Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Forgotten, Yet Vital

Diane Templin (Ca), American Party
Gene Amondson (As), Concerns of People (Prohibition) Party
Michael Peroutka (Md), Constitution Party
David Cobb (Ca), Green Party
Michael Badnarik (Tx), Libertarian Party
Lenard Peltier (Ks), Peace & Freedom Party
Charles Jay (In), Personal Choice Party
Earl Dodge (Co), Prohibition Party
Ralph Nader (Ct), Reform Party
Walt Brown (Or), Socialist Party USA
Bill Van Auken (NY), Socialist Equality Party
Roger Calero (NY), Socialist Workers Party
John Parker (Ca), Workers World Party

Worth Your Vote? Probably not. Worth your respect? ABSOLUTELY.

People who know me, already understand that I am a completely satisfied supporter for President Bush, and so there is absolutely zero chance that I would vote for anyone else. But as the election approaches, it does strike me to show gratitude to people who prove the system works. Most of us don’t realize all the options we have in the race, much less the hard work and dedication these candidates and their teams put in. For this article, I leave the noise and glitter of the major parties, and turn to a brief look at what it takes for a regular citizen to think about running for the White House.

If you’d like to run for President of the United States, you start with the Constitutional requirements (Article 2, Section 1, also Amendment 12); Natural born citizens, at least 35 years old, must have resided within the United States for at least 14 years. And, of course you have to have a group which thinks you should run, someone who has formed a political party.

But now, you have to contend with the Federal Election Commission:

You will need to complete the following forms and paperwork before your campaign begins:

FEC Form 1; Statement of Organization filed by candidates, parties and PACs

FEC Form 1M; Notification of Multicandidate Status filed by your party and any PACs

FEC Form 2; Statement of Candidacy filed by candidates for the House, Senate or Presidency

FEC Form 3P; filed by Presidential candidates’ authorized campaign committees (including Schedule A-L and D-P)

(committees not directly connected to your campaign, if they want to support you, must also file FEC Form 3X, including Schedule A-L)

FEC form 4; filed by your committee or organization for their nominating convention (include Schedule A-D)

FEC Form 5; for individuals or groups making independent expenditures on your behalf

FEC Form 7; an ongoing report of Communication costs by Corporations or your organizational membership

FEC Form 9; Individual and Group planned election communications (i.e., advertisements)

These are the BASIC forms. Additional forms may be necessary in certain conditions, and there are additional forms which must be filled out at the conclusion of the campaign, win or lose. Now, you’re ready to start campaigning in each state.

To run in each of America’s fifty states, you need to contact the Secretary of State in each state, and prepare the following reports for each:

A Certificate of Nomination for Presidential Electors;

An Affadavit of Candidacy for the Presidency;

A Statement of Interests, or a similar financial disclosure;

A Petition/Certificate of Nomination, containing the signatures of at least the minimum number required to be on the state’s ballot; and just in case the regular ballot initiative fails, you should also file

A Certificate of Write-In Candidacy for President of the United States in the General Election.

OK, if you've done all that, now you're ready to BEGIN your campaign.

Somehow, you've got to raise visibility for your campaign, get people familiar with your name. If you're a Democrat or a Republican, that just means having your campaign contact a TV station for a few interviews to get your face on the air. For anyone else, you'll need to have money and be really, really persuasive. After all, when's the last time you saw a commercial from the Reform Party, let alone the Prohibition Party or the Socialist Pary USA?

You'll need to fight for your chance to be heard at the grassroots level, which is the only level where you can avoid getting smothered by the mainstream parties. You'll have to face the automatic derision of people who assume you are a nutcase, simply because you don't support one of the two big parties. ou'll have to somehow be different yet reasonable, get attention but not scare away the average guy, and you'll have to overcome the pre-conceptions of nearly everyone you meet. Over and over again, day after day after day, until you contemplate suicide, or worse, closing the campaign.

Yet, over the history of the United States, these little groups change history without ever getting credit for it. For instance, there was an Abolitionist Party in the United States in the mid-Nineteenth Century, but it never took hold. But the new Republican Party saw the value in opposing Slavery, and Lincoln rode to the White House on the platform built from the ideas which included the Abolitionists. Franklin Roosevelt was not shy to take ideas from the Republicans, the Socialists, even the Communist Party (with apropriate revisions), in order to build and advance the New Deal. The Republicans today, and the Democrats, have learned to be keenly aware of the public mood, and if one of the minor parties comes up with an effective strategy or concept, count on the big boys to pick up on it and incorporate it into their own plans.

Jay Leno once quipped, that in a Presidential Election you only get 2 choices, but in Miss America you get 50. Mr. Leno is wrong. Like most Americans, he missed the quiet but vital contributions of the minor-party candidates. As an endnote, I should mention that these thirteen do not, even now, complete the list of people running for President. Since this time last year, over thirty people have declared their candidacy, though some have dropped out of the race, and others have just dropped off the map. But whether or not you or I would ever vote for them, we should be thankful for their work and energy. America is better for it.

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