A 'patriotic' bipartisan presidential ticket determined by a coin flip demands to be taken seriously
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It's hard out here for a third-party presidential ticket. To gain ballot access in all 50 states, third parties struggle for years. These lesser-known parties launch nationwide grassroots efforts to collect signatures, file paperwork, and clear innumerable bureaucratic roadblocks. In many cases, a bid also requires reaching a vote-percentage threshold in down-ballot elections for the national party's presidential candidate to stand a chance of making it onto the ballot. Even then, candidates are hampered by minuscule name recognition, left out of most national polling, and locked out of the presidential debates. It's a rigged game. As of now, the Libertarian and Green parties are the only third parties that regularly gain widespread ballot access (Libertarians are on ballots in all 50 states; the Greens are in 45 states). But both parties are routinely dismissed as a "waste of a vote." All in all, it's a massive undertaking to make a difference as a third party in the US. So it's intriguing when a new alternative to the Democratic and Republican stranglehold tries to make some noise. The latest attempt to enter the fray, Unity 2020, wants to be taken seriously as a "patriotic" movement that stands as the last hope "to save the Republic from the disaster that looms on our current path." It's making some noise thanks to a prominent internet presence. But the massive holes in its plan — to say nothing of its logic that seems unmoored from political reality — have led at least one critic from a third party to call it "snake oil." A 'patriotic' presidential ticket with no party Unity 2020 is the brainchild of former Evergreen State College professor Bret Weinstein, a charter member of the "intellectual dark web" (IDW) who is probably best-known for being the target of a student-led mob on campus in 2017. Unity 2020 isn't a party; it's "a grassroots presidential campaign to restore patriotic, courageous & capable leadership to the United States," according to its website. Fundamental to the Unity 2020 ethos is the belief that the country faces certain doom if either President Donald Trump or Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden wins the election in November. The idea, then, is that a "patriotic" bipartisan ticket can save the day. Weinstein told me Unity 2020 has about 1,000 volunteers and has eschewed fundraising to preemptively cut off any accusations of financial grifting. Such a small and impoverished operation stands little chance of even making as much electoral impact as the perennial third-party candidate Rocky De La Fuente. But the movement is generating noise because of IDW's broad audience reach online. Weinstein in June unveiled the "Articles of Unity" on Tucker Carlson's Fox News show — which this summer broke the record for being the highest-rated cable-news show in history. In addition to his YouTube channel with over 220,000 subscribers, Weinstein also recently made his latest of several appearances on the "Joe Rogan Experience," one of the most popular YouTube shows and podcasts. The interview with Rogan — a fellow IDWer — has been viewed more than 6.5 million times. And that's just on YouTube, which doesn't account for the millions of audio-only downloads and streams Rogan gets with every episode. Carlson's and Rogan's audiences are massive — and loyal. While it may not have reached "the mainstream," it's clear that Weinstein is leveraging his network to spread Unity 2020's message to a large audience. So what is that message? The "Articles of Unity" published on Unity 2020's website show a passion for shaking up the establishment, uprooting the staid two-party system, and moving toward democratic initiatives like ranked voting as a way of juicing more ideological diversity into politics, while chiseling away at two-party tribal hackery. Hey, no one ever changed the world by thinking pragmatically. And judging by the many vagaries in the nitty-gritty of its plan, neither has Unity 2020. While Unity 2020 has grand ideas, the organizers have a few practical problems. They have no ballot access less than 50 days before the general election, which is constitutionally required to take place on November 3. They have volunteers but very little organizational infrastructure. And the two candidates they've picked haven't agreed to run on their ticket and have already endorsed their respective parties' standard-bearers. Oh also, a coin flip will determine whether the Democrat or the Republican serves as president or vice president, and the order of the ticket will be reversed every four years.
A hardcore Trump supporter and a renegade Democrat to unify us all Supporters submitted over 2,000 candidate nominations, according to Weinstein, and the top six were then voted on via ranked online ballots. Eight rounds of online voting — with 7,919 votes in all — ultimately yielded two sitting members of Congress (as well as military veterans) as Unity 2020's presidential ticket: Republican Rep. Dan Crenshaw and Democratic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard. (I made numerous attempts to reach Crenshaw's and Gabbard's spokespeople to see if they were at all interested in running for president under the Unity 2020 banner but never got a response.) Crenshaw was a featured speaker at last month's Republican National Convention, where he endorsed Trump. Gabbard ran for the Democratic nomination this year, finishing with a grand total of two delegates and the dubious honor of being the candidate most disliked by Democratic primary voters. Upon dropping out of the race, she endorsed Biden. I asked Weinstein in a phone interview last week how a dyed-in-the-wool Trump-supporting conservative and a renegade Democrat would appeal to moderates, centrists, or independents. "The ticket isn't moderate. The ticket is patriotic. And what makes the ticket viable is that both of these people are intelligent. They are clearly willing to make sacrifices on behalf of the nation. And they clearly both have courage," Weinstein said. Unity 2020 was designed to draw voters "equally from the two major parties," Weinstein said. But the two candidates selected may have some problems bridging that gap. Gabbard's unpopularity within her own party, Weinstein said, comes in no small part from "an absolutely bizarre attack from the DNC, with Hillary Clinton accusing her, of all things, of being a Russian asset." Weinstein added, "As somebody who grew up during the Cold War, seeing that kind of rhetoric deployed domestically in a political context against an obvious patriot is jaw-dropping." Regarding Crenshaw, Weinstein said, "He is a loyal Republican, but I have also spent a fair amount of time talking to Dan, and I find him interpersonally very reasonable. Dan, I would argue, is a person I have long hypothesized exists, which is to say someone who functions well within the current system but would prefer that the system did not have this partisan feature." Weinstein sees no evidence of patriotism in Trump or Biden, calling the president "an entirely cynical actor who does what is necessary to advance his own cause" and describing Biden as a "lifelong machine politician" who has run his campaign in "a decrepit condition." A self-described "radical progressive," Weinstein said: "Economic inequality, growing past a certain point, tends to trigger revolts." But he added, "The focus on race on the BLM left is going to drive the entire nation to a place that it has been in the past, where race was a primary feature of how we viewed each other. And anybody who understands the United States knows that moving in that direction will be negative and not positive." It's not just the forces of the political duopoly that Weinstein is fighting, it's what he sees as political bias in Big Tech. Twitter permanently suspended Unity 2020's "@ArticlesOfUnity" account for violating its "platform manipulation and spam policy," a company spokesman told me. Weinstein said an internal investigation of Unity 2020's volunteers found no evidence of such violations and that Twitter has ignored appeals. A new account has been set up by Unity 2020 volunteers to document Twitter's alleged suppression of Unity-related hashtags and links. None of this is an accident, according to Weinstein. "It is noteworthy that in the Twitter communications division, Kamala Harris' former press secretary is now highly placed," Weinstein said, referring to Joe Pacilio, who worked for Harris in that capacity when she was California's attorney general. According to Twitter, Pacilio is a spokesperson and has nothing to do with policy enforcement. But he's been accused without evidence by conservative websites of policing Trump's tweets anyway.
Brother, can you spare your national ballot access? Needless to say, the odds are stacked against Unity 2020. Among its many disadvantages, it has no ballot access to an election that's less than two months from now. But Weinstein has a plan for that, too: Third parties — particularly the Libertarian and Green parties — should hand over their ballot access to Unity 2020 out of a sense of patriotism. "Libertarians and the Greens have achieved something very difficult: They have gained national ballot access. However, their role in American politics is effectively as a footnote," Weinstein said. "But with the intent of making the point now at this moment in history, neither one is positioned to win … It is almost impossible to imagine Howie Hawkins or Jo Jorgensen ascending to the presidency." Hawkins and Jorgensen are the respective nominees for the Green Party and the Libertarian Party. Weinstein added: "I have put my ideology aside, and all of the other volunteers inside of Unity have put their ideologies aside, in order to advance a plan for the good of the nation; the Libertarians and/or the Greens could do the same thing at this moment." The Libertarians and Greens have other ideas about Unity 2020's ambitions. "They're absolute f---ing morons," Nicholas Sarwark, the Libertarian Party chair from 2014 to 2020, said. "They don't have any plan for ballot access other than pretending it's not a thing." Sarwark said Unity 2020's plan is to "transcend laws" by using a kind of magical thinking that he likened to Marianne Williamson's big-on-love and short-on-policy campaign. "Who's your ticket? Dan Crenshaw and Tulsi Gabbard? And the runners-up were William McRaven and Andrew Yang. It's like the start of 'Street Fighter': Randomize your fighter and let's see how it goes," Sarwark added. Sarwark said the potential Unity 2020 candidates were "popular with a lot of people" whose second choice would be Trump and that the project itself "is an attempt to dismiss all of the work that's been done over decades by somebody who's done no work, and it should be treated with all due respect." The Libertarian Party's executive director, Dan Fishman, said Unity 2020 "feels like snake oil" sold by "people who should know better." Fishman noted ballot-access deadlines have already passed and said getting the Libertarians on all 50 states' ballots (plus DC) was particularly difficult this year. "Without question this was the most difficult year ever to get 50-state ballot access. Because in the COVID era, nobody wants to take a pen and a piece of paper from you and sign their name to a petition," Fishman said. Fishman said the idea that the Libertarian Party would just hand over its ballot access after successfully completing all the "arduous" required work was risible. He added that Weinstein appeared to be "a person who hasn't done any due diligence at all." As for the argument that the Libertarians have a patriotic duty to dump their ticket in favor of Unity 2020's, Fishman called that notion "fearmongering" and the opposite of patriotism. "We're not looking to elect somebody other than a Republican or Democrat," Fishman said. "We're looking to elect a Libertarian." The Greens agree. "Greens want to run Greens for office," Michael O'Neil, the Green Party's communications manager, said. "They want to run candidates who will advocate for our platform and for the policies that we believe in. That's what political parties are supposed to do." O'Neil is more sympathetic to the Unity 2020 cause than the Libertarians I spoke with. He said the Greens were "in 100% agreement with the motivation for the Unity 2020 project" to bring about structural reform and "democratize our elections." But O'Neil added, "This change is not going to come in one election. It's certainly not going to come in the last two or three months of a presidential election." However, the Greens have no intention of partnering with Unity 2020 to get Crenshaw and Gabbard on their ticket. "The Green Party nomination is not for anyone to hand out or to trade," O'Neil said. "What people need to understand about creating actual democratic political parties is that they have to be accountable to their membership, they need to be transparent, and, you know, they aren't built in a day," O'Neil added. Weinstein doesn't buy these arguments and says it's defeatist to believe it's too late in the process to run the Crenshaw-Gabbard (or Gabbard-Crenshaw) ticket — and win. "Instead of as spoilers, [third parties] would be understood as heroes putting aside their interests for the moment to save a republic that many people seem to understand is in jeopardy," Weinstein said. "It is the right thing to do, the honorable thing to do. And it is also the strategically savvy thing to do." Weinstein has alluded to elements of his plan that he has not yet made public, and he insists that ballot-access deadlines, running candidates who've already endorsed Trump or Biden, and a cyclical downturn in third-party interest are not immovable barriers. "We discovered that nobody was going to enter the race that could possibly save us from this disastrous outcome, and somebody needed to do something," Weinstein said. But he conceded, "If I had it to do over again, if I knew the future, if I knew where we were going to end up where we did, would I have started much earlier? You better believe it." In reality, there's little chance a freshman congressman and a lame-duck congresswoman on a random party line would make a dent in the polls against a sitting president and a former vice president. But prospective third-party voters who caught Weinstein on Rogan's show could be swayed, which given enough volume, might chip away at the already modest expected returns for third parties. As for the notion that the Libertarians and Greens would team up with Unity 2020, representatives from both parties said they have not been asked.
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California Republicans embrace legally dubious ballot harvesting after Trump and the GOP spent months decrying the practice
Summary List PlacementThe California Republican Party doubled down on its use of unauthorized ballot dropboxes, potentially...Summary List PlacementThe California Republican Party doubled down on its use of unauthorized ballot dropboxes, potentially in violation of state law, shortly before state officials issued cease-and-desist orders against them in the matter. On Sunday evening, news outlets including the Orange County Register and CBS Los Angeles reported that local election officials in parts of the state including Orange County, Los Angeles County, and Fresno were investigating reports of Republican officials possibly confusing voters by setting up unofficial dropboxes. In a now-deleted tweet, a California Republican Party regional field director Jordan Tygh posted a photo of himself holding his mail ballot in front of a box with a laminated sign taped to it that said "official ballot drop-off box" and "no postage necessary" on it while wearing a mask with the logo of Republican congressional candidate Michelle Steel (Steel herself has not been accused of any wrongdoing or of any official connection to the setup of the dropboxes). There have been recent reports of groups promoting unofficial ballot drop boxes that are not affiliated with Orange County, CA Elections. Voters who want to return their ballot at a drop box should only use official drop boxes. View the press release at https://t.co/rZGjhYKii0 pic.twitter.com/0f1MJrx3Hm — OC Registrar (@OCRegistrar) October 12, 2020 In a Monday press conference, California Secretary of State Alex Padilla and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced they issued formal cease-and-desist orders to both the state Republican Party and county-level Republican parties in Fresno, Los Angeles, and Oranges Counties in connection with the dropboxes. Padilla said state officials are also sending guidance to political parties reminding them of the rules around ballot collection. "Misleading voters is wrong, regardless of who is doing it," Padilla said in the press conference. "Political campaigns and parties can engage in get-out-the-vote efforts, but they cannot violate state law." California has expansive laws around both mail voting and third-party ballot collection, laws that both political parties have benefited from in recent election cycles. And on Twitter, the state Republican Party stood behind putting up the dropboxes, citing a state law passed in 2016 expanding ballot collection, and arguing that the party-run boxes would give voters another layer of reassurance that their vote would be counted. "If a congregation/business or other group provides the option to its parishioners/associates/ or colleagues to drop off their ballot in a safe location, with people they trust, rather than handing it over to a stranger who knocks on their door — what is wrong with that?" they tweeted. The California GOP is correct in pointing out that any individual person may return an unlimited number of other voters' ballots under state law. However, those returning ballots must properly sign for those voters' ballots and follow the legal procedures to safely return them, and setting up unauthorized and unmonitored third-party drop boxes to collect ballots is not legal in California. In a memorandum released Sunday, Padilla's office said that not only does state law ban the use of unauthorized, unofficial drop boxes that are not put in place and regulated by government election officials, but setting up those boxes also violates the regulations governing the collection of ballots. Republican Party operatives can deliver other voters' ballots, but the voter must directly designate a specific person to return their ballot, and the returner has to affix their name, signature, and relation to the voter on the outer envelope. Some commentators originally suggested that the unauthorized drop boxes could be a cynical attempt on the part of the GOP to feed into some of the misinformation suggesting that fraud is rampant. But the entire episode appeared more like a real attempt at encouraging Republican voters who may be skeptical of mail voting to return their ballots gone wrong. "This looks more like paranoia about returning absentee ballots than an attempt at fraud," Rick Hasen, a leading election law expert at the University of California-Irvine, located in Orange County, told Insider in an email. "It is ironic though that the GOP has set up a massive ballot harvesting operation, even though they are not calling it that." In addition to risking legal consequences, the state GOP has also put itself directly at odds with the messaging on election security of national Republicans, including President Donald Trump, who frequently point to third-party ballot collection as inherently suspicious and the ultimate encapsulation of the dangers of lax voting rules. "GET RID OF BALLOT HARVESTING, IT IS RAMPANT WITH FRAUD. THE USA MUST HAVE VOTER I.D., THE ONLY WAY TO GET AN HONEST COUNT!," Trump wrote in an all-caps tweet in April. (There is no scholarly evidence that voter identification laws are necessary to prevent voter fraud.) And in September, Trump celebrated a court ruling in Pennsylvania limiting third-party ballot collection in a tweet that decried "the atrocious Ballot Harvesting Scam." The Republican National Committee, in particular, has been at the forefront of the legal fights to limit third-party ballot collection. The organization calls ballot harvesting "unacceptable" on its website ProtectTheVote.org, which summarizes its ongoing election-related litigation, and lists it as one of its top priorities to stop. The phrase "ballot harvesting" appears 23 times alone on the website, which identifies seven states where the RNC legal team has fought in court to limit third-party ballot collection. But on Monday, the organization did not rush to condemn the California GOP's tactics. "We are continuing to fight Democrats' efforts to expand ballot harvesting, but we are not going to let them have an artificial advantage in places where it is legal," RNC Spokeswoman Mandi Merritt told Insider in an email. The California Democratic Party is notably not, however, similarly installing unauthorized drop boxes to collect ballots. The Trump campaign, which also forcefully opposed ballot harvesting and has been a party to litigation to restrict the practice, did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Insider. And the National Republican Campaign Committee, the campaign arm of House Republicans, appeared to defend the practice, tweeting in response to Steel's opponent, first-term Democrat Rep. Harley Rouda: "Looks like Junior here is only ok with ballot harvesting when it's the Democrats ballot harvesting. Go back to the beach, bro." The California Republican Party openly embracing a practice decried as the height of fraud and dirty tricks by the national GOP is just the latest example of a Republican campaign breaking with Trump's hardline rhetoric supporting election restrictions. Throughout this year, even as Trump and other top Republicans have publicly (and falsely) lambasted mail voting as inherently fraudulent and untrustworthy, the Trump campaign and other GOP groups have encouraged their voters, through mailers and robocalls, to take advantage of no-excuse mail voting in the states that allow it. Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: July 15 is Tax Day — here's what it's like to do your own taxes for the very first time
Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan announced Saturday he will not seek the Libertarian nomination for the...Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan announced Saturday he will not seek the Libertarian nomination for the White House. In a series of tweets, Amash acknowledged unique challenges of trying to campaign as a third-party candidate amid the coronavirus pandemic. Amash has been a prominent critic of President Donald Trump and supported his impeachment, and left the Republican party last year. During his campaign, Amash said he wanted to represent the millions of Americans who do not feel well represented by either major party. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. WASHINGTON (AP) — Michigan Rep. Justin Amash, a high-profile critic of President Donald Trump who quit the GOP and became an independent, announced Saturday he would not seek the Libertarian nomination for the White House, weeks after saying he was running because voters wanted an "alternative" to the two major parties. In deciding to drop out, he cited the challenges of trying to campaign as a third-party candidate during the coronavirus pandemic. "After much reflection, I've concluded that circumstances don't lend themselves to my success as a candidate for president this year, and therefore I will not be a candidate," he said in one in a series of tweets explaining his decision. He said "the new reality of social distancing levels the playing field among the candidates in many respects, but it also means lesser known candidates are more dependent on adequate media opportunities to reach people." I continue to believe that a candidate from outside the old parties, offering a vision of government grounded in liberty and equality, can break through in the right environment.But this environment presents extraordinary challenges. — Justin Amash (@justinamash) May 16, 2020 Amash said he still thinks such a candidacy could prove successful in the future. "I continue to believe that a candidate from outside the old parties, offering a vision of government grounded in liberty and equality, can break through in the right environment," he tweeted. "But this environment presents extraordinary challenges." Amash would have faced nearly impossible odds of winning the presidency. But third-party campaigns can have unpredictable consequences for the Democratic and Republican candidates in the race. In 2000, Ralph Nader's Green Party presidential bid cost Democrat Al Gore crucial support and was a contributing factor in Republican George W. Bush's narrow victory. Democrat Hillary Clinton's 2016 loss to Trump has been blamed in part on the support that Green Party candidate Jill Stein picked up in states such as Pennsylvania. Amash left the Republican Party last year and later supported Trump's impeachment in the Democratic-led House. In announcing his intention in late April to seek the Libertarian nomination, Amash said he wanted to represent the millions of Americans who do not feel well represented by either major party.Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: How waste is dealt with on the world's largest cruise ship
The Guardian view on Spain’s election: progressive parties must unite to defeat the far right | Editorial
The xenophobic nationalists of Vox made disturbing progress in Spain’s fourth election in as many yearsThere...The xenophobic nationalists of Vox made disturbing progress in Spain’s fourth election in as many yearsThere was one major beneficiary of Sunday’s inconclusive election in Spain, but it was not Pedro Sánchez, the Socialist prime minister. Mr Sánchez hoped a fourth poll in as many years might finally deliver him the numbers to break a debilitating deadlock in parliament. Instead, the Socialist Workers’ party emerged as the largest party once again, but lost three seats and must enter yet more tortured negotiations with other parties in order to find a way to govern.The real celebrations of Sunday evening took place at the headquarters of Vox, a far-right nationalist party. Vox increased its share of the vote to 15.1%, won 52 seats and became the third-biggest party in Spain. Its leader, Santiago Abascal, told cheering supporters that the results meant “a patriotic alternative has been consolidated in Spain”, and called for “the restoration of national unity with the application of direct rule in Catalonia”. Continue reading...