This is one of my favorite quotes…

“The Greens are the only constituency in America whom the Democrats believe they can convince by insult.” –Sam Smith, in Greening the Golden Triangle (courtesy of CounterPunch)

Few things more true have ever been said.

For the curious, Sam Smith is the editor of the Progressive Review. This article is mandatory reading for Democrats seriously interested in understanding where the hell Greens are coming from.

If you’re wondering what prompted me to post this little gem, read on…

In response to my posting re: pro-Kerry or anti-Bush, I received an email that started off thusly: “Longing for Nader or Kucinich is infantile.”

Not quite what I’d expect from someone attempting to seriously persuade me to their point of view. Seriously folks, and here I address my friends in the Democratic Party: Albert Einstein said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. You’re spent four years roundly berating every Green in sight, and what has it gotten you? Not much, so far as I can see… Nader still pulls 7% in the polls, and any Greens or Nader supporters (the two are not synonymous, by the way) that the tactic would’ve been effective with have long since been persuaded. It’s time for a different strategy folks.

… here’s another great quote:

“…the Democrats have spent the last decade in a masochistic effort to convince people that they were really just nicer Republicans, expanding the prison population and undermining social democracy to prove it. They should not be surprised if those whom they convinced included many Greens.”

Now, clearly, a lot of you (judging by the tenor of the comments left here) are highly dissatisfied with this strategy, even if you haven’t come to the conclusion that the solution is to abandon it for the Green Party.

The responses to my pro-Kerry or anti-Bush posting (21 comments and counting – I obviously hit a button) back me up on this: y’all are a lot more anti-Bush than you are pro-Kerry.

Unfortunately, anti-Bushism is hardly a sustainable ideology.

Which brings me to the primary point of this posting: how do we move beyond ABBA, and beyond Kerry’s politics of triangulation, to facilitate the creation of a vision for a successful and sustainable progressive politics that has a snowball’s chance in hell of making an impact on the American political system?

Much as I admire and respect Nader and Kucinich, clearly, they haven’t come up with the right formula. It seemed for a moment like Dean had a handle on this (despite my reservations about his politics, I was fascinated enough by the Dean phenomenon to devote a category exclusively to him on my blog), but obviously something went wrong. Not to mention that, after the fact, it seems that the major validation of his approach, the ability to very quickly raise large sums of money over the Internet via appeals to the grassroots, wasn’t that hard for Kerry to emulate once he became the clear front-runner.

I read a very thoughtful post-Iowa analysis by a no longer starry eyed Dean volunteer (“Losing My Religion”, by Katy Bulter, in Salon) that explores the subject of why Dean failed, and which may offer some lessons for our movement as well. Kerry’s victory in Iowa was not an accident, as this article makes clear… Dean appears to have failed to connect, in a very fatal way, with a substantial number of the voters in Iowa and New Hampshire. The next candidate to come along can’t afford to make that same mistake.

NOTE: I’m a Green (and have always been one, ever since I first registered to vote in 1990), so that tells you a little bit about what *I* think the solution is (it’s called a “forklift upgrade” by us folks in the tech industry), but I’m curious to hear what YOU have to say on the subject. 🙂

Again: the question for discussion is, how do we go beyond ABBA to create a sustainable vision for a succesful more or less left of center politics in this country?

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts.

Thomas Leavitt