There comes a time when two people with the best of intentions simply must end their relationship; a time when a divorce becomes appropriate. Myself and the Green Party, that is. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Green Party. Ralph Nader and Cynthia McKinney are two of the best things that could ever happen to any political party. And the 10 key values of the Green Party fit my values perfectly. Grassroots Democracy, Decentralization and Community Based Economics speak to the corporatization of the entire planet. Ecological Wisdom, Future Focus and Diversity speak to my lifelong passion for saving the planet from ourselves. Non Violence, Feminism and Social Justice speak to our need to finally pass the Equal Rights Amendment, end state sponsored murder via the death penalty and the need for universal health care. And Responsibility speaks to our need to take care of ourselves to improve our personal well being. If the Green Party is such a great match, what’s the problem?
Well, there isn’t a problem with the Green Party, per se. The problem rests with its inadaptability to be a powerful force for effective change. No matter how good the Green Party makes me feel, it is not compatible with the political system of the United States. To my brothers and sisters in Europe where the Greens are a more potent force, I hope you understand our quandary. Until we can transform our political system to allow small political parties to participate, we are stuck with a two party duopoly, as Ralph Nader is so fond of reminding us. To be precise, the United States does not have political parties in the true sense; organizations with specific loyalties where party discipline can be meted out to those who stray from the original message, and where alliances can be formed to enact specific legislation such as in the Parliamentary system. Rather, the Democratic and Republican, let’s call them conglomerations, are warehouses of various competing beliefs all vying for control. In general, of course, the Democrats range from the center of the political spectrum to the left, where the Republicans are center and right. The magic trick in this very messy system is to conjure control of the party apparatus from other competing factions. To be more precise, the Green Party would be much better off, and more effective, if they were a caucus within the Democratic Party rather than a separate party taking votes from the Democratic candidate.
Certainly, this pronouncement will draw ire from all who understand how corporate the Democratic Party has become, and how their loyalty rests more with Wall Street rather than Main Street. But let’s be realistic. Will progressives have more influence inside the house pushing left, or has the Green Party been more effective outside? For me the answer is obvious. As an outside force, the Green Party has no or very little influence on national politics. It functions best when confronting local issues, and indeed has some elected officials in local and state office. And that’s a positive development to be certain. Also, the Greens understand that nearly all positive developments spring from grassroots activism. But we simply can’t wait for our political system to transform itself. We must do one of two things. Either the greens reduce their party status to that of caucus within the Democratic Party, or members must quit the party and find a new home in a progressive caucus within the Democratic Party framework. With this in mind, I bid the party that I have grown to love a quiet and sad good bye. And I do so with open disgust, nausea, and repugnance at what the Democratic Party has become within the past 20 years. But I wouldn’t do so without hope for the future.
So where do we go? The best winning strategy, I believe, is to participate within those organizations that work both within and outside the Democratic Party, but always working to push the Party further to the left on key issues. We can only enact winning strategies within the house, not from without. The organization that currently has control, and a complete strangle hold on the Democratic Party apparatus is the Democratic Leadership Council, a pro Wall Street group that has convinced itself that the only way to win elections is to act more like Republicans than the Republican Party itself. This is a delusional group of bought and paid for politicians whose only loyalty belongs to corporations with the fattest check book. The goal of progressives should be to kick out these misfits and send them packing to the Republican Party where they belong, and force the party to the left where progressive legislation can finally be written and passed by both chambers of congress.
The Progressive Democrats of America has a complete understanding of this complex dilemma. Directly from their website, "Progressive Democrats of America was founded in 2004 to transform the Democratic Party and our country….Our inside/outside strategy is guided by the belief that a lasting majority will require a revitalized Democratic Party built on firm progressive principles". Check out their website: www.pdamerica.org.
Another good organization that I have contributed to, although much smaller than PDA, is the Democratic Socialists of America. Not to be confused with the Socialist Party which operates as on independent political party, DSA is an activist organization supporting progressive causes and generally supports left wing candidates within the Democratic Party. Simply put, they believe, as I do, that both society and our economy must operate democratically. DSA and their brothers and sisters in the various other socialist organizations in the U.S. split company many years ago over the issue of how to create positive social change. The Socialist Party is still making the same mistake that the Green Party is making; they operate as a separate political party. DSA learned many years ago to abandon this losing strategy. Check out their website: www.dsausa.org.
Parting ways always hurts, and this parting is no different. Will there be second thoughts? I’m certain! But time seems to heal most wounds, especially emotional wounds. I love everything the Green Party stands for; it’s values, commitment and love to positive social change. But as the saying goes, ya just can’t get there from here. Until we can transform the political structure of the U.S., the Green Party, Socialist Party, and every other "third" party will be stuck in the mud and spinning its wheels. The progressive members of congress have much more impact and voice working within the dominant structure than without. Sometimes the hard truth is layered with pain, but that’s a call to action, not a call for withdrawal. Finally, I call on the Green Party to cease its activity as a separate political entity, and to reorganize as a caucus within the Democratic Party Structure. Its organizational structure can and should remain the same, with the only difference being that it will fight within the Democratic Party to drag its agenda leftward, and to give the boot to the Democratic Leadership Council. The road to victory is filled with sacrifice, and this may be the biggest sacrifice of all.