offering:
They say that this country’s resources, land and industrial capacity—the life-support system on which all of our survival depends–are the birthright of every American. They say that you, and not some privileged owner, are the rightful owner of the output of your work, and should be the beneficiary of your work.
In fact, some socialists, including Noam Chomsky, claim that genuine democracy isn’t possible under capitalism. They point out that “own” means “control”, and that, therefore, the notion of controlling what private owners do with what they own is an unrealistic and fruitless hope. …and that therefore, the non-socialist progressive parties’ proposals to limit capitalism’s depredations, by taxation and regulation, are doomed to failure.
Voting strategy for progressives
This article doesn’t take a position on the choice between those two categories of progressive parties—socialist parties vs non-socialist progressive parties. I just wanted to define “progressive”, and tell what broad set of parties meet that definition, and tell the difference in what socialist and non-socialist parties offer.
And, continuing my comparison of what the various parties offer, I’ll add that there is a sub-category of the socialist parties that is referred to as “democratic socialist parties”. That socialist subcategory includes Greens/Green Party USA (G/GPUSA) — the original, and socialist, American Green party–and the Socialist Party USA (SPUSA), a well-established socialist party whose origin and tradition can be traced back to the 1876 Socialist Labor Party.
Their designation “democratic socialist” means that the democracy that they offer is full, complete and unlimited. _Everything_ is up for grabs in every election. Socialism is not written into the constitution. _Anyone_ can get broadcast time and print-space, and run for office, and is procedurally able to win.
For example, both of those two democratic socialist parties offer Instant-Runoff voting, and proportional representation for political parties. This article doesn’t take a position on any choice between categories or subcategories of parties. And, having urged you to vote for the nominees of your favorite progressive party, I wanted to say something about the specific difference in what the socialist and non-socialist progressive parties offer—as I have just done. So: As I said, read the progressive parties’ platforms, and vote for the nominees of your favorite progressive party.
When the progressive parties receive a total combined vote total amounting to a majority of the votes, then we progressives should all vote for the nominees of whichever progressive party has just received the most votes. I want to bring to your attention a new page at Democracy Chronicles: Third Party Central. That page lists and describes many American political parties, of all descriptions, and links to their platforms.
Voting Strategies for America in 2013
As always, however, I must emphasize that, without a verifiable vote-count, it is irrelevant how we vote. Therefore, project #1 must be: We must all demand verifiable vote-count procedures in time for the 2014 elections. Without verifiable vote-count procedures, there are no verifiable results. Without verifiable results, there is no legitimate election result. Without legitimate election results, there is no legitimate government, and no democracy. I mean literally no democracy at all.