Can a third party candidate win a state-wide office? A safer bet would be Congressman Jon Runyan winning the Nobel Prize in Physics. But third party candidates arguably can influence elections. If Chris Daggett had not run for governor (with the endorsement of the Sierra Club), perhaps Chris Christie would be a former US Prosecutor now working at a high-powered Wall Street firm.
Other democracies such as Australia and Israel are not saddled by a two party system, which in New Jersey is more of a 1½ party system. Thanks to the party bosses, the progressive wing of the Democratic Party has been mostly marginalized, and in the end the Koch Brothers’ agenda is being played out by our governor and a loyal opposition.
Today, I interviewed the Green Party candidate, Ken Wolski (below). More discussion, including some questions for readers, below the fold.
According to his Facebook page, Wolski is a retired registered nurse who spent much of his career working for the New Jersey prison system. A graduate of Rutgers University, he is also the executive director of the Coalition for Medical Marijuana, and liberalization of drug laws is a big part of his platform.
While Wolski and his party are on the correct side of many progressive issues, I felt he was weak on a couple of important topics like subsidies for green energy and gun control.
His progressive stance on drug laws, along with the mainstream media’s reluctance to cover candidates other than those sanctioned by the big parties, means that his message will be heard mostly by those already with a penchant to support liberal causes.
This brings me to my questions for the readers. Are we stuck in a two-party (or 1½ party) system in New Jersey and the United States? When a potential third party arose from the right, the Tea Party pretty much consumed the Republican Party. How did they do that? Can a similar scenario happen from the left with the Democrats? Can a party that doesn’t accept corporate donations ever be viable? Is the Green Party a realistic alternative for advancing progressive values? On some issues such as clean energy, human rights, and campaign finance, the party aligns with progressive tenets. But the question remains – other than as an election spoiler, do the Greens have any significant influence on political discourse? Discuss.