Democratic situationalists versus Green existentialists

August 5th, 2002 – 9:13 pm
Tagged as: Uncategorized

From the July 30th issue of Undernews:

“But even if Nader only took one percentage point away from Gore – the most that can possibly be claimed – some will say that the Greens should have known better than to take that risk. In a way, it comes down to a debate between Democratic situationists – I am what the polls tell me I ought to be – and Green existentialists – I am what I am regardless of the polls. The danger with the Green existentialist approach is that you may end up with a Bush (or a Clinton, for that matter) in the White House. The danger with the Democratic situationist approach is that you definitely will. In one case, you give up on democracy in favor of a 800-pound-gorillacracy; in the other case you still retain some hope that things can get better.

Ironically, if Nader had done much better – say 10 or 15 points – we would all be in better shape since politics tends to follow third party uprisings when they are powerful enough. In the most recent case, for example, both the GOP and Democratic parties still remain in the shadow of the Perot paradigm. But because Nader didn’t do all that well, the Democrats can muddle along pretending that it wasn’t their fault after all but some guy they wouldn’t even let into the debate.

Democrats tend to think of Greens as wayward members of their party, which is why they try to browbeat them rather than convincing them. In fact, the Greens have less and less in common with the Democratic Party – especially since the latter refuses to stand up against the Bush war, greedy globalization, and the disintegration of constitutional government.

There are fortunately exceptions – Cynthia McKinney, Barbara Lee, and Chellie Pingree (who is running for the Senate in Maine) among them. If Paul Wellstone, for example, had followed the sensible model of these women he’d be more comfortable today.

But too many Democrats presume they can either ignore the Greens or hector them back into their pointless, spiritless, and morally dead confines. It won’t work for the simple reason that, unlike the Democratic Party, Greens actually believe in something. And when you believe in something, you are willing to take a few risks along the way.” — Sam Smith

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