Richardson is completing a four-volume work on third parties. The first volume, Others: Third-Party Politics From the Nation’s Founding to the Rise and Fall of the Greenback-Labor Party, was released earlier this year; the second volume will be released in October. Richardson said today: “While pro-Bush forces helping independent candidate Ralph Nader get on the ballot have garnered headlines — most recently with lawyers in Florida representing Nader and the Reform Party who argued on behalf of Bush during the 2000 election fiasco — another important story is how pro-Kerry forces are blocking Nader from getting on the ballot across the country.
“These efforts are unparalleled in U.S. history and should gravely concern anyone who cares about the future of open politics in this country. The methods employed by the Democrats this year are far worse than any tactics used against the Progressive Party’s Henry A. Wallace in 1948 or against Eugene J. McCarthy, who waged a forlorn independent bid for the White House in 1976.
“Many of the legal challenges filed by the Democrats this summer have been simply frivolous in nature, deliberately designed to harass the consumer activist and drain his campaign’s dwindling resources. Former Democratic congressman Toby Moffett, a corporate lobbyist in D.C. and co-founder of something called Ballot Project, Inc. was quoted in the Washington Post: ‘We wanted to neutralize [Nader’s] campaign by forcing him to spend money and resources defending these things. But much to our astonishment we’ve actually been more successful than we thought we’d be in stopping him from getting on at all.’ [See Nader Still Unsure of Ballot Spot in Many States]
“The Post reported that ‘Moffett says his group has raised about $100,000 to fight Nader and is relying on pro bono work from lawyers across the country who have contributed up to $2 million worth of labor.’ Nader’s campaign, on the other hand, has barely raised $1.5 million for the entire campaign — compared to $239.8 million raised for Bush and $210.7 million for Kerry — and, understandably, hasn’t had the resources to effectively counter all of the legal challenges confronting them during the past few months.
“While pro-Bush groups can be legitimately criticized for trying to assist Nader’s ballot access drives in Oregon, Michigan, Florida and elsewhere, the efforts of the pro-Kerry forces potentially disenfranchise millions of voters this autumn by denying them a viable alternative to the two major parties and are a far cry from the ‘count every vote’ mantra echoed by these same Democrats four years ago in the wake of the Florida voting debacle.
“Democratic efforts to knock Nader off the ballot this year are unprecedented, but major party interference in third-party presidential campaigns is hardly a new phenomenon. In the razor-thin 1884 presidential election, the two major parties manipulated the Anti-Monopoly Party’s Benjamin Butler and Prohibitionist John St. John. In one of the dirtiest presidential campaigns in American history, the Democrats, anxious to regain the White House, put tremendous pressure on Butler to withdraw from the contest, essentially offering the former Massachusetts governor his choice of cabinet post in Grover Cleveland’s administration. Meanwhile, the Republicans, fearing that the Prohibition Party’s St. John would take votes from their candidate, desperately tried to bribe him to drop out of the race, while simultaneously secretly funding Butler’s third-party candidacy in the hope that he would siphon enough votes from Cleveland to throw the election to James G. Blaine, the Republican candidate.”
For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167