The argument for a Working Families Party in Oregon

By Barb Dudley of Portland, Oregon. Barbara is an organizer of the Oregon Working Families Party and describes herself as "a teacher at PSU and an inveterate activist." Previously, she contributed "Stay Out of the Culture War (a cure for the post-election blues)"

A number of people in the labor movement, as well as community activists have been meeting over the past year to talk about forming a Working Families Party in Oregon. This would be a political party to focus on the economic issues that are so important to working people in this state but which tend to be ignored by both of the major political parties. But we don't want this Party to be relegated to the "spoiler" role of third parties in our present voting system. We also want to change the voting system back to what it used to be in Oregon, when fusion voting was legal.

What's fusion voting?

Back when our democracy was younger and more vibrant, fusion was a common voting system throughout the US, including in Oregon. But because it gave a voice to workers and farmers, the major parties outlawed it in all but a few states at the turn of the last century. Fusion is now legal only in a few states, and only used actively in New York and Connecticut. Fusion voting permits more than one party to nominate the same candidate, in other words, to cross-endorse a candidate, so that voters can vote for their party and their issues on their ballot line without throwing their vote away. Votes from the different parties are tallied separately, and then combined for that candidate's total.

Using fusion, minor parties can demonstrate in clear and unequivocal terms how much support they can deliver to a candidate by highlighting the number of votes a candidate receives on each party's line. This gives greater influence with candidates and elected officials, especially when a third party provides the margin of victory.

That's what happened in the 19th century, when fusion was legal in Oregon and the Populist Party was a viable third party. In Oregon we even elected a Populist Governor, Gov. Pennoyer. The Populists regularly 'fused' with the Democratic Party. As a result, the Republicans lost their grip on the Northwest and many populist reforms were put in place. In the early 1900s, the Republicans focused their energy on making fusion voting illegal, and they succeeded in Oregon and in most other states.

What can a Working Families Party accomplish?

New York State gives us the best example of what a Working Families Party can accomplish through fusion voting. There, in 1998, a coalition of labor unions and community organizations formed the Working Families Party. It now has over 60 affiliate unions and community organizations and over one million members in chapters throughout New York State.

The Working Families Party regularly fuses with Democrats, and with the occasional Republican, who support their issues, which include living wages, progressive taxes, support for public education, and universal health care. The Party will run their own candidates when neither of the two major parties' candidates supports working families' issues, but their greatest impact comes from aggressively promoting their issues rather than personalities, and using fusion by cross-endorsing major party candidates who commit to support working families' issues.

In 2002 the Working Families Party led the fight for solving the New York City budget crisis through progressive revenue increases, not deep social service cuts as Oregon and so many other states have done. The Working Families Party has also been given credit for the passage of strong campaign finance legislation in New York City, a $2/hour raise in the NY State minimum wage, and the recent repeal the worst aspects of the Rockefeller drug laws, which set the bar two decades ago for mandatory sentencing. For more details about their structure, history and many accomplishments over the past five years, and more information about fusion voting, visit the Party's website at

Building a Working Families Party in Oregon

Here in Oregon we have long suffered through a gridlocked Legislature from which we get no real solutions to our current economic, educational, health care crises. Could fusion voting make a difference? Can we imagine forming our own Working Families Party in Oregon to build a strong majority for basic economic issues, issues of education, economic development, living wages, health care, affordable housing, and support for a progressive tax structure where corporations and wealthy individuals pay their fair share? Could such a party appeal to the many working people, including some 40% of union members, who now vote Republican on 'cultural issues?'

The Oregon AFL-CIO passed a resolution on October 18, 2005, calling for "the Oregon AFL-CIO to convene a coalition of all like minded organizations and individuals to explore the formation of a Working Families Party of Oregon, and the reinstitution of fusion voting in Oregon, to put forth the economic values and priorities of working families in the political arena."

In late November representatives from thirteen unions and eight community organizations met to begin working toward the formation of a Working Families Party in Oregon. Now begins the hard ' but ever so satisfying ' work of forming a party, building support around the state, getting fusion voting legalized and starting to move the economic issues forward that will make a positive difference in the lives of working people, small business owners, and family farmers throughout our state.

If you would like to learn more, just visit

And check out last week's Willamette Week.

  • (Show?)

    Just a couple of questions, forgive me if they seem loaded...

    Is "working families" still code for organized labor, i.e., unions?

    And if so, doesn't labor already have a voice commensurate with their membership in the Oregon Democratic Party?

  • mrfearless47 (unverified)

    Barbara Dudley writes:

    "build a strong majority for basic economic issues, issues of education, economic development, living wages, health care, affordable housing, and support for a progressive tax structure where corporations and wealthy individuals pay their fair share? Could such a party appeal to the many working people, including some 40% of union members, who now vote Republican on 'cultural issues?'"

    [rant on] One of the problems I have is that groups like yours risk alienating some of the very wealthy people who actually support many of the issues you advocate for. Unfortunately, some of my current displeasure with Democrats in general is that those of us who many would consider "wealthy" actually pay one hell of a lot in taxes right now. I resent the allegation that I'm not paying my fair share. My wife and I both EARN salaries that are reported on W-2 forms. Less than 5% of our income is "unearned". Consequently, although we are classed as wealthy (probably in the upper 5%), we also pay a combined 44% of our adjusted gross income in Federal, State, and Multnomah County taxes and have been paying the AMT for more than 10 years. We also pay sizeable property taxes and both fully max out on Social Security contributions and both pay Medicare on our entire salaries. I don't feel obliged to pay any more taxes and wouldn't support any candidate who advocated that the wealthy (as a generic term applied to anyone who makes more than $xxx,xxx per year regardless of source) pay more taxes. I have no problem with increasing the taxes on capital gains and dividends, but do believe that taxing interest earned on savings is counterproductive for a society that decries the low national savings rate.

    All democrats need to stop demonizing the "wealthy" without being more precise about definitions. While the party definitely needs to develop some clear principles about what it stands for and WHO it stands, it has to be more careful about defining who it stands against.

    [/rant off]

  • LT (unverified)

    Very interesting post. At last we know the origin of WFP: The Oregon AFL-CIO passed a resolution on October 18, 2005, calling for "the Oregon AFL-CIO to convene a coalition of all like minded organizations and individuals to explore the formation of a Working Families Party of Oregon, and the reinstitution of fusion voting in Oregon, to put forth the economic values and priorities of working families in the political arena."

    Had that information been provided here earlier, the presentation of the WFP might have been more impressive. Just about anyone involved in Democratic politics knows Tim Nesbitt. Why weren't he and the AFL-CIO connection mentioned by WFP supporters earlier?

    Very interesting WW article. Quote from the article: Forming a minor party in Oregon takes 19,000 signatures, which Working Families organizers plan to gather in the spring. They then hope to persuade the 2007 Legislature to restore a fusion-voting option to Oregon's ballot, which had that choice during third parties' heyday more than a hundred years ago.

    Whaddya know---details on what WFP proposes to do this year and next year.

    Now, if the WFP supporters on this blog had been that specific instead of saying things like

    As it so happens, I saw a presentation by Barbara Dudley on this very issue just recently and I was very impressed. She and her credentials are also very impressive (ONE of which was having been the Chair of the National Lawyers Guild for awhile). She discussed how fusion voting was legal in Oregon until the turn of the 20th century when the Repubs. did away with it because it helped the Dems. The Working Families Party (often called by some other name in various places) and fusion voting have been in use in New York for a long time. Paraphrasing Ms. Dudley, the Working Families Party is not a 3rd "spoiler" party or something that would split up the Dems. as has been the accusation by others here.

    they might have gotten more support.

    Instead, we had exchanges like this one:

    Posted by: Jenni Simonis | Jan 9, 2006 8:41:44 PM


    I don't think asking questions is bashing. I think people should ask questions and get more information. But some of the posts on here have included bashing the WFP and fusion voting.

    It would seem to me to be an intelligent strategy for those supporting WFP to: 1) provide the concrete information about the AFL-CIO connection to those whose support they seek, AND make it clear that they have no "spoiler" intentions in 2006 because they want the support of all who care about economic issues and are willing to answer any questions activists have about WFP 2) become involved in legislative campaigns of people who support WFP, primary or general.

    A 2007 legislature with Republicans controlling either body is not likely to smile on any WFP proposals.

    So let's drop the discussions of theory (unless you are talking to a potential supporter who wants to know the theory behind WFP) and get to work electing those Democratic legislators in 2006, OK?

  • Mike Austin (unverified)

    Some form of Instant Runoff Voting would provide the same amount of information to the current two parties, would also result in no "wasted" votes, and has the added benefit of providing real competition to the current two parties. If we end up with only two viable parties, what's the point?

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    Maybe not all of us who posted on that blog had any of that information, did you think of that?

    I only had a tiny bit more information than what had already been posted on the blog. I've never seen a presentation by her and until the Rebooting Democracy conference had never heard of the Working Families Party or Fusion voting.

    I'm not advocating for it-- I'm still working on finding out more info myself. So please don't act as if I'm some sort of an expert on the topic and was keeping info from you.

  • Aaron (unverified)

    My 2 cents,

    The unions under the AFL-CIO(Oregon) are appeasing those union members that are not Democrats and/or don't like the Democratic Party their issues--hence the formation of the Working Families Party of Oregon. Furthermore, a very well informed union member told me that certain hot topic issues like: gay marriage, choice, gun rights, and the environment; are further reasoning’s for the formation of this party. Since some of the union members do not want to focus or deal with those issues and are disgusted with the Republican and Democratic parties fight over these issues.

    My main issue with fusion voting is if you are a Democratic candidate, why would you want to go get the WFP or PG endorsement and would that not that nullify the endorsement from the Democrats. Furthermore, I know that the Democratic Party does not endorse non-Democratic party candidates.

    I prefer 1st, 2nd and 3rd choice voting alot more; this allows options for those voters that are not liking the 2 major candidates for office but allows them the option of voting from them just in case if they desire too.

  • LT (unverified)

    No disparagement meant of Jenni.

    As far as this, I prefer 1st, 2nd and 3rd choice voting alot more; this allows options for those voters that are not liking the 2 major candidates for office but allows them the option of voting from them just in case if they desire too.

    I prefer to have a Legislature with Democratic majorities so we can keep the Senate and do "regime change" in the House.

    I don't see how tinkering with voting brings that end. Yesterday I had a chance to talk with a friend who I helped become the first Democrat ever elected in his district decades ago (districts have since been redrawn, renumbered, etc). We talked about how that campaign happened, how many couldn't believe a Democrat could win in that district.

    He got elected the old fashioned way, by hard work and lots of community support.

    Unless anyone can convince me that WFP or IRV or 1st, 2nd, 3rd choice voting can bring the same result, I am not interested---no matter how great the theories sound. Call me a pragmatist.

  • (Show?)

    From what I understand, the candidates would still be registered Democrat, so they could get their endorsement from the Dem party.

    The WFP wouldn't have the requirement that a candidate be from their party in order for them to endorse the candidate. They could endorse a candidate who was a Democrat if they wanted, but also a moderate or progressive Republican.

    I'd think you would want to get an endorsement from the WFP because it would have people in it who believe in the same things you do, but in previous elections had unlikely to vote. Now they're interested in voting again.

    As it was explained this weekend, the WFP could end up giving the Dem candidate enough percentage points that he/she wins the election. That would make the candidate more interested in fighting for the issues that WFP are working on. It also gives this group of voters proof of their turnout and affect on the race.

    It'd be great if someone who knows more about this could come in and explain it some more. We just had a very short presentation on this on Saturday, so the info I have is fairly limited.

    I'd like to see us get all the facts so that we can have a good discussion on how this would affect the parties, would it help elect more people who care about the issues that WFP would be fighting for, would it help the conservatives and hurt progressives, etc.

  • (Show?)


    No problem. I just wanted to make sure people knew I wasn't withholding info-- I really don't know.

    I'm trying to pass along what I have and squash any myths or misinformation I can find. I prefer discussions where we're working with the truths/facts so that we can have a reasonable discussion and work out if the plan is better than what we have.

  • BlueNote (unverified)

    From what I have read about this movement in other states, it appears to be aimed at attracting labor union members who are not comfortable with core progressive positions on reproductive freedom, gay rights, affirmative action, enviromental protection, etc. Given the Republican Party's anti-union stance I can see why these folks don't want to become Republicans, but I don't think they are likely to benefit the Democratic Party either unless then embrace more than just the "pro-union" aspects of the Democratic platform.

  • Aaron (unverified)

    My 2 cents again,

    Why should the Democratic Party give up on hot topic issues to appease a partner's group membership base to keep this group within the Party?

    If any of you say: "Well because the Unions bring money to the table. My counter point is: "Unions are like Corporations for the Democratic Party then. As well, the Democratic Party should only be beholden to the all voters of the country and not any one special interest group especially if this group want to suppress the rights of another group!!!"

    I say to the individuals that want a more centrist party, because some of their members dont want to fight for the common good for all, so good luck, good hunting and do not come crying back or pout when you can not make any head way in the big nasty world.

  • Monkeyface (unverified)

    Let's not forget that the WFP is the first thing to come along in a while that can serve as a counter weight to the Freedomworks, Bill Sizemore crowd. In Oregon, conservative extremists have moved so many through "third-party" organizations (note: not politcal parties) that there is a need to counter.

    Is the WFP the answer...I'm not sure. It seems that with the great structures built into the extreme right in this state, a Libertarian, anti-gay, anti-abortion or anti-public education politician could succeed just as well.

    In the end, perhaps this is the best way to shake things up. Democrats and Republicans both take risks when they support a candidate on party affiliation alone. Maybe we need something that can differentiate candidates for us.

    Confusing, intersting and exciting all at the same time. Thanks Barbara.

  • Garlynn (unverified)

    LT writes:

    Unless anyone can convince me that WFP or IRV or 1st, 2nd, 3rd choice voting can bring the same result, I am not interested---no matter how great the theories sound. Call me a pragmatist.

    There are still a lot of voters in Oregon -- I believe around 20% of the voting population -- that are not Democratic or Republican. Many of them belong to, say, the Pacific (Green) Party of Oregon. These people will always want to vote for their party's candidate on a ballot. However, the Pacific Party folks would probably swing 99% towards putting a Democrat in as their 2nd choice. Or even a Democrat as their 3rd choice, with a Working Families Party member as their 2nd choice, in a hypothetical scenario in which that party existed and was running against both a Pacific and Democratic party member in the same district.

    Under ranked-choice voting:
    1 All the first-choice votes would be tallied. Continuing our scenario, let's say that the Democrat comes in second, and the Republican first, after this initial count. 2 Then the second-choice votes would be tallied where the first choice was not a Democrat or a Republican. These would be added to the totals from Step 1 3* Then the third-choice votes would be tallied, where the first two choices were not a Democrat or a Republican. These would be added to the totals from Steps 1 & 2. At the end of all this, then, the Democrat could actually slide ahead of the Republican by pulling in the Pacific and Working Family party members' 2nd & 3rd choice votes.

    Of course, this would also make it possible for the Libertarians to band together with the Republicans... but in a democracy, that's the chance that you take.

    In a state with such a strong third-party voting contingent, ranked-choice voting would allow all voters to have a say in electing major-party candidates, without sacrificing their own third-party candidates. This is a win-win for everyone.

  • Garlynn (unverified)

    More info on ranked-choice (also called instant-runoff) voting can be found at this link, which is written from the perspective of providing an alternative to "top two" voting:

    Take-away quote:

    "Instead of voting for just one candidate, voters rank candidates in order of preference - first, second, third and so on. If a candidate wins a majority of first-choice votes, that candidate wins. If no candidate wins a majority, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated and a runoff is conducted immediately, taking into account the second choice votes on the ballots cast for the eliminated candidate.

    Instant runoff voting would give a voice to independent voters and third parties. Top Two would silence them. Instant runoff voting requires that candidates earn a majority of votes to win; Top Two allows candidates to skate by with minimal backing.

    Instant runoff voting is used throughout the world. It’s used to elect the winner of the Heisman Trophy and the president of the American Political Science Association. When instant runoff voting was used in San Francisco in 2004, The New York Times reported that it resulted in an astonishing level of cooperation and civility among candidates. They recognized that this election method required them to reach a broad cross section of citizens."

  • LT (unverified)

    For those who live in districts where there are only 2 candidates, no one has explained why this IRV is a good thing. Example: Many in District 19 were tired of Doyle in 2004 and wanted someone else. But what would IRV have done to make the outcome different when the only candidates were Doyle and Grisham? The outgoing newspaper editor (moved for family reasons) said maybe the biggest mistake on his watch was the paper's endorsement of Doyle.

    Until the IRV folks can explain in concrete terms why it is worth "taking a chance" on IRV in districts where there are only 2 choices, you haven't sold me on your idea.

  • (Show?)

    LT -- why is IRV "taking a chance" in 2-candidate races? There's no cost or pain associated -- nothing would change at all.

    As for the folks who are worried about what a left-leaning third-party would do to the vote splits in Oregon, you've gotta pay closer attention. The WFP folks are talking about fusion voting.

    Much has been written about it, including in this post today, as well as Jeff Malachowsky's post back in April.

    Read up, then argue.

  • LT (unverified)

    Thanks Kari, I just read that topic.

    And, as usual, Steve Bucknum makes lots of sense.

    This is part of his comment (go to the link provided by Kari to read the post and the comments).

    Posted by: Steve Bucknum | Apr 11, 2005 3:41:16 PM

    As I read the information provided regarding "fusion", I wonder if it isn't wrongly named. To me it looks like "fracture".

    At times we are all issue driven when something bugs us. But I don't think that is the way you build up a long term progressive direction. We need to work together, consistently, over the long haul, to take apart the ugly work of those Republicans. As it is we are already too split into issue oriented factions.

    It just doesn't make sense to me to add another layer to the whole political circus. We already work in coalition form.

  • Skip from Gresham (unverified)

    All of the discussion of third party coalitions aside....folks "fusion voting" is DEAD ON ARRIVAL. Anyone who thinks this has a snowball's chance in hell of becoming a reality in the next 20 years is either on some very good drugs or woefully naive.

    2006 is an important election for Oregon.....nonsensical distractions like the WFP can only cripple our chances of meaningful change in Salem....but we've done it before so I'm not too optimistic about our chances to remain united clear through to November.

  • Ed Bickford (unverified)

    Pandering to people who can't see the need to form an effective coalition inside the Democratic Party to fight back against the monstrously monolithic R's is cutting our own throats.

    We lose more than just votes by encouraging the growth of liberal third parties. The D's need those boots on the ground, those contributions, those people talking up the Democratic candidates. I do not see any advantage in allowing Democratic candidates to pursue lukewarm endorsements from other parties.

    We are risking the same 'divide and conquer' scenario that has classically been behind third party candidacies in the last century. At bedrock level it is dishonest. Without serious reform of the structure of our government, there is no effective place at the table for a liberal third party unless the Democrats relinquish theirs.

    Just think of the smiles this must put on George Bush's face.

  • Karl (unverified)

    After 40 years of voting, I can't tell you how many times I have held my nose and voted for "the lesser of two evils". It is so frustrating and depressing to feel voiceless. WFP or IRV, either one would help me believe I have an impact and live in a democracy. If we had IRV nationally, can anyone doubt that we would have a democrat in the White House now?

  • Thomas (unverified)

    Having moved to Oregon here recently from New York, I can tell you that the WFP has built a formidable power base for progressive change in local communities and statewide.

    Here's an exaample of how I think it really works: WFP endorses a democrat facing a tough fight. WFP organizers & volunteers convince working class voters to get to the polls and vote for the dem, to vote on the WFP line. They bring a solid message on good jobs, corporate greed, the rich getting richer, etc. This helps turn out the vote for the good guys, and helps us win on election day.

    Then, during legislative session, when the Dems are losing their spines, WFP can remind them exactly how many votes the party delivered. It's a big stick that puts Dems on notice of an organized progressive voting block. And it can be used as a carrot for moderate R's willing to buck their party.

    This is exactly how the WFP finally passed a statewide minimum wage increase in NY. And it's how they are passing progressive health care legislative in cities and counties once thought R-controlled turf.

    Does this hurt the GLBT-choice-enviro agenda? I don't think so. It certainly hasn't done so in New York. But that will depend a lot on the leadership of the party, and who chooses to get involved in local committees.

    Does it hurt us in 06? No way. This is an investment in a new vehicle designed to help our side win over the long haul. Although we have to be aware that the other side can take advantage of fusion voting as well...

  • Aaron (unverified)


    What if the WFP does not want to support the "hot topic" issue; then I say fine but don't bring the threat of a big stick on other issues that the Democrat is waivering on that WFP is promoting. The Democrat, and thier campaign issues; has to appease all the Democrats and voters that voted for the candidate in the district first and foremost. One clique of voters(that are D's or progressive voters) should not "blackmail" the elected official--if you dont vote this way we do not support you at all.

    I have notice that the pro-hot topic D's are very good on the Union voting. But the some of Union-members D's are lacking(or outright failing) on some of voting on the hot topic issues.

  • (Show?)

    I'd like to take this conversation to another level. If fusion voting becomes a reality, we're likely to see - in addition to the Working Families Party - something akin to a Pro-Life Party, a Gay Rights Party, a rejuvenated Green Party, perhaps a Women's Party, an Anti-Tax Party, .... etc.

    With all of these groups vying for votes, endorsing candidates, and generally fusing with the Democrats and the Republicans, what will this mean for our politics?

    Will voters be confused? Or will they appreciate the additional information about a candidate's supporters (and thus, positions on issues)?

  • LT (unverified)

    Good points, Aaron and Kari.

    Thomas, Ed and Skip are right. This is not just about a couple of people on a blog not being convinced, but about people who think 2006 is a major battle to finally retake the House.

    If the WFP / IRV folks were to back up their promises with something substantial (such as, maybe, "if WFP efforts in any way prevent the Democratic takeover of the Oregon House we promise to all leave Oregon politics and never bother you again") that would be one thing. Or if the WFP campaigners were to commit a certain amount of their free time to working on Oregon House races in addition to working on causes like WFP, that could earn them respect.

    But this is not about convincing bloggers. It is about the concrete task of electing a House majority, and debating theory on a blog does not elect legislators.

    Thomas, if you feel strongly, you should go to your local Democratic Party's next meeting and say to those hard working folks what you said on this blog.

    If that motivates a discussion, then come back to Blue Oregon and tell us about the discussion including the name of the county and what various folks said-- what the reception was for your ideas.

    But please recall where you are. This is not a blog which gives all Oregon Democrats their marching orders. Oregon Democrats are an independent thinking bunch, not likely to take orders anyway--one year the State Central Comm. voted on a resolution which was supposed to show "What Oregon Democrats believe..." and it passed by just 6 votes, 25-19.

    The mission statement at the top of the page says What is BlueOregon? BlueOregon is a place for progressive Oregonians to gather 'round the water cooler and share news, commentary, and gossip.

    We have an Oregon State Senate which passed both a civil unions bill and a nonpartisan legislature bill. Given it was their first year in clear majority since the mid-1990s, they did a good job. You want fusion? The coalition to defeat the AuCoin nomination spread from a Green posting on Counterpunch on one end to the Sen. Republican Leader on the other hand (it was a really stupid politically tin ear nomination).

    We had a House whose GOP leadership was as bullying as DeLay in Congress.

    Many of us are devoted to the effort to make sure those people are never in majority again.

    Telling us to believe in WFP because of the good works in NY does not answer how (in concrete ways) we prevent Karen Minnis, Wayne Scott, and Dennis Richardson from ever being in majority leadership again.

    If you have never been involved in an Oregon legislative campaign before, give it a try. Just be aware that anger has built up over a decade or more that professional staffers and others have come to Oregon political campaigns and said "this worked in my last state, therefore it will work here" when any local could have told them people wouldn't respond.

    The Oregon Democratic Party now has Rural Caucus because urban campaign tactics don't work in rural areas.

    We haven't had a Democratic House majority for about 15 years. Every election there are theories that if we only......... there would be a House Dem. majority. Every election year, the "grand plan" to elect a majority which all were supposed to believe in fails (most recently, if 3 women Democrats who lost by less than 850 votes each had won, it would have been a 30-30 House). Active Democrats are fed up with that. People are tired of theories. They want results.

    Along comes WFP and says "look at all the great things that happened in NY".

    With all due respect, Oregonians have the right to echo the sentiment of the Pace Picante Sauce ad which pokes fun at the cowboy who buys salsa made in NY City.

    So Thomas, welcome to Oregon. But please spare us "what worked in NY will work in Oregon".

  • (Show?)


    Precisely. Posters have assumed that fusion voting will fracture the left w/o considering the impact on the right.

    Also, if it is going to fracture either side, we'd want to look at what empirical evidence that we have. At least based on NY and CT, fusion voting does not weaken the two major parties. I haven't heard an argument as to why it would function any differently here.

  • LT (unverified)

    But what about DFL?

    Also, if it is going to fracture either side, we'd want to look at what empirical evidence that we have. At least based on NY and CT, fusion voting does not weaken the two major parties. I haven't heard an argument as to why it would function any differently here.

    Hubert Humphrey has been dead since 1978, but the Minn. Dem. Farmer Labor Party he helped found is still alive (I recall reading back many years ago during a presidential primary some very intelligent pieces on the DFL website about why DFL people should support Democrats over Pat Buchanan).

    To me, the most important empirical evidence we have every November of an even numbered year is called election results. I just don't see how any one can predict how NY and CT data will influence Oregon 2006 election results.

  • (Show?)


    As you know, the DFL is not a third party--is resulted from a merger of the Democratic and the Farm-Labor Parties in 1948.

    I'm not sure what you mean what you write "how NY and CT data will influence Oregon 2006 results" (italics added).

    I don't think I've suggested that NY or CT will affect Oregon in any direct way (sorry if I am giving a statistician's read to "influence").

    What we can use the NY and CT cases for is to understand how fusion voting may affect the strategic choices made by parties, candidates, and voters.

    No, NY and CT are not Oregon. There may be enough difference between citizens, parties, and candidates in Oregon make the NY and CT cases non comparable. But I can't think of any particular reason that a relatively straightforward rules change like fusion voting would be received fundamentally differently in this state.

  • LT (unverified)

    But I can't think of any particular reason that a relatively straightforward rules change like fusion voting would be received fundamentally differently in this state.

    Which is why I think the WFP folks are missing a bet if they don't ask to speak to every group from neighborhood assoc. to political party and other community meetings and answer questions.

    No amount of polling will tell you the reaction you will have from ordinary citizens. Not everyone pays close attention, because they may be busy, not because they are not bright.

    I have a very busy professional friend with a family who only in the last decade or so has spent much time trying to understand politics. He abstained on Measure 30 because he didn't understand that it was a referendum on a bill passed by the legislature, not a legislative referral to the ballot. He found the voters pamphlet confusing and asked " don't we hire legislators to study complex issues like that?".

    Having talked to Kim Thatcher and other Measure 30 backers, and having lived through a session of "the voters have spoken on Measure 30", I think lots of people wonder how someone like my friend could exist when they were so heavily invested in the whole Measure 30 process. But he does exist, even if polling doesn't measure people like him.

    And that is my point. There may be people out there who think voting takes too much time as it is, and you are going to change the rules on them? That is why talking to community groups and answering whatever questions are asked should be an important part of the process. In the end, it will be those from professionals down to retail clerks and others who may never have heard of this blog who will decide the fate of WFP.

  • Chuck Butcher (unverified)

    WFP is being formed because the Democratic Party doesn't represent their ideas? Ron Wyden has been a free-trader from the beginning, so why would it be a surprise that he voted "free-trade"? Does WFP propose that they're going to elect somebody to replace Sen Wyden? That's a pretty huge jump, since the Republicans have had zero luck with that. Do they propose to push legislators around? DPO doesn't do it, it would have the effect of cutting its own throat and having zero impact. The DPO is not some gargantuan machine that just gets its own way, but it is subject to reform. It is the natural home of workers. Don't like some of the "hot-button" topics in the DPO, well, DPO will at least listen, unlike another Party.

    These politicians are going to listen to us because we have all this...what? Money for campaigns? Media access? Ground troops? Give me a break. The VOTERS will decide once and then they'll re-elect or not. Do you folks think the "D" behind a politicians name is granted by DPO? They write it in on their filing form, they don't ask DPO's permission. Sure, they come and ask, "Will you help me?" but in the big campaigns they have their own staff, volunteers, and money.

    For Pete's sake, if you're a working person, come help build DPO into a more powerful Party. If the Religious Right's version of Christianity is your thing, then you're going to stay with the Republicans and vote against your own self interest on the basis of theocracy. Please stay there. Otherwise, the basic principles of social and economic justice are the bedrock of DPO, you'll find it there, if you come on out.

    DPO can use all the volunteers and dedicated folks it can get, DPO can accomplish some things now, and it can accomplish more with more members. All the effort involved in building a sideshow with WFP could have some real impact with DPO. But, no, you just want to have your own party, as if you weren't invited. Fusion voting is nonsense in this case, the Republicans are NOT going to run a candidate for you and Democrats who are trying to win the State House and hold onto the State Senate are not going to vote for anybody you run. Politics is about realities, you suck money and effort out of Democrats and you'll get Republicans, net effect, you cut your own throat.

    BTW, the 1st Ammendment's purpose regarding religion is to protect religion from government. It is very simple, if government becomes Religious, any religion that isn't in alignment with that Religion is going to get whacked. The idea that you can keep religion out of government is ludicrous, if you elect somebody that believes in a religion, it's going to travel with them, it affects their frame of reference, but you can keep government out of the Religion Business. School prayer isn't going to make the government fall, but it sure is tough on the competing religions. (or not-religious) The wall between church and state is one of the smartest ideas ever.

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