Ron Paul Press Conference Unifies “Third” Party and Independent Candidates around Four Key Points

Ron Paul held what he described as a “very important” press conference on September 10th in Washington, DC. The event brought four third party and independent candidates “together in unity” around a statement of principles. The event came as polls showed the presidential race tightening and third party/independent candidates getting combined votes of over 10% in swing states.

The four candidates – Independent Ralph Nader, the Green nominee Cynthia McKinney, the Constitution Party’s Chuck Baldwin and the Libertarian Party’s Bob Barr along with Ron Paul agreed on the following four key principles:

Foreign Policy: The Iraq War must end as quickly as possible with removal of all our soldiers from the region. We must initiate the return of our soldiers from around the world, including Korea, Japan, Europe and the entire Middle East. We must cease the war propaganda, threats of a blockade and plans for attacks on Iran, nor should we re-ignite the cold war with Russia over Georgia. We must be willing to talk to all countries and offer friendship and trade and travel to all who are willing. We must take off the table the threat of a nuclear first strike against all nations.

Privacy: We must protect the privacy and civil liberties of all persons under US jurisdiction. We must repeal or radically change the Patriot Act, the Military Commissions Act, and the FISA legislation. We must reject the notion and practice of torture, eliminations of habeas corpus, secret tribunals, and secret prisons. We must deny immunity for corporations that spy willingly on the people for the benefit of the government. We must reject the unitary presidency, the illegal use of signing statements and excessive use of executive orders.

The National Debt: We believe that there should be no increase in the national debt. The burden of debt placed on the next generation is unjust and already threatening our economy and the value of our dollar. We must pay our bills as we go along and not unfairly place this burden on a future generation.

The Federal Reserve: We seek a thorough investigation, evaluation and audit of the Federal Reserve System and its cozy relationships with the banking, corporate, and other financial institutions. The arbitrary power to create money and credit out of thin air behind closed doors for the benefit of commercial interests must be ended. There should be no taxpayer bailouts of corporations and no corporate subsidies. Corporations should be aggressively prosecuted for their crimes and frauds.

Further, they agree that the process of U.S. presidential elections is, as Rep. Paul said, a “charade, collusion of the two parties and the media” where they “pretend great differences where there is none” and where neither party really “addresses subjects that are majority positions,” referring to the points in the statement of principles quoted above.

The press conference participants, which did not include Rep. Barr even though he was invited, repeatedly pointed out that the majority of Americans, some 60%, are unhappy with their choices. As a result half of Americans do not bother to vote, many for the intellectual decision that a false choice is provided and where half of those that do vote decide to vote for the lesser of two evils rather than on the direction they want the country to move. All the participants described American democracy as failing.

Ron Paul announced that he received a telephone call the day before the press conference from the McCain-Palin campaign seeking his endorsement. Paul reported that the campaign made the argument, not that McCain is a great leader who will move the U.S. in the right direction, but that he isn’t as bad as Obama and would do less harm to the country. Paul described the call as “a little strange” and that he declined to endorse. He said that instead he is urging voters to support the four candidates who signed the statement of principles and that he would probably not endorse any candidate.

A great deal of focus was placed on the manipulated presidential debates. Rep. Paul reported that during the Bush-Dukakis campaign they had an agreement to dictate the terms of the presidential debates to the League of Women Voters. The League refused to go along and withdrew its sponsorship saying:

The League of Women Voters is withdrawing sponsorship of the presidential debates…because the demands of the two campaign organizations would perpetrate a fraud on the American voter. It has become clear to us that the candidates’ organizations aim to add debates to their list of campaign-trail charades devoid of substance, spontaneity and answers to tough questions. The League has no intention of becoming an accessory to the hoodwinking of the American public.

That fraud continues to this day with a complicit media working with a corporation created by the two parties, the National Commission on Presidential Debates, that prevents third party and independent candidates from participating and allows the campaigns to dictate the terms of the debates. Ron Paul concluded that keeping the competition out of the debates is undemocratic and that it is a serious problem that “a majority of the people are outside the establishment – this is not very democratic.” He described voting as more the pretense of democracy than a real democracy.

Paul argued the “majority deserves to be in the debate” and the way to determine who is allowed to participate is if they are on enough ballots to theoretically get 270 Electoral College votes. Paul described the ballot access issue as an arduous test.

Therefore, Rep. Paul said he is making a “strong suggestion today” on what people can do and that is to vote for what they believe in and not be fooled by the two party charade. He described the two parties as a manipulation quoting Carroll Quigley from Tragedy and Hope: A History of the World in our Time:

The argument that the two parties should represent opposed ideals and policies, one, perhaps, of the Right and the other of the Left, is a foolish idea acceptable only to doctrinaire and academic thinkers. Instead, the two parties should be almost identical, so that the American people can ‘throw the rascals out’ at any election without leading to any profound or extensive shifts in policy.

Green Party candidate Cynthia McKinney described the four pillars of the Green Party: peace, social justice, ecological wisdom and grass roots democracy. She described the situation we face today as akin to 160 years ago when a few hundred people got together to work for the right of woman to vote. They achieved their end and so can we by “declaring our independence” and pointed out how she declared her independence one year ago in front of the Pentagon. She no longer wanted to be complicit in illegal wars, detentions without trial, torture and environmental destruction. Voters need to declare their independence from “conformity and control” by voting their values. “It would be a very different country if Americans voted their values,” McKinney concluded.

Chuck Baldwin of the Constitution Party described how he was a Republican who worked for President Reagan’s election and worked with Jerry Falwell becoming the executive director of the Moral Majority. But, in the 1990s he found that the Republican Party had lost its way and he concluded the Republican Party was not fixable. He argued that the “parties have a stranglehold over the political process and are choking the lifeblood out of our country.” He sees the debate as between globalists like McCain and Obama and constitutionalists.

Independent Ralph Nader described the agreement of the four candidates on the statement of principles as “the beginning of a realignment of American politics.” He sees the issues raised as pointing to a “crisis in constitutional government.” Nader described the U.S. Constitution as something that has been “degraded, violated, nullified and twisted out of any semblance of it real meaning.” Nader urged people to pledge on Constitution Day (September 17th) to support candidates who will defend the Constitution. He believes that the media needs to reassess how it covers presidential election by sponsoring its own debates and breaking with the Democrats and Republicans private corporation that manipulates debates. He also urged to “stop wallowing in trivia like the current lipstick-gate” which he describes as “demeaning to the media, the people and the United States’ standing in the world.”

During the question and answer session the weakness in U.S. democracy came up – the fraudulent debates, the unfair ballot access laws, the poor media coverage, the massive disenfranchisement of voters, the lack of transparency and manipulation of electronic voting machines. Nader described “democracy being destroyed on the installment plan in an escalated way.” Paul said the real wasted vote is voting for one of the two parties and not for what you want. Baldwin updated Wallace’s comment, citing inflation, saying “there’s not a nickel’s worth of difference between the two parties.” And, McKinney urged people to see the movie “American Blackout” and warned that unresolved problems in American democracy are being “compounded.”

One suggestion made to avoid the trap of the fear of the greater evil is Vote Pact where unenthusiastic McCain or Obama supporters agree that both will support a “third” party candidate instead of the Democrat or Republican.

The Ron Paul press conference came at a time when “third” party and independent candidates are showing strength in key battle ground states where together they are garnering more than 10% of the vote. At this point, with the race between Obama and McCain in the low single digits the votes for the alternative candidates is likely to affect the outcome of the election.

With the strong group of third party and independent candidates – including two former members of Congress, one from each party, Ralph Nader, the most successful community organizer running for president and Chuck Baldwin, the former executive director of Moral Majority – and the reality that they could impact the outcome of the election – it is impressive how the mainstream media has been steadfast in ignoring these candidates as well as the issues they stand for. As Ron Paul said, perhaps now that the four have joined together to highlight four key issues maybe the media will recognize there is something important to cover here. Who knows, maybe the media will even ask McCain and Obama their views of the four points raised in their joint statement.

Kevin Zeese is a Senior Advisor to the Stein-Baraka campaign and is a long term political activist who co-directs Popular Resistance. Read other articles by Kevin, or visit Kevin's website.

18 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. Dave Silver said on September 11th, 2008 at 6:24am #

    Cynthia McKinney is by far the most progressive of all the
    “independents.” Let’s use her candidacy to help build a strong
    independent, alternative movement/Party and once and for all smash the illusion that the Democrats can be part of the solution when they arecentral to the problem.

  2. Thomas said on September 11th, 2008 at 6:50am #

    McKinney is courageous in many respects, but she has also played the old Left-Right game too long. My vote goes to Nader.

  3. bozhidar bob balkas said on September 11th, 2008 at 7:31am #

    the statement by baldwin: “republicans lost their way” seems to me inadequate/inaccurate.
    in one party system such as in US, the tao, the way, the telos had not changed an iota.
    the end solution always been: grab as much land aspossible while talking peace, making promises, signing treaties, pacts, etc.

  4. Dogwood said on September 11th, 2008 at 9:15am #

    With all due respect to Cynthia McKinney and her supporters – there is no one in this country who has done more for the betterment of democracy and the lives, health, rights and well-being of the American people than Ralph Nader. He has done this, continues daily to do this and, if president, has the 45 years of passionate and effective experience to insure getting this country back from the those who would destroy it – than anyone else in our history. The time is now. It is within his, and our, grasp, now. We must recognize this – and throw all our support behind Ralph. No one else – as good as they may be – can be, or ever has been, as effective as Ralph. We cannot let this opportunity go by.

  5. rosemarie jackowski said on September 11th, 2008 at 1:29pm #

    VOTE NADER

  6. pirlo said on September 11th, 2008 at 2:44pm #

    Shouldn’t these parties form a coalition, and appoint candidates for president, vp, ministers etc.? You know, together “against this and this, and for this and this”. If they get 10% of the vote, they will for sure get attention and press-coverage at the next election in 2012, and then they only need 33% to win… If they even get close to that, you have achieved your goal of ending the 2-party system.

  7. Socialism: Next Stage in Political Systems. Socialism will come to USA wether capitalists like it or not !! said on September 11th, 2008 at 2:51pm #

    Indeed, the USA needs a third political party for workers, not for corporations. A large united socialist front, to overthrow the dictatorship of democrats and democrats.

  8. Deadbeat said on September 11th, 2008 at 2:56pm #

    Below are links to excellent analysis by Solidarity about Obama and the meaning of the 2008 Elections. IMO from reading their analysis you have a group of Leftist here that takes a cogent approach. What they call “Positive Opposition” unlike some of the positions expressed by the Left here on DV.

    Socialists and Barack Obama: Viewing An Historic Presidential Nomination

    Reverend Wright and Black Liberation Theology

    Here’s a flavor what the author, Malik Miah, says…

    Some radicals dismiss the mass phenomenon, because Obama is a candidate of a ruling-class party. That simplistic rejection of Obama’s campaign and its mass support is sectarian: The issue isn’t whether to vote for a Democrat, but rather our response to a development that is having a wide-scale impact. How many times, in state after state, have we ever seen citizens of all races line up for hours to hear an African-American man talk about “hope,” on a platform that is fundamentally no different than his [Democratic] opponents?

    And…

    In response to my article in the May-June issue, which included a look at the history of Black Liberation Theology, some on the left felt my stance implied sympathy for lesser evilism – perhaps that saying independents and socialists should embrace and engage the supporters of Obama, especially his young backers, was a move toward supporting a candidate of one of the major Big Business parties which have a global policy of neocolonialism and neoliberalism.

    Nothing could be further from the truth. Rather, the Obama ascendancy reflects some fundamental changes in society that must be recognized by those of us seeking a working class government and state. The societal changes are based on the victory of the civil rights revolution of the 1960s.

  9. Deadbeat said on September 11th, 2008 at 3:03pm #

    I forgot to post this quote from Malik Miah…

    That’s why the campaigns of progressive third parties are important electorally. But for me the stance of attacking Obama as a Democrat, quoting Malcolm X’s “The Ballot or the Bullet” speech, and going all out for a small socialist group’s campaign on ideological grounds, or for the Green Party campaign of Cynthia McKinney or the “independent” candidacy of Ralph Nader, is not the most effective way to influence those who will become disillusioned.

  10. Socialism: Next Stage in Political Systems. Socialism will come to USA wether capitalists like it or not !! said on September 11th, 2008 at 3:04pm #

    http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article20722.htm <–Was America attacked by muslims on 9-11? NO !! 9-11 was done by Israeli Mossad agents, combined with CIA kooks, and intellectually done by top zionist neocons: Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, Karl Rove, Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney.

  11. Max Shields said on September 11th, 2008 at 6:21pm #

    Why do you think quoting Malik Miah makes anyone give a rats ass about your plea? Is he your Noam Chomsky?

  12. Deadbeat said on September 11th, 2008 at 7:35pm #

    Max effuses the following…
    Why do you think quoting Malik Miah makes anyone give a rats ass about your plea? Is he your Noam Chomsky?

    Malik Miah makes a cogent argument without any pleas for anyone to vote or support Obama like you suggest. He clearly examines the meaning of the Obama campaign and suggests to Socialists how they can respond to it.

    If you go onto Solidarity’s site you’ll see that not everyone agrees with him. Even Miah cannot bring himself to vote for Obama yet he does understand how it is possible for the Left to interact with Obama’s supporters.

    In other words Max, unlike you, who condemn such people who support Obama, Miah suggests a strategy. Which, if you’ve forgotten Max, you’ve been demanding.

    The problem Max and what it seem much of the Left would rather ridicule than examine is that Obama does represent CHANGE. However the Left has been stuck in their own prejudices and sect-like thinking that they’ve resorted to attacks, and heap ridicule and condescension on Obama supporters.

    Even Ralph Nader who I admire and supported in 2004 has resorted to similar tactics. Nader speaking at the recent 3rd Party forum quotes Eugene Debbs regrets that workers fail to demand much. Unfortunately what Nader fails to recognize as he site Debbs is that Debbs had a PARTY and firm organizational support base from which to campaign. Debbs also provided coattails that lead to winning local races for Socialist Party members. This is something that Nader cannot do in 2008 primarily because the Left abandoned Nader in 2004.

    Miah, unlink you Max, is not blinded by doctrine. He correctly assess the state of the Left which is why his argument is solid. Since you are in denial his telling of the truth elicits the kind of irrational reaction from you.

    Actually after reading Miah, I think the Left is making a huge mistake hoping for an Obama defeat which essentially translate into a McCain victory.

    An Obama victory, like Miah states, and having positively engaged Obama supporters will allow the Left to be in a position to persuade these supporter to the Left when Obama disappoints.

    While a McCain victory will mean more turmoil for the Democrats, it could actually demoralizes the Obama supporters. There is no guarantee a McCain victory will bolster the Left. In fact more than likely bolster the “blue dog” Democrats and could take a reactionary trajectory.

    So to get back to your main point about a “rat’s ass”, while I don’t think Miah would shear my analysis of the Left at least he does share my analysis of why the attacks on the Obama supporters are misguided. I’m in agreement with him that those attacks are counterproductive.

  13. John V. Walsh said on September 12th, 2008 at 7:16am #

    Congratulations to Kevin Zeese for writing this piece and for DissidentVoice for publishing it.
    You will note that very few outlets that call routinely for this sort of new alliance are saying much about it. The exceptions so far seem to be DissidentVoice and Lew Rockwell. The “official” peace movement, like UFPJ, MoveOn, “P”DA, and their various outlets like Huffington Post and The Nation are laregly silent on this since their loyalties as defined by their actions are more to the Democrat Party above all, certainly above peace.
    Two points on the article and commentary.
    First, in the end Bizarre Bob Barr opted out of this renouncing it and also denouncing Ron Paul even as he sought Paul as his VP candidate for the Libertarian Party whose nomination he clearly does not deserve.
    Secoond, the wrangling above about McKinney shows that once again the Left is unable to appreciate the core of this effort. What does it mean to be a “progessive” any more since so many “progressives” backed the war on Serbia and the war on Sudan (reincarnated as an effort to “save” Darfur) and now back Obama the hawk. Cynthia McKinney’s greatest significance IMHO is not her wonderful record in Congress but in being the first major Democrat politician to jump ship on the Dems. Dennis Kucinich cannot compare.

    Finally Nader and Paul are now the leaders of the political realignment – two wise men who disagree on much but who know that the hubris of war and empire threaten the human race. Nuclear winter makes global warming look like little more than a summer shower.
    john walsh

  14. Giorgio said on September 12th, 2008 at 3:08pm #

    At long last the Liberals have come to some agreement based on the above four principles. Now the next step is to agree on a candidate, say Nader, since Paul has dropped out, and all focus their vote on him. Even if Nader gets only 10-30% of the total vote in November this fact alone will scare the shits of whoever is elected president making him and corporate America realize that something is brewing in American politics that can’t be ignored any longer….

  15. Max Shields said on September 13th, 2008 at 5:27am #

    John V. and Kevin, it is this realignment that is one of the most positive things that’s happened in recent times in the USA.

    By framing it with a set of clear priniciples we have a working document which can be embraced and moved on. The issue of Nader’s “independent” run leaving no organization can be answered.

    If there is to be an alternative it must be a coalition around a set of governing principles. Ron Paul (and perhaps with Nader and others behind the scenes) made a truly important political move. He used his base and promaninent moment to captipult it into a unifiying theme.

    Deadbeat, I’ really not concerned about “demoralizing” supporters of Obama. As I’ve said repeatedly, the system that produces these mainstream candidates ensures their alignment to the corprate driven pathology of imperialism.

    What this article shows is that there can (and needs to be) a unity around shared values if the duopoly is to be threatened at all; and WE have an alternative.

  16. Beverly said on September 13th, 2008 at 8:25pm #

    The “ascendancy of Obama” is no phenomenon or fundamental change in society, just a product of expert, well-crafted marketing and corporate backing.

    Democrats and their corporate puppet masters lucked out big time. Obama is the perfect candidate to continue their imperialist/greed fest. Harvard educated, product of the Chicago School of Economics, Reagan lover (enhances cred among white voters), psuedo sob backstory – cue violins, please -single parent/grandparent reared, disciple to all things DLC, skillful orator/bullshit artist. And the cherry on top – he’s biracial but looks 100% black – oh snap!!!!- a slam dunk at the polls to reel in gullible black folks and whites from the liberal, youth, and progressive demographics.

    Obama was in the right place at the right time after years of careful cultivation of the right connections to ascend within the Democratic party. Those that worship him are the same Democrats that fall for whatever DLC dishrag the party peddles every four years. The 18-24 year old demo may be excused for ignorance but older voters/activists/labor groups have been around long enough to tire of being hustled by the Democrats.

    Since the primaries, no one has demanded a damn thing from Obama – not liberals/progressives, nor labor, nor anyone or group from black “misleadership,” be they politicians or activists. They have simply stood in awe, slurped the kool-aid, and refused to challenge or demand commitments from Obama on any issue of importance, AND, denigrated/dismissed anyone who dared to so as racist.

    As for true progressives to engage Obama’s supporters in dialogue, good luck knocking your head against a brick wall. If he wins and fails to deliver on issues of importance, his fans will blame racism, corporatism, Republicans, and the right wing media. If he loses, the excuses will be the same. His supporters and the left in general will simply look forward to 2012 for the next DLC puppet to support. None of them – not blacks, not labor, not liberals, not progressives, not activists, not politicians, not leftist pundits/media – have the guts to get off the Democratic plantation and work to establish a third party alternative.

    An Obama win will not signal any new “morning in America,” to quote his idol, great Satan Ronald Reagan. It will be business as usual, just headed by a different hued President.

  17. Max Shields said on September 15th, 2008 at 6:22am #

    Beverly, thumbs up!!

  18. George Dance said on September 28th, 2008 at 8:23am #

    It looks like the third-party candidates will be having a debate after all. Please read:

    Third-party debate in early October
    http://www.nolanchart.com/article5032.html