Tag Archives: New Jersey

Teddy Roosevelt’s Liberty

The following is from Teddy Roosevelt who was looking for a third term as President against sitting President William Taft (R) and New Jersey Governor Woodrow Wilson (D).  Roosevelt was running as a Bull Moose candidate in 1912.

Here is the transcript:

“The difference between Mr. Wilson and myself is fundamental. The other day in a speech at Sioux Falls, Mr. Wilson stated his position when he said that the history of government, the history of liberty, was the history of the limitation of governmental power. This is true as an academic statement of history in the past. It is not true as a statement affecting the present. It is true of the history of medieval Europe. It is not true of the history of 20th century America. In the days when all governmental power existed exclusively in the king or in the baronage and when the people had no shred of that power in their own hands, then it undoubtedly was true that the history of liberty was the history of the limitation of the governmental power of the outsider to possess that power. But today the people have, actually or potentially, the entire governmental power. It is theirs to use and to exercise if they choose to use and to exercise it. It offers the only adequate instrument with which they can work for the betterment, for the uplifting of the masses of our people. The liberty of which Mr. Wilson speaks today means merely the liberty of some great trust magnate to do that which he is not entitled to do. It means merely the liberty of some factory owner to work haggard women over hours for underpay and himself to pocket the proceeds. It means the liberty of the factory owner to crowd his operatives into some crazy death trap on the top floor where, if fire starts, the slaughter is immense. It means the liberty of the big factory owner who is conscienceless and unscrupulous to work his men and women under conditions which eat into their lives like a maggot. It means the liberty of even less conscientious factory owners to make their money out of the toil, the labor of little children. Men of this stamp are the men whose liberty would be preserved by Mr. Wilson. Men of this stamp are the men whose liberty would be preserved by the limitation of governmental power. We propose on the contrary to extend governmental power in order to secure the liberty of the wage worker, of the men and women who toil in industry, to save the liberty of the oppressed from the oppressor. Mr. Wilson stands for the liberty of the oppressor to oppress. We stand for the limitation of his liberty thus to oppress those who are weaker than himself. ”

What is your take on Roosevelt’s speech?  What is your definition of liberty?

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Clip from the Past: Teddy Roosevelt

The following is a recording of Teddy Roosevelt from 1912 who was looking for a third term as President against sitting President William Taft (R) and New Jersey Governor Woodrow Wilson (D).  Roosevelt was running as a Bull Moose candidate in 1912.

Here is a transcript of the recording:

“The difference between Mr. Wilson and myself is fundamental. The other day in a speech at Sioux Falls, Mr. Wilson stated his position when he said that the history of government, the history of liberty, was the history of the limitation of governmental power. This is true as an academic statement of history in the past. It is not true as a statement affecting the present. It is true of the history of medieval Europe. It is not true of the history of 20th century America. In the days when all governmental power existed exclusively in the king or in the baronage and when the people had no shred of that power in their own hands, then it undoubtedly was true that the history of liberty was the history of the limitation of the governmental power of the outsider to possess that power. But today the people have, actually or potentially, the entire governmental power. It is theirs to use and to exercise if they choose to use and to exercise it. It offers the only adequate instrument with which they can work for the betterment, for the uplifting of the masses of our people. The liberty of which Mr. Wilson speaks today means merely the liberty of some great trust magnate to do that which he is not entitled to do. It means merely the liberty of some factory owner to work haggard women over hours for underpay and himself to pocket the proceeds. It means the liberty of the factory owner to crowd his operatives into some crazy death trap on the top floor where, if fire starts, the slaughter is immense. It means the liberty of the big factory owner who is conscienceless and unscrupulous to work his men and women under conditions which eat into their lives like a maggot. It means the liberty of even less conscientious factory owners to make their money out of the toil, the labor of little children. Men of this stamp are the men whose liberty would be preserved by Mr. Wilson. Men of this stamp are the men whose liberty would be preserved by the limitation of governmental power. We propose on the contrary to extend governmental power in order to secure the liberty of the wage worker, of the men and women who toil in industry, to save the liberty of the oppressed from the oppressor. Mr. Wilson stands for the liberty of the oppressor to oppress. We stand for the limitation of his liberty thus to oppress those who are weaker than himself. ”

What is your take on Roosevelt’s speech?  What is your definition of liberty?

Third Parties Lack Votes Not Creativity

The United States is two-party system, meaning that in an election, one of two parties will have the best chance of winning almost every time.  This has been true since the birth of this country’s political parties when the first two parties, the Democratic-Republicans and the Federalists, vied for public support.  This does not mean that there aren’t other parties competing in the electoral arena.  Third parties have sprouted up from time to time and have influenced electoral outcomes at the federal, state, and local levels.

However, victories have been few and far between for many third parties in the United States.  This is due to in part to formal rules and informal practices that hinder the chances of a third party succeeding.  A formal rule deals with ballot access.  In order to gain access to a ballot, third parties must gather an inordinate amount of signatures on petitions in comparison to their major party counterparts.  These rules differ between states and have been created by members of the state legislature who, alas, belong to one of the two major parties.  An excellent website that describes how ballot access laws work in the United States can be found at Richard Winger’s Ballot Access News site.  Another example of a formal rule is one that is set up by the federal government during the Presidential elections.  In order for third party Presidential candidates to receive federal funding for their Presidential bid, the third party candidate from the previous Presidential election must have received 5% of the popular vote.  Five percent also ensures equal ballot access protections for third party candidates (i.e. automatic ballot access).  However, no third party candidate has received more than 5% since Ross Perot in 1996.  No third party candidate received 5% in 2012.  Libertarian Gary Johnson received 1% of the popular vote.  Therefore, third party candidates in 2016 already start their Presidential bids at a ballot and monetary disadvantage.

An informal practice that stunts the growth of third parties is that our nation’s history has always been a two-party system.  It is what the public is used to.  From the Democratic-Republicans vs. Federalists to Democrats vs. Whigs and Democrats vs. Republicans, the country’s pedigree eliminates the need for third party involvement in the political process.

What can third parties do to compete on a somewhat level playing field?  At the state level, third party candidates have turned to humor and unconventional ads to promote their political messages.  Here are two examples:

In this 2009 ad, two actors portraying then-New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine (D) and Chris Christie (R) find themselves trapped on an escalator.  Only Chris Daggett, Independent for Governor, can save the day.  The ad won award in 2010 for its creativity.  Daggett, who won the endorsement of the largest newspaper, the Newark Star-Ledger, finished with 5.8% of the vote.  Christie won the election.

Musician/Actor/Entertainer/Businessman Kinky Friedman ran a spirited campaign for Governor of Texas in 2006.  Friedman’s Independent campaign, modeled after Jesse Ventura’s successful 1998 bid for Governor of Minnesota, was as colorful as his professional and personal background.  Friedman finished fourth with 12.43% of the vote, behind Rick Perry (R), Chris Bell (D), and another Independent, Carole Keeton Strayhorn.  A candidate from the Libertarian Party finished fifth.  

What from these commercials would appeal to an undecided voter who may be considering a vote for a third party candidate?  These commercials may be unconventional, but are they too unconventional, in that they may turn voters off because of their style?  Should more commercials like these be produced by third party candidates to help gain interest in their campaigns?

After all, the two-party system is tough to crack.  Third party candidates need any advantage that they can create for themselves.

For more information about the creators of the ads, please visit the site for North Woods Advertising.

Cory Booker and Primary Challenges

There was a lot of talk surrounding the 2014 US Senate Exploratory Committee formed by Newark, New Jersey Mayor Cory Booker this past week.  If Booker decides to go ahead with a full-fledged campaign, we will have to go through Frank Lautenberg to earn a shot at the Senate seat.  Both Booker and Lautenberg are Democrats.  Booker, 43, is a much talked about politician who may represent the future of the Democratic Party.  Lautenberg, 88, is a stalwart of the party and served (with a brief retirement from 2001-2002) in the Senate since 1982.  When he has faced primary challenges, Lautenberg has vanquished them quite easily.  Booker, however, will be the Senator’s toughest challenge yet.  His entrance came with the requisite not-so kind words from the incumbent’s camp.

One must remember, however, that with incumbency comes its rewards.  Lautenberg has a widely known name recognition, a considerable Senate record, the ability to fundraise, and a wide assortment of Democratic allies at this disposal.  Something else going against Booker is the lack of successful primary challenges since Lautenberg became Senator in 1982.  Since 1982, only eight incumbents have lost to opponents in primary elections.

1992:  Carol Moseley-Braun (D-IL) defeated Sen. Alan Dixon

1996:  Sam Brownback (R-KS) defeated Sen. Sheila Frahm

2002:  John Sununu (R-NH) defeated Sen. Bob Smith

2006:  Ned Lamont (D-CT) defeated Sen. Joe Lieberman

2010:  Joe Miller (R-AK) defeated Sen. Lisa Murkowski; Mike Lee (R-UT) defeated Sen. Bob Bennett; Joe Sestak (D-PA) defeated Sen. Arlen Specter

2012:  Richard Mourdock (R-IN) defeated Sen. Richard Lugar

There are some interesting caveats with these challenges though.  In two of those cases, the incumbent party ended up losing the seat to the opposition (2012 – IN; 2010 – PA).  Two other cases found the incumbent who lost in primary end up keeping the seat in the general election.  Lieberman ran as a third party candidate in his general election, while Murkowski ran as a write-in and won.  In Frahm’s case, she was appointed to the position after Bob Dole resigned in order to run for President in 1996.  Bennett was defeated in a Utah Republican Party state convention vote and finished third, not only to Lee but to small businessman Tim Bridgewater.  Sestak defeated Specter who previously switched from the Republican to Democratic Party in 2009.  John Sununu defeated a weakened Bob Smith, who flirted with Presidential ambitions as a member of the US Taxpayers Party.  Out of the eight primary challenges, only two, Moseley-Braun and Mourdock, ran against two strong incumbents.  You could argue, however, that Dixon’s vote for Clarence Thomas for Supreme Court Justice hurt his re-election campaign, and that Tea Party activists outside of teh Republican Party establishment contributed heavily to the Lugar’s defeat.

That is what makes Booker’s run against Lautenberg so interesting.  Lautenberg is considered to be a strong incumbent by New Jersey Democrats.  He does not have the same baggage or problems that weighed down and subsequently defeated other incumbents in their respective primaries.  If Booker does win his primary fight, then it is highly likely that the Democrats will hold that seat after the general election, as the Republicans do not have a strong bench after Governor Chris Christie.  If Booker should lose to Lautenberg, then the Booker brand as a future standard bearer of the Democratic Party is diminished.  Booker must run a spirited campaign against Lautenberg in order to give himself a fighting chance.  After all, recent history tells us that it is very difficult to defeat an incumbent in a primary election.

What are your thoughts on this race?

Chris Christie in 2013