Democrats vs. Greens

July 22nd, 2002 – 8:46 pm
Tagged as: Uncategorized

Sam Smith writes in today’s Undernews:


AMERICA’S MORIBUND liberal-left can’t stand the idea that there is actually a federally qualified, lively progressive political party that refuses to pay it any mind. While the Green Party is doing so well that both parties tried to cut deals with it in New Mexico, the archaic left continues to assume that the way to attract Greens back to its brownfields is to hector them.

Latest case in point was a piece in the Washington Post by Liza Featherstone in which she took the Minnesota Greens to task for daring to run a candidate against Paul Wellstone, including this absurdity:

“So why are the Minnesota Greens opposing him? Well, because the Minnesota Green Party, like many third-party efforts these days, is not so much about building a political movement as making a political gesture. It has no realistic strategy for achieving a set of policy goals, and its platform has become secondary to its attitude toward politics. And that attitude is not one of participation in the political process so much as alienation from it.”

In fact, the Minnesota Greens seem to some (including your editor) to have made a major tactical mistake, but not unlike those that frequently happen in politics. To turn such an error into a philosophical dysfunction is roughly the same as declaring a stolen base to be a sign of spiritual vision on the part of a ballplayer.

Besides, Featherstone is only able to come up with the Minnesota example to support her prejudices about third parties. In fact, Greens are doing better than ever around the country and are so threatening to the ancient regime that papers like the Washington Post feel compelled to go on the attack. When the Post gets scared enough to stop blacklisting you and criticizes you by name, you are making headway. And anyone who knows anything about Greens would rank alienation near the bottom of their faults.

This is, of course, a messy business. I would, for example, much prefer the Greens be far stronger on populist and civil liberties issues. And I do not deny that the problem of when one runs candidates and against whom is a complicated and tricky one.

But Featherstone and other voices of the archaic left are really in no position to tell the Greens how to stage their revolution. It’s a little like George Bush lecturing on corporate ethics. And if the liberal-left had done its own job right, folks like the Greens wouldn’t be such a threat to it.

Fortunately, the common scold approach to the problem isn’t the only one. A number of Democrats – including Cynthia McKinney, Barbara Lee and Maine Democratic senatorial candidate Chellie Pingree – have managed to work out a fair accommodation with the Greens. McKinney even videotaped
remarks for the Greens’ recent convention. And Steve Cobble, writing on the Tom Paine web site, offers a far more reasonable approach to Green-Democratic relations.

As a starting point, Democrats should treat Greens at least as well as they treat soccer moms. Democrats have to realize that Greens are not going to go away. And they certainly are not going to be scared off by arrogant attacks by loyalists of a party that has all but destroyed itself through its own cowardice, lack of imagination, and willingness to play the submissive in the great S&M game of the Democrats’ conservative leadership.”

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