VotePact: A Tool for Breaking Out of the Two Party System
BY: Sam Husseini/Contributing Writer
By pairing up, disenchanted Democrats and Republicans can better assert their preferences — and this could work especially well in the Arab American community.
Many Arab Americans and other voters may well be applauded by the choices offered to them by the Democratic and Republican parties come November.
Polling indicates that Bernie Sanders has been the most popular candidate among Arab Americans. This makes sense — he is the least aggressive sounding in terms of using violence in the Mideast (though his foreign policy is still has serious problems) and he has a strong message of economic justice that has generally been popular among Arab Americans.
While we still don’t know for certain who the nominees will be, both of the current front-runners have said and done appalling things.
While Trump has occasionally broken with the Republican party in a populist manner that has clearly resonated among much of the public — and also challenged the perpetual war positions of the establishment — he’s done so while appealing to xenophobia, stigmatizing Muslims as well as Latino immigrants and denigrating women.
And while many may feel drawn to voting for the first female president, Clinton personifies the corruption that big money has had in politics, and has embraced wars in the Mideast to an incredible level, including voting for the invasion of Iraq and overseeing the NATO assault on Libya while Secretary of State.
To this voter at least, the greatest appeal of Clinton is how horrible Trump is — and the greatest appeal of Trump is how horrible Clinton is.
And I doubt I’m alone. Come November, most voters will likely be voting against the candidate they most dislike, not really voting for their “lesser evil”.
Third party or independent candidates might have some appeal. The likely Green Party candidate Jill Stein offers a more progressive stance than Sanders, and the likely Libertarian Party candidate, Gary Johnson, has a history of opposing U.S. military interventions.
But third party candidates are invariably hindered by the problem of being a “spoiler” — that is, lots of people might not really want Clinton, but will likely feel such fear about the prospect of a President Trump that they will vote for her — and many people will do the opposite.
These two people should team up and vote for the third party or independent candidate they most want, which is what I outlined at VotePact.org.
That is, voters can pair up — one disenchanted Democrat and one disenchanted Republican — and both vote for the candidates who most reflect their beliefs. They can each vote for the same or different third party candidates — Green Party, Libertarian — or Socialist or Constitution Party, or an independent candidacy.
That way, they are not helping the candidate they most dislike. But they are getting to vote for who they most want.
This voting strategy is actually very well suited to Arab Americans. It’s a relatively close-knit community and has been ignored or scorned by many establishment candidates.
There are thousands of Arab American couples — husbands and wives — as well as siblings, cousins, neighbors, fellow worshipers, bridge partners, car pool buddies and so on who have a strong personal bond and will cancel out each others votes — one voting Democrat and one voting Republican. And neither is happy about it.
They should stop canceling out each other’s votes! If they trust each other — because of their personal relationship — they can vote in pairs for the candidates they most want. This could spread throughout the Arab American community and beyond it.
The price of this is that you have to dialogue with and trust someone who is your political “mirror image”. But people have faced state violence and far worse to gain their political freedom. Is it really too much to ask for people to have such a constructive relationship with someone they disagree with politically?
It’s certainly true that often times, third parties do not run the greatest candidates — but that is largely because of a sense that there’s no way they are going to win.
VotePact helps change that.
It holds out the prospect that an anti-establishment center candidate could unite people from the left and right conservatives on all the issues that the establishment works towards: Constant wars, Wall Street bailouts, corporate trade deals and giveaways, restrictions on civil liberties. Ralph Nader — who himself happens to be Arab American — could have done this when he ran for president, but seemingly lacked the political acumen.
VotePact helps prevent the establishment of both parties from continuing to play off their voters, who often are more resembling their prisoners.
VotePact, even if it does not result in electing an anti-establishment candidate, is valuable because it gives voters somewhere viable to go to.
The establishments of the Democratic and Republican parties can’t take voters for granted as much with VotePact. So it offers the possibility of more responsive candidates from the major parties, as well.
The Arab American community is particularly sensitive to the corrupt collusion between the establishment Democrats and Republicans and the disastrous effects this has had, both in Arab counties and in the U.S. itself.
They can take the lead and assert themselves in the U.S. electoral map by uniting and adopting such a strategy that would give them more power.
Sam Husseini is founder of VotePact.org [He is also communications director of the Institute for Public Accuracy and formerly with the ADC and the media watch group FAIR.]