Via David Sirota (again), I am learning about the movement for ballot freedom — a way in which voters can vote for a front-running candidate for office, but vote under a third party affiliation that they are more aligned with in terms of the issues. In Massachusetts, this initiative is gaining momentum.
New York has ballot freedom already, and a third party, the Working Families Party, has been gaining political influence since 1998. Connecticut also has a Working Families Party. I like how they define themselves:
We are united by a desire to hold elected officials accountable to ordinary people, rather than special interests, lobbyists, and wealthy campaign contributors who currently dominate the political process. We are tired of being taken for granted by politicians from both parties and we are taking action to make our voices heard.
Among other successes, the Working Families Party played a major role in getting legislation passed to require employers like Wal-mart to provide health insurance for their employees. They have also successfully advocated for increases in the minimum wage in New York, and helped prevent the passage of legislation seeking tax breaks for the highest income earners.
The New York Working Families party doesn’t always side with the Democrats, as detailed in this article in The Nation. In general, though, Working Families tends to support Democrats, but they have effectively leveraged their support to garner stronger commitments from candidates in both parties on important legislative issues.
It seems to me Rhode Island could benefit from Ballot Freedom, from a third party that could forcefully advocate for the issues that matter most to working families like quality education and health care. This party could also play a role in reforming the Democratic party in Rhode Island, endorsing Democratic candidates only if they make a clear commitment to the issues that matter most to working families, and running their own candidates to take out bad Democrats, as the Working Families Party did in Brooklyn and Staten Island in 2003, to try to rid the city of some of its corrupt judges picked by the Democratic party.