Tag: Green Party

Let’s Hear it for the ‘Nones’!

Good piece on HuffPo today about the possibility that both Democrats and Republicans could make some real gains in upcoming elections by pitching a values message to those people in the voting public who characterize themselves religiously as “none”. (Which leads to an interesting play on words when we refer to them collectively as “nones”.) 🙂

The nones, of which I am a dues-paying member (well, I would be if we had dues), are a substantial demographic, accounting for 20-33% of the electorate depending how you define them and whether you look at the younger end of the age range or the totality of it. Having just turned 70, I’m at the upper, upper end of that particular scale.

We are not motivated by party labels or affiliation or history (thus my 2014 switch from a lifelong Democrat to a Green) but rather by the understanding that it may be possible but is a bad idea to divorce politics from personal values. We understand budgets are moral documents, that how you choose to deal with global climate change and income inequality and the death penalty will be based not on your political label, no matter how much you protest that it will be, but on your personal values. Note, this is not a discussion about “family values”, whatever that turns out to mean to any one individual. Even “family values” are held by individuals and are thus individual in nature.

It happens that most of us nones are also progressives. That is due, at least in part, to the fact that we have chosen to investigate for ourselves the religious teachings and traditions of our parents and grandparents and sometimes found them wanting. It is also in part due to the fact that change is anathema to conservatives while it is embraced by progressives. But there are some positions that conservatives take with which we nones can and often do align. Those members of the conservative movement such as Rand Paul, e.g., who dislike the idea that America should go to war at the drop of a hat and become the world’s policeman, are people with whom we can identify, at least on that one issue.

But many nones would embrace a more conservative political label if it were more viable today. If, that is, the Republican Party hadn’t become the TEApublican Party and many (most?) of its prominent elected officials lost their moral compass in a sea of re-election fears. In fact, it would not surprise me if by tapping into the nones who are inclined to adopt some key conservative (but still rational) policies, the GOP could regain its status as a legitimate and badly needed alternative party.

Progressives who view some of the extremist views of the Democratic Party as a bit too big a reach might also help reign in some of its policies to be more accountable on the basis of meaningful personal values.

There is less difference every election between mainstream Republicans and mainstream Democrats. This is in part what has created the right-wing backlash that takes the form of the Tea Party (a “party” that doesn’t actually exist, isn’t on any ballots, has no stated candidates and takes no independent positions). And it is what has given rise to an increasingly viable splinter party group on the Left including the Greens and the Socialists.

To us nones, what really matters isn’t the detail of every policy you stand for, every vote you make. It’s the fundamental principles and values by which you live. As we begin to flex our spiritual-political muscles in coming months and years, we will become a force to be reckoned with. And that will mark the time when America begins to return to some sense of civility and respectability and governance, a situation in which a viable two (or multi-) party system is vital.

Killing Third Parties Was Ill-Advised

A couple of years ago, the voters of my home state of California adopted a proposition that resulted in the dilution of the power of political parties in the state. The Proposition enjoyed fairly widespread support, particularly among Democrats. I opposed it  on the grounds that it severely handicapped third parties wishing to make an appearance on November ballots. This despite the fact that at the time I was still a committed Democrat.

Yesterday’s election demonstrated the validity of that objection, and increased greatly my concern over the future of politics in my state.

In the Spring primary elections, not one third-party candidate made it into the final two for any office in the state. As a result, only Republicans and Democrats appeared on the November ballot.

I know that some see this as a very effective streamlining of the electoral process, in that it greatly simplifies the ballot. However events that took place between April and November might well have resulted in many more people wanting  to vote outside party lines for  Green and other party candidates for some of these offices.

Unfortunately, we didn’t have the chance.

I notice this policy has been adopted in other states. I think we’re going to find in the long-term that  it was a huge mistake, presenting as it does yet another obstacle to popular political reform, the blocking of which must inevitably lead to open rebellion.

As a newly registered Green, I am greatly in favor of finding a way to reform this misguided reform. Without it, third parties stand zero chance of having any impact on the political process, which effectively removes a once-useful channel for political dissent.

Running as a Progressive on Dem Ticket is Waste of Time, Bernie. Join Me in Green Party!

(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a diary I originally posted on Daily Kos and which was viciously attacked as not conforming to that site’s apparently blind support for the Democratic Party as is. See this post for my reaction to the reaction.)

Michael Trudeau of Nation of Change authored a piece in June that did not receive the attention it should have and that has become even more relevant in the context of Bernie Sanders’ flirtation with the Democratic Presidential Nomination.

In his piece, Trudeau argued that the notion that convincing a true progressive to run under the banner of the Democratic Party in the hope and expectation that he would shift the party’s agenda to the Left was proven fantasy.

If Bernie Sanders raises issues to Hillary Clinton and the American public for a few months during the Democratic primaries, it will not change the course of the Democratic Party one iota. This is true in the same way that the raising of issues by the likes of Jesse Jackson, Howard Dean, and Dennis Kucinich (twice) in the Democratic primaries did not change the course of the Democratic Party

Trudeau is right. As a Democrat who supported and worked hard for Dean and Kucinich, on the same premise that doing so would at the very least force the Democratic agenda Left however slightly, only to be defeated and deflated by the outcome, it is time to relinquish denial.

If Bernie Sanders runs as a Democrat, the effect becomes little more than ensuring Clinton’s nomination and aiding her election…. The scenario is this: Progressive-minded voters are attracted to the Democratic Party because of Bernie Sanders, and there they stay once Sanders loses the primary to a corporate Democrat, such as Clinton.

What is needed, as Trudeau argues with great clarity, is for true progressives to abandon the corporate centrist Democratic Party to its own devices, refuse to lend its support to even one more candidate who defies the grand tradition of progressivism in the Party, and to begin our own Progressive movement.

There can be no doubt in anyone’s mind that Hillary Clinton is a corporate, right-of-center Democrat. In almost every way and by almost every measure, she is less progressive than President Obama, who never was or claimed to be progressive and who has spent every day in office proving that to Wall Street, Big Medicine and other power centers.

During 2008, I initially backed Kucinich, then I switched to Dean when Kucinich dropped out, then finally to Obama, with some hesitation and a good bit of foot dragging. In 2012, faced with a Romney candidacy, I “supported” Obama from the beginning, but definitely as the “lesser of two evils.” Faced with an HRC bandwagon already for 2016, and after nearly a half-century as a Democratic voter, supporter, volunteer, campaign manager and apologist, I have decided to abandon my life-long party affiliation and align with the Green Party. And that’s where we Progressives should be encouraging Bernie to run as well.

Running as a Democrat would be counter-productive in every possible way. Sanders cannot and will not win the Democratic primary and it is precisely for this reason, and others, that Sanders must not enter it.

As Trudeau says:

They [progressives] buy a ticket to see Sanders and his “political revolution” and they get Clinton and neoliberalism instead. Then for four-plus years they bang their heads against the wall, lobbying Hillary Clinton to please, please not be Hillary Clinton, while the economy and the environment continue to crumble and while American foreign policy advances on fronts old and new.

Sanders is fond of saying that he wants to launch a “political revolution.” He can’t launch a successful revolution from within the ranks of either major political party. We’ve tried that repeatedly in the last couple of decades. The only alternative is a third party.

Right now on the American scene there are only three visible progressive parties with any chance of making a decent showing in a national election: the Green Party, the Working Family Party, and the Socialist Party. Of these, the Greens have the best shot because:

  • They have an international presence and reputation and infrastructure;
  • Their platform is both comprehensive enough and rational (practical) enough to have broad appeal among the American voting public (which is not true of several planks of the Socialist Party agenda, e.g.);
  • Their name gives them automatic linkage to the environmental and climatological issues that must be made central to the 2016 campaign;
  • Their support for women and women’s rights is undeniably world-class (they even ran an all-female national ticket in 2012);
  • They have already established a ballot presence in 13 states and in recent elections has had candidates on the ballot in almost all of the 50 states;

With a national political figure like Sanders heading the ticket, the Green Party would gain broad coverage. It’s possible it would even be invited to one or more of the Presidential Debates (though that decision is closely controlled by the two major parties). Sanders can call in a lot of IOUs in Congress as well.

It seems to me that a Bernie Sanders candidacy on a Green Party ticket has the best chance of getting the nation’s attention focused on the issues the two major parties will otherwise simply ignore. It will give progressives a place where they can vote with enthusiasm and confidence. And it will at least begin the political revolution that every one of us knows needs to take place if we are ever going to see a truly democratic America again.

ATTN: Democrats. No More Money for You!

I figure it’s even money that one or more of the Democratic Party organizations who has my email will see this. And even money they’ll read it and give a crap. But it will make me feel better, so I’m going to post it any damn way.

Attention Democrats: You will not get a single dime of my money donated to the party. Ever again. I may choose to donate to individual candidates from your party. But never again to the party apparatus. You have let me down for the last time with my money.

I am unsubscribing from your lists as fast as I get new emails. It may take years for me to disentangle. But I will escape your clutches.

Over the past eight years, you — through your President and to a lesser degree through your Congressional leadership — have too often fallen short of the Democratic Party ideals as I understand them. You have compromised in advance with some of the worst people ever to hold public office, taking legitimate positions off the table before negotiations even began. (Can you say “single payer,” Mr. President?)

Worse, you have not only refused to criticize anti-American policies of the two preceding administrations, you have perpetuated — and in some cases extended — them. Not one torturer went to jail. Not one banker went to jail. Guantanamo didn’t close. Drones are epidemic and out of control; soon, they will blossom into the airspace around us, disrupting and destroying American life in ways the Republicans could only imagine in their wildest dreams.

You have, in short, been so hell-bent on out-Republicaning the Republicans that you are no longer recognizable as the Party of the People. There is no room in your shrinking camo tent for real progressive thought or action.

Green Party USA Logo

Green Party USA Logo

I’m outta here. Next stop: the Green Party. I just voted for every Green on the ballot in the June 3 elections. And even though I’m on Social Security and Medicare, unable to bring in any extra money thanks to the economy you helped tank, I’m donating small amounts to my newly adopted party. I don’t expect them to win many elections. Maybe none. But I do expect they’ll influence the debate, shift you ever so slightly left, and at least stand for something.

As a party, you revolt me. Goodbye.


The Progressive Vacuum in American Politics

Michael Lind, writing on Salon.com today, offers this concluding observation to a piece attempting to analyze why the Democrats can’t seem to win in local and Congressional elections despite clear voter support for progressive policies:

The white working class has not rejected the party of pro-working-class economic progressivism, because in today’s America no such party exists. They can’t turn down a new New Deal that nobody offers them.

Green Party USA Logo

Green Party USA Logo

socialist_party_logoHe’s right if we focus only on the two major parties. But both the Green Party and the Socialist Party USA espouse the progressive principles about which Lind writes so clearly. Many if not most of these policies draw more than 50% support in polls when they are posted as policies independent of the party proposing them or the President’s name. And yet the policies are never even seriously proposed by Washington politicians of either stripe.

I’ve been around long enough to understand the potential problems associated with a third-party movement. But I’ve also been around long enough to see that we are not going to achieve the systemic change that is needed to right the American ship of state and back it off from the brink of a corporate state collapse within the framework of the present two-party system, which is built on a crumbling and unsustainable capitalist foundation. Real, systemic change can only come now via  radical dismissal of all Powers That Be.

This won’t be a short-term solution. It will probably take more years than I have left on Planet Earth. But if we don’t start soon, it may become impossible.

Tight Link Between Union Membership and Middle Class Income

unions-middle-classThis chart depicts the incredibly close connection between union membership and middle-class incomes. It’s almost as if the two were inextricably and intimately linked. Oh, wait. They are! The destruction of unions by corporations, the exporting of U.S. jobs overseas, the artificially created wealth that exploded in the housing bubble of the past five years, and other causes has all but wiped out the middle class in this country. Without the middle class, companies have no markets for most of their products. Without markets, they have no sales and no profits.

This union bubble will definitely burst and when it does, things are going to get really ugly around here.

One of my biggest disappointments in the Obama Administration has been its utter failure to do anything meaningful to shore up unions. The cause of the working family in this nation is no longer championed by either of the two major political parties. This observation must soon result in the emergence of a strong third party focused on the people. The Greens or the Socialists or some combination or permutation will have to move to the fore over the next decade or so. Otherwise, America may not be recoverable.