Why I Am Not A Green

Light blogging? Well it isn’t working out that way. (I’ve noticed that the best way to get the writing going is to actually POST that you aren’t writing much…)

After posting that there would be light blogging, I read the most recent comment to the Biden to Peace Movement , “F%&K You!” piece from the other day. Here’s is most of the comment:

The least significant of the two points, is the longtime stance he just cited by linking to his archive, that “Ralph Nader is a Scab”. After Clinton and Gore cut everyone off welfare in 1996; stumped for the “Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty” act that same year; after Al was instrumental in selling vast tracts of Federal land to oil companies; after they failed to do anything about CAFE mileage standards for eight years; (look up Senate Resolution #98 of 1997 if you think Al’s participation in the Kyoto treaty was anything more than a joke); after Al’s steadfast support of Star Wars; Joe Lieberman’s steadfast support of Tort “Reform,” etc., etc., etc., well I’m sorry but I believe it was the Democrats who walked away from my picket line and not vice versa. That march continues to this very day. (I’m going to enjoy listening to the Democrats in 2004, trying to convince me that Joe Lieberman is our only hope to restore world peace and fight corporate corruption.) But that’s a minor point.

The more important point is, a realistic analysis of Ralph Nader’s impact on the 2000 shows that this fixation on blaming the Greens for “throwing” the election is without merit. Sure, Ralph got 2.8 million votes nationwide, and 98,000 in Florida. But according to CBS and MSNBC exit polls, roughly 10% of self-described “Democrats” VOTED FOR BUSH in the 2000 election, nationwide — and roughly 12%, NEARLY ONE IN EIGHT, in Florida (again, CBS and MSNBC).

Crunch those numbers and you can see: FIVE MILLION Democrats voted for Bush nationwide, almost twice Nader’s total, and 350,000 Democrats voted for Bush in Florida, nearly four times Nader’s number. So isn’t this fixation with blaming Nader, shared by MediaWhoresOnline and Eric Alterman, among many others… isn’t that just a smokescreen that lets Democrats ignore their own failures?

Oh by the way, 8% of Republicans, nationwide and in Florida, voted for Gore, but I assume the Democrat’s don’t have a problem with that. So we have to ask the question, why were Republicans 92% confident in their candidate, while Democrats were only 90% confident (or, in Florida, 88% confident) in theirs??

This is not just an abstract statistical quirk for me. One of my own immediate family members, for example, describes herself as a “Democrat,” but in 2000 she voted an all-Democrat ticket with Bush at the top. Since that time, she’s become a Bush convert, listening to Fox news all the time, boycotting the French, and so forth.

Which leads me to the opinion: as Jim Hightower says, when you raise a hunger for steak among the voters, they’re going to pick the sirloin over the ground chuck every time. When Democrats track to the Right, in a largely vain effort to pick up that elusive “undecided middle,” they do NOT project an image that they are reasonable, bipartisan, open to democratic compromise. The message they project, to a sizeable chunk of the voters at least, is that they agree with the Republicans on crucial issues and are simply not being sincere about their opposition. Therefore the “undecided middle” votes for the people who project more conviction, and we end up with a situation like we did in November 2002.

It is the weak-kneed Democrats (exempting the strong-willed ones, like the late great Wellstone, or Jesse Jackson Jr.), who are the ones, in my opinion, who end up getting Republicans elected in close races. Not the numerically less significant Greens.

Get that 10% number down — even a couple of percent!! — before you accuse me of breaking solidarity.

THIS is my biggest problem with the Greens. I haven’t heard ANY Greens put that kind of energy into attacking Republicans and their policies, EVER! This comment is entirely about things that happened in the past, and reads more like a Republican anti-Democrat tract than than about how do we accomplish those progressive goals that we share!

Many Greens spend more time and energy attacking Democrats than they do trying to get their agenda passed. WHO BENEFITS from this kind of campaign against Democrats? The environment? The poor? Iraqi civilians? Civil rights? The economy? Workers rights?

Let me confess a sin – I used to be registered as a Green, and I voted for several Green candidates. But for me, politics is about achieving certain goals — protecting the environment, keeping peace in the world, bringing opportunity to the disadvantaged – things like that, things I call progressive goals and believe that Democrats and Greens share. These progressive goals are very important to me, and I look for the best way to get things done, to accomplish these goals.

Initially I registered and voted Green to “send a message to the Democratic leadership” but eventually I realized that voting Green was actually threatening my goals by “splitting the vote” and I changed my registration back to the Democratic Party. Yes, I understand that some Democrats took corporate money and voted in ways I think were destructive to the overall cause. But I think it is more important to work toward my goals than to punish those Democrats for being less than perfect.

Today I look at politics as an emergency! I lived through Nixon and Reagan, and now I am fortunate to have a job that allows me to study the right-wing movement, so I understand that the right is no longer engaged in anything resembling a democratic contest. I believe that today we face a terrible threat. My experience and study has led me to believe that many on the right are itching to round up people like me and put us into camps – or worse. Just spend a minute reading Ann Coulter or Michael Savage and you’ll understand what I am talking about. And this is on top of the terrible destruction they are bringing to all of the things that I care about so much – the environment, world peace, opportunity for the disadvantaged, civil rights, corporate corruption, concentration of wealth, even basic civility! Some of the people in this government are the same individuals who helped Nixon subvert the electoral process, and who helped overthrow the Allende government in Chile, leading to the horrible repression that followed. Many of the people in this government are the same individuals who helped Reagan subvert the Constitution, and helped bring about the “secret wars” in Central and South America that brought death and torture to so many. ALL of the people in this government come out of the nasty, ultra-partisan “movement conservative” smear campaigns and destruction of our judicial system that occurred in the 1990s. These are not people who care for a minute about democracy or rights or community or civility or YOU!

Today we face a real threat to our liberties and possibly even our lives, and I don’t CARE what some Democrats did in the 1990’s, I want to work in the most effective possible way to fight them, and to accomplish the progressive goals that I care so much about! This is why I am no longer a Green.

Now to address some specifics in what the commenter wrote. The anti-Democrat facts in the comment are just wrong! An example – there would be no Kyoto treaty if Gore himself had not flown to Kyoto to persuade the attendees to vote for the treaty! I remember that, and if the writer had been working to achieve the goal of protecting the environment from global warming, the writer would be ready to acknowledge Gore’s contribution – as do all major environmental organizations!

How does it help Nader’s argument if some Democratic voters voted for Bush? Doesn’t this reinforce why we need those people who really understand the issues to hold solidarity, so we can accomplish those things we agree need doing? Is the writer unaware of the propaganda effort the Republicans put out to blur the distinctions between themselves and Democrats (assisted by the Greens)? OF COURSE a lot of people are persuaded to vote Republican! That’s the battle we are in if we want to get anything done to help the environment, the poor and peace on earth! The Greens should be fighting alongside those who share their overall goals, not assisting those who want to destroy everything the Greens say they stand for.

Update – I should have added sooner – I was at my talk on blogging, which went very well – that I think a solution we can all agree on is preferential balloting, also known as instant runoff voting (IRV). IRV lets you select a first and a second choice. If no candidate gets 50% the candidates with the lowest number of votes are eliminated and the SECOND choice on the ballots for those candidates is used. Here’s how this works – If this had been in effect in Florida Nader and Buchanan (and others) ballots would have their second choices applied (most likely Gore and Bush). The Nader votes would have been applied most likely to Gore. The Buchanan votes would have been applied to Bush (or Gore in Palm Beach because of the mistakes). With IRV voting people can “vote their conscience”, but their vote would COUNT TOWARD candidates who SHARE their values, instead of working against candidates who share their values. It helps everyone and is much more democratic than what we have now.