Voters Need The Input And Impact Of A Third Party

by Peter Gemma
National Executive Committee Member

James Madison wisely observed, “When the variety and number of political parties increases, the chance for oppression, factionalism, and non-skeptical acceptance of ideas decreases.”

Marginalized policy initiatives can often bubble up into the mainstream because of independent candidates and third parties.  In his book Declaring Independence: The Beginning of the End of the Two-Party System, political strategist Douglas Schoen noted, “While third party movements and candidates have periodically emerged to challenge the status quo … none have ever come close to winning, though they did end up having a significant impact on policy formation as a result of their campaigns.”

Although the success of the Prohibition Party was fleeting, it is a good model of how an issue can come from a single constituency, evolve into a formidable political force, and flex muscle on Capitol Hill.

The Prohibition Party has run candidates for President in every election since 1872, but none received more than 300,000 votes or about two percent of the ballots cast.  However, its candidates for state and federal office often siphoned off votes that cost the major party nominees their winning margins.  That proved to be powerful political leverage.  In the 1918 contest for US Senate in Colorado, incumbent Democrat John Shafroth polled 48 percent of the vote, but Prohibition Party candidate P. A. Richardson, who nabbed just 2.58 percent, gave the Republican nominee the edge – one of the two seats the GOP needed for majority status on Capitol Hill.

The Prohibition Party applied anti-establishment political pressure while bi-partisan grass roots organizations such as the Anti-Saloon League worked within the apparatus of the two major parties.  The chemical reaction resulted in a Constitutional Amendment establishing prohibition as public policy.

The Libertarian Party has been a deciding factor in many elections in the past 45 years.  In 1998, Majority Leader Harry Reid was re-elected by only 428 votes while the Libertarian candidate pulled in 8,000 supporters.  In 2002, the country’s most hard-fought Senate race was in South Dakota.  Republican John Thune lost to the Democrat incumbent, Senator Tim Johnson, by 524 votes, much less than the 3,000 votes for the Libertarian candidate.

The movement in favor of the legalization of marijuana consists of non-partisan operations including the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, which has a network of 135 chapters.  The marijuana issue is a well-known plank of the Libertarian Party’s platform since its formation in 1971.

Libertarian Party political operatives had an impact on the passage of the 2012 Colorado referendum to decriminalize the use of marijuana – it had already elected two city councilmen and a sheriff on their party line in the state.  In addition, the Marijuana Policy Project spent one million dollars advocating the Colorado initiative.  Just like the movement for prohibition, non-partisan grassroots operations combined with a political punch, yielded results.

The Reform Party nominated Texas billionaire Ross Perot as its presidential candidate in 1992.  Perot hammered away on the issues of reducing the deficit and the importance of a balanced budget, issues previously ignored in elections.  They now are a standard part of every national campaign.  The winner of the election, Bill Clinton, coordinated a bi-partisan coalition that created several balanced-budget deals to put the government in the black.

History is on the side of third party movements because they are willing to touch third rail issues.  The Prohibition and Socialist parties promoted women’s suffrage during the late 1800s, and by 1916 both Republicans and Democrats supported it.  In the 1850’s, a new party, the Republicans, buried the traditional Whig Party as they rallied around a major social justice issue, the abolition of slavery.

Third parties can represent regional interests as well.  In 1968, American Independent Party candidate George Wallace earned 45 electoral votes.  The way he split the Democratic base led to the Republican Southern strategy that produced another sea change in American politics.

According to the latest ABC News/Washington Post survey, 48 percent of voters say they would prefer a third-party candidate to run.  A recent Associated Press/University of Chicago poll revealed that 71 percent of millennials want an alternative to the Republican and Democrat nominees.  Still, many voters view third parties as irrelevant, perhaps even worse than useless.  The general assumption is if a third party candidate has no chance of winning, then it is foolish to lower the chances of the next-best, big-party candidate.  Voting for a lesser-of-two-evils candidate who can win would be better than voting for an ideal candidate who will lose.  However, “winnability” doesn’t matter as much as one might think.  If a third party candidate can influence, even bully, the political power elites they score goals.

Permit me to channel Teddy Roosevelt: “The old parties are husks, with no real soul within either, divided on artificial lines, boss-ridden and privilege-controlled, each a jumble of incongruous elements, and neither daring to speak out wisely and fearlessly on what should be said on the vital issues of the day.”  He’s so right: America needs a third party – actually, a fourth, fifth and tenth party.

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The New Poll Tax: Ballot Access Laws Foil Independent Candidates

By Peter Gemma
National Executive Committee member

Please Don't Feed These Animals!
There is no free market of ideas, candidates, or political parties on Election Day.

It’s not for a lack of demand. According to the latest ABC News/Washington Post survey, 57 percent of Americans are dissatisfied with the choice between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton; 44 percent say they would prefer a third-party candidate to run. A recent Associated Press/University of Chicago poll revealed that 71 percent of millennials want an alternative to the Republican and Democrat nominees.

In another survey, Public Policy Polling matched “a giant meteor hitting the earth” against Clinton and Trump. The killer asteroid nabbed 13 percent of the vote, far more than any third party now ballot qualified.

The establishment parties benefit from strict ballot access laws that make it difficult for alternative candidates to participate in elections. In order to get on the ballot, independent and third party candidates must meet a variety of byzantine state-specific filing requirements. Complex stipulations and regulations determine whether voters will be able to choose from a larger pool of parties and candidates.

Unorthodox candidates must undergo bureaucratic and burdensome trials in all 50 states before they are permitted to run for office. And the laws have proven effective: no independent or third party presidential candidate has won an electoral vote in 48 years.

To get on the ballot nationwide this year, it is estimated that a maverick presidential candidate must have more than 880,000 signatures on petitions. The major parties regularly challenge the legitimacy of ballot access petitions (leaving out a middle initial is among many reasons that a name can be considered invalid), so securing a ratio of two-to-one of the required number of signatures is the pragmatic strategy for campaigns. That means an army of petitioners going door-to-door should collect about 1.76 million names in 2016. If that becomes difficult to manage, a candidate may hire professional solicitors who charge $2.50-$5.00 per signature. You do the math.

Consider how the ballot access system currently works: Texas requires independent candidates to collect 79,939 signatures (but double that number to be prudent); to become a recognized political party in North Carolina, signatures equal to two percent of the previous gubernatorial election are necessary — that adds up to 89,336 names (secure about 180,000 to be on the safe side); West Virginia demands 6,706 signatures on ballot access petitions if you want to run for the White House (please turn in twice that amount.) Candidates must also pay a hefty filing fee of $2,500.

Nine states don’t even allow voters to write-in names of their preferred candidates.

The Libertarian Party beat Oklahoma’s tightly controlled process by obtaining more than 42,000 signatures. The petition campaign cost the national party $104,000. For third parties, organizational infrastructure, as well as deep pockets, is vital — running for President means conducting 50 races simultaneously. Start-up campaigns simply do not have the money or the manpower to be competitive with Democrats and Republicans because of the barriers the ruling parties have put in place.

The nation’s leading expert on ballot access laws is Richard Winger, editor of Ballot Access News. He maintains that, “Ballot access restrictions vary from state to state, but they have one thing in common and that is to prevent people other than Democrats and Republicans from getting on the ballot.”

Disenfranchising candidates is part of the election game as well. Forty-five states have enacted “sore loser” laws denying defeated candidates the right to run a third party or independent campaign. If a candidate believes political power brokers have quashed any chance to win the Democrat or Republican nomination, there is no second chance.

Third party candidate Ralph Nader has observed, “If we all have an equal right to run for election. If they call third-party candidates spoilers but they don’t call their major opponent in the other party a spoiler, they are assigning a second-class citizenship to the third-party candidacy.”

The Gallup organization has found that, “A majority of Americans, 60 percent, say a third major political party is needed because the Republican and Democratic parties ‘do such a poor job’ of representing the American people.” Yet when voters get inside the polling booth, they often find only two candidates listed. Richard Winger asserts, “The extreme disparity of the burdens placed on old, established parties versus new parties has no parallel in any other democratic nation in the world.”

Reasonable ballot access requirements to set qualifying standards are necessary. However, just as poll taxes were set up to keep certain citizens from expressing their right to vote, today’s ballot access laws are deliberately designed to provide a similar obstacle for freethinkers who challenge the political power elites.

In 1775, John Adams warned future generations of American voters that, “There is nothing which I dread so much as a division of the republic into two great parties, each arranged under its leader, and concerting measures in opposition to each other. This, in my humble apprehension, is to be dreaded as the greatest political evil under our Constitution.” He was so right.


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OP-ED: Illegal Aliens May Be Worse Than You Think

by National Executive Committee member Peter Gemma

caution_sign_w_exclamation Protecting the 1,954-mile Mexico-U.S. line is not just to stave off the dangerous drug cartels and the flood of savage criminal gangs.  Congressman Ryan Zinkle asserts: “It’s not about immigration alone. It’s about national security … if children can walk across our border without consequences, what makes this administration think that ISIS can’t?”

Former Chief of Operations for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, Michael Braun, testified before Congress about Iran’s growing influence along the Mexican border.  Braun said that the terrorist group Hezbollah has developed sophisticated relationships with Mexican drug cartels. “And by developing those relations it provides them with the ability to operate far from home in our neighborhood and – on our doorstep.”

U.S. Border patrol released its apprehension statistics for 2014, showing that 257,473 arrests of illegal aliens were from countries “other than Mexico,” including 1,191 suspects from Iran, Sudan, Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia, and Yemen, nations with powerful terrorist cells.

Most illegal aliens crawl under fences to get here – then meld into a subterranean culture within American cities. From the Middle East, the route is different. NBC has reported that some illegal aliens pay $8-10,000 to get over the border safely; several investigative news reports uncovered price tags as high as $50,000. As part of the bigger picture, according to the German newspaper Zeit, ISIS nets as much as $3 million a day.

In addition to keeping terrorists out, there is a new problem: finding homegrown terrorists who are inspired, instructed, and recruited through the Internet. Congressman Michael McCaul, the Chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, states, “Terrorism has gone viral.”

So far this year, ISIS has published 1,700 pieces of “terrorist messaging,” including videos, pictorial reports and online magazines, according to deputy director of the National Counterterrorism Center John Mulligan. A Brookings Institution report estimates 200,000 people receive an ISIS message each day around the world. It starts with about 2,000 “core” propagandists posting on Twitter and elsewhere, and then another 50,000 people “re-Tweet” and further distribute that messaging.

Congressman Duncan Hunter (R-CA), a member of the House Armed Services Committee, summed-up the terrorism threats this way: “ISIS doesn’t have a navy, they don’t have an air force. The only way that ISIS is going to harm Americans is by coming through the southern border – which they already have. They aren’t flying B-1 bombers, bombing American cities, but they are going to be bombing American cities coming across from Mexico … All you have to do is ask the border patrol.”

Sealing off the border is the promise of many politicians, but their delivery has gone from bad to worse. The Department of Homeland Security spends $4 billion annually deploying over 58,000 personnel with 16,875 vehicles, 269 aircraft, 300 watercraft, and 300 camera towers. It even uses aerial drones to enhance the scrutiny. From 2000 through 2012, the Border Patrol apprehends dropped by 78 percent. A February, 2013 Government Accountability Office report found that just 44 percent of the border was under “operational control,” 37 percent was “monitored,” and the rest “low-level monitored.” Despite more funding, the 2014 results were dismal: the department had built just 36 miles of two-tier fencing, 316 miles of single-tier fence, and another 299 miles of vehicle barriers that still allow pedestrians to cross.

The Constitution Party must be on the front lines of this fight.   According to our platform, “We affirm the integrity of the international borders of the United States and the Constitutional authority and duty of the federal government to guard and to protect those borders.”

Foreign Aid? It’s Being Flushed Down the Toilet Faster Than You Think…

Foreign Aid? It’s Being Flushed Down the Toilet Faster Than You Think…

~ 11 February 2014 ~

by Peter B. Gemma, National Executive Committee –

100dollarbills The economy of Mexico is the 13th largest in the world and the 11th in buying power. British economist Jim O’Neill, former head of asset management for Goldman Sachs, said recently that, “Mexico has a unique opportunity to steal the thunder of no less a giant than China.” Remember Ross Perot’s warning about that giant sucking sound of jobs going south of the border because of the North America Free Trade Agreement? It’s turned out to be a whirlpool. According to 2013 Census Bureau data, the U.S. had a trade surplus with Mexico of $1.6 billion in 1993, but that has plunged full speed to a trade deficit of $50.1 billion last year. Yet the amount of foreign aid that the U.S. gave to Mexico during 2012 was $317 million. 
And here’s a stick-in-the-eye note: in an article this writer penned for the Unz Review, a Government Accounting Office report found that of the 1,954 mile border with Mexico, only 44 percent — 860 miles — is under “operational control.” The average cost per mile of border fencing, to protect American jobs from illegal aliens, was $3.9 million a mile. The advantage of cutting off aid to Mexico and applying it to building the fence? You do the math.

The economy of South Africa is currently the largest in Africa. Since 1996, Pretoria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has almost tripled to $400 billion, and its foreign exchange reserves have increased from $3 billion to nearly $50 billion. In 2011, Uncle Sam said they needed $757 million of taxpayer’s money to make things a bit better — that’s about 190 miles of U.S.-Mexico border fencing.

Oil-rich Nigeria’s economy is set to outpace South Africa within a year or two — America donated 132 miles worth of U.S. border fence — I mean $530 million last year.

The Philippines 2013 annual GDP growth rate of 7.2 percent was the fastest rate of growth seen in a two-year period since 1954-1955. The Philippines’ annual growth rate is second only to China, which grew at 7.7 percent last year. That good news earned Manila some $610 million, approximately 340 miles of border security, from our foreign giveaway aid program.

Then there is Israel. It is slightly smaller than New Jersey and has a population equal to Arizona. On the 2012 UN Human Development Index, Israel ranks 16th of 187 countries which earns it a rating of “Very Highly Developed.” Although Israel’s per capita income roughly equal to South Korea or Spain, Washington will send Tel Aviv $9.3 million every single day in 2014. According to a Congressional Research Service report, U.S. military aid underwrites over 18 percent of the entire Israeli defense budget.

That sugar daddy relationship, criticized for years but only in whispers, is just now being quietly discussed.

Presidential candidate, Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX) put the question on the table during the 2012 campaign: “Foreign aid makes Israel dependent on us,” he said. “It softens them for their own economy. And they should have their sovereignty back, they should be able to deal with their neighbors at their own will.”

Long time Huffington Post blogger Steven Strauss’ 2013 post entitled “Israel Has Reached Childhood’s End — It’s Time to End U.S. Aid to Israel,”still makes the rounds in Middle East debates.

Even Naftali Bennett, leader of the right wing Jewish Home Party, has observed, “I think, generally, we need to free ourselves from it [U.S. aid]. We have to do it responsibly, since I’m not aware of all the aspects of the budget, I don’t want to say, ‘let’s just give it up,’ but our situation today is very different from what it was 20 and 30 years ago. Israel is much stronger, much wealthier, and we need to be independent.”

Of course the money pipeline to Israel will continue to flow freely because, as former President Jimmy Carter asserts, “Reluctance to criticize any policies of the Israeli government is because of the extraordinary lobbying efforts of the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee. It would be almost politically suicidal for members of Congress.”

The political machinations of Israel aid aside, the mechanics of how taxpayer dollars are spent — and wasted — are mind-blowing. A report from the Council on Foreign Relations on aid to Sudan revealed, “Since 2005, state officials and government contractors have stolen an estimated $4 billion from treasury coffers — an amount equivalent to 30 percent of the country’s annual economic output.“

The anti-corruption advocacy group Global Financial Integrity says almost a sixth of Angola’s entire annual budget — $6 billion — is ripped off annually.

The New York Times asserts, “For more than a decade, wads of American dollars packed into suitcases, backpacks and, on occasion, plastic shopping bags have been dropped off every month or so at the offices of Afghanistan’s president — courtesy of the Central Intelligence Agency. All told, tens of millions of dollars have flowed from the C.I.A. to the office of President Hamid Karazai, according to current and former advisers to the Afghan leader. ‘We called it ‘ghost money,’ said Khalil Roman, who served as Mr. Karzai’s deputy chief of staff from 2002 until 2005. ‘It came in secret, and it left in secret.’”

How to fix the flood of our money into overseas rat holes? Senator Rand Paul observes, “The administration once promised transparency, but nations such as Egypt and Pakistan now regularly receive billions of our dollars with no reasonable amount of oversight or enforceable conditions. Part of the problem is that the State Department has not had an inspector general in more than five years. This position is specifically designed to ferret out wasteful programs and instances of misused or stolen program funds. The House Committee on Foreign Affairs sent Mr. Kerry a letter in February asking that the secretary appoint someone to fill this vacancy. Today, the position remains unfilled.” That’s a practical idea — but such initiatives don’t fly fast and far on Capitol Hill.

Eventually we must stop the waste then re-tool and reduce American largesse. And there’s an extra reward for doing so: that 1100 miles of border fencing that Washington politicians promised would be built may actually be erected.


Peter B. Gemma has been published in a variety of venues including USA Today (where more than 100 of his commentaries have appeared), Military History, the, The Washington Examiner, and the  This article was originally published at:

Perils of A Porous Border

by Peter Gemma – National Executive Committee member, originally published at

petersfence Protecting the 1,954-mile Mexico-U.S. border, as some pundits assert, is not just an economic issue, or a problem of criminal drug trafficking and gun running. It threatens America’s national security. In an August 13, 2013 op/ed in The Washington Times, Retired Admiral James Lyons, who was senior U.S. military representative to the United Nations, stated, “Fixing our porous borders is one of combating the threat of terrorism that America faces. In the various efforts to reform the U.S. immigration system, often overlooked in the debate is its impact on national security.”

The statistics are alarming: according to an August 1, 2011 investigative report in the Columbus Dispatch, the United Nations estimates that 97 percent of the illegal immigrants who enter the U.S. clandestinely do so across the U.S.-Mexican border. However, only 20 percent of illegal aliens are caught. Smuggling illegal aliens across the border is now a $6.6 billion industry for Mexican crime syndicates.

In an interview with this writer, Penal County Arizona Sheriff Paul Babeu stated, “Pinal County is roughly 70 miles north of the border. In 2010, the U.S. Border Patrol reported 212,202 illegal aliens were caught in the Tucson sector alone. The Border Patrol admits for everyone captured, another 2.7 make it into the United States undetected. Of the individuals who are apprehended, as many as 30 percent of them already have a criminal record in the United States.” Ongoing, even increasing, human trafficking and drug smuggling has a new wrinkle: Michael Braun, former Chief of Operations at the Drug Enforcement Agency, testified at a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on February 2, 2012 that suspected terrorists have now formed alliances with Mexican drug lords, which allows them to “operate freely in our neighborhood.” Braun asserted, “I don’t want to sound too crude, but I think there’s going to be hell to pay in the not too distant future.”

On May 21, 2013, Rebecca Gambler, director of the Homeland Security and Justice for the Government Accountability Office (GAO), gave testimony before the House Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security and revealed that DHS identified 1,901 illegal overstays “of concern” in 2011. As of March 2013, 266 remain missing. The 1,901 cases were made a top priority for further investigation by DHS “because the subjects of the records could pose national security or public safety concerns.” Emphasis clearly mine.

Former National Intelligence Director Mike MConnell, in an interview with the El Paso Times, noted, “Are terrorists coming across the Southwest border? Not in great numbers [but] there are some. …” Later, he goes on to admit, “There were a significant number of Iraqis who came across last year. Smuggled across illegally … It’s significant numbers.”

In fact, thousands of illegals have been caught crossing the borders who are classified as “OTMs” (Other Than Mexicans). Records from a detention center near Phoenix show illegal aliens from Afghanistan, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Sudan, and Yemen are in custody. And the trend line of illegals coming from those countries is worrisome. According to the Customs and Border Protection’s Immigration Yearbook 2011:

  • 108 Syrians were apprehended at the border; 1,353 have been caught over the past ten years.
  • 198 Sudanese were arrested, bringing the ten year total up to 1,207;
  • 276 Iranians were nabbed in 2010; 2,310 were captured over the previous ten years;
  • 525 Pakistanis were caught sneaking across the Mexican border, bringing their ten year total to 10,682.

These are not political refugees or those seeking green cards — they are illegal aliens who deliberately chart an expensive and secret course to the U.S. via our spongy border with Mexico.

Of course none of these statistics or even expert opinions mean we are under imminent attack from crazed jihadists. The vast majority of these Middle Easterners, like their Mexican counterparts, are crossing the border to find a better and safer life — quickly and without trace — and they know the U.S.-Mexican border is an easy route. But there should be more concern, more action, simply because some specific instances are unsettling.

For example, in 2010, federal prosecutors in San Antonio issued an indictment against a Somali human smuggler that was unusual in its detail. The government’s case divulged that the smuggler, Ahmed Mohammad Dhakane, was a member of Al-Ittihad Al-Islami (AIAI) and the money laundering front Al-Barakhat — both of which are affiliated with the Somali terrorist organization Al-Shabaab. Not only had Dhakane illegally entered the U.S. through Mexico, but prosecutors filed documents alleging that Dhakane smuggled at least several other AIAI operatives as well.

Then there is Abdallah Nafisi, who called on his comrades to bring weapons of mass destruction to America, specifically referring to the pedestrian entry tunnel at the San Ysidro Port of Entry. A Washington Times article (“Al Qaeda eyes bio attack from Mexico”), describes Nasfi’s recruiting video, posted on the internet in 2009, as carrying this message: “Four pounds of anthrax — in a suitcase this big — carried by a fighter through tunnels from Mexico into the U.S. are guaranteed to kill 330,000 Americans within a single hour if it is properly spread in population centers there. What a horrifying idea; 9/11 will be small change in comparison …There is no need for airplanes, conspiracies, timings and so on.” In 2001, Mahmoud Kourani (the brother of Hezbollah’s security chief in southern Lebanon) came through the San Ysidro Port of Entry in the trunk of a car, after bribing a Mexican embassy official in Beirut to get a visa.

And more. In December 2002, Salim Boughader Mucharrafille, a café owner in Tijuana, Mexico, was arrested for illegally smuggling more than two hundred Lebanese into the United States, including several believed to have ties to Hezbollah. In 2010, Muhammad Nazmul Hasan and Mirza Muhammad Saifuddin, were intercepted near Naco, Arizona, not long after they had crossed the border. During their interrogation, one of the men admitted that they were members of Harakat-ul-Jihad-i-Islami-Bangladesh, which was designated a terrorist organization by the United States in February 2008.

Bottom line? There’s no sure-bet solution, but let’s start by sealing off the border — it’s the promise of many politicians, but their delivery has gone from bad to worse. The Department of Homeland Security spends $4 billion annually deploying over 58,000 personnel with 16,875 vehicles, 269 aircraft, 300 watercraft, and 300 camera towers. It even uses aerial drones to enhance the scrutiny. In 2012, the Border Patrol apprehended about 357,000 people — a 78 percent drop since 2000. A February, 2013 GAO report found that just 44 percent of the border was under “operational control,” 37 percent was “monitored,” and the rest “low-level monitored.” In 2006, Congress passed a bill that called for a double-tier fence to be built along 700 miles of the border. But a year later, the U.S. Senate slipped language into a spending bill to water down that requirement, giving Homeland Security officials the leeway to determine how much and what type of fencing. As of early this year, the department had built just 36 miles of two-tier fencing, 316 miles of single-tier fence, and another 299 miles of vehicle barriers that still allow pedestrians to cross, but is meant to keep out smuggling vehicles. Commentator Charles Krauthammer explains the issue this way: “It’s not complicated. Build the damn fence.”

Even before the fence posts are driven into the ground, let’s put a sense of urgency into that job by further investigating the threat that the porous border poses to national security.

 Peter B. Gemma is an award-winning writer who has been published in a variety of venues including USA Today (where more than 100 of his commentaries have appeared), Military History, the, The Washington Examiner, the, and Congressman Ron Paul’s