Saturday, October 27, 2007

Stephen Colbert Garners 1 Million Supporters

From Personal Democracy Forum:

He's done it: The Facebook group set up to support Stephen Colbert, the newest addition to the presidential race, has now gained more than one million members. Its name, "1,000,000 Strong for Stephen T Colbert," is an homage to the Barack Obama group, "One Million Strong For Barack," which still hasn't broken the 400,000 mark. The fact that Colbert, who is a joke candidate, gained so many online supporters in so little time means that either political support on Facebook is still poorly understood, or Colbert is actually catching on. Either way, it's now primary time. Is South Carolina ready?

Full article here


Brian said...

This just shows that there is a hunger in this country for more Political Parties...more choices at the ballot box...People want more political groups to align themselves with rather than just two major Parties. People want more to choose from.

The Republicans/Conservatives have been going through the same thing with their primary race. Some Conservatives want to run a 3rd Party candidate, although this desire has waned in the last few weeks.

Unfortunately in this country, people only threaten to run a 3rd candidate rather than build an actual Party.... like real Democracies overseas have done.

Although there is a need for more Political Parties and more Political choice, there is no major effort underway to build a permanent 3rd and 4th major Party. There are only small efforts that fade away after an election year.
It will take at least a decade or more to actually build anything that could come close to competing with the Republican and Democratic Parties.

Unfortunately the wealthy elite in this country help to guarantee that no major 3rd and 4th Parties will ever emerge... because big money only flows to the 2 Party system. Even Hollywood (which also has the money) has not floated the idea of funding something different.

But there are enough Americans frustrated with the current system that a grassroots effort could raise a significant amount of money...and good candidates can be recruited to run. People like George Mitchell, Chuck Hagel, Sam Nunn, (and others) have expressed an interest in running as alternative 3rd Party candidates in the past.

I think the first step for any new major Parties will be to win a few Congressional elections first...

Unfortunately there is no grand alternative Party strategy that could make this happen. There is no one leader that could bring all of this together... therefore alternative Party coalitions are never built.

In Europe and other parts of the World, the people don't simply support alternative candidates when they get frustrated with the system... they actually build Political Parties as well as the infrastructures to support them (money flow, communications/media infrastructure to get their message out, a platform of core beliefs, good candidates to run, etc). Many of the alternative Parties overseas hold seats in their respective Parliaments. In Countries where 2 or 3 Parties dominate.... those Parties are forced to cooperate, negotiate, compromise, and form coalitions with even the smallest alternative Parties in order to hold power, etc... this puts small alternative Parties in a strong position in Europe.

Unfortunately, we don't do this in the U.S.... although getting a few members into the Congress could provide balance and could provide those few representatives with a lot of power in a divided House/Senate. Republicans and Democrats would be forced to cut deals and compete for those votes in order to get their legislation passed.

People like Colbert show how ridiculous the American election system is.

redante said...

Hello AI

I'm right up there with you on the points you made above. The Colbert phenomenon is an illustration of the hunger among the electorate for something different -- something that diverges from the same old same old routine of the two major parties. I'm glad that you made the observation that in other countries where there is the same hunger, people form alternative third or fourth parties from the ground up -- first focusing on infrastructure and with an eye towards electoral politics and garnering seats in COngress and other legislative bodies.

In the American scene despite some promising flashes that burn hot on election years (The Reform Party, Ralph Nader's Green Party run) American alternative political movements haven't gained much traction. I think this is partly due to rules of the playing field that are hostile to outsider parties (ballot access, media access, access to debates, fund-raising). Right now I am entertaining the thought that the problem might also be cultural -- that Americans are so consumer-oriented as a culture and are trained almost from birth to fit into the mass consumer culture that anything that involves a long-term effort to build an alternative politics where nothing exists right now is just too onerous and cumbersome that only a very small minority of true believers would be willing to do it. The rest will wait and won't be involved unless it gains some sort of media-friendly traction.

I see the most promising developments for an alternative politics in two areas: the rapid rise of technology, particularly the Internet, and the proliferation of people who self-identify as Independents in rejection of the two-party label. These, of course, cannot replace true third or fourth parties but they set the stage for the proper conditions that such things might be possible.

While I observe those, I also am a supporter of electoral reform organizations such as FairVote who have been moderately successful in enecting incremental reform initiatives such as the National Popular Vote and Instant Runoff Voting.