Saturday, August 05, 2006

In this corner, Paul Krugman

The entire question "spoiler" or some other version of that is going to become even harder to deal with as the November general election approaches. The latest salvo in this battle was the OpEd in the August 4 NY Times by Paul Krugman. In typical NY Times fashion, you have to be a paying subscriber to read the following link. Entitled "Centrism is for suckers" it attacks the Sierra Club as being a "useful idiot" for their endorsement of long time environmental advocate Lincoln Chaffee (RI) for the senate.

This is one more call that says you can only be a Democrat or a Republican and that no other option is acceptible. Karl Rove would love this arrangement, because he is confident that the Republicans will win that battle in the long run. This is exactly what Grover Norquist (room mate and associate of Jack Abramoff) dreams about.

This is a case where issues mean absolutely nothing. Moral values mean nothing. It is only about naked power for it's own sake, Your are with us our you are against us.

It would be enough to make one throw up except that is takes away your appetite for much.

There are some who will not join the fray on Krugman's terms. Thankfully, the Sierra Club's Carl Pope is one of them. Pope has released two statements addressing the Krugman charge since yesterday. In one, he provides a reasoned defense of the Chaffee endorsement. In the second post, he addresses more generally the question of the parlimentary government (party vs. party) and specifially the role of the Senate in blocking such unwholsome partisanship.

There is an increasing call for a third party, a party of the center, grounded in principles rather than politics, but one that has the scope and size to have professional staffs rather than activist volunteers doing the work.

Could this be the Green Party. To the extent that Greens build themselves as the voice of an illdefined progressive left, then answer is "no." If successful, the Democrats, with all of their own addiction to big corporate money, become the Centrist Party . To the extent that Greens define themselves in terms of a solid committment to the full range of key values of this party, the answer is "maybe."

It is important to note that the original Progressive Party was founded by Republicans, T. Roosevelt, Robert LaFollette, etc. The third way is neither right nor left but Green. This is the time. There has not recently been a moment when the issue of the Green Party have been more important or more a part of the national debate than now. Now is the time for Greens everywhere, at all levels, to speak out with solid Green plans for accomplishing that which the corporate parties refuse to do.

We must not let the words of Paul Krugman define our reality for us. "We’re living in an age of one-letter politics, in which a politician’s partisan affiliation is almost always far more important than his or her personal beliefs."


Lisa said...

Thanks for posting this, Wes.

We have an LA Green who was on the executive committee of the local Sierra Club the last few years. I'll have to ask him how his term went--trying to get them to endorse Green Party candidates and such.

To me it is a no-brainer, the Sierra Club should be endorsing, duh, the Green Party candidate for Governor. But if they don't see us as viable, then we are in the same Catch-22 again.

And the Sierra Club doing a dual endorsement of Westly and Angelides for the Democratic primary. that's just ludicrous, isn't it?

Wes said...

There are times when the Sierra Club will find that one particular elected official is so egregious that the Sierra Club will take concerted local action. This was the cast in the 11th CD where Richard Pombo fits that description. According to Federal Election Commission Reports, the Sierra Club Political Committee spent $28,159 in the month of May as part of the effort to unseat Pombo. This was mostly buying media time. In the Primary election, they endorsed Republican Pete McCloskey, whose environmental credentials are unassailable.

In the same election cycle, the Green Party lost its San Joaquin County presence as no one filed papers for the County Council and I saw no effort by Contra Costa County Greens as an organization to address the situation with Pombo, though individual Greens in both counties were active supporting Democratic candidates.

As an aside, the California Teachers Association, the SEIU and the California Labor Federation also endorsed McCloskey.