25 May 2010


The Independence Party holds Line C on New York State election ballots. That means it's the third-largest party in the state, bigger than the vaunted Conservatives or the better-known Working Families Party. Lines are determined by electoral performance, and it often seems as if Independence is concerned more with maintaining the line than with establishing a coherent identity. New York allows cross-endorsement of candidates, encouraging minor parties to nominate major-party candidates. Since all votes for a candidate count toward his total, regardless of which party line you vote for him on, "independent" parties encourage supporters to vote for Bipolarchy candidates on their lines in order to secure or strengthen the parties' positions on the ballot. It is hoped that elected officials will recognize the proportion of their support that comes from independent parties and adjust their policies accordingly. Since New York remains a classic case of Bipolarchy gridlock, you may judge the success of these tactics for yourselves. Nevertheless, the Independence Party perseveres. While genuinely independent personalities like the billionaire Tom Golisano have headed the Independence ticket in the past, this year the party leadership will endorse Andrew Cuomo, the current attorney general and presumptive Democratic nominee for governor. The Independence chairman in particular is practically servile in his adulation of Cuomo, declaring himself ready to hold the man's coat during the race.

If truth-in-advertising laws applied to party labels, the Independence Party's expected endorsement of Cuomo, which would have to be ratified at a party convention, would oblige it to change its name. What they'd call themselves I don't know. I have no idea because I have no idea of what they stand for apart from perpetuating their place on the ballot. If that's what it takes to hold a place on the ballot in New York, that's just another argument for radical reform of the ballot itself, not just the rules for access to it. For now, anyone looking for an independent candidate for governor on Row C will have to look elsewhere.

No comments: