Swarthmore Daily Gazette Alternative Political Candidates Debated at Ville Forum by Rita Zevallos

From Swarthmore Daily Gazette

Alternative Political Candidates Debated at Ville Forum


By Rita Zevallos
October 25, 2012

On Tuesday, President Barack Obama and former-Governor Mitt Romney came together for the highly publicized third and final presidential debate. On Wednesday, several other voices made themselves heard. Representatives from six underrepresented political campaigns came together in the Ville on Wednesday to discuss their unorthodox viewpoints with the Swarthmore community.

The forum, put on by Democracy Unplugged, brought around thirty members from as far as Havertown and Germantown to the Swarthmore Borough Library to listen, talk, and debate for two hours.

The six representatives made their differences clear from the get-go. When asked, “What is government, and what should its role be?” Green Party representative Jocelyn Bowser-Bostick responded, “They should be working to make sure that all aspects of our society work to the benefit of our citizens.” She was joined on the political left by Walter Smolarek representing Peta Lindsay for the Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL) and Osborne Hart representing James Harris for the Socialist Workers Party (SWP).

On the opposite side of the aisle–so to speak–were Roy Minet, representing Gary Johnson’s Libertarian Party and Constitution Party representative Jim Clymer. Clymer said his party believes the government exists “To protect our fundamental rights. We’ve lost sight of that; we think government is a benefactor, the sugar daddy.”

But not all the representatives could place themselves within the existing political framework. Jim Babb, speaking for the Vote for Nobody campaign, said “Government is force; it’s for whoever wants to enforce their rules, with guns.” His party advocates that the public skip the polls and work outside the system because the government is simply too corrupt. “The corporate parties are united on war and empire,” he said. “They have debates and argue about who’s the most bloodthirsty.”

All those involved were eager to discuss issues and perspectives that they felt had been ignored by both Obama and Romney in the three presidential debates. “I guess everyone has been watching the ‘debates,’ and I understand there are a lot of things that didn’t get discussed in the debates,” said Owen Powell, a former 99% Party candidate who introduced the debate.

“Neither candidate spent a lot of time talking about poor people,” he said. “I guess they don’t really exist in mainstream America. I’d like to hear about the other America.”

Other questions discussed what should be done to improve the Philadelphia school system, how to abolish CAFTA (the Central-American Free Trade Agreement), and how these minor parties and the Vote for Nobody campaign intend to work to make their policy goals a reality.

The organization Democracy Unplugged has made it an effort to encourage more diverse discourse by inviting minor parties to express themselves. Minor parties get very little coverage in the mainstream media, so they are eager to capitalize on opportunities such as this forum to reach out to the public. Democracy Unplugged also supports the Voters’ Choice Act, which would establish less-restrictive ballot access legislation to give minor parties a place on the November ballot.

Although third parties scarcely ever win elections, the representatives view the campaign as an effective way to make their message heard, offer alternative plans to the American public, and allow individuals whose ideas coincide with those of minor parties to vote “according to their beliefs instead of the lesser of two evils,” as Clymer puts it.

“We think the election campaign is another vehicle to put out our ideas. We want to contest the capitalist parties,” said Chris Hoeppner, audience member affiliated with the SWP. “There’s more discussion and debate taking place [during the election], so you get a hearing, you get a chance to speak to more people and discuss an alternative.”

What all the representatives agreed on was that just about the last place Americans can look to represent their best interests is the two-party system that currently dominates mainstream politics.


Featured image courtesy of Democracy Unplugged.


About bobsmall1

Bob Small has read at Bacchanal, Barnes and Noble, Borders, The Booksource (Swarthmore), The Clark Park Festivals,Community College of Philadelphia Highwire Gallery, The Mad Poets Annual Food Fest Reading, The Middle East Restaurant, Nexus GalleryThe Painted Bride Arts Center, The Philadelphia Ethical Society, Robin's Bookstore The University of Pennsylvania and also in New York City, Trenton, NJ, Washington, DC, and in many Delaware Valley Venues. He is the author of numerous chapbooks, including El Otro Lado (with Maralyn Lois Polak), On watching America Die, Small Steps and Toes (with Lamont B. Steptoe), and The Unapoet. This is his first Reading in over a year. Bob Small was Founder and President of the two decades old Poets and Prophets, which presented Poetry Readings in both Delaware County and Philadelphia. Bob was the Chair of The Delaware County Green Party and was the First Green Party Candidate in Delaware County (2005). He was also a Green Party National Delegate, among other duties. He is the Founder and Facilitator of The Pennsylvania Ballot Access Coalition (PaBac), which is a Coalition of both Independents and Third Parties., seeking to legislatively improve Pennsylvania's Ballot Access Laws. (Facebook) Bob is also a founding member and Facilitator of Democracy Unplugged, and Delco Debates, which has presented Independent and Third Party Forums in Delaware County since 2004. Facebook) He was formerly involved with Cinema Resistance, and Delco Pledge of Resistance. Bob currently lives in Swarthmore with his wife and their menagerie of animals. He is currently focused on writing a Novel and organizing his Poetry, which he posts on his Blog (Bob Small1). He is retired from most of the above activities, except Delco Debates and Poets and Prophets, which he may return to.
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