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 U.S. 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, reject the elimination 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 the 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 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, the candidates 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.
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.”
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 its 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 elections by sponsoring its own debates and breaking with the Democrats and Republicans and their private corporation that manipulates debates. He also urged that they “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 difference between Obama and McCain in the low single digits the votes for the alternative candidates are 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 director of Democracy Rising and co-founder of Voters For Peace.