Sunday, November 12, 2006

Whither the Green Party?

Many people are looking for a new direction, believing that the Green Party is losing ground due to the Nader effect. While that effect is real, I only had to mention that I was a Green on Daily Kos to be invited to take a hike, or at least read the FAQ which said that it was a Democratic Blog.

One of the suggestions is that we focus on (a) electoral reform and (b) that we work on "the local, nonpartisan, level to elect people who agree with our values and goals." That is the gist of Orval Osborne's post earlier this week.

After participating in and observing the congressional races in the 4th and 11th Districts in California, I would also say that we need to imrove the manner in which we go about recruiting candidates, defining the issues on which to build a campaign and executing. I don't think that we do well enough at any of these elements of gaining political power to be able to call ourselve a party of the future.

The 4th CD has a 48 - 30 edge in registration, with the Republicans holding a 16 percentage point lead. Yet, in the last election, the results were Doolittle (R) 49%, Brown (D) 46%, Warren (Lib) 5%. While Doolittle is a seriously flawed candidate, the manner in which Brown was able take the battle into Doolittle's front yard was a wonder to see. Both Brown and Warren were able to pickup votes fare beyond their registration numbers (0.69% for the Libertarians.)

So, the opportunity is there for a well run campaing to do far exceed the party base.

Then, in San Joaquin County, the Clean Water Action Project did a great job of registering new voters. They worked form June through to Oct and registered over 10,000 voters, of which >5,900 were Hispanic. The interesting fact, though, is that most of the Hispanics did NOT register Democratic. They Declined to State their preference.

There is a great opportunity to build on that fact in the San Joaquin Valley. The area from Stockton to Bakersfield comprises 6 Congressional Districts and 5 State Senate Districts. The phrase that I have heard from Hispanic leadership in the Stockton area is that they are tired of the Democratic Party taking them for granted.

In the 34th AD, David Silva pulled 2,399 votes in a district with only 755 Greens.
So, I will continue to build up a list of people, issues, contacts and hope that we can take advantage of an opening that is truly there.


Anonymous said...

We don't need large Green registration to get many Green votes. Most of the folks in Matt Gonzales's old Supe district weren't Greens, and he repeatedly carried that district handily, and also came within a hair's breadth of winning the mayorship in San Francisco (which, again, is not overwhelmingly Green, relative to the number of Dems, say). Ditto down here near in Santa Monica, where Feinstein and McKeown got elected, not by registering butt-loads of Greens, but rather by building coalitions with non-Green progressives over immediate, local issues.

The people we gotta win over in order to mount viable, winnable campaigns are the active, issue-oriented progessives in our respective California localities, and we do so by being involved in the local issues that said progressives are pushing. And the good news is that most such issue-oriented progressives are eager to have us Greens on board... the more of us show up at their meetings and actions, the stronger their meetings and actions become.

Forget about winning over the Kos-ites. The Green Party is much more valuable to the Democratic Party in general (and Daily Kos in particular) as a whipping boy and a scapegoat than it'll ever be as a coalition partner. That's 'cause the only "issue" that the DNC and/or DKos believes in is the Democratic Party, itself. And what can the Green Party possibly do to advance that "issue"? Go away and die. That's it. Which explains why the Kossites keep telling us to do just that.

Man, that place sets my teeth on edge.

Patrick Meighan
Venice, CA

Wes said...

I agree with you re: dks. But, my experience there taught me one thing about internet communities. That is the fact that one needs to take special care to build the sense of community. There is a sense of belonging among the kossaks. They talk of the things that "we" did. The flip side of that is that they often crap all over those who are not part of the enlightened "we" who feel that they invented the term "netroots."

I think that we Greens can build a better, more inclusive community. We have to be willing to work at that task. We have to be careful not to shut out anyone whose intention is in line with our 10 kv.

That is really difference between the major parties and ourselves. The Democrats too often shape their values for the benefit of the party. The extreme of that are the Rovian Republicans. Greens can do better.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, as always, for your blog, Wes.

I think we need to do better recruiting candidates, too; but how to in a decentralized party?

Scott McClarty, National GP Media Director, was on 1/2 hour representing the Green Party on C-Span, and admitted that the National doesn't control the states --they do their own thing. I say "admitted" because it sounds weird to most people i suppose. Now, don't get me wrong , i like it better than a few Dems in Sacramento mapping out the whole state and annointing which Dems to run where.

I recruited Peter Thottam to run as a Green for State Assembly in LA by asking and encouraging him. Yes, my little self, all by myself--no vetting by the county or state or anyone. Just invited him over to a meeting and a few other Greens on Pico Blvd gave him some more encouragement, and he said , "yes."

I think he has the goods to be a great candidate and it was a good first run experience for him; but then again, it was only me and few others thinking that too--that I know of.

People always say "why are the Greens doing this?" or why are they running agaisnt so and so (esp. on national level) and I say:
do you realize someone just shows up and says, "I'm running" and that is all there is to it. Not much strategizing or structure for it.

cheers and great work on defeating Pombo,


Anonymous said...

Hey, I didn't know Lisa did that (recruited Thottam). Good job, Lisa! Peter made a pretty good run!

Wes, do we Greens currently have an internet community that is, in any fashion, similar to DKos (without the "belong to our party or go die" philosophy, of course). Whenever I visit DKos and momentarily expose my Green Party colors, I'm told: "This is a Democratic board. Go away and visit the Green Party board." Is there one?

Is this it?

I do agree with you that Greens are better than Dems (or, at least, better than the official Dem hierarchy, and I'm including Markos in that) at working with folks who agree with them philosophically, but don't happen to belong to the same political party. Maybe it's 'cause we're used to electoral races where no Green is on the ballot and we HAVE to choose one of the other guys. But, whatever the reason, the most recent local example that comes to mind is Marcy Winograd's heroic run against Jane Harman here in my CA-36. Greens were ALL OVER her campaign, volunteering mucho time and money, pushing her. We didn't tell her Dem ass to go and get bent, just 'cause it happened to be a Dem ass. We rejoiced in having a candidate to support who happened to share our philosophy and ideology, even if the party registration didn't match ours.

So, yay us, I guess is what I'm saying, in a very DKos-like way.

Patrick Meighan
Venice, Ca

Wes said...

The closest we have is Green Commons, where there are multiple blogs. I had thought of moving this blog over there, now that Serena has it running pretty decently.

Anonymous said...

People we are in a war. A non-violent one, perhaps, but a struggle for our survival nonetheless. We have to stop worrying about making the Dems "feel better" about us since they only take pleasure in making us feel pain. This is a war and so far the other side is doing most of the firing. Our only option is to spoil the hell out of these whiny Democrats and make them howl. We'll never get ranked choice voting without making it do-or-die for the Dems.

Wes said...

I am not worried about making the Dems feel better. I do worry about animosity toward either Democrats or Republicans when that animosity gets in the way of finding common ground and working together for Green objectives. The demonization of either major party, seemingly a bedrock condition of current political discourse in America, prevents much progress. Eliminating those things that prevent progress should be on the "progressive" agenda.

Anonymous said...

The two-party system is demonic and deserves to be exposed. Both anti-people parties do their utmost to squash third party movements. Trying to suck up to either of them only perpetuates our current disasterous politics. Sharing the same opinion on one matter or another does not require us to sing cumbahyah with these elitists. If we're pro-87 or anti-90 then we need to create our own independent campaign on these positions. Coalitions with partners of disproportionate power are not true coalitions at all.

Anonymous said...

Dude, the person you're trying to convince is linked to the Green Institute, which is just a money shell for the bribes from big name Dems. There's no GDI values to be found here.

Wes said...

I would guess that there are no GDI values to be found in anonymous postings either. Which would lead one to believe that trolls are active over the holidays.

Mark E. Smith said...

Testing -- having never posted here before, this is only a test.

The job of the Democrats is to control the left so that it, like they, will present no real opposition to the Republicans. All the stuff about neither left nor right, forward Green, doesn't matter to the Democratic leadership (which is the same as the Republican leadership), they see us as the left, which means it is their job to contain and control us, so we're the enemy.

I've experienced the same vitriol on dKos. In fact I just quit a yahoo group formed by Kossacks which they called election_integrity_and_reform
but which is dedicated to pushing H.R. 550, the Holt Bill, which calls for the retention of machines in elections (with paper trail or open source software or both), rather than the Kucinich Bill H.R. 6200 which calls for hand-counted paper ballots.

My theory is that the Democrats desperately need to retain some sort of machines in the '08 election in order to cast a cloud of doubt over the results (their landslide will be even bigger than it was in 2000, 2004 and 2006), so that they can justify conceding a presidential race they won to a Republican for the third time in a row. Not an easy trick to pull off without alienating your base. :)

And while I'm here, I've got a little HCPB petition up here.