Here’s a way to make this work within a Democratic Primary or in the general election of 2012.
Nobody can just announce that they are running in the general election as a candidate of the people, of peace, of justice, of decency, because all the corporate media would want to talk about was Spoilerdom.
And running instead in only non-swing-states, or asking voters in swing states to swap their votes with people in non-swing-states, would lead to only that same conversation about Spoilers and the mechanics of theatrical electioneering.
If a candidate were running a well-funded campaign with a progressive platform, I and many people I know would insist on backing that candidate even in a swing state. Many states would be very unclear as to their status: are they swing states or not?
So while an ordinary 3rd party challenger would be asked in the media about nothing other than the Spoiler question, a candidate who tried to only run in non-swing states (as a number of people are discussing) would deal with that even more so, if that’s possible. The purpose of the candidacy would be almost entirely lost in an endless conversation about the technicalities of avoiding Spoilerdom.
But what if a candidate announced this:
I am running as an independent candidate for President of the United States, and I intend to run all out everywhere and to win the election.
But under certain conditions I will withdraw my name and endorse President Obama for reelection.
These are the conditions:
President Obama withdraws all U.S. troops from Iraq and Afghanistan by October 2012.
President Obama rejects the tar sands pipeline.
President Obama permits the EPA to enact the clean air standards it intended to this month.
President Obama vetoes any legislation that would extend the so-called Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest 10 percent of Americans.
President Obama creates no more corporate trade agreements.
President Obama vetoes any legislation that further increases the military budget beyond the current level of $1.2 trillion or fails to reduce it by at least 10 percent per year.
President Obama vetoes any legislation that would in any way reduce Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid benefits.
President Obama publicly instructs the Attorney General to enforce our laws against torture and warrantless search and seizure.
If those conditions are met, I will gladly withdraw from the race. Those conditions are my platform and my reason for running. If elected I will take those eight simple steps that, for whatever reason, President Obama was unable to take.
No hoping required, but expect a change.
Obviously, the list of conditions could be shorter, longer, or different. The point is that every single question about Spoilerhood would get the same response: I don’t want to spoil anything; I’ll be happy to withdraw from the race. I just have a few simple requests. But unless those requests, which come from the majority of Americans, not just from me, are met, I have a moral obligation to be in this race and to be in it to win it.
This candidate’s website would provide documentation of the points he/she was making.
The educational and organizational value would be tremendous. We wouldn’t learn about the electoral college and the accuracy of CNN’s election forecasts. We’d learn about torturers with immunity, billionaires paying lower taxes than we do, and the war machine sucking up all our money — or whatever conditions this challenger put in place for dropping out.