Tuesday, December 14, 2004
A coalition of me
If yesterday’s Medea-Benjamin-inspired post-without-comment had been a contest (and it wasn’t), Robert Young would have won it (see the comments thread). But here’s my version:
MANY OF US IN THE GREEN PARTY made a tremendous compromise by campaigning in swing states for such a miserable standard-bearer for the progressive movement as John Kerry. Well, I’ve had it. As George Bush says, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me—you can’t get fooled again.”
Admittedly, it is not clear from this nose-pinching paragraph just which Green camp Ms. Benjamin belongs to. As you’ll recall, there are two options here: (a) Ms. Benjamin is unaware of the extent to which the Bush crowd consists of kleptomaniac Contra-funding retreads, neo-segregationists associated with Confederate outlets like Southern Partisan magazine and the Council of Conservative Citizens, and Christian fundamentalist jihadists who believe themselves to be the instruments of God; or (b) she is sublimely indifferent to the fact that the Bush crowd consists of kleptomaniac Contra-funding retreads, neo-segregationists associated with Confederate outlets like Southern Partisan magazine and the Council of Conservative Citizens, and Christian fundamentalist jihadists who believe themselves to be the instruments of God. I’m going with (a), on the basis of Ms. Benjamin’s remark in April 2003, “I’m stunned by how extremist the Bush presidency has become on foreign policy. We never could have predicted this.”
But I could be wrong—Ms. Benjamin could be working with option (b). The point remains that in making the tremendous compromise of working for the most liberal Democratic nominee since McGovern, Ms. Benjamin had to hold her nose so tightly that she only had one free hand with which to register new voters in Ohio. And despite her willingness to sacrifice her principles for an unworthy cause, that noxious Kerry fellow went ahead and lost anyway. So now Ms. Benjamin feels burned, tricked. Never again!
For those of you willing to keep wading in the muddy waters of the Democratic Party, all power to you. I plan to work with the Greens to get more Green candidates elected to local office.
Face it, the Democrats are hopeless. Especially in Ms. Benjamin’s part of the country, where the only sane option is to build a third-party alternative to the corporate duopoly. Take Gavin Newsom, for instance—a corporate sellout if there ever was one. Just as Kerry failed to endorse gay marriage, instead supporting “civil unions” that fail to meet my personal standard for social justice, so too did Mayor Newsom stop short of promoting a truly liberatory sexual economy. Yes, he permitted gay marriage. But he only permitted it for gay and lesbian couples who already wanted to marry. He never once opened his mouth on the subject of arranged gay marriages, fearing that this would provoke a “backlash” among heterosexuals who would find themselves in same-sex couples without their consent. Well, I’ve had it. I’m not trusting any local Democrats ever again.
Seriously, folks, I have no problem with Greens getting elected to local offices. In the Bay Area, in Madison, in Seattle, in Cambridge, they make fine alderpersons and deputy comptrollers. The problem since 1996 has been that the Greens keep running candidates for national office even though on the national scale, they’re a boutique party at best. Now, I was a member of the New Party for almost as long as it existed, and the New Party (a) stayed local and (b) advocated fusion ballots. For the same reasons, the Working Families Party in New York deserves the support of anyone left of the Democrats. But until the Greens get serious about the kind of electoral reforms that would make their party meaningful (and no, instant runoff voting doesn’t count), I can’t take them seriously, and neither should you.
Let’s stop the infighting, though. Dems, Greens and other progressives must not only respect one another’s choices, we must start using these different “inside-outside” strategies to our collective advantage. A strategically placed Green/progressive pull could conceivably prevent a suicidal Democratic lurch to the right.
I just love “let’s stop the infighting.” First a middle-finger salute, then a kissoff, then a hug. First “I’ll never work for a Democrat again”—regardless of whether it’s Joe Lieberman or Russ Feingold—and then an appeal to “our collective advantage.” And what’s with the “strategically placed pull”? What are we talking about, moving a heavy piece of furniture? Is there any context, in actual electoral politics, where this makes sense? How exactly does a left-wing breakoff from the Democrats keep the Democrats from lurching right? How exactly would Green candidates add to progressive Democratic candidates’ vote totals in states that don’t allow fusion ballots? It’s no wonder Ms. Benjamin has to be vague here. But all the same, I suppose we should be ready to pull when she gives the word. Strategically, of course.
Finally, the most significant problem with this post-2004 strategy for progressives is that, like Gavin Newsom, it doesn’t go far enough. This blog will not make the same mistake! I hereby announce my candidacy for Senate in 2006, to try and unseat Senator Rick “Man-on-Dog” Santorum. But I will not work with the parties of the corporate triopoly! In the past I have been burned by Democrats and Greens alike, and as a matter of principle, it is intolerable for me to spend time talking with people less progressive than I am. I will therefore run for Senate under the banner of the Red Party, which I have just founded in this very sentence, and which will promote a coalition politics for a progressive future—forming multiple, pragmatic, fluid coalitions with people who believe exactly what I believe, and for all the right reasons.
The initial meeting of the Red Party will be held in my study at 9:00 tomorrow night. I hope to see me there.