Barack Obama and John McCain have demonstrated in the past two days that they, like the Bush administration, almost all of the financial media and much of Congress are firmly in the pocket of the Wall Street bankers. The two candidates obediently fell in line behind the Paulson plan to give $700 billion dollars in free taxpayer money to institutions that are controlled by the wealthiest people in America.
The political and economic reach of Wall Street is staggering. It accounts for a large portion of political contributions, but more than that has enormous leverage over the media and industrial conglomerates that inform and employ America. After all, it can bring even the largest corporations to their knees but denying credit and driving share prices down through manipulative techniques like naked short selling. It can decide which corporations gain a competitive advantage through access to favorable credit terms.
Many progressives would prefer to vote for Ralph Nader over Barack Obama but are deterred by the prospect of helping John McCain get elected as a result of their decision. Likewise, many conservatives would prefer to vote for Constitution Party nominee Chuck Baldwin (endorsed by Ron Paul last week) or Libertarian Party nominee Bob Barr over McCain but do not want to spend the next four years feeling responsible for Obama's election.
This is a valid concern- Nader's candidacy likely cost Al Gore the 2000 election considering the eventual vote differential in Florida. Such considerations prevent otherwise credible and attractive third party candidates from gaining traction and presenting a challenge to the established parties. Disenchanted liberals and conservatives might not agree on much, but they do agree that it is frustrating being locked into a two party system in which both parties are controlled by monied interests that often appear insensitive to the interests of everyday people and middle class values.
So here is my proposal.
Most of us know someone who we otherwise trust but who disagrees with us on politics. I have several friends who fit this description, but who agree with me that we could do much better than Obama-McCain as the choice that we have been given for the nation's chief executive.
My proposal is to make a deal with them. A covenant to get out and vote for President, but to mutually refrain from voting for either the Democratic or Republican candidate. I'll vote for Chuck Baldwin if my progressive friend agrees to votes for Nader. If Obama wins, I won't feel responsible because I will know that my missing McCain vote was balanced by my friend's missing Obama vote. If McCain wins my friend can sleep easily as well. And we can both sleep easier because we didn't have to hold our noses and vote for a candidate who we found to be distasteful.
If millions of disaffected voters could be convinced to "make the covenant," we could send a clear message to the major parties that their duopoly on power is threatened if they do not become more responsive to the electorate.
Given the social networking power of the Internet, could such a proposal could gain momentum in the next four weeks? How much do the people really want change?