Three political parties in Maryland, the Green, Libertarian and Populist parties, have done something highly unusual in U.S. political history: We have nominated the same candidate for the U.S. Senate, Kevin Zeese. This "Unity Campaign" is also supported by Democrats, Republicans and independents.
Why? Our country is facing serious problems not being addressed by the status quo parties. Our economy is at risk from massive trade deficits, record federal deficits, a constantly rising U.S. debt and record-high personal debt. The growing rich-poor divide is shrinking the middle class, while poverty rises and the wealthiest accumulate riches beyond the needs of any family. We are engaged in an occupation of Iraq that neither major party is able to lead us out of.
The United States must change course or face a serious crisis in our economy, foreign policy and democracy.
It is not just those of us in the independent political movement who see these problems. Voters believe that the two old parties are equally corrupt. Enormous campaign contributions keep both deep in the pockets of wealthy special interests. The public sees that neither party has solutions to the problems Americans face. An NBC/Wall Street Journal poll reported in October that the popularity of Congress had plummeted to 16 percent.
It is no wonder that Congress is even less popular than a very unpopular president, and that both parties have higher negative than positive ratings for the first time in polling history. It is no wonder, either, that two established politicians, Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin and Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele, are trying to run as outsiders when they are clearly insider candidates.
On issue after issue, the leadership of the two establishment parties is out of step with voters. Most Americans oppose the Iraq war, yet Congress keeps voting billions for the war and cannot agree on any strategy to get out of Iraq. Most Marylanders want a verifiable voting system that produces a paper trail that can be counted transparently, but partisanship in Maryland politics has blocked the obvious solution. Americans believe in the Constitution, yet both parties are allowing this great document to be undermined and our rights whittled away, destroying what has made the United States special in world history. On the issues of health care, money in politics and corporate control of the Internet, the two parties fail to represent the public.
We hope this "Unity Campaign" in Maryland will launch a new type of politics that breaks down party divides and brings people together. We are joining to give voters in Maryland a viable third choice in the U.S. Senate race. Voters who hear Kevin Zeese's message realize that he is someone who faces the issues and brings forward solutions to America's problems - for example, in the areas of health care and taxes. Further, he has turned this into a three-way race by breaking the stranglehold of the two old parties with his inclusion in three debates, all of which can be seen in full on his Web site.
This is a three-way race, and all three candidates have the potential to win. Maryland voters will have an opportunity to do something seldom seen in U.S. politics - vote for something they want rather than against something they fear. Perhaps, when Americans can vote for positive change, we will get our country on track.
Patsy Allen is co-chairwoman of the Green Party of Maryland. This article was co-authored by co-chairman Tim Willard; David Sten, chairman of the Libertarian Party of Maryland; and Chris Driscoll, chairman of the Populist Party of Maryland.
This is the last in a series of opinion pieces on Maryland's U.S. Senate candidates. To see the previous entries, go to baltimoresun.com/senate2006.