The evolution of mainstream politics in the United States during the past 30 years has made the political climate favorable for the success of a third political Party as well as for the success of Independent Congressional candidates during this mid-term election year. Congressional approval ratings for both of the major Parties reached an all time low during the past year. However, third Parties and Independent candidates have failed to focus on a strategy to take advantage of this and there has been no significant increase in the number of Independent or Third Party candidates for Congress this year.
The House of Representatives is controlled by small rural Congressional Districts, which are arguably the best place for a third Party or Independent candidate to promote their platform. The population can be reached without the necessity of the million dollar national media, and the candidate can reach more of his or her constituency on a personal basis. However, third Parties and Independents haven’t been active in the majority of rural Congressional Districts and Democratic activity has been at a minimum. The Republican Party has been the most active campaigner in these Districts and therefore the Republican Party controls the House of Representatives.
The Republican Party has experienced two major changes in the last 30 years. The first started with the Presidential candidacy of Pat Robertson in the Republican Primary of 1988. Robertson was an ordained Southern Baptist minister who owned a TV station called the Christian Broadcasting Network. He lost the Primary but continued to have a controlling influence on the Republican Party via his TV following and a massive political organization he built called the Christian Coalition. Neither the Christian Broadcasting Network nor the Christian Coalition had anything to do with teachings of Christ. They were all about right-wing politics parading under the Christian banner.
The non-religious moderate Republican hierarchy had always focused on fiscal matters and they were uncomfortable with Robertson bringing religion and sexuality into Republican politics via his anti-gay and anti-abortion rhetoric. But they couldn’t deny the large block of voters he brought with him so they formed a coalition with him.
The Republican Party became further factioned when far-right Republicans, who were not religious but wanted an even more aggressive policy of expanding the wealth of the wealthy, formed the Tea Party. So now the Republican Party is a coalition of moderate fiscal Republicans, a religious-right faction, and the Tea Party Republicans who want more advantages and less taxes for the wealthy.
The radical factions of the Republican Party have been very active in engaging common people in the Party. The wedding Pat Robertson performed between the Party and the church continues to this day and many protestant pulpits preach right-wing politics. The Catholic Church has gotten in on the act by supporting Republican positions and demonizing left-wing supporters. Right To Life organizations command as many votes as the Christian Coalition and in most Congressional Districts their candidate prevails. The Tea Party faction has also engaged the common people via bus tours presenting local rallies on the town square with free donuts and coffee and encouraging people to sign up for local chapters.
The Democratic Party has done little to engage common people in rural Congressional Districts. Democratic victories at the Congressional District level, like those at the national level, come from big city votes. The impressive Democratic Party flow chart which includes the Democratic National Committee, the Democratic State Committees, District and County Committees, and Precinct Captains whose job is to stay in touch with Democrats in each neighborhood, is no longer populated. A nationwide survey by a DNC chairman found the Party structure at the District level is either non-existent or controlled by a small group of entrenched self-serving people concerned only with their own careers and not interested in populating the various Democratic Party committees and positions. The Democratic Party has no mechanism for reaching the common people like the Republican Party has via the religious-right and the Tea Party.
The Green Party is the most viable third Party in the US; however, its lack of focus on Congressional District elections combined with its lack of an optimal national strategy has made its effect on national politics negligible. The Presidential bid of Green candidate Jill Stein raised awareness of the Green Party among left-wing progressives and established a small network of Green Party affiliates around the country. However, the high stakes bid for the Presidency required considerably more money and connections than the Green Party could muster and Jill Stein was largely excluded from national television and the other news media necessary to win votes across the nation.
The small pockets of supporters she did establish around the country would have been an excellent network from which to launch the more accessible and less costly Congressional District campaigns in those Districts where Green Party affiliates existed. However, with the loss of the Presidential bid, Jill Stein lost her appetite for electoral politics and instead founded an organization to report on national and international events. With the loss of Jill Stein, the Green Party affiliates were also at a loss as to what to do and very few of them have sponsored Congressional District candidates.
If the national strategy of the Green Party and Jill Stein had been to establish Congressional District affiliates across the country who would focus on electing Green Party Representatives to Congress and spreading their platform in the Congressional Districts, they would have established a permanent ongoing mechanism for challenging the two Party system.
As it is, the the Congress of the United States is chugging right along with its right-wing agenda totally unaffected by the Green Party and the majority of citizens are totally unaware of the Green Party platform.
many Obots in the GP who vote repeatedly for and volunteer for democrats
because it is the “lesser of two evils.” (LOTE) Many use the Green Party to freshen up their resume and then campaign actively with democrats. The Green Party also tends to isolate itself and not cooperate or even return communication with other organizations or candidates. Many GP candidates do not even have websites or good contact information. Recently I tried contacting all the GP US HOR candidates to offer them support by the New Progressive Alliance. Two (out of 435 openings for office in 2014) had good contact points. A good starting point for the GP would be to support all those candidates that support the GP’s 10 values if there is no GP candidate. Good luck with that. I could not even get the National GP website to list a GP candidate in Georgia despite 7 months of effort and repeated attempts to communicate.