There's been a lot of talk in various progressive circles about sending Democrats a message, either through voting or staying home. But messages need to have a clear signal in order to communicate with politicians. So, what if you could support Democrats tomorrow, but send a message at the same time? It's the best of both worlds.
In my home state of New York, and in Connecticut, you can- and I want to tell you how.
In New York and Connecticut, third parties are different, because they can endorse candidates also running as Democrats or Republicans (a unique kind of system called electoral fusion which enables candidates to run on multiple ballot "lines". For over a decade, the Working Families Party has used this power to endorse the most progressive major-party candidates running for office and make sure they win -- without spoiling elections Nader-style.
It's a strategy that works. The Working Families Party has raised New York's minimum wage, passed living wage laws, fought hard against transit fare hikes, pushed for a moratorium on unsafe natural gas drilling, and helped elect real progressives in every corner of the state. Tomorrow, you can vote, and send a message, by voting on the Working Families Party line.
I grew up in suburban Buffalo and went to college in Rochester. Since I turned 18, I've been voting Working Families Party every election I could. And I'm not alone- over 155,000 people voted for Spitzer on the Working Families Party ballot line in the 2006 gubernatorial election, and nearly 160,000 for Obama in 2008, as well as for other elected officials up and down the ballot, from Rep. Louise Slaughter to NYC City Councilmembers. Votes on the Working Families line count the same as Democratic votes for these candidates, but they lend a more powerful message: that you want Democrats to fight - really fight - for progressive values.
Matt Damon explains it all:
[oldembed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/24m1PZ9iZoY?fs=1" width="374" height="300" resize="1" fid="21"]
At a time when many people feel like Democrats in New York State or nationally haven't done much, the WFP has done more for ordinary New Yorkers. That's because they focus on issues, not personalities. Living wage jobs. A fair tax system. Better and affordable mass transit. Fair treatment for the elderly. LGBT rights. Investment in education. It's a common-sense progressive party, with a strategy that lets progressive New Yorkers hold their politicians accountable. When an elected official gets into office, he or she can see how many of those votes came from people trying to send him a message that they want him/her to be a progressive- and act accordingly while in office.
On November 2, thousands of progressive New Yorkers will be voting for Andrew Cuomo, Eric Schneiderman, and the rest of the Democratic ticket on the Working Families ballot line - Row E. In Connecticut, Dan Malloy, Richard Blumenthal, and others will also appear on the Working Families line. Here's hoping you'll join us- and spread the word.
Bonus- Matt also recorded a video on New York's new ballot that's helpful.
Bonus #2: Katrina vanden Heuvel at The Nation wrote up a great piece of background on the Working Families Party you can find here.