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No democracy, please -- we're Democrats

By Michael J. Smith on Friday February 10, 2006 09:42 AM

Doublehelix has kindly called our attention to an amazingly brazen attempt to suppress democracy by, you guessed it, seven House Democrats, led by Dave Obey of Wisconsin's Seventh District. Some highlights:
The bill would effectively eliminate virtually all congressional campaigns by independent and third-party candidates.... [it] would provide public financing for both Democrats and Republicans in most districts. But ... candidates not qualifying for funding would not only receive no government funds, but would also be barred from spending any privately raised money. No government money and no private money means that a non-qualifying candidate would be prohibited from spending any money at all, not one red cent. Not even a business card with the candidate’s name and office sought would be legal under the bill!

Requirements for qualifying for funding would be relatively easy for the major parties but almost impossible for independent and third-party candidates. The bill would provide public funding for nominees of parties that had averaged 25% of the vote for U.S. House in that district over the last two elections. Independent candidates who had averaged 25% would also get full public funding, but unlike party candidates, only the specific individual who previously got those votes would qualify. All others would be required to submit petitions signed by 20% of the last vote cast for full funding, and 10% for partial funding. For example, in Missouri’s 2nd congressional district, a candidate with a party that won less than 25% of the vote in the last two elections would need nearly 70,000 signatures to qualify for the public funding that her/his Democratic and Republican opponents would get automatically, and only signatures from the 2nd District would count. Nearly 35,000 signatures would be required in order to allow the candidate to spend anything at all on the campaign.

In certain districts where a single party is dominant, the bill would eliminate campaigns by the district’s second party as well. Not surprisingly, Democrats (who propose this bill) hold Republican opponents to below 25% in more districts than Republicans do the same to Democrats.

In a discussion of this bill on Ballot Access News, a contributor drops the penny:
[I]n 2004, Rep. Obey faced a challenger from the left for the first time in his political career in the person of Mike Miles, who ran as a Green. Obey refused to debate Miles, saying that he (Miles) was not a “legitimate” candidate. Miles got one of the highest vote totals of any third party candidate that year; he’s already announced that he’s running again.
This breathtakingly shameless and desperate Katie-bar-the-door move suggests that some of these do-nothing Democrats are feeling squeezed from both sides -- the Republicans on the right and dissatisfied Progs getting bold enough to bolt on the left. Safe Democratic congressional districts may be on the endangered-species list -- and not a minute too soon -- so the obvious remedy is to outlaw the problem.

The other sponsors of this quiet coup -- it's an interesting list:

  • Rep DeLauro, Rosa L. [CT-3]
  • Rep Filner, Bob [CA-51]
  • Rep Frank, Barney [MA-4]
  • Rep Israel, Steve [NY-2]
  • Rep McGovern, James P. [MA-3]
  • Rep Ryan, Tim [OH-17]
  • Rep Waxman, Henry A. [CA-30]
Over to you for comment, JSP.

Comments (10)


this is what the f...ing
donkeys did to destroy
their one real threat
the populists
in the 1890's

each and every one
of these seven motley bastards

an alien abduction

in particular
shame on u barney
or did you miss the fine print here

more later...


I don't know about the others, but Frank should be no surprise. He's been at the front-line of the Nader-bashers for years now. I'm sure he and his Air America pal Randi Rhoades will be announcing their forthcoming off-B'way musical collaboration on the joys of blind party loyalty any day now...



indeed Barney
be at heart first of all
a party hack

a house prog

remember his fencing for billy bj during
the impeach me ...please fiasco ????

in fact i think
being a prog
and a party guy
got to hitch up
front to back
not side to side
some put prog first

our barney puts his prog to the rear
of his party

There's a great example/analysis of this posted at The Haikuist this morning. I can't believe that Henry Waxman is in on this. The fact that Barney Frank, who once depended on pro-gay indepdendents in Cambridge, MA to save his career, is a co-conspirator illustrates what the establishment power structure does to folks.

Thanks for calling attention to this issue. This is yet another example of just how nasty the Democrats are willing to play in order to protect their privilege.


Here's what's so insidious about this:

The Democratic head of Orthrus wins either way.

The bill, otherwise, is an attempt to address a serious problem-namely that money allows those that are wealthy to drown out all other political voices. Without the provisions that basically ban third parties, it is at least an attempt to solve one of American politic's worst aspects.

However, if the bill passes, then it kills third parties on the vine because they'll never meet that impossibly high 25% standard.

If the bill doesn't pass, or it's struck down by America's unrepentantly reactionary Supreme Court, then the Democrats can simply claim that there just wasn't enough interest in 'election reform' (defined of course as further immortalizing the duopoly), so that way they can convince their branded herd to march back into the stable because that's the only way any positive change could come about.

Well of course! Instead of going at it all piecemeal - trying to sue candidates off the ballot in individual states - the dems are just going to legislate away any 3rd party threat nationally. Cost effective and time saving!

Tim D:

I see Alan Smithee beat me to the comment I was going to make, which was that the Democrats don't want to have to waste their precious corporate donors' money on lawsuits and volunteer energy on petition reviews to suppress opposition candidates in future elections.

As many astute and honest commentators pointed out during the 2004 election, the Democrats fully demostrated who they found to be the greater threat to their campaign, when they voted to extend registration for Republicans in at least four states (the Republicans held their convention so late that they actually failed to qualify for the ballot in a number of states), while launching a number of vicious lawsuits against Nader's campaign.

By the way, if you didn't hear, Oregon Democrats already passed a law in that state that will make it virtually impossible for independent candidates to get on the ballot in that state.


Yeah, Tim. I tried to tell my friends here in OR last time out that fuckwits like Bradbury wouldn't be happy with just trashing Nader. After all, he's not going to live forever, but he has lived long enough to plant all manner of inappropriate notions in the heads of others. Bradbury and his good buddies across the aisle can't abide anyone threatening their place in line at the trough.

Time to buck the northward trend and move to California, I guess. There might be a couple of Socialists in Oakland who'll let me borrow their couch...


Tim D., the blog Blue Oregon had a number of comments on this odious law, complete with the usual fuckwits complaining about how "phony" Nader is/was. At least Dan Meek kept his head in the middle of the whole thing, much as he stepped forward to try and bring light to Bradbury's meddling in Nader's campaign back in 2004. Funny how I trust a non-partisan whose been a cool-headed critic of state corruption for something like two decades over a Democratic Secretary of State who sticks it to Indies and 3rd Parties every time he gets a chance. (Ask the Greens at PSU about how they pleaded with Bradbury to comment about election manipulation on campus and his smug refusal to get involved.)

Of course, it's always special when some shithead who claims to be for peace but voted for Kerry wants to throw the word "phony" around at somebody else. Anyone besides me ever feel like they're trapped in a Captain Kangaroo rerun ?

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That's where everything is upside-down..."


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