Tag: Green Party

Whither the Greens and Me?

In the just-concluded election, I cast my vote for Green Party candidate Dr. Jill Stein and was quite vocal about it. And, no, I didn’t help elect Trump: I live in California where our electoral votes were never in doubt for the Democratic Party’s well-worn candidate, Hillary Clinton.

Now the election is over and I’m considering what, if any, role I want to or should play on the American political scene going forward.

I have concluded that I am not going to continue with the Green Party, at least not as an active supporter and participant. That decision has little or nothing to do with how the party conducted its campaign or with any specific outcome. It has everything to do with my new vision of hope for the progressive cause in America and with my desire to remain flexible and independent until that scene sorts itself out.

I won’t do anything precipitous; I don’t need to worry about my party affiliation until the next election in 2018. But I have cut off contributions to and volunteering for any specific party-supporting activities in the meanwhile. Instead, I choose to spend the little time I’m willing to devote to politics these days to the progressive movement in the broader sense.

progressivismThe stunning election of a right-wing demagogue to lead a nation that has traditionally stood for diversity and democracy seems to be having an unintended positive side effect: a coalescence and re-energizing of the progressive base. Today, a progressive interested in the broad agenda can pick from several national movements to support. There’s MoveOn.org, which is practically venerable at this point, and which claims 7 million members. There’s Bernie Sanders’ Our Revolution, which staggered out of the starting gate with internal disputes about leadership but which has the most clearly articulated progressive “platform” with more than 20 planks. And there’s Organizing for Action, the successor to outgoing President Barack Obama’s Obama for America campaign group. OFA claims 5 million supporters and counting.

Then there’s Keith Olbermann’s loosely defined movement which he dubs “The Resistance”. (If you’re not watching his regular vidcasts sponsored by GQ, you owe it to yourself at least to sample them over at YouTube.

Here’s the problem. Unless these various attempts at creating an umbrella group over the Progressive Movement come together to share resources (mailing lists, information sources, donors, organizing expertise and more), conservatives will continue to win the day electorally despite their demonstrably minority position among voters.

So where does this leave the Green Party?

Given that it is a political party, and despite its clearly progressive platform and agenda, its primary focus is not on carrying out that agenda directly, but rather on getting candidates elected. Frankly, I’ve reached a place where I don’t care what political label a candidate chooses to adopt; the question is whether he or she is progressive. In recent years, that has meant they were either Democrats or Greens or Socialists. But if that weird anomaly called a “Progressive Republican” were to appear on the landscape, I would unhesitatingly vote for that candidate.

I have essentially become a one-issue voter. Facing the existential crisis of global warming, it seems to me that focusing on other no doubt incredibly important subjects like income inequality, social injustice, criminal justice reform, and big money in politics is for all practical purposes futile. If we fail to solve the global warming catastrophe looming on the horizon, all of these other issues will fade into oblivion, along with the human race.

Given that reality, and my general disposition to be broadly progressive in my views, it seems too narrow for me to identify with any political party. Unless something drastic changes between now and the 2018 election, I will register as Independent. I will continue to monitor both the Green Party and the Democratic Party to see how progressive their agendas and platforms become — particularly on the subject of the climate — then determine at an appropriate point whether to register for one of those parties or remain independent.

This is an odd place for me to find myself. A lifelong Democrat, it was difficult for me last year to register with a different party and to vote for that party’s candidate for president. But then, these are odd times in our nation’s history.

 

The Jill Stein-Noam Chomsky Dust-Up: He’s Right, She’s Being a Bit Demagogic

Back in May, the website Democracy Now! published an interview with liberal icon Noam Chomsky in which he opined that if he were living in a swing state and the election was close, he would feel compelled to “hold his nose” and vote for Hillary Clinton. A week or so ago, my candidate of choice, Dr. Joel Stein of the Green Party, took him to task for that suggestion, going so far as to suggest that he was a supporter of the “politics of fear”.

That was a mistake on her part. In fact, it was a mistake on two levels.

First, strategically speaking, he’s absolutely correct. In a swing state whose electoral votes could end up in the hands of Donald Trump as a result of a modest turnout of third-party voters, a vote for Dr. Stein is in fact a vote for Trump. That’s true nowhere else, and I’m not sure there will be any states in the November election where that will be the case. But in the limited circumstances Chomsky describes, he makes the precisely correct choice.

Second, accusing a man of Chomsky’s great political courage and wisdom of essentially being a coward is not a good way to win friends and influence people on the Left. Chomsky, deservedly or not, has a reputation for being a clear thinker who is entirely unafraid to express even the most unpopular viewpoints. I mean, here is a liberal who has repeatedly attacked the centrist Democratic Party that emerged from, in large part, her husband’s administration.

Dr. Stein has committed another faux pas, in my view. Recently she’s begun a strong spate of Hillary-bashing. Taking her campaign negative was a huge error. In the current political climate, one of her biggest draws is her integrity. Her laser focus on the issues — particularly that of the global climate crisis — is a hallmark of her entire political life. To take a side trip in order to level a personal blast at an opponent is out of character for her and feeds into the current American discontent on which she is attempting to capitalize by her third-party candidacy.

Come on, Dr. Stein! Get back on message and on target and stop these silly personal asides which avail you nothing.

Jill’s Star Gets Some Tarnish

I learned three things about Green Party Presidential candidate and presumptive nominee Dr. Jill Stein tonight that I found troubling. She’s still got my support but now I’m a bit more wary of her consistency and her integrity than I was when I woke up this morning.

First, it turns out she appears to be pandering to the uninformed and irrational anti-vaxxers in LaLaLand. She waffled a bit on the issue, finally settling for something like, “I’m a doctor. Of course I support vaccines. But I understand why some parents are concerned.” Bull-puckey, Jill. The whole autism-is-caused-by-vaccines hoax has been thoroughly and completely debunked. If believers in that unscientific conspiracy theory are part of your base, I wonder about  your integrity as a scientist.

Second, she is suggesting quite openly that we shouldn’t be exposing our kids to TV, computers or WiFi signals for health reasons. I know there are psychological reasons to monitor and limit kids’ use of passive screen consumption. But to suggest that LCD displays or WiFi signals are somehow dangerous to health? Seriously? Feels like more pandering to me.

Finally, her selection of a very bright and engaging human rights activist and leader, Ajamu Baraka, as her running mate, strikes me as being ill-advised. Baraka has no experience in government and relatively little in management. Combined with Jill’s paucity of such experience, this gives me pause where, if they could pull off a win in November, we’d be in for four years of demagoguery and arm-waving with very little of her ambitious and progressive agenda having any hope of achievement. If she had recruited someone with real on-the-job experience in legislation or executive administration in government, she’d have bolstered her opportunity. Nothing against Baraka, just a bad strategic choice.

As I said at the outset, I’m still a #JillNotHill kinda guy, but these are warning signs that I’m going to monitor.

 

Where Jill Stands on the Four Main Issues

Jill Stein, 2016 Green Party Presidential Nominee

Jill Stein, 2016 Green Party Presidential Nominee

After yesterday’s post about the four main issues over which I’m choosing not to vote for the Democratic Party’s candidate for President in my lifetime, a couple of people challenged me, asking where my candidate of choice — Dr. Jill Stein of the Green Party — stands on those same issues.

Here’s a quick summary of her views along with links to other sources of more detailed information for those who are interested.

  • On war and peace and American foreign policy: Establish a foreign policy based on diplomacy, international law, and human rights. End the wars and drone attacks, cut military spending by at least 50% and close the 700+ foreign military bases that are turning our republic into a bankrupt empire. Stop U.S. support and arms sales to human rights abusers, and lead on global nuclear disarmament. See her plan and her platform. More detail in a public policy statement here.
  • On the global climate crisis: Jill is committed to transitioning to 100% clean renewable energy by 2030.  “End destructive energy extraction: fracking, tar sands, offshore drilling, oil trains, mountaintop removal, and uranium mines. Protect our public lands, water supplies, biological diversity, parks, and pollinators. Label GMOs, and put a moratorium on GMOs and pesticides until they are proven safe. Protect the rights of future generations.” Her plan and her platform:
  • On the Trans-Pacific Partnership: Jill strongly opposes the TPP and other job-killing international trade agreements. She is on record as: opposing fast track (too late, of course) and executive action and she’s called TPP worse than NAFTA and CAFTA, to which she has long been an opponent. Read a summary of her positions on international trade here.
  • On knee-jerk support for Israel: “The Jill Stein campaign calls for ending support for governments committing war crimes and massive human rights violations, including Israel and Saudi Arabia. It supports the BDS movement as a peaceful, nonviolent set of actions organized by civil society across the world aimed to end Israeli apartheid, occupation, war crimes, and systematic human rights abuses.” (More here.)

My Four Objections to Hillary

hillaryHillary Clinton gave a very workmanlike, well-thought-out acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention’s closing session tonight. It climaxed what has been a very impressive four-day event, well-produced, well-messaged and great TV. Several friends and family members said her speech made them more comfortable voting for her.

It did not convert me.

She has  positions on four issues that relate among my top concerns with which I strongly disagree:

  1. She is far too hawkish, too ready to use our military not as a last resort but as a threat, far too comfortable with the idea of using power to attain U.S. foreign policy goals.
  2. Her stance on the global climate disaster is woefully inadequate. She’ll try (but, I sense, not too hard)  to get us to live up to the Paris Accords but they are much too little, far too late.
  3. Her opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership is on too shaky ground. I have little confidence she will hold out for the major changes it would take to make it acceptable to me and other progressives.
  4. As long as she continues the horribly flawed Middle Eastern policy which calls for knee-jerk, all-out support for Israel regardless of how bad an actor that country has been and continues to be, I cannot support her.

So — as you probably know by now — I’m all for electing the first woman President in American history this year. I just think her name ought to be Jill Stein.

 

Jill Stein: A Vote for Me is NOT a Vote for Trump!

As a strong supporter of Dr. Jill Stein and the Green Party of the United States, I spend a lot of my time fielding the duopoly’s inane refrain, “Isn’t a vote for her a vote that makes a Trump presidency more possible?”

Short answer: no. We’ve been sold that bill of goods by the operators of the Tweedle-dee and Tweedle-dum politicians who are in control. Time to wake up.

Check this video interview of Dr. Stein for a clear and impassioned argument:

Jill Stein Makes Ballot in Illinois

Dr. Jill Stein, my personal candidate for president of the United States in 2016, has met a really difficult challenge and qualified for the November ballot in Illinois. In some ways, this was the most difficult ballot access challenge for her — or any legitimate third party for that matter — ever. Not only is the bar far too high in Illinois, but there was such competition this year that even a smallish army of volunteers couldn’t collect the requisite 25,000 signatures in the 90-day allowed window. This meant she had to raise tens of thousands of dollars to put paid petition signature gatherers in the noisy field.

And she did it!

She’s gaining ballot access ground elsewhere, too. A judge in Pennsylvania agreed with a complaint filed by Jill’s team that challenged the 25,000-signature requirement in that state as onerous, dropping it to an easily achievable 5,000. Next state up is Georgia where she needs 7,500 valid signatures but is shooting for 15,000 to cover possible challenges.

Sure, she’s highly unlikely to win. But she can’t win if she’s not on the ballot! Every fair-minded voter, regardless of party affiliation or candidate preference, ought to be in favor of far easier ballot access, meaning more choice in November.

 

 

Tempted to Go Green? Don’t Worry. Protest Votes Only Impact Close Elections

Hillary & Jill

Hill & Jill

As a committed supporter of the Green Party and its presumptive Presidential nominee Dr. Jill Stein, I’ve been talking her up among my progressive friends of late. Most if not all of them are impressed with the Green Party’s platform and positions on key issues, particularly on foreign policy and climate change where the progressive community clearly and correctly sees Hillary Clinton for the hawkish corporatist that she is.

But most of the people I’ve been talking to Have expressed concern that they may be casting a “protest vote” that could tip the 2016 presidential election to the Republican party and its presumptive nominee, the utterly detestable Donald Trump. Generally, I counter that concern by pointing to Jill’s observation that voting for the lesser of two evils still produces an evil. She urges her followers to characterize a vote for her as a vote for the not-evil, the positive, the true progressive position all of us say we want.

It occurred to me yesterday that there might be a stronger and more convincing argument on this point. If you stop and think about it, popular vote never elects the President. That takes place in the antiquated and inexplicable Electoral College. In all but two states, Nebraska and Maine, the candidate who receives the most popular votes is awarded all of the state’s Electoral College votes. This means, among other things, that a third-party protest vote only has potentially disruptive results in a state where the outcome is within a few percentage points. In states where the outcome is certain or close to it, it’s not rational to consider that a third-party protest vote could alter the outcome in the final analysis.

So I want to say to my friends here and in the so-called real-world that unless you’re in a battleground state with a close outcome in November, you should vote your conscience, not what the duopoly tells you to do. If, on the other hand, there is solid objective evidence to suggest that voting for the Greens or any other third party could realistically result in the victory going to the worse of the two major party candidates, then and only then would you be justified in holding your nose and voting for Hillary Clinton.

Sorry, but there’s no justification at all for voting for Trump.

A Strong Argument FOR Hillary Clinton. Plus Reflections on the Democratic Party Platform

hillary_clintonI’m not sure I’m yet ready to have a change of vote but I am sure I’ve had a change of heart as a result of two things that have crossed my desk in the past 48 hours vis a vis the November Presidential election.

First, I read a very long article on the openly partisan Democratic Party mouthpiece blog Daily Kos that is the most reasoned and lucid defense of Hillary Clinton I’ve ever read. The journalist friend who shared it with me — who is decidedly not pro-HRC or, for that matter, much of a progressive — labeled it a “must read.” He doesn’t play that card often and every time he has, it’s proven worthwhile. So I took his advice.

The crux of the piece is that Hillary Clinton’s reputation for being scandal-plagued, dishonest and untruthful is not well-deserved, nor supported by a look at the evidence. There’s a lot of detail here and it would be an injustice to attempt to summarize it in so brief a space. Suffice to say the writer makes a very convincing case that, as he succinctly put it:

[T]he one thing that seems to most negatively and consistently affect public perception of Hillary is any attempt by her to seek power. Once she actually has that power her polls go up again. But whenever she asks for it her numbers drop like a manhole cover.

In other words, she’s a victim of pretty blatant sexism. Compared with male politicians with similar records, experience and public-service longevity who happen to be male, she is far more often a victim of intense and often-unfounded criticism.

Second, I’ve been following the development of the Democratic Party’s 2016 platform and, frankly, I’ve been astonished at the inroads into the policy positions and philosophical statements the Bernie Sanders contingent has been able to realize in a still-in-process draft. A big part of his policy positions have been incorporated into the platform without much dilution. There are still areas of disagreement and gaps but it is encouraging to see the party of my entire adult life taking progressive viewpoints as seriously as they appear to be this year.

Don’t get me wrong. I have been around politics long enough to know that a platform is hardly a binding document. Candidates often distance themselves from their party’s platform during the campaign and seldom even attempt to accomplish all of the platform’s promises after they are elected. Still, this is far and away the most progressive platform the Democrats have adopted (assuming they do) in at least two generations. It is indeed heartening.

So I conclude that perhaps it’s time for me to re-examine my decision to stay out of the party to which I was loyal my entire adult life until 2012 and convert to the Green Party. One of the primary blockades to that re-thinking is the Democratic Party’s take on the global climate change crisis. As the top of my blog says, it’s the only issue worth writing or talking about (and using as a basis for voting). While the Democrats are much closer to what’s absolutely essential to avoid catastrophic results, it still falls short of what is really needed. The Green platform will be on target to do what we as a nation need to do to do our part in minimizing the risks and costs of climate change.

Still, the Democrats have moved a considerable distance and I am ready to admit I have judged HRC too harshly without a serious examination of the entire factual background. It is clearly not fair to paint her with the wide brush her husband certainly earned.

A closing note. What if Hillary picks Cory Booker as her running mate? That could nudge me even farther in the direction of the Democrats. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders are off the table, I’m sure. But Booker could bode very well for the near-term future of the party. His only drawback is his state-pulling power is in New England, just as Hillary’s is. But in this cycle, that may not matter.

Millennials Are Listening to Cenk Uygur; Hear Jill Stein Interviewed by Him

If you want to get a handle on where I am in terms of the American political scene today, and/or if you are one of the majority of Americans who don’t trust or like either of the major parties’ candidates for President, you owe it to yourself to watch this video interview. Yeah, it’s kind of long (45 minutes) but you know you’ve already spent far more time than that listening to the gibberish emanating from Donald J. Trump and Hillary Clinton. Dr. Jill Stein, who has now clinched the Green Party’s nomination, answers good questions, covers the broad policy front and explains clearly why the traditional options of choosing the lesser of two evils and instead going for the greater good is a powerful political tool.

Please take time to listen carefully.