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Sunday, July 31, 2011

Comments

John,

Did you see this while you were away?

http://pandagon.net/index.php/site/comments/either_way_the_problem_is_republicans

Actually I'm still away, but you can take it as read that I never see anything at Pandagon or waste time on Amanda Marcotte. I get enough of special liberals without seeking them out.

Barf-o-rama. First off, Obama has the rhetorical skills of an endtable. I have never seen him say anything, anywhere that made me think that he believes it, or that he wrote it, or that a team of people didn't run phrase after wooden, hackneyed phrase past focus groups first. You have to be of a low order of intelligence to think that Obama is a gifted orator, period. Anyone who would write or say this in public automatically deserves to be ignored on serious issues forever.

He has been an evident dangerous charlatan for me from the moment he gave his War Prayer speech in advocating the presidency of John "Surge" Kerry at the '04 Democratic convention.

Obama told everyone that he was going to send kids to die in Afghanistan and he told everyone that he was going to hand a trillion dollars to Wall St. crooks. He plainly openly admired Reagan.

My Obamamaniac moron friends, when having these facts presented to them in person or via email, responded by ignoring me or claiming that I was "reading too much into" their (freshly minted) hero.

Every damn 'liberal' in the entire country KNEW PERFERCTLY WELL that Obama was a right winger, they just got caught up in the idea that they could "win" the TV call-in reality contest between Corporate Candidate 1 and Corporate Candidate 2, and give themselves a big, smug pat on the back for voting for a (kinda sorta in one sense) black guy to show the Fox News viewers what superior people they were.

The alternative would require a sober assessment that both parties have failed you and that years of tough organizational work would be required in the political arena. The vast majority of so-called liberals don't have the stomach nor the brain for it to be perfectly honest. There would also have to the admission that Nader and Green voters have been right all along, a bitter pill to swallow given the childish, abusive behavior of Democrat true believers toward us over the past decade.

I wonder if 20 years from now we will be reading similar explanations about why nobody did anything about global warming. Anyway, I think the U.S. should have a mandatory high school class in "How To Read Propaganda". That might help people deal with the B.S. and lies.

I suppose I think that the U.S. public is being forced to abandon long-held assumptions or to engage in politics and it is not sure what to do next.

I learned a new word today - I was called a firebagger. It means somebody who is too critical of Obama. It's formed from "firedoglake" + "teabagger". People were so angry about something I wrote that they said they would stop coming to the blog where my comment was posted. My reply:

For you who use this term as an insult, lashing out at those who point out how things really are, instead of those who profit from keeping them this way - I recognize that this dawning realization is a painful process. It's happening in front of you, and you still can't believe it. However, like the collapse of the Financial-Insurance-Real Estate bubble, it was completely predictable, and IT WAS PREDICTED.

Just one example - the satirical Fafblog! "Change you can suspend your disbelief in",

July 28, 2008

http://fafblog.blogspot.com/2008/07/change-you-can-suspend-your-disbelief.html


As Bill and Ted said in their adventure film, "Be excellent to each other." And also too, "Party on, dudes." May the Creative Forces of the Universe stand beside us, and guide us, through the Night with the Light from Above, metaphorically speaking.

"I was called a firebagger"

I was once called a "Naderbot".

"... like the collapse of the Financial-Insurance-Real Estate bubble, it was completely predictable, and IT WAS PREDICTED. "

I was involved in lobbying against invading Iraq that was organized by the Education For Peace In Iraq Center. As I recall, the talking points that we were given about the negative fallout of an invasion on the U.S. economy included mention of the housing bubble.

Sure sounds like smug, patronizing, entitled, condescending, ignorantly-arrogant liberals to me. This type of liberal certainly existed before the 2000s, but I don't remember them being so overwhelmingly dominant; I credit things like The Daily Show for making sarcastic contempt the only way they can imagine to deal with people who disagree with them, even in trivial tactical ways. It's instructive to see how naturally they adopt such a totalitarian mindset.

Chris, the last part of your comment is dead on, especially what you say about "years of tough organizational work"; change is so much easier when all you have to do is pull a lever.

"The alternative would require a sober assessment that both parties have failed you and that years of tough organizational work would be required in the political arena. ...There would also have to the admission that Nader and Green voters have been right all along..."

A sober assessment would probably also show that the Green Party has failed us. You're right that "years of tough organizational work" is required, but it doesn't seem like much is getting done. It seems to me that the Green Party is to the Democrats what Kucinich is to Obama. There doesn't seem to be any long term strategy to change things, but more of an organization that gathers and laments.

Also, it might very well be a pyrrhic victory even if they managed to overcome the gargantuan hurdles thrown up against them and won, since as a political party they'd still be exposed to the same corrupting influences.

The Green Party has problems, a lot of which were associated with an influx of people in 2004 who sought to derail it on the Democrats' behalf with a "safe states" so-called "strategy" of failure. The best times were certainly with the influx of Nader enthusiasts and a united front in 2000.

I would not at all say that the party "failed us" in the same sentence as the Democrats and/or GOP. It's apples and oranges. Get back to me when the Greens have control of the White House, both houses of Congress, a treaure chest of hundreds of millions of dollars and daily access to mainstream media coverage AND STILL manage not only not to enact anything which helps the average person but also continue a savage class war against Americans while perpetrating criminal wars of aggression abroad.

"Also, it might very well be a pyrrhic victory even if they managed to overcome the gargantuan hurdles thrown up against them and won, since as a political party they'd still be exposed to the same corrupting influences."

I have no charity in my heart for this sort of self-defeating twaddle today. Take a look at ANY moderate to slightly left of center - never mind hard left - party in the rest of the industrialized world and see what they have done for their citizens vs. anything Americans have here. The Democrats have taken working class votes and money for decades without providing basic minimal standards of decency for their constituents... things that people in Europe and elsewhere take for granted such as healthcare, education and working public transit, a living wage, the right to unionize and so forth. If the Greens managed to to enact 25% of their goals and within 10 years were a bunch of cigar-smoking limo riders that would still bring tens of millions of Americans into the mid 20th century standard of decent industrialized society living.

If the Greens swept into power in 2020 and became corrupt reactionaries in 2050 Jetsons-world I'd be willing to dump them at that point. As it stands any collection of the most disorganized and befuddled Greens picked at random to fill government office could not hope to do a fraction of harm that the Democrats do on a daily basis.

Neither the Greens nor any other left party can overcome the refusal of its natural constituency to support them, and no amount of strategy (long-term or otherwise) can change that. The vast majority of the US left has wedded itself to its ideological enemies, and as long as that's true it will continue to be irrelevant.

But what's the point? I mean, how is this going to happen: "Get back to me when the Greens have control of the White House, both houses of Congress, a treaure chest of hundreds of millions of dollars and daily access to mainstream media coverage..." ? The point about continuing to vote for Democrats and then continually being disappointed by them is valid. But I don't think that just continually voting Green and being frustrated that they don't win makes much of a difference, either.

"Neither the Greens nor any other left party can overcome the refusal of its natural constituency to support them, and no amount of strategy (long-term or otherwise) can change that. " Again, what's the point of supporting them then? I don't mean voting or what not, but actual support that takes more than 5 minutes every four (or if you really care, two!) years?Is the plan to just sit tight until the entire Democratic establishment somehow comes to its senses?

I volunteered for the Green Party in 2000 and for a little while afterwards, but honestly, after a while it became apparent that many were more interested in meeting up and complaining about the system than in actually creating a viable third party. We had made tons of connections through the Nader Super Rally in the area, but no one I knew who had given their names to the group during that time were contacted. I was a willing volunteer, but was never called again after the 2000 presidential election faded away. Most people in the party (not all though) seemed set in their beliefs that they wouldn't win, but that they would make a showing for the sake of it. Getting Democrats to consider third party candidates is a good thing, but it's hard to convince people to vote for people who don't think they'll win, and don't plan on trying.

I'm well aware of the situation. IF the Greens had the kind of money the two parties had and IF they were allowed into debates and IF people didn't dismiss them as a third party...I understand this. But if you are serious about being a third party, you have to understand these limitations and have a way to deal with them, or hell, at least try to. If not it's just a waste of time.

Thank you. This website is keeping me sane.

Chatham -

I'm not sure what your point is. I'm a hell of a lot sicker of people habitually complaining about the failure of the Greens to become a major political party from a standing start in a period of 8-10 years than I am of Green meetings where people complain about real problems.

I was responding to two statements you made:

1) That the Greens are disappointing, in the same sense that the two major parties are.

I think we've dispatched with that as a valid viewpoint. You are completely mixing apples and oranges there for reasons already discussed. My disappointment is that so many people gave up on the Greens and any other third party effort in the wake of Ralph Nader's failure to automatically win the the presidency in 2000. This is quite a different category of situation than the Democrats using control of both houses of Congress and the White House to launch fast-track NAFTA or bail out Wall St. or launch another war.

2) That there's no point in building any left party because it might just become corrupted years later.

Pure defeatism and really just not a very bright statement. Even if one squeezes out 10 good years out of a functional left-leaning or merely honest populist party with actual political power, the lives of tens of millions will be permanently altered for the better. Look at people in Venezuela or Libya or Sweden - look at how they lived 15 or 40 or 80 years ago before someone in a capital city was advocating for them and look at how people live now.

It seems like maybe one has to work a little harder to get that than trying to vote for someone once or twice, predictably losing and then claiming that organizing to vote for what you actually want "doesn't work." This is very much what the Dems are counting on you to believe.

Re: OP -- What is this we, shit, kemosabe?

Look, folks, we saw this back in 2005. People here were right about Iraq, right? Did it matter? No. Being right is, as I often incoherently rant, the worst thing to be in pundit politics. You want to be in the crowd. It's not called the Kool Kids Klub for nothing. The first rule of cool is NOT to be original, but to be within the first 15% of the crowd that adopts the new fad. The first kids to spike their hair in the 80's were freaks. The first five hundred thousand out of twenty million to spike their hair are cool.

(Btw, John: Pandagon was one of my Last Straws when it came to bouncing around the "liberal" blogosphere. It was the last time I engaged someone I expected to be serious and I was accused of being a racist by a well-off white person Who Cared About the Blacks. When I called him on that shit, he gave up his entire argument and evasively tried to figure out what skin color I was. Seriously. My melanin content would determine the facts. I'd rather post on Redstate than deal with assholes like that again.)

Way, way, back in the day (I inordinately love that phrase), I was talking to a black woman about Obama. She wanted my opinion on him; this was in, gosh, 2005? 2006? My short answer: "white people like him too much." The unpacked subtext here for those who didn't get it (no worries if it was missed) is that anyone who is doing anything worth doing should not be well-liked by well-off white people barring extraordinary circumstances.

Btw: I have no idea what those circumstances could be.

Posted by: Quizmasterchris | Sunday, July 31, 2011 at 02:50 PM

First off, Obama has the rhetorical skills of an endtable.

Thank you! I've said this for seven years running! Obama only sounds, well, presentable, because of the folksy corporate-speak that his peers have adopted. Politicians lost the art of rhetoric in the seventies as the profession became filled with technocratic corporatists (as opposed to glad-handing corporatists). Listen to Hillary talk, then listen to any public speaker in the late sixties. The difference is incredible. Dial it back another twenty years and it's even more telling. Obama doesn't sound good; he sounds significantly less bad. Hell, Bush actually speaks better than Obama. Yes, I mean it, Bush Jr. Don't think so? Watch Bush speak to other rich people. He's comfortable, he's witty, he's a complete dick but they all love him for it so it's okay, he's even somewhat thoughtful. We weren't his base. Bush is a tremendously, horribly bad liar and his job, his fucking job for most of his adult life, has been to lie all the time. Remember back in -- damn, 2003ish? -- when he asked Cheney "Haven't we done enough for rich people?" Bush knew what he was doing; he wasn't stupid. Bush is a bad liar.

Obama is a good one. He fucking hates you -- he has absolute contempt for people who strongly disagree with him -- but unlike Bush, he's mastered the technocratic cant that his peers attempt constantly and his mask doesn't slip when speaking.

****

The Greens are a practical failure, not a moral one. I'm not happy with what they do and how they do it, but to put them even in the same fucking universe as the Democratic party is absurd beyond reckoning. Even the practical failures of the Greens aren't that big a deal. Sure, they're practically irrelevant because they don't engage in an aggressive strategy of local, state-by-state change with a comprehensive agenda, but unlike many other "left" movements, like the despicable MoveOn, they don't suck the air out of the room or drain resources and hand it to the enemy.

They're as dangerous and as significant as floor lint. I say this without contempt, pity, or scorn, and I'd happily eat my words sans ketchup if that party got off its ass tomorrow and threw down. They just aren't bad or good or even mostly there.

NOoC -

I've gone so far as to detect some patronizing racism from "special" liberals regarding Obama's supposed intelligence and rhetorical skills. Many of the same people who "proved" how liberal they are by voting for the half-African guy also feel it's necessary to state in public that they think someone who isn't white is smart.

And it is very much worth while to watch pre-'80s video of American politicians speaking. What's all the more remarkable about the slide in rhetorical skills is that their audience had rather less formal education then than now, which was in no way regarded by the politician class as a good reason for talking to people as if they were in a children's boardroom meeting.

Unfortunately this patronization often gets thrust upon any black athlete smarter than the average jock, the usual keyword being articulate. I see or here that and I cringe. It's supposed to be a complement but I find it to be backhanded slander toward a whole group of people.

Er... see or hear that. Yikes. I'm not very articulate in print.

That also gives me the opportunity to mention that in 2008 I also had "special" liberals online who wanted to know what my racial profile was, which would then somehow impact whether what I had to say about Obama on topics nothing to do with race was valid or not.

"Pure defeatism and really just not a very bright statement."

It's only pure defeatism if your goal is to move a third party into the same position that the two parties have now. If your goal is to make changes to the current political system, I think it's worthwhile discussing tactics

"It seems like maybe one has to work a little harder to get that than trying to vote for someone once or twice, predictably losing and then claiming that organizing to vote for what you actually want "doesn't work." "

Again, people have different options available to them, and they have to choose which one seems like its most productive. If we don't except excuses from the Dems of "just have patience, you can't just vote a few times for us and expect use to have everything, if it wasn't for the Republicans, if you just worked a bit harder", etc, why should we except them about the Greens? If we don't like pretending the Dems are the only game in town, why pretend that the Greens are?

"My disappointment is that so many people gave up on the Greens and any other third party effort in the wake of Ralph Nader's failure to automatically win the the presidency in 2000."

Did you read my post? It wasn't that Nader failed to win the presidency in 2000. I don't think anyone expected him to. But running should be part of a larger strategy. You get a ton of contacts, and then use them to organize during off years. Does the Green Party seem to have much of a strategy? Has it made much progress in the last decade?

Again, you can argue that people just need to man up and work for them more, but that's the same thing we hear from the Dems, "they have problems, but that's why you have to do more work." The Dems aren't the only game in town, and neither are the Greens. Before I start putting a lot of time and effort into something, I want to make sure it's something with a viable strategy and that's going to try to win. If I'm interested in only political moral theater, I'll save my time and vote for Kucinich or something.

People, I'm having a little trouble placing commenters' views in context - if we could have some sort of shorthand with ethnic identity, gender, sexual orientation, age grouping, party registration, it would help a lot. John, could you put up a summary right under "The Distant Ocean" at the top of the blog. Thanks.

Freddy wins two internets and nearly made me seize with horror.

Articulate is an odd duck. When you think about it, you realize why it's problematic: you can only really be articulate about something. If I simulatenously educate a crowd about the finer points of string theory, the Iraq War, the issues concerning D&D 4th and 3.0-3.5 editions, and the preparation of peach cobbler, all in one speech, with clarity and aplomb, I was articulate. I'm not necessarily eloquent: I could have been somewhat mechanical or uninspired. But I certainly expressed myself clearly. I can't be just "generically" articulate. . . unless I'm from some kind of bizarre subspecies that jus' can't talk gud.

And consider the words not used. They don't say "eloquent." That would work just fine. Plenty of awesome speakers are eloquent. It isn't hyperbolic praise by any means; indeed, there are degrees of eloquence. But that's not the word they use. Why? Because they don't mean "an excellent speaker in general" but "an excellent speaker 'under the circumstances.'"

I would say I was reading too much into this, but I've heard it over, and over, and over -- there's definitely something there.

For more on this and other pressing issues, please see The Boondocks, Episode 1, Season 1. And remember kids: Ronald Reagan Was the Devil.

Chatham -

I don't see at all how one could possibly equate the struggles of a new party to gain a toehold with the failure of a Democratic party that has been in power in absolute terms - total control of the White House and of both houses of Congress - to do anything for (but quite a lot to...) its traditional constituents decade after decade.

There was a severe blacklash you might recall starting in 2000 against anyone who voted other than Gore that thet somehow "cost" the Dems the election, in opposition to the facts that the Republicans cheated, that about 12% of registered Florida Dems voted for Bush and that Gore was an all-around miserable candidate who lost every southern state including his home state. This has been part of a massive Dem scare campaign against anyone with the temerity to take their vote seriously enough to use it to their own advantage.

It's against that background that the Greens weren't able to do much in the way of organizing following the first real Nader run. Voting for Nader was linked to being an "idiot" who put Bush in power. People who just started to stick their heads out of the turtle shell of non-major party voting got scared right back in.

In/by 2004 the Greens were infiltrated by a "safe states" wing which I can only describe as sabotage. There was a movement by people who I don't imagine are still registered Green to A) make sure Nader did not get ballot access as a Green and B) make sure that the Green candidates in most states were suggesting not to vote Green but Democrat, beginning with Kerry.

More effective sabotage would be hard to imagine. This is also when I date the end of the anti-war movement, 95% of that cohort selling out to line up behind the Dems.

I should note that I was registered Green from when I became old enough to vote ('89) until '04, when I dropped my registration in order to run for office myself as an independent. State law would have made it tricky for me to gain ballot access as a Green.

Here in PA not only did the Democrats successfully (and in a morally' legally and constitutionally reprehensible fashion) remove Nader's name from the state ballot in '04, but they removed Carl Romanelli from the ballot for Governor AND have spent years trying to force him to pay $80K in the state's legal bills:

http://gort42.blogspot.com/2009/09/carl-romanelli-still-fighting.html

Thus when one equates A) the party that's trying to get a toehold in the political system the best it can with a series of legal bullying, a dearth of funding and a propaganda machine blaming them for the Bush Administration with B) the party that removes the first one's ballot access AND TRIES TO MAKE A MAN LOSE HIS HOUSE FOR RUNNING FOR OFFICE FROM THE LEFT, I get a bit miffed.

I'm not sure how people still don't understand this, but in many states like mine running a presidential campaign IS organizing at the state level because this builds various legal credits into ballot access for the party in the next state-wide office cycle.

The Greens have failed, with a dearth of resources and in the face of a massive propaganda campaign, to convince "special liberals" to turn off the TV and do hard work. The Democrats have total control of two branches of the federal government under Clinton and Obama and their priorities during those periods recently were: A) ensure the death - twice - of national single payer healthcare B) illegal war(s) C) fast-track NAFTA D) bailing out the banksters.

And you equate these two why..? One of my other absolute favorite "special liberal" arguments is that the Greens, Nader or anyone other than the Dems shouldn't be supported unless they are already popular and likely to win. How this is supposed to result in anything other than self-fulfilling defeat of left goals is beyond me.

"It's against that background that the Greens weren't able to do much in the way of organizing following the first real Nader run. Voting for Nader was linked to being an "idiot" who put Bush in power. People who just started to stick their heads out of the turtle shell of non-major party voting got scared right back in."

Did you ever work with the Greens? I can only speak from my own experience, but the Greens in my area (D.C.) didn't do much at all after the 2000 election. It's not that they tried but were steamrolled by the system. There was no effort to keep in touch with volunteers from the 2000 campaign, no effort to contact all the people that signed up at the Super Rally. The only reason I even found out about their other meetings was because I was signed up to a separate mailing list regarding local Green matters.

When I did attend a meeting, it consisted of people sitting around, eating home baked food and watching inspirational videos, and talking about how a nice way to raise awareness would be to build a hospital (!?). There was no set schedule for the event, and when somebody asked what the agenda was for the afternoon half, the organizer replied that it was to meet up and discuss things more. He said, "no, I mean, what's the actual agenda." "No, that's it."

If you're out-gunned,

"Thus when one equates..."

The only equivalency I made was that they had both failed to bring about positive changes, that they both deserve to be looked at critically, and that there shouldn't be any automatic assumption of support. Do you disagree with any of these? Morally, are they better? Perhaps, I never really did get a deep understanding of the people upstairs. But I don't organize for that (though I do vote that way). I only put my time in with a group that seems to have a clear idea of what it's doing and what it would take to win.

Really, I don't understand your point. “I keep going down that dark alley and getting mugged." "Well, maybe you should stop going down there?" "And let them win? Why would I let muggers win?" "No, you don't have to let them win, but you could call the police or try to start a neighborhood watch or..." "What, you support the mugger?"

I mean, if you think the Greens are having success, then that's fine, though I would be interested in seeing your argument. If you think that they aren't having much success, but that they shouldn't try any other strategies or reconsider their options, because what should happen is that Dems should spontaneously change their mind, well, yeah, I suppose I have a better chance at supporting Obama and waiting for him to spontaneously change his mind.

And why even bring up that the Dems do bastard things? Well, yeah. Have you ever argued with a Dem about problems with the Repubs, and the Dems response is how nasty the Repubs are? Does that enlighten you, or do you think, "Gee, this guy doesn't seem to understand that I can see problems with the Dems and still not be a fan of the Republicans."

"One of my other absolute favorite "special liberal" arguments is that the Greens, Nader or anyone other than the Dems shouldn't be supported unless they are already popular and likely to win."

Did it ever occur to you that "anyone other than the Dems" does NOT necessary equate to the Greens? I mean, really, you seem to have the same mindset as a Dem that thinks that anyone who criticizes the Dems must support the Republicans. "We don't live in a two party system, we live in a three party one! Look, a whole party more!" I disagreed with Gore and supported Nader, and I disagree with some things the Greens do and just might support other parties/groups/people. Fealty to any party is poison. Parties that start with the letter "g" are not exempt from this.

Greens do have ballot access in many states as well as a minimal level of name recognition--don't discount how many volunteers you would burn through just to get some new 3rd party or movement to that point.

If your local Green chapter is a bunch of old hippies sitting around munching granola, then they're ripe for a takeover by younger and more energetic people. It's a better vehicle for organizing than starting from scratch.

Chatham -

I was a Green-endorsed candidate, and I've worked for the Greens for several years.

Actually you DID equate the Dems, Reps and Greens. I do not agree with you that the Greens "failed" anyone, rather that people left of center have failed to have the brain and spine required to break with the Dems and support any combination of Nader and the Greens, the only actors in the electoral arena in most jurisdictions over the past 15 years or so with a left agenda.

All you've said and repeated thus far is that the Greens have failed to become a major party after a decade, and that it doesn't really matter if they do or not because if they did they'd just become corrupt anyway. Your posting on this thread is an odd mixture of drive-by non-helpful criticism, sour grapes and defeatism.

"Did it ever occur to you that "anyone other than the Dems" does NOT necessary equate to the Greens?"

There isn't any other left party that has made a run of it as the Greens have in recent decades. As JMC said, it's a better vehicle for organizing than starting from scratch. Beyond this you have been criticizing the Greens specifically so that is who I am defending specifically.

Who are the other left of center parties you find to be more viable and/or more ideolgically sound? I was unaware that we had several other left of center parties in the US that had already done national and state organizing work, etc.

"And why even bring up that the Dems do bastard things?"

Because you've stated that the Greens and the Dems are equal failures, which is mind-bogglingly wrong.

"Fealty to any party is poison."

Oh? Last I checked in dozens of countries around the world fealty to and participation in political parties that have some integrity have gained the citizens of those countries a high standard of living and a series of political and economic rights that working people in the US can only dream about.

There's the old anarchist slogan "Direct action gets the goods" and there's the Malcolm X slogan "By any means necessary." I have many times proposed that another action that "gets the goods" and a quite effective "means" of getting what's coming to you and yours (and for those who can't fight for themselves) is to organize for political office, win actual seats and wield real power within government. It's certainly a lot easier than fighting both the private sector and the government doing its bidding all of the time.

As it stands, however sorry it is in the wake of the Kerry supporter sabotage, the Dems' ballot access lawsuits and Obamamania, the Greens are the best vessel going to participate in electoral politics. In a state like mine the ballot access laws make it virtually impossible to sustain a movement in that arena without working through a formal party structure.

I don't see what's to be gained by the continual trashing of the only hard-won structure the left has in the electoral arena. Now more than ever this party deserves votes, volunteers and money.

I listened to a discussion one time about successful third parties. As I recall ACORN and another group were mentioned as the most successful examples. I don't remember the details of what they did but I think they were supporting candidates rather then fielding their own.

I had some limited involvement with the Greens in Austin, TX. I joined them in 1996 to support Nader's run for president. It was then a small group of experienced, solidly-left activists. I was busy and dropped out of the group after the election. In 2000, after Nader's fairly successful second run, the group had drawn in many new people. A shrewd activist I ran into one day, who had stayed involved with the Greens, informed me in distressed tones, that the group had been taken over by fairly conservative people; most of the 1996 group had left. I was curious and went to a meeting and lo-and-behold, they were fairly conservative. I left wondering what the difference was between the Greens and the Democrats. I wasn't as distressed as my colleague, however, because in politics you want to convert people to your cause. Since America is largely a conservative country, any successful political movement will draw in conservatives. The trick is to stay true to your principles, and hopefully move people to the left.

I think as far as a third party strategies is concerned, it is important to focus in on your best issue(s). The living wage campaign always seemed to me like a good issue, although it never got very far in Austin.

"Because you've stated that the Greens and the Dems are equal failures, which is mind-bogglingly wrong." No, this is what I said:

"A sober assessment would probably also show that the Green Party has failed us...but it doesn't seem like much is getting done. It seems to me that the Green Party is to the Democrats what Kucinich is to Obama."

"The only equivalency I made was that they had both failed to bring about positive changes, that they both deserve to be looked at critically, and that there shouldn't be any automatic assumption of support. "

And about the Greens being the only game in town (good job using the same talking point as the Dems, by the way!). I would argue that the AARP, the ACLU, and Labor Unions have had more of a positive impact on things in recent years than the Greens. If you want to look back at history, I'd argue that definitely organized labor, the women's rights movement, and the civil rights movement were much more successful, despite also facing uphill battles (I'd argue much more difficult than that of the Greens).

As I said, "I mean, if you think the Greens are having success, then that's fine, though I would be interested in seeing your argument." If you want to make that point, go for it. If you want to say that their ineffectiveness is OK because the Dems are bastards, then, well, I disagree.

"Last I checked in dozens of countries around the world fealty to and participation in political parties that have some integrity have gained the citizens of those countries a high standard of living and a series of political and economic rights that working people in the US can only dream about."

Again, you do a good job at repeating Dem talking points. "Fealty first, then success". If you're not making sure that the group is working for the people and not vice-versa, then that's a problem in my mind. Especially if it's a group that's been as successfully infiltrated as you say.

What I typed was that the two major parties failed us (in the sense of having the will to help the average person), and as you quote above you responded that the Greens "ALSO" failed us, somehow putting all three in the same category.

The labor unions support the Democrats, as do the women's groups, and they get kicked in the pants for it. The ACLU can not support political candidates. None of these groups are political PARTIES.

I'll ask you again - who are the OTHER non-corporate-supported, left-leaning political parties that you feel deserve support if you don't like the Greens' 'effectiveness' or strategy or what have you? The Democrat triangulation ploy is a lie because there ARE alternatives to voting Democrat - one could have voted for Nader and/or Green candidates. This is NOT the same as pointing out that there aren't any other true left leaning parties with any level of national organization in the US aside from the Greens. If there were 4 vibrant true lefty parties in the US I wouldn't say that people should all only ever support one, but this is far from reality. Tell us all why you think that beginning all of this organization work from scratch will be more effective than using a structure already in place and improving it.

I don't get where you blame the Greens (!) for "ineffectiveness" when most of their natutal constituencies have thrown their time, money and effort into Obama, Kerry, MoveOn and the likes of Nancy Pelosi. So far as I'm concerned the tiny % of people who are active in the Greens are the effective people and the Obamabots are the ones who dropped the ball. Unfortunately the first group is outnumbered by the second by orders of magnitude.

"The only equivalency I made was that they had both failed to bring about positive changes..."

This is the kind of nonsense I've been talking about. The Dems have not "FAILED" to bring about positive change, THEY DON'T WANT TO. You might as well mention that Focus on the Family and the Koch Brothers have "failed" to bring about positive change. Your framing of the issue that the Democrats' problem is that they hhave merely been ineffective suggests that you still believe they want to do the right things, even though as I keep saying we see from their actions when they are in control that this is far from the case.

Especially in the wake of this phoney debt crisis Obama has used to attack working people, the Dem apologists have cleaved to the claim that Obama is merely a bad negotiator, and not the basterd child of Reagan.

I do think the Greens need to be real bastards about expelling anyone from decision-making ability who wants to do anything in the future like the Cobb "safe states" nonsense, and maybe that will keep the Dem-symps from sabotaging the party again.

Working Families in the Northeast might be a useful third party.

Are the Greens truly a national party? I'm hearing a lot of diversity of view from people describing them here. When it comes to a party that has environmentalism as a part of the platform, if you have "conservative" viewpoints and non-conservative viewpoints, you don't have a party, you have a schism, and nothing coherent can survive such a gap. To be sure: I'm responding to posts here and have no experience with the Greens that I can bring to bear here.

Further, if the "party" is a different organism in some state than some others, criticizing the whole due to certain parts may not be appropriate. For years, the Republican party of OR was a signficantly different critter than the national party; this changed in the last decade, but before then, you'd analyze them separately.

Again, though, as I said upthread, one must make distinctions when one speaks of failures. The Green Party's "party" designation isn't anything like the Repug or Dem "party" designation, and all of them have little in common with their European equivalents. Both of the major "parties," at their highest levels, are run as organized crime. Their goals and methods and priorities are nothing like what we'd find in a grassroots "party." On top of this, the Dems are far less monolithic than the Repugs, and there can be justifiable local populist reasons to support a given Dem, but there's never an ethical reason to support a Repug in an absolute sense. (Supporting a Republican against an even worse candidate is totally acceptable, obviously. Republicans can only be "good" or useful insofar as they are the alternative to something even worse.)

Combine this with the fact that the Greens might not truly be national -- I'm ready to be corrected on this -- and we'd have to evaluate the Greens of each state (or worse, each county or city!) independently.

"Your framing of the issue that the Democrats' problem is that they hhave merely been ineffective suggests..."

Again, this isn't something I've said, just like I've never said that the Democrats and the Greens were equally responsible for the situation we're in now, or how I've never said that because Nader failed to win the presidency in 2000 we should drop support for the Greens, or how I never said that "that the Greens, Nader or anyone other than the Dems shouldn't be supported unless they are already popular and likely to win." I get it, you've argued with a bunch of Dems on these issues, and your pissed. But if you're looking for

"I don't get where you blame the Greens (!) for "ineffectiveness" when most of their natutal constituencies have thrown their time, money and effort into Obama, Kerry, MoveOn and the likes of Nancy Pelosi. So far as I'm concerned the tiny % of people who are active in the Greens are the effective people and the Obamabots are the ones who dropped the ball. "

Thank you! I think this sums up well my problem with the Greens, as I often see this kind of sentiment. "Why would you ever look critically at our strategy? We're underfunded and a lot of Dems should vote for us but don't." Yes, the Greens are underfunded. Yes, many people dismiss them just because they lack a D. A party serious about winning would try to come up with some ways to overcome these issues, rather than using it as an excuse.

Go back and read your posts. How much time did you spend explaining why the Greens strategy works? Or even what that strategy was? How much time did you spend explaining Green successes? How much time was spent talking about why the Greens shouldn't be blamed for their defeat for one reason or another? People won't exactly volunteer in droves to support the Greens if their slogan is "we might not get much done, but it's not our fault".

Really. I mean, you are a Green candidate and someone that's been associated with the party for more than 20 years, and when tasked with defending the party your response has mostly been "the Dems suck, Dem voters are morons that should have voted for us, and there's no alternative to us." Inspiring stuff.

"None of these groups are political PARTIES."

You're right! They aren't! That must mean they can't possibly get anything done!

"Further, if the "party" is a different organism in some state than some others, criticizing the whole due to certain parts may not be appropriate. "

Fair enough. This also applies well to the Democrats and the Republicans. But one can look at general trends that the parties seem to be bringing to national politics, and judge them. This doesn't mean that there aren't some good people in local parties, like you say.

"On top of this, the Dems are far less monolithic than the Repugs, and there can be justifiable local populist reasons to support a given Dem, but there's never an ethical reason to support a Repug in an absolute sense. "

Never say never. There was a leftist Republican candidate on the local level here who hated the national party. He considered himself a "Lincoln Republican" and his motto was "I want my party back."

I'm just off a plane and haven't had a chance to read through the thread, so I'm not sure how much it applies beyond a vague sense that passions might be inflamed, but just a reminder for everyone involved to please keep the discussion civil (even while we're discussing these critically unimportant issues...).

I just don't understand how anyone thinks the machinery of politics can be captured by White Hats and put to Good Use.

Can anyone show me a single instance where the(a) White Hats didn't become Black Hats, (b) the White Hats passed legislation which wasn't almost immediately co-opted by the Permanent Working Committee of Black Hats, (c) where structures intended by the White Hats to accomplish some benefit to the commonweal weren't eventually captured by the well-funded PWCoBH or (d)at least half if not more than that of the White Hats were in fact just Black Hats with better press agents?

All:

One of the most important principles about third parties in the US is that it success does not involve winning elections. Throughout US history third parties have served to move major parties away from the center in order to avoid losing votes. As long as many “liberals” or “progressives” aren’t willing to vote against democrats, democrats have no incentive to be liberal or progressive.

I would be thrilled if democrats co-opted what leftist or liberal parties are advocating for. If the democrat party passes single payer, a living wage, tariff reform, prison reform, illegal substance reform, or anything else that would be a victory for the liberal parties.

I also like the perspective of Cde. Debs. A third party candidate running for office has the ability to connect with a lot of people who he or she otherwise wouldn’t be able to. Running for office is a great way to run an education campaign. Connecting with individuals in this manner is also success.

The problem I have with Greens is that they seem (in my experience) to miss the point. They’re convinced that the only way to be successful is to win and thus they sell themselves out or they disillusion perspective supporters.

Having a successful third party means playing the best hand you got and not complaining that your hand isn’t good enough. Third parties have had a major impact on US politics for both the left and the right. The Green Party just doesn’t know how to be a third party which is a shame.

Jack Crow -

There is a very long history in the world of the White Hats gaining political office and gaining everything from labor organizing rights to several weeks' paid vacation to national healthcare to free or nearly free tertiary education for the citizens of their countries. Life expectancies have literally risen as a result of certain political parties winning elections and being returned to office by an appreciate citizenry.

One can spend, as I just did, a few days in Montreal and compare the quality and quantity of services available to the citizens of that city vs. what is available to the citizens of my home city of Philadelphia and one can immediately see the better quality of life that having some honest people with their hearts in the right place occupying political offices. As I said earlier even honest centrist populists or mild honest lefties can change change lives for the better in ways that can't be reversed (a more extreme example might be literacy programs in Nicaragua, Venezuela, Cuba etc.).

Just because this hasn't yet happened in the US it doesn't mean that it can't. I don't get this defeatism.

BAS -

"Having a successful third party means playing the best hand you got and not complaining that your hand isn’t good enough."

What does that mean? The Greens have been hit with flat-out unconstitutional bars on even getting on the ballot after jumping through appropriate (and absurdly disciminatory) legal hoops in state after state. It's not a complaint that the hand isn't good enough, it's a complaint that people are being disenfranchised.

I might remind people that in 2004 the Bush campaign stupidly failed to turn in its papaerwork on time in both FL and IL, and by rights should have lost ballot status in both states. In both cases the Democrats in each state bent over backward to but put Bush on the ballot, in IL going so far as to pass a state law with a retroactive validity date to get Bush on the ballot. At the same time the Greens and Nader gathered many times more signatures

This isn't a "bad hand", it's an unconstitutional tilted playing field used to stop democracy. If the Democrats weren't worried that the Greens or Nader might actually gain some traction and if the Democrats thought that actual power didn't flow from holding public office than we would not be seeing these attacks.

Why are the Dems scared shitless of leftists having ballot access if winning public office doesn't have real impact?

I have no intention of "playing a bad hand." I want a leftist party to run candidates for every office in every election. I want them to get 5% of the vote, then 10% and then start winning them, which in theory can happen with as little as 34% of the vote, often in elections where less than 40% of eligible voters turn out. Even 40% of 40% isn't a lot of people, and strikes me as a completely obtainable goal. Get a few people IN OFFICE and in the news all of the time voting for the average person and talking straight from the inside about vote after vote in city councils, state houses, Congress etc. and you have the real potential to swing enough people to voting for your side long enough to speed positive change in many lives. Even if the run is 5 or 10 years that can be life changing for millions of people who don't even vote.

I might add that I am a minor election day official in Philadelphia, and I've 100% changed the way that my polling place operates after having had the presence of mind to write myself in as Minority Inspector of Elections when no one else ran for the seat (Republicans would get a judge to name party functionaries to the seat, and then deals would be cut between the two parties to break the law). I now have an absolute legal right to monitor and clean up the way the polling is done in my Division to the shock and horror of the local Democrats and Republicans alike. The latter have tried to remove me from the seat with court orders and I've won those battles too.

I don't need to hear this nonsense that winning elections wouldn't change things - it has the potential to change EVERYTHING.


All -

Why all the venom for the Greens? They haven't been able to convince special liberals to do hard work and act in a way that won't immediately make them popular and cool. This is hardly a failure of the people who are willing to do hard work and to vote for whom and what they want. It's a failure of fake liberals to have a spine and a brain. It's by definition a failure of people WHO ARE NOT GREENS, or are not Nader people, or who are not working and voting for whatever local indepedent candidate you have running from the left.

Part of this perspective might come from living in PA, where we've had a large number of candidates for public office, at least one of whom has been in danger of literally losing everything on top of being removed from the ballot depsite gathering more signatures to appear on the ballot than any other candidate for any office in the history of the state.

And all of that because of the actions of the Democratic party, which is the majority party in the state and uses that power to persecute people on the left for participating in the political process. Thus when one equates the "failures" of one party with the other I have to reject that out of hand for a number of reasons.

Above I typed "even if the run is 5 or 10 years." By that I mean even if you had only 5 or 10 years of a left party winning seats and passing legislation and shaping debate AS OFFICE HOLDERS before whatever creeping rot of corruption set in, in that 5 or 10 years the lives of the disadvantaged would be altered radically for the better. Maybe unions could be allowed to form that wouldn't be so easy to close the barn door upon after the 10 year period, maybe some people would get home heating oil and not die, maybe some kids who would otherwise get screwed out of decent educational opportunities would get access to them, and their lives would permanently change in a positive direction.

I don't understand the large number of Americans who are willing to hold up signs to protest people in office they don't want but think that pworking to put people you do want into office - people you genuinely agree with on basic issues - would just be a waste of time and effort.

Chatham -

I wrote ""None of these groups are political PARTIES."

To which you respond:

"You're right! They aren't! That must mean they can't possibly get anything done!"

Unfortunately this is correct, especially in country that has two parties (neither formally enshrined constitutionally), one of which (Dems) triangulates against its own constituents as a matter of course. Labor spent millions of dollars and person-hours on the Democrats, and with the White House and both houses of Congress failed to give labor lousy little crumbs like card check. Obama said not a peep about attacks on union workers in WI, OH and IN, and launched some attacks of his own on federal employees. Unions don't have a right to form and largely don't have the right to strike. The Dems shove free trade agreement after free trade agreement right in their labor supporters' faces. Pensions are under attack. The Dems are pushing charter schools as an attack on teachers' unions. when was the last time any Democrat mentioned repealing Taft-Hartley?

So, no, unions in this country can't get anything done. Except raise money for Dems.

Women's groups slavishly contribute to the Dems. This has resulted in dropping an equal rights amendment as an issue to be discussed at all, resulting in the US being one of the few countries in the world which won't even state as a formality that women are equal to men. In many states abortion might as well be illegal, and in South Dakota the Democrats have moved to try and make abortion illegal as a Roe v Wade challenge. The less said about the Dems' record on education, healthcare and day care provision the better.

So, no, women's groups in this country can't get anything done. Except raise money for Dems.

The only way that these groups will have any power and gain any traction would be to actively support left candidates in another party which is not taking corporate dollars (this would be the Greens lacking any other such party in the US), or forming their own party(ies) and running their own candidates. Another party winning seats and taking real power is absolutely necessary.

Jack Crow:

It's possible for the Good Guys to win. You need a solid, unified constituency -- which is what the Bad Guys have.

If an American neighborhood -- or even better, city or county or state -- could stick together, they could make huge gains in quality of life and defy even the federal government -- especially a state.

The problem, weirdly enough, is, imo, coming from the upper-middle. Now we know most of our problems with government are the result of rich, powerful bad actors, but they maintain power because our political theater is maintained by the upper-middle class. To be as crass as I usually am, that's generally well-off or rich white people. This dovetails with what Chomsky often complains about: the low-courtier class of academics and professionals that keep the machine running.

Not everyone in this class is bad. (Obviously not, since many people on this site are from it.) But in the same way a white person in 1920 who fought for black equality would be branded all kinds of nasty words by his peers, there's a culture that will reject sound politics from members of this group. This is the biggest opponent to grassroots change or revolution. Not the fed, not the Republicans, but the assholes who call themselves liberal but maintain hard-right policies. Ultimately, that group is why Chatham and Chris are going back and forth. We're fighting in their sandbox, trying to find the best way out.

There are groups that counter such groups. They're usually minorities. There's not much temptation for honest black activists (e.g., not people like Obama) or latino activists and so on to join into mainstream thought. However, it's that same mainstream that isolates such groups.

If a political organization could gain enough coherence and sociological traction to resist, counter, or co-opt aspects of the serviles -- the fauxliberals -- such a group could then do some good. Until then, they can't even communicate their message or describe themselves without being caught in the framing of our newfangled version of fascism.

And if such a group were to succeed, it would be damnably hard to co-opt them. If you want a negative example, I'd mention the fundies. That political faction is difficult to dislodge, despite the fact many powerful Republicans want them gone, because their constituency is unified. Hell, the main reason it hasn't taken over, despite its small size, is, imo, the fact that it doesn't actually deliver anything to its people. It feeds no one, it clothes no one. Decent people could follow its model and improve upon it on that score.

Co-opting is a con. As the saying goes, you can't con an honest man. If a constituency wants results, not bullshit, it cannot be dislodged -- only violently fought. (Fire hoses, dogs, church bombings -- you've heard this story before, right?)

Btw, the unconstitutional actions against the Greens that Chris mentions are a good example of what I'm talking about. If the Greens had had the constituency and had enough mundane, boring, run-of-the-mill state offices, there would have been hell to pay when Bush tried to get on the ballot. We don't need the presidency. We need the schoolboard. We need comptroller. We need family court judge. Then we need Secretary of State.

I think this site understands what happens when we don't get Secretary of State.

Whether or not it's the Greens, whether or not it's one group or dozens, we should start with podunk offices. The rightwingers have one thing right: it's a culture war. The trick is, it's not them versus Muslims, it's them spearheading human corruption versus the rest of the planet. You change the culture of government in the state by making your way of thinking the default way of thinking for that state's government.

And btw: I am neutral towards the Greens because, whether or not they do something I like or something I don't like, I can't be sure that should be laid at the feet of "the Greens" or "those assholes/awesome people over there." If the Greens have a strict, national ideology and some party discipline, I could change my mind. Hell, I do vote for them when I can.

Mr. Quizmaster:

The bad hand includes everything you demonize as unconstitutional. Complaining about it means letting it be an excuse for not doing anything positive. The problem in my experience with the Green Party is that it is too willing to try and be a major party and complaining about these problems instead of working in the context that they are given. A third party can do a lot with 10% of the vote. A third party can do a lot just by running If you say that you need to build up to 40% of the vote, then you're letting these excuses prevent you from taking action.

No One of Consequence is right about building a party that can win elections though. You have to start locally and build your way up.

I think that it's important to point out that government is always a reactionary thing. When government changes, it changes because something else changed in society. Governments never change society. If one is dependent on getting into office to change society in some fashion, the battle is already lost. In the past a political movement "changed" society (like the populists of the 19th century) but they were only acting in relationship to the education and mass union organization of disadvantaged workers. The union and community organizing happened first then government changed.

"The bad hand includes everything you demonize as unconstitutional. Complaining about it means letting it be an excuse for not doing anything positive."

Maybe because I think I'm the only person in Pennsylvania commenting here people don't quite get what the Greens are "complaining" about.

We had a US Senate (I accidently typed Governor above) candidate present more signatures to get on the ballot than anyone else in the history of the state, and not only did corrupt judges (Democrats!) bar him
from the ballot, they awarded the state $80,000 of his money to pay the state's bill for persecuting him. This isn't "excuse-making", this is struggling not to lose one's home and have one's life ruined for daring to run for office in a very legal manner and succeeding in getting tens of thousands of your fellow citizens to sign legal documents stating that they would like the option to vote for you.

Spending years fighting persecution and keeping your senate candidate from losing his home is hardly "excuse-making" in my book. Excuse-making is what people need to do to explain why they still vote Democrat, or are still registered in the party (Dennis Kucinich comes to mind).

The Greens were SUCCESSFUL in organizing well enough to get the man on the ballot. The Greens and Nader have largely been SUCCESSFUL in convincing people to allow them on the ballot, and a large number of those signatures have come from people who don't pigeonhole themselves as liberal; they are just independently-bent who want more choices.

It's faux liberals who have FAILED to support these people by voting for them. We shouldn't be pinning the idiocy and cowardly nature of special liberals on the people who are not dumb and cowardly.

I don't know if anyone has actually collected signatures to get on ballots before (I have gathered several thousand as both a worker grunt and as a candidate), but here in PA and in many other states a citizen can sign a petition to get state-wide (this includes US president) candidates on the ballot simultanously with local candidates in one's jurisdiction. This is exactly what the Greens have done here, and higher-profile races like president and governor drive petition drives for lower office.

A story for another time would be my legal battle to get on the ballot here after collecting 3,000 signatures for an office that in theory required several hundred fewer of those. The Democrats in Harrisburg went after us too.

Personally I want a party running candidates for as many offices as possible at the same time; it's not an either/or proposition for 90% of the resources and time. It's folly to collect signatures for one office in isolation in most states, even at the local level. That goes for both the time and effort in collecting and for the legal challenges that may arise.

People here seem to be quite expert in how one goes about organizing a nationwide political party from scratch, and are quite certain that they can do a better job than the Greens. When do we start..?

People here seem to be quite expert in how one goes about organizing a nationwide political party from scratch, and are quite certain that they can do a better job than the Greens. When do we start..?

Talking out of my ass even more than usual here: stop trying to get the votes of "liberals" who will happily vote for rightwingers. Just abandon them.

Take a page from the fundies and become, well, kinda insular. If only economically insular. Every independent political movement, to be successful, must have a natural constituency. The mistake of many third parties -- sometimes the Greens (again, the Greens of TX may not be the Greens of OR and so on) -- is to assume that constituency is the middle class.

It's not. It's the poor.

The poor have the least and are the easiest, financially, to help. They are least swayed by establishment propaganda. Statistically, they are the most generous class. That's a damn good place to begin.

What the poor don't have is a) time and b) awareness. I don't have many good answers as to how those problems are fixed, though (b) is part and parcel of any political movement so you don't need some random internet jackass for that. But they should be the base. You won't get many rightwing fifth-columnists if everyone is struggling to make ends meet.

Btw -- the story of the candidate you gave breaks my heart. That's not surprising to me. I had this discussion with a Green near a decade ago and, though I was less aware than now, I still advocated local offices over big, federal ones. Think of it this way: you didn't have infrastructure. If you KNOW the system is corrupt, you need to replace it. So you need schoolboard. Why? Because you want your schoolboard people campaigning in PTA meetings. You want comptroller. Why? You don't want any shenanigans when -- well, fuck, when what Chris describes happens again, and it will happen. Do I even need to say that you want judges?

When Nader's run in 2000 wasn't followed up by massive local campaigning, I was pissed. (Pissed at the nat'l Greens and Nader for slightly different reasons.) What Chris is describing is exactly why. We all constantly encounter people who say "the system is corrupt" and who even discount the value of public office while despising "the system," and organizations like the Greens have a disproportionate number of these persons, but even if that fallacious position were entirely accurate, that doesn't mean the system isn't replaceable.

Any third party or nonestablishment movement needs a coherent platform that helps the poor -- not just "Americans," but everyone on the bottom such that it actually becomes unattractive to the servile fake liberals -- and needs members throughout the low levels of government. It's tiresome, it's boring, it's dull, it's tedious, it's unsexy, and it's necessary.

The rightwingers did it in TX and that state is now a massive clusterfuck from the top down. Reversing that phenomenon should be possible.

There should be a Green in every office during a signature fight. There should be Greens in every courthouse during a corrupt legal battle. There would have to be a Green on the zoning board, a Green in every major neighborhood association, a Green fucking dogcatcher. No one in your party should ever be alone out there, because the Dems and Repugs sure as fuck are ubiquitous and unified.

P.S. -- This should not be taken as a swipe at the Greens in general. However, their national strategy is DEFINITELY shit. A third party in the U.S. should run for powerful offices first and foremost to manipulate the other two parties and get its name out there. The real prizes are the seats that make sure future party members get on ballots. As for individual Green party branches in states, I still make no comments since those vary.

Hm. Signatures.

The fact that you have to go out and collect them is a problem. That shouldn't be. One should, ideally, be able to go to a meeting and just get those attending to sign up and that's that.

Maybe the emphasis shouldn't be on getting on the ballot but growing the party. How many Greens are organizing or part of neighborhood associations? How useful are the Greens in zoning disputes?

The mickey-mouse bullshit minutiae of day-to-day life is where I'd start if someone gave me too much money and power. Again, the fundies start there, as do many other grassroots organizations.

If all is going well, there shouldn't be any strangers on one's signature list. Everyone should already be a Green.

Yeah, easier said than done and not my ass trying to talk to exceptionally petty homeowners day in and day out, but hey, you asked.

"The fact that you have to go out and collect them is a problem. That shouldn't be."

Maybe not in a rare state like Colorado where you need 10 signatuures from people with any registration to gain ballot access.

In MOST states one needs HUGE numbers of signatures for ballot access if not a Dem or Rep (they have almost automatic access usually based in previous election results). In PA state-wide ballot access - this US pres, governor, Senate, and state legal offices and financial offices - requires most years MORE THAN 50,000 SIGNATURES. My race required over 2,500. An at-large city council race (the one a minor candidate is most likely to win) in Philadelphia requires a good 8-10,000 signatures.

In Texas a state-wide candidate requires about 100,000 signatures - AND ALL OF THEM must be independently registered. I understand the North Carolina numbers on a per capita basis are even more unreasonable.

On top of this one has to account for the fact that one's signatures might well be challenged, so one tries to get 40%-100% more than the minimum called for as buffer.

I don't know what kind of political meetings you're attending with those numbers on hand to pass the clipboard, unless it's at a soccer stadium in Pyongyang in color-coordinated junpsuits.

Note that the Greens and Nader people have largely been SUCCESSFUL in getting tens of thousands to sign their petitions, which requires both the organizational work to do that and getting sheets of (in PA) 120 at a pop notarized and turned into a Harrisburg office by the first week of August, with the start date for collecting just a few months earlier.

That's 90% of your resources there, getting on the damn ballot. And then after that one has to fight the legal battles, find and pay for a lawyer to take your case (I had to go two counties over to find an election lawyer not connected to either party who was willing to let me pay him to represent me) and make repeated trips to the state capitol to show you mean business.

The Greens and/or Nader people have been doing this with a great deal of success. Almost everyone who then gets the option of voting for them then fails to do anything other than vote major party. Again I must underline how much not-a-failure the Greens have been on this count and how much of a failure the Dem zombies have been for failing to respond to this effort, and even worse to vote for the people doing the persecution.

No One -

I've heard the line about a party doing better not spending resources running candidates, and doing other "community work" instead. This strikes me as exactly what the Dems love to hear.

I have zero interest in a political party that doesn't run for office and no one else has a good reason to be interested in that either. Likewise I would not join a "baseball team" that spends time, energy and money developing physical fitness skills but never, y'know, playing baseball.

Any community group that wants change is going to run up against the two (or in my case in Philadelphia just one very corrupt Dem machine) parties in the long run anyway. At that point welcome to Triangulation City, population: you.

I want my people in office wielding actual power and having debate and media access from the inside. I want to win. Unfortunately this requires massive amounts of signature gathering organization that drain all resources for most other purposes. I still find it worth doing to challenge the system directly. Holding up signs six blocks from the president and getting kicked out of the Wisconsin State House and writing blog posts and removing the Obama '12 sign from the lawn but voting for him anyway because the Reps are the other option are in the category of Things We Know/Don't/Didn't Won't Work. Running candidates is in the category of Something That Has a Chance of Working.

I might add that joining the Greens generally means immediately being handed a task like being handed a clipboard and being asked to put yourself in public - usually in the summer - and collect hundreds of signatures and other personal information for a candidate at a low-level office most people haven't heard of that in all likelihood isn't going to win this time around. Becoming a Green means automatic responsibility.

A special liberal can do that or put a sign in the window for a candidate the TV likes, and is likely to win, and feel smug about it with their friends on Facebook.

Why is it exactly that we would call the Greens 'failures' for not being able to convince special liberals that Option A is more attractive than Option B?

In theory the poor are the natural constituents of the Greens or another left party, yes. But whereas the organizing the liberals is a battle of will, organzing the poor is a battle with a serious dearth of resources. The plain fact of the matter - and I say this as someone who grew up poor in an urban environment in a family without a history of any educational attainment - is that most poor families do not have the skill set and resources to hit the ground running as effective political party members. It's pulling teeth to knock on doors on a poor neighborhood and get people to write down correct voter registration info, assuming they have any, let alone trying to train people to do that work.

This is where a crop of Marxist students would have come in real handy. An effective party needs class traitors and class jumpers (that's me) to do organizational work.

Chris, as much as it warms my heart to see someone picking up on the "special liberal" terminology, you're not really using it the way I mean it. "Special" is an acronym for "smug, patronizing, entitled, condescending, ignorantly-arrogant liberals"--and these people will never in a million years vote for the Greens or any other genuine left party. Nor should anyone expect them to. I don't blame them for not taking the opportunity to vote for Greens, because almost without exception they're Democratic partisans.

The "natural constituency" I mentioned above for the Greens or any other left party is the large minority of progressive/left activists in this country (and I of course mean genuine progressives, not just people calling themselves progressive to avoid using the word "liberal" now that it's been turned into a political curse word). As I said, there's no way any left party can overcome the refusal of so many of those people to vote for anything other than Democrats. That's why when I write about these issues I'm mainly talking about that group--not Democratic partisans or mainstream voters.

By the way (in case anyone's wondering), I'm not a registered Green, though I worked with the Green Party in 2000 and again in 2003 as part of Matt Gonzalez's San Francisco mayoral run. I've discussed my own major disappointment with the Greens here; it boils down to the fact that the Greens had exactly the right strategy in 2000 and had made themselves a major threat (as clearly evidenced by the Democrats pulling out every gun in their arsenal to help Gavin Newsom defeat Gonzalez in the SF mayoral race), but they all but abandoned this strategy in 2004, effectively erasing themselves from the national scene and destroying all the progress that had been made in 2000.

I didn't know about most of those states, but I did know TX numbers were unreasonable. I also know that even once you get those signatures in TX, Dems and Repugs will join forces to fuck you over even then. I was referring to the 3k numbers you were citing above; a powerful, countywide-neighborhood group could pull that off from its own ranks. If it has schoolboard access and access to the PTA, that number would be much higher.

I've heard the line about a party doing better not spending resources running candidates, and doing other "community work" instead. This strikes me as exactly what the Dems love to hear.

You are wrong. Dem constituencies like the "community work" meme -- Obama literally ran on this -- but Dems don't want activists of ANY stripe. They want you to donate to MoveOn and shut the fuck up.

I'm not saying don't run for office. The fact of the matter is schoolboard and small local offices have a fuckton more impact on many people than city council in many places. I know it for a FACT in many places I've lived. What I'm saying is that shooting for a national offices is weaksauce as a strategy, because even if you get it, you're still not as effective as you would be with an actual grassroots movement on the outside of the system.

More on that below.

I want my people in office wielding actual power and having debate and media access from the inside.

I don't want that. I only need half of that. And you know what? The fundies only needed half of that, the same half: actual power. They used ruthless strategies in the South -- the kind that Dems (and some Greens I knew, weirdly enough) say and said were unacceptable -- and gained tremendous power even without federal office. I'm sorry, but the notion that a political party that's the go-to group for all local offices and local/county/neighborhood issues is somehow a waste is simply ridiculous. I've actually lived in a few cities where the minority community was BETTER served because local groups told powerful state leaders to fuck off, organized the neighborhoods, fought for said neighborhoods, and grabbed local offices in a coordinated attack. The fact of the matter is, municipalities vary so very widely that it can be literally more powerful to have city council than the mayor, or the schoolboard rather than a congressional seat. (I've seen at least three examples of the latter, though I don't know how often that occurs.)

And by "better" I mean better for your constituents. You aren't fighting for the world. You aren't fighting for America. You aren't even fighting for your state. You're fighting for your people, and if someone isn't "your people," fuck them. That's how it must work. If I'm not your people, fuck me. Petty, local concerns are your only real concerns. If a national issue gets you noticed, spectacular, but it would be better to have the zoning board regulate the way you like than to get an awesome soundbite and a protest senate vote.

You're not going to get "debate and media access from the inside." Ever. Even if you win. It can't happen. Debate requires two parties and the other side will simply fucking ignore you. If you actually get a federal seat -- rep, senate, whatever -- imo, your best play after that is to use that seat for two purposes: rally the LOCALS into becoming a more powerful organization and to spitefully defeat someone in a weak area where your power can grow. The job in FL isn't to protect Florida, or even to protect Floridian liberals. The only job is to protect the party. That means bullshit local politics -- ruthless bullshit local politics.

The fundies didn't have national office, but they managed to put the fear of god (a loathsome, burning brass idol of a god) into Republicans and rally nonpolitical persons after decades of hard work. Minority activist groups are strong when they are on the ground protecting the interests of their communities. If they get public office, spectacular. If they grab office without grassroots support -- well, fuck, that is literally what Obama did and that turned out to be Very Bad.

This is what matters. Access isn't important, the ability hurt or trump or thwart or fuck up your enemies is what's important. The goal of an anti-establishment, revolutionary, or insurgent group -- besides Protect Thine Own -- is to fuck things up while spreading the group. I'd rather my congressional rep spoiled instead of "getting anything done" right now.

Show me an organism not obsessed with its own self-interest and I'll show you its bone impressions in the strata. Political parties are no different. And if you want a third party to win, it can by no means be dependent upon a group that doesn't share its true interests.

The plain fact of the matter - and I say this as someone who grew up poor in an urban environment in a family without a history of any educational attainment - is that most poor families do not have the skill set and resources to hit the ground running as effective political party members.

I feel you. I really do.

But a bunch of poor people from the lowest caste in U.S. history managed to do this.

I'm sorry, but it does work. It really does. The Civil Rights Movement proved it. There's no pretending it isn't the hardest thing on Earth, but there's also no pretending that there's a better way.

If a bunch of middle-class entitled white people aren't willing to spend time in neighborhood associations of poor black and latinos, the Greens are fucked. Because that's exactly what it took in the Sixties. Poor whites, well-off whites, rich whites were called race traitor and nigger lover and they went to the mat for what was right. That's what it will take.

If they aren't willing to sit through tedious PTA meetings and schoolboard voting sessions, the Greens are fucked. Because that's exactly what the fundies did.

Where as this:

. . .joining the Greens generally means immediately being handed a task like being handed a clipboard and being asked to put yourself in public - usually in the summer - and collect hundreds of signatures and other personal information for a candidate at a low-level office most people haven't heard of that in all likelihood isn't going to win this time around.

. . . is complete bullshit. This is inane. I don't blame poor people for not backing a party that does this. They have no reason to believe in such a party.

This is about tribalism, and the first and best way to establish your tribe is to be where your tribe is.

I don't know what else to say. The fundies won with tactics the Greens eschew, the Civil Rights movement won with tactics the Greens eschew, the tactics the Greens you're describing are using are terribad on paper and, in practice, failures (if, at times, due to rampant criminality -- but we wouldn't need the Greens if we weren't run by criminals). You can do what works, which requires the Greens to literally create a culture obsessed with minority and poor interests at the expense of their (usually) middle-class white culture (the demographic I've seen they usually fit in in the states I've lived) --- or you can transform the Greens into a frothing, mercantile, self-centered, hateful religious movement (which would be FUCKING HILARIOUS and I would back that shit 100% even if it meant fascism because, well, fucking-A) -- or you can lose. 'Cause that "I only show up in your neighborhood when it's clipboard season" shit don't build a party.

I can respect and even admire the dedication. Hell, when it comes to public solicitations, I respect and (sometimes) admire the dedication of Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses. Doesn't mean I want to join up.

Before a Green hands anyone a clipboard, the receiver needs to believe in the Green party, or else it's just organized fail.

You're not running for office. You're selling a goddamn BRAND.

You don't sell brands with clipboard solicitations.

I don't agree with everything NOoC said, but he makes some pretty good points.

The Nader run in 2000 could have been a very good start to something. Like I said, in my area we had tons of volunteers come out and got signatures and contributions from thousands more. This was back when they were having the Super Rally's. It's true that Nader was labelled a spoiler in the media, and that a ton of Democrats hated him. Nader received almost 3 million votes in 2000, even with everything thrown against him. That definitely could have served as a good jumping off point. After the rally, volunteers should have been contacted and organized into small local groups that got involved at the local level. Young volunteers should have been paired with older political mentors. Greens that were involved in the 2000 campaign, people that were willing to volunteer for the cause, should have been put in a situation where they would be in continual contact with other, local Greens they would get to know, and these groups would also be in constant contact with the higher up regional, city/state, and national groups.

People that attended the Super Rallies should have been put on e-mail lists where they would have been updated as to current Green efforts, successes, and invited to join. Local groups could identify things that could be accomplished, no matter how small, and use that to recruit people. In some areas this might not work, but some areas would have an ongoing Green presence.

Doing the same thing over and over again in the hopes that eventually people change their mind isn't much of a plan. It's true that most people won't join the Greens until they see that they can be successful, and that it will be hard for them to be successful at a higher level as long as people don't join them. It's true that things would be easier if people paid more attention to the world and saw how things were. But, here's the thing. If people did that, you wouldn't need a Green Party, or other party.

I still think the best way to go into politics is with influence groups outside of the system. Civil rights, women's rights, worker's rights - we got all of these in response to pressure groups that were willing to organize and pressure politicians. Hell, I think even the Black Panthers, despite being hunted down, were successful in changing the system. If my memory serves me, breakfast programs for children and greater integration of the police force was in part a response to them.

These days, groups like AIPAC and the NRA have been exceedingly successful. The AARP has done a decent job at protecting Medicare and Social Security, despite being outgunned. NOoC is right that the fundamentalists have had success in exerting influence. Corporation are now very successful with influencing the parties. None of these groups needed to create their own party to do this, but they did need to organize, be focused, and have a long term strategy for success that didn't involve people spontaneously supporting them.

So I don't think creating a new party is the way to go. But if you are going to go down that route, make sure you have a viable strategy, and are able to have visible successes. Because without that, no one is going to give up their time to follow you anywhere.


"The AARP has done a decent job at protecting Medicare and Social Security, despite being outgunned."

Does it? You have a TV where you live? I know you have an internet connection... The AARP sells insurance and magazine subscriptions. Meanwhile the only program in the federal budget which has such a surplus that the rest of the federal government borrows from it is being blamed for somehow causing a deficit (this was even repeated unchallenged by some NYT douchebag on the Colbert show of all places the other night, and this went unchallenged as if the inversion of fact were fact itself.)

What planet do you live on that SS and Medicare aren't under attack? I'd like to move there.

"If people did that, you wouldn't need a Green Party, or other party."

Seriously? You need a political party to win seats in government. You need a political party even to push a party like the Democrats to do the right thing once every 20 opportunities, and that's a bluff you can't use too often without making good on competing against them. I'll just say that I have a political science degree and you should likely trust me on that statement, that if you want to wield political power it's a good idea to have some sort of political party. In other news rockets are generally rather useful for space exploration.

I can't believe that on this blog of all places that people are posting a pollyanna-ish notion that all manner of progress has been made in the US without/ without needing a leftist party. What's actually happened since World War II or so is that there hasn't been a left party in this country and thus most of our people have had their human potential and quality (and quantity) of life retarded on all fronts. We are a good half century behind social democracies in human development index measures. The US should look like The Jetsons with the wealth here and half of it is the Third World.

No, no one is "selling a brand." Leave that to Obama. There's work to be done - MOST ESPECIALLY IN THE EARLY STAGES OF BUILDING A PARTY - and no one is going to do it for us. I don't understand this notion that spontaneously, out of nowhere, the Greens are supposed to expect no work out of people and simultaneously have all of their shit together, be running massive grassroots campaigns that new people aren't expected to work on. No work, no party. This isn't the Democrats paying tens of millions of corporate donations to private for-profit firms to do the work, this is training people to advocate for themselves, to do for themselves.

I'm getting the impression that it's so easy for many of you to armchair criticize the Greens because you haven't tried doing any of this yourself.

"If a bunch of middle-class entitled white people aren't willing to spend time in neighborhood associations of poor black and latinos..."

Oh Christ. First off many of the people in the Green Party of Philadelphia if not minorities themselves LIVE IN CRAPPY NEIGHBORHOODS. We'd be "spending time" here whether involved in a political party or not. This reminds me of the right wing criticism of public school teachers, blaming student performance on things which are 90% not the fault of the teacher.

I am merely pointing out that organizing people to participate in electoral politics who have limited education, in many cases limited literacy and comparable skills, who have wounded self confidence in areas like public speaking, who have not been exposed except in very negative ways to middle class behavior assumptions - it is an absolute BEAR and excuuuuuuuuuuuuse me if the Greens have not managed to run candidates for office and simultaneously provide a massive social network of support - with no funding and volunteer workers only - to the nation's underserved minority populations. And how dare they not do so in a decade. And how dare they not turn water to wine while at it.

We need some special liberals to go class traitor and put those middle management skills to work for the White Hats.

I think you'll find that the leaders and primary participants in the civil rights movement were actually quite well educated.

"So I don't think creating a new party is the way to go. But if you are going to go down that route, make sure you have a viable strategy..."

Not that you have one, but your master plan is that there should be... a plan. Not that it's worth having a plan, because any other party is a waste of time anyway. Thanks. That's very helpful.

""I only show up in your neighborhood when it's clipboard season" shit don't build a party."

This is precisely what builds a party in the US if you want to have candidates. It is inescapable reality. If you'd like to have a "politcal party" with no candidates then I suppose this is optional. Again, excuuuuuse the Greens for not having the resources - while special liberals and assorted Monday morning quarterbacks sit on the sidelines and offer no support whatever - to self-generate both a permanent neighborhood organization presence and run an electoral politics wing. All of this while not asking new people to do work.

Do people imagine the the Greens are a few dozen billionaire superbeings with superspeed and superstrength who never need to sleep?

This isn't buying into Obama-the-brand, this is doing it yourself or it won't get done. And somehow we're blaming the 2% of people doing the work for not carrying the load well enough for the 98% who should but cant or won't do the work.

"What I'm saying is that shooting for a national offices is weaksauce as a strategy..."

It's more effective to NOT run candidates for office, as a political party? Is that energizing? Is that empowering? Does that send a message to the Dems that you mean business? You do realize, as I typed above, that the same signatures used for small local offices can be bundled for national offices..? In fact it is stupid not to do that. It's 5% more work for 10x more impact. Some people will sign a petition to get a national candidate on the ballot and it also gets a local one on. Other people are signing to get the local candidate on and the signature counting statewide is a bonus. Why is this hard to understand?

What's "weaksauce" is not running anyone against Obama and Kerry and Gore and then complaining about how awful Obama and Kerry and Gore are. This is one of the few sites where people stress the need not to vote Democrat, and then there are also complaints about running candidates against them?! I don't get that. Don't vote Democrat, don't run candidates you like against them either! Why not just put a revolver up under your chin and call it a day at that point?

I don't know where anyone else lives, but here contacting people to organize locally is exactly what happened in the wake of the Nader 2000 campaign. When people found out at meetings that in a young party to make things happen volunteers have to DO SOMETHING, do some work, people quickly faded away and geared up for Kerry when the TV ads rolled around in '04.

I'll say it 100x if I have to - stop blaming the tiny % of responsible and functional people for the failure of the majority of "liberals" to be willing to do any work on their own behalf.

How much success would the Greens have if even 1% of registered Democrats switched registration and showed up to meetings and picked up a darn clipboard and put some sweat equity into the party?

"Petty, local concerns are your only real concerns. If a national issue gets you noticed, spectacular, but it would be better to have the zoning board regulate the way you like than to get an awesome soundbite and a protest senate vote."

Wouldn't that be nice.

As it stands:

- Municipalities and states can't pay bills without federal assistance.

- Most of the discretionary federal budget goes to military priorities. This bleeds all other levels of government.

- Federal corporate welfare bleeds all other levels of government.

- International free trade agreements cost jobs in communities.

- Nuclear power, which might be endangering your backyard, suckles at the federal teat. The same goes for many coal and other projects which threaten various communities.

- The econonomics (not to mention morality) of single payer healthcare work best at the national level.

- Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare are federal programs.

- Federal law such as the Taft-Hartley Act is what in many cases hampers the ability of local movements to legally function.

- Federal tax collection of financial transations, general corporate taxes and user fees makes or breaks the ability to finance comminity projects.

- There are little matters like Afghanistan and Iraq and Gaza which people around here usually claim to care about.

The list could go on and on. Failure of a left party to confront issues at the national level is a suicide wish for all of its priorities.

John -

So far as I recall pretty much every Democratic voter I met in 2004 and 2008 acted very "special liberal" indeed. Were there ever more smug and self-satisfied people, with less reason to be, in the history of the republic?

I agree that the Greens' 2004 presidential strategy was a loser, but there was a lot of ink spilled at the time about how there was a power play by what are sometimes referred to as "Demogreens" to use a "safe states" strategy to help Kerry. People like Medea Benjamin seemed to be acting to deliberately torpedo the party on behalf of the Democrats. Someone spent a lot of money on plane tickets to Milwaukee to ensure that Nader delegates would be outvoted, that a presidential challenged would be weakened and that Greens would be left to "concentrate on local races."

Here's a backgrounder from '04:

http://www.counterpunch.org/maass07012004.html

That year I voted for Nader, and ran myself as an indpendent candidate with a formal endorsement of local Greens, who also helped me collect signatures.

We see in '04 what not having a presidential campaign did to the party - few votes and less registered voters, and fewer retained ballot positions by state. I imagine virtually all of the people who swooped into the party '00-'04 and sabotaged it at the national level have changed their registration back to Democrat by now. All so that Kerry could lose anyway, not that I think that makes much of a difference as we see in the Obama presidency. I'm pretty much convinced that this was deliberate Democrat sabotage. At least for once they seem to have done so legally.

The error was not being hardcore enough, and not running nationally. Nader should have been the '04 candidate. There's obviously also a real problem in how to administrate a national lefty organization while adhering to democratic values. If the armchair critics have any suggestions for a foolproof plan in that area too let's hear it.

And, again, if people here think you can have more success running a national political party than the Greens have had, which will somehow avoid all of the problems listed above, then let's do it, sign me up.

Chatham: The AARP PREVIOUSLY protected Medicare/SS. Now they are a completely captured organization.

And yeah, Chris: I saw that asshole from the NYT repeat more than three fucking times that SS was causing the deficit all without mentioning the war. And Colbert, indeed, didn't say shit. It was totally insulting. And supports my contention that social revolution isn't going to come primarily from the class of people that happens to watch that show. . .

You need a political party to win seats in government.

No. Not. True. The fundies aren't a "political party" and they sure as hell have seats in government.

You need a political party even to push a party like the Democrats to do the right thing once every 20 opportunities, and that's a bluff you can't use too often without making good on competing against them.

Fuck bluffing.
Fuck bluffing with aqua regia and an eggbeater.

The fundies didn't bluff. They spoiled. They would have no problem calling down hellfire and damnation against a candidate who believed almost everything they believed in.

(Our society really misses the point of poker; the point of bluffing is that, whenever possible, you win because your hand is simply the strongest. If you won't trounce people by having a stronger hand, bluffing is meaningless.)

See, here's the problem: "bluffing" and being "in office wielding actual power and having debate and media access from the inside" are NOT the distinguishing characteristics of a political party, anymore than mere reproduction is a distinguishing characteristic of a living organism. (See: viruses.) Those things can be associated with political movements and organizations of all kinds, but they aren't what parties do.

Parties:
• Convince nonmembers to become part of the party.
• Convince members to self-identify with the party ever-increasingly.
• Protect the personal interests of the party members worthies*, particularly in ways that maximize the first two points.

Parties don't thrive on access, or power, or media coverage, they thrive on LOYALTY. This is why the framers hated them. Parties, wags and critics say, place emphasis on tribalism and theme rather than on issues.

And I say: you're motherfucking right they do. That's the point!

*This is a sticky widget. A party has to protect its most important personages. A grassroots, revolutionary party would either have that be its constituents (if populist) or its leaders (if fascist). It's fuzzy. Basically, those for whom party identification has the most value must receive the most protection.

I can't believe that on this blog of all places that people are posting a pollyanna-ish notion that all manner of progress has been made in the US without/ without needing a leftist party.

Who's saying that? I said the opposite in two different ways:
• The Civil Rights movement achieved some success despite never being a "party" by a) doing all that stuff I mentioned that the Greens don't do and b) by threatening -- not "bluffing," threatening -- the Dems (and some Repugs). I don't know what you mean by "leftist" in this case, but the Dems of 1965 probably fit this definition. And the Civil Rights movement definitely wasn't a party.
• The fundies achieved the opposite of progress without being a party.

I'm not sure what or who you're arguing against on this point.

What's actually happened since World War II or so is that there hasn't been a left party in this country and thus most of our people have had their human potential and quality (and quantity) of life retarded on all fronts.

'Kay, y'all know I love playing Captain Bringdown, but even I can't get behind this notion; it's terribly wrong. Minority and women's interests have received some substantial improvements on many fronts. Yes, de facto segregation is worse now than 30 years ago, etc., etc., but pretending the Civil Rights legislation didn't happen at all after I basically spam its associates in several tl;dr posts is disingenuous. The good guys have won some.

And this oversight is particularly salient because the very time where the good guys won was when:
• The good guys were doing something the Greens never do.

And when those gains were being eroded and attacked it was partially because:
• The bad guys were doing something the Greens never do.

Hmmmmmmmm.

No, no one is "selling a brand." Leave that to Obama.

Wrong. Obama wasn't bad because he was marketing himself, he was bad because he was marketing evil. And successful political movements most certainly do sell themselves as a brand. The "new" Black Panthers were sued by an ACTUAL Black Panther over just this very reason. Names matter. Identity matters.

Continuing my spam, both fundies and civil rights groups are successful because they're pushing an identity. Fundies are saying "being one of us means being one of the Godly Elect," a position that is appealing because, as it turns out, you can both act superior to others and still bang hookers and enjoy imperial bloodsport. Civil rights groups used to say "being one of us means being righteous, as opposed to being evil." You think in terms of "issues." So do most people on this blog, including myself. But the majority of humanity, while it can consider issues, is first concerned with personal identity, and "issue-thinkers" are freaks.

I don't understand this notion that spontaneously, out of nowhere, the Greens are supposed to expect no work out of people and simultaneously have all of their shit together

I don't know what this is referring to.

I'm getting the impression that it's so easy for many of you to armchair criticize the Greens because you haven't tried doing any of this yourself.

You're wrong. I've done some, and it's been done for me. In neither case did it look like what the Greens do.

excuuuuuuuuuuuuse me if the Greens have not managed to run candidates for office and simultaneously provide a massive social network of support

Like I said, running candidates for office is less important than running a social network.

And I ALSO said my criticisms of the Greens were mostly leveled at the national party. I should have made it explicitly, apparently: the national party should be concentrating on a local concern. If things are as you say they are and there's a choice between fielding a national candidate slate and building the PA Greens into a serious party, the Greens should pick PA. Working Families has a lot more success imo than the Greens, and Working Families has NO national presence.

This is several times now you've assumed -- declared -- that people think the Greens should be multitasking on the national level while doing grassroots support. The only person saying that on this blog is you (I think; sure as hell isn't me), though there may well be people telling you do that crap irl. But I'm saying the EXACT OPPOSITE so I literally don't know who you're arguing against here.

We need some special liberals to go class traitor and put those middle management skills to work for the White Hats.

I think you'll find that the leaders and primary participants in the civil rights movement were actually quite well educated.

Wait, what? Since when are only the upper-middle-class skilled organizers? Yes, many civil rights movement personnel were well-educated, but not all of those people were upper-class, or even most of them.

But yes, you DO need eloquent speakers, skilled administrators, and so on. That we most certainly agree upon. And those people, from both local and NATIONAL parties, should be first and foremost working on local issues. That's where we disagree.

This is precisely what builds a party in the US if you want to have candidates. It is inescapable reality. If you'd like to have a "political party" with no candidates then I suppose this is optional.

You sure as hell CAN. Again, you're literally arguing against reality here. I point out my two examples again. AND I point out that the candidates you're talking about are ridiculously fucking different from the candidates I'm talking about. Again.

It's more effective to NOT run candidates for office, as a political party? Is that energizing? Is that empowering? Does that send a message to the Dems that you mean business?

YES. SERIOUSLY, WTF? You run candidates TO SPOIL if you have to. Witness, for the umpteenth time, fundies. You run candidates for more reasons than to simply occupy office. You run candidates when it is advantageous to do so, when there is something to be gained, not to meet some bullshit false definition of What A Party Should Be.

I'll say it 100x if I have to - stop blaming the tiny % of responsible and functional people for the failure of the majority of "liberals" to be willing to do any work on their own behalf.

'Kay, now you're ranting because you know I specifically didn't do that. You're arguing against, and making, a strawman, unless there's someone else here you're complaining about (which is possible).

Municipalities and states can't pay bills without federal assistance.

Not true. States and municipalities are two completely different critters and whether or not they can "pay bills" depends upon their budget priorities as much as the fed. This pretends that the fed is all-powerful. If this falsehood were true, rightwingers in local office would be unable to ruin a local economy. This is NOT the fucking case. The rightwing resurgence in local and state offices after 2000 led to counties being hollowed out by rightwing experiments. It is ENTIRELY possible to have a liberal schoolboard and a liberal city council and a liberal mayor run a city with distinction such that it is prosperous while the fed has its head up its ass. So your obsession with the fed, while completely understandable, is completely fucking misguided.

And it explains a lot.

This must be why you think someone here on this blog is making bizarre, wacky demands for Green multitasking that, as of now, I don't think anyone is doing.

If one is concerned primarily with the fed, one cannot even contemplate not running for federal office. I should point out that not even established political organizations (parties or otherwise) suffer from this compulsion. Textbook companies will get involved in local schoolboard contests it if suits them. Industries definitely want a piece of the zoning board. And when Enron was riding high, they made damn certain that mere "facts" and "logic" would be countered by simply whoring out city council before it made its big pitch in the 90's. . . and they pulled that off again in OR when the locals decided to invoke imminent domain to get rid of them in the 00's.

Blue states give more money to the fed than they get back. A ruthless liberal would be working to reduce the amount his blue state actually gives the feds in taxes in order to maximize revenues for his constituents back home, and then would look to make sure local redistribution was populist, rather than, well, evil.

The fed does not deserve this level of obsession. If I had to choose between relatively stupid, but good-hearted, leadership in my state and local governance or excellent leadership in (D.C.) Congress, I'd pick the former every day of the week and twice on Sunday (though that hypothetical won't really happen irl).

The bizarre thing here is that you seem to be defining a party by what federal offices it has under its belt instead of as an actual fucking political faction. And that's. . . it's a surreal sort of insanity that startles me, and I'm a freak known to associate with freaks.

I can tell you this, though. A political party -- not just a movement or an alignment -- a party needs to have something one can identify with. A party must grant its constituents something that they stand for. A party must have an answer when it's asked, "what are you about?". It doesn't have to be good. It doesn't have to be real. It doesn't have to be powerful or interesting. It could be freedom from fear. It could be freedom from taxes. It could be your local community, or a world community. It could be hate. It could be preserving a creek or exploiting a creek. It could be promoting a religion or fucking up some guy you don't like.

But it can never be blank.

And in the mind of the vast majority of the U.S., the Greens don't stand for shit.

The ultimate problem here is not a difference of opinion.

It's that we agree:

• The fundies were successful in ways the Greens are not.
• The Civil Rights movement was successful in ways the Greens are not.
• Both of these movements used methods the Greens reject.
• This clipboard bullshit the Greens are doing is unsuccessful.
• And neither of us can imagine a situation where that clipboard bullshit would ever be truly successful.

So I'm not sure what you want. You have historical, near-present models of what you want to do, and you don't want them. You have a demonstrably unrealistic model that, when used, manifestly doesn't work. You want to choose the latter. If our roles were reversed, what would you say?

The "clipboard busllshit" is how political candidates get on ballots in the United States. As someone who has stood out in the sun week after week collecting thousands of signatures I can assure you that I do not like this, but it is objective fact.

"This clipboard bullshit the Greens are doing is unsuccessful."

That's not even true - against all odds candidates ARE getting on the ballot, or at least would be in all cases in the Democrats didn't pull illegal crap in certain cases. I don't think you have any appreciation at all for how hard it is to collect and submit 60,000-1000,000 valid voter signatures. It's a Herculian task. What's "unsuccessful" is that liberals are acting very special indeed and refusing to vote for people who went to this effort, with small numbers and little financial support. The goal is to get candidates running and that is happening. David is showing up at the battlefied and the liberals are backing Goliath, then blamimg David for not winning.

Don't do that "clipboard BS" and you have ZERO candidates and you don't have a political party, you have a social club or some form of community organization that has to go begging (or fighting) the two major parties for crumbs, with no leverage. Maybe you have a softball team or a Facebook circle. You do not have a political party.

There's a multiple-century history of Christianity in America. A left party is not a new religion and would not attract more than a fraction of 1% of the population if it were. How dare the Greens not in the space of a decade get the same level of fanatical devotion from a standing start as 300 years of bible-thumpin' Christianity!

"The Civil Rights movement was successful in ways the Greens are not."

Apples and oranges. Reprioritizing annual budgeting in a left direction, holding political power in actual elected offices, reordering the national and international economy, stopping wars and changing foreign policy and rewriting law after domestic law is not the same as working on one issue largely in one region of the country.


"Both of these movements used methods the Greens reject."

'Reject' isn't even the right word. You can't run political candidates for office by staging a sit-in or a boycott. You do it by organizing people to collect signatures and other mundane campaign tasks. Greens have also 'rejected' preheating the oven and rotating the tires as methods of gaining ballot access, which would be equally effective.

"And neither of us can imagine a situation where that clipboard bullshit would ever be truly successful."

No, or else I wouldn't have spent the time, effort and money to get people including myself on the ballot. Sheesh. I'm not an idiot. What needs to happen is that people who claim to be liberal, left or whatever label they like have to volunteer on left political campaigns independent of the Democrats. They have to vote for these candidates and they have to encourage others to do so, even if they lose a couple of times first. Swearing off non-Democrat electoral politics because Nader didn't win in 2000 isn't good enough.

Most people on the left seem to be willing to try anything... er, except what is very likely to eventually work.

I hold the people who've bitten off this enormous task almost absolutely blameless for the failure of the VAST majority of self-described liberals/progressives/lefties to take advantage of these efforts and actually vote for what they claim they want. Democratic voters are the failures. That's the bullshit that will never be successful.

I've spent an inordinate amount of the past 15 years or so arguing this. Just 40% of voters in elections in which maybe 40% of the population bothers voting is enough to win seats and start showing people in a way that can't be ignored what amazing things can happen if someone not crooked wins an office. This is a completely reachable goal if people pull their heads out of the Dems' asses for more than one or two election cycles in a row.

I don't know where you get the notion that cities and states aren't absolutely reliant on federal funding to pay bills. I can assure you that Philadelphia is one of many places that would have a total collapse in the morning if fed funds disappeared, as opposed to the slow bleed happening now. The el to cite one example would have quite literally collapsed by now if not for federal public transit funds and neither the state nor the city has the kind of money to sink into maintaining it. One can list project after project that functions in the industrialized world that community groups could never raise the money to pay for, and which should in any event come from the tax base.

No One -

I agree with you that the goal should be winning seats, not bluffing the Dems to influenece them. In the section you responded to on that point I was countering Chatham's contention that a political party is unnecessary. What I mean is that even if one's goal is as modest as bluffing the Dems I would still see needing a party running candidates or that could mobilize to run them in order to do it. I find the latter undesirable but even at that still requiring a functioning party.

I should say I am fully prepared for it to take 40 years (although it's possible to turn things around in one election if even a minority of people actually voted their desires for a change) if it has to to run candidates to win. I don't think we have 40 years of disaster left in us as a society, but that's a different topic.

Most Democrat voters want to spend 15 minutes voting and then go home and watch balloons drop on the TV. Any left party, Greens or otherwise, is asking people to do decades, years months or weeks of volunteer work. No wat around that. That's being an adult about things and taking responsibility for making your life and the lives of others better.

Is it surprising that given the option of A) being an adult and doing patient work or B) hanging an Obama sign in the window and sending $5 to MoveOn and Facebooking your friends about how totally tubular rad Barry looks in his basketball shorts that large numbers of people choose the latter?

"This clipboard bullshit the Greens are doing is unsuccessful."

That's not even true - against all odds candidates ARE getting on the ballot, or at least would be in all cases in the Democrats …

So, in other words they aren't getting on the ballot, right? This is an argument that the Greens would be triumphant if not for those pesky kids. Blaming the evil Democrats and/or evil voters is all fine and good, but it's not very productive unless the whole idea of the Greens is to be the piteous martyr party.

So, in other words they aren't getting on the ballot, right?

No, in other words they're getting on the ballot in many states and in many races, but are occasionally balked by underhanded and/or outright illegal tactics by the Democrats or (in some states) ballot access provisions specifically crafted to block third parties. Much of which was clear from what Chris has been writing throughout the thread, of course, but you weren't going to let that get in the way of trundling out laugh lines about blaming "those pesky kids" or the Greens being a "piteous martyr party".

The quality of the Green-bashing in this thread has really taken a dive; maybe someone should link to it from Daily KOS so we can get some better trolls.

How's this for INCREDIBLE:

The Republicans and Democrats worked together to screw working people on a debt reduction plan that targets Social Security and Medicaid/Medicare...

... when the actual fiscal problems are: paying for SIX bipartisan unconstitutional wars against six countries that never bothered me any, bipartisan corporate welfare, bipartisan Wall Street bailouts, a bipartisan refusal to start New Deal type programs to generate jobs and payroll taxes, bipartisan agreement to extend the Bush tax cuts for rich fucks, and a positive bipartisan refusal to make the Fortune 500 pay any taxes whatever.

Who are our federal representatives?

US President: Barack Obama, D.

Sen. Bob Casey, D.

Sen. Pat Toomey, R.

Congressperson Bob Brady (unopposed in primary and general elections except for me writing myself in), D.

Obama: supported the deal, negotiated the deal, used a phoney debt crisis to put SS in the crosshairs like his hero Reagan always wanted.

Casey: voted for the deal.

Brady: voted for the deal.

Toomey: voted AGAINST the deal.

So what do I get from MoveOn.org today via email?

A request to protest the deal at PAT TOOMEY'S OFFICE, the office of the ONE GUY WHO REPRESENTS US IN DC WHO VOTED AGAINST THE DEAL.

Why? To show "our disgust at the Republicans" for this austerity program, EVEN THOUGH EVERY DEMOCRAT WHO REPRESENTS US IN DC VOTED FOR THE DEAL and the ONE REPUBLICAN WHO REPRESENTS US VOTED AGAINST IT.

My, Democrats sure are "special."

I voted for Nader in '96, '00, '04, '08 and it looks like I'll be writing him in again in '12 unless someone comparable steps up.

Go Greens, go Nader, MoveOn needs to just quit... The Onion would be embarrassed to send out the dispatches they do as jokes...

"How's this for INCREDIBLE..."

They do seem to be testing the limits of the propaganda machine these days.

Regarding the anti-Green shenanigans in PA, it seems to me an important, under-reported news story is the actions taken against anti-government speech/actions. Shouldn't the "free speech" zones at the democratic conventions be a huge deal, for example? Anyone who is serious about democracy should be outraged by this misconduct.

I have the time now to address the notion that the Greens or Nader are "martyrs" or are "whining."

I don't know what things are like in other states, but you can spend May - the morning of August 1 collecting 50,000 or 70,000 or 100,000 of signatures of registered voters and in Pennsylvania the Democrats hire law firms to sit with state employees*** and start crossing out signatures for the following reasons:

- The signer hasn't voted for a while and has been scrubbed from the voting rolls. They are an eligible voter. They haven't moved. They have weeks left to re-register and vote at the same address. But the signature is not counted.

- The state worker and/or Dem law team make the subjective conclusion that the signature on the page doesn't look enough like the signature on the voter registration card.

- Some technical problem or "problem" is claimed with the notarization (or in may case on many forms the COLOR AND SIZE OF THE PHOTOCOPIES WE HAD TO MAKE OF THEM, with prior approval from the state to do so, in order to have extra forms on-hand) of the form used to collect signatures. This can wipe out 120 signatures in one fell swoop.

- Voter printed "Jim Smith" with correct address and valid registration. Voter reg card reads "James Smith." Signature discounted. If F. Scott Fitzgerald signs as Scott Fitzgerald or vice versa, the signature is tossed.

- Voter printed "James A. Smith" although card reads "James Smith", even if A. is his initial and he is a registered voter.

- Just the opposite, card reads "James A. Smith" and voter prints "James Smith." Tossed.

- Don't get me started about "Jr." and "Sr." Appending or leaving this out if the card reads differently will get the signature tossed even if one man is dead or they live at different addresses.

- If you live and are registered at 4300 Main St and accidently print 43000 Main Street or the state employee feels like saying the handwriting looks more like 4200 Main St or someone who just moved wrote 4200 Main Ave or... signature tossed.

- If people dated the sheet correctly as 7/31 and the next person makes and error and signs 7/30 than that signature and/or a bunch of the ones before or after it might be flagged as fraudulent.

- If a person fails to print any part of their name or full address the signature is tossed. This includes the zip code or, believe it or not, "PA", even though no signature by definition would be from another state. If a campaign worker adds the "PA" later the signature will be tossed for that reason.

So you have to both stand on someone's stoop or on a corner and both corral the passer-by or resident to sign a scary-looking legal document AND HARANGUE THEM AFTER THAT TO NEATLY PRINT things like their zip code. Only, yknow, 60,000 times.

- Voter moved within the appropriate district (this is VERY common) and has not yet changed voter registration, although there are still weeks or months left to do so and be an eligible voter in the Novemebr election. Ironically honest use of the new address will get the signature tossed.

- If some BS problem listed above is detected in the voter registration vs name and address on the ballot access paper of the person collecting the signatures, the entire sheet of 120 can be discounted.

- Voter is a legally "eligible voter" in the appropriate district but has not yet ever registered to vote, or never has yet in Pennsylvania. The state code clearly reads a person just needs to be a voter who would be eligible to vote in the future in November in the appropriate district at their current address. The state employees however have been only counting voters who had already registered to vote by the date of signature.

This last bit is extremely common and was the main bit that Nader's lawyer's contested. The only dissenting judge in the PA Supreme Court decision (the Chief Justice was AN EMPLOYEE OF THE FIRM HIRED TO KNOCK NADER OFF THE BALLOT!) against Nader stated that the deliberate misreading of the law to suggest that an "eligible voter" meant "already registered voter" was one of the worst misreadings of straightforward code he'd ever heard of.

Do people now get some idea of what we're dealing with, and why this is hardly "whining"?

*** and then BILL YOU FOR THAT, in the case of Carl Romanelli and Nader to the tune of over $80,000.

I'm not a defeatist, No One. I'm an anarchist. You don't capture the state and make it do good. It captures you. Always. Because states are organized to protect the ruling class. Even very successful political or electoral insurgencies are co-opted. Every single time. Always.

You think civil rights was a victory against capitalism? It was good for capital, at the right time, to capture a larger pool of disciplined labor. And it got that labor on the cheap, with only minor concessions. Same with gay rights, women's rights or environmental "protection."

[Which doesn't mean that those concessions weren't real victories for the constituencies involved. They just weren't leftist. Strengthening the capitalist state is not a successful leftist outcome.]

It wasn't. It was a victory for capitalism. Just like the New Deal. Or meliorative transportation budgets.

"You don't capture the state and make it do good."

Sophomore at Oberlin are we? Mom and Dad paying for the hair dye at Hot Topic? I often wonder who these people are so removed from most peoples' reality that they think the few relative crumbs from even moderately responsive government that CHANGE POOR PEOPLES' LIVES IN A POSITIVE WAY FOREVER are trifles to be mocked.

Compare the human development index and mean annual income and life expectancy in even a place like Libya (before the NATO terror) or Venezuela or Cuba before the government changes and after.

Look at how Nicaragua went from an illiterate country to a literate country WHICH CAN'T BE REVERSED in just a couple of years' time because of a change in government. Look at how people live in Denmark vs how they live in Louisiana, despite Louisiana having more of every conceivable resource.

While you're busy writing your postmodern anarcho-syndicalist analysis of angels on the head of a pin there are millions of kids being dicked out of an education and even nutrition in the world's richest society. Good job, Sid Vicious!

Chris, I'll say again: I get that people are passionate about these things, but please throttle down the sarcasm.

I'm a working class father without a high school diploma or a college degree, Chris. I struggled out of poverty and crime, to make something of myself, before I lost it all because I not only encouraged my employees to unionize, I helped them attempt it. I live in a two bedroom flat, and we barely make ends meet each week. I'm leaking blood out of the veins in my legs, and I can barely get a doctor to pay attention, never mind offer me a diagnosis. I'm almost five thousand dollars in debt, just this year, for uncovered medical expenses. I'm typing from a six year old computer, and tonight I will cook my children pasta, because I cannot afford to feed them meat and fresh vegetables every night.

Your state doesn't exist to benefit me, Chris. And it actively poisoned my oldest son, who has been fighting the "unfortunate" consequences of germ warfare for more than half of his life. You get your list of so-called "benefits" because it has a some spare change to buy a captive electorate while it bombs or SAPs everyone else into penury, obedience, or if their lucky, a quick death.

So, you can go suck a hot tail pipe, and choke on your sanctimony, please and thank you.

Jack -

Maybe a "state" in which it's legal to form a union might be of help to you.

My best suggestion would be to read Engels' letter critical of Bakunin. It's about two pages long and addresses our argument exactly. That a person of modest means would not want a state to help protect them from the predations of capital is astounding to me.

"This clipboard bullshit the Greens are doing is unsuccessful."

That's not even true - against all odds candidates ARE getting on the ballot, or at least would be in all cases in the Democrats didn't pull illegal crap in certain cases.

You missed the point again; you're still concerned with federal office. I'm not interested merely in someone holding office. I'm interested in beneficial change, either in the short-term or the long-term. I don't care about the method, so long as it is practical.

Don't do that "clipboard BS" and you have ZERO candidates and you don't have a political party, you have a social club or some form of community organization that has to go begging (or fighting) the two major parties for crumbs, with no leverage.

Completely wrong. By your logic, every movement in the history of the U.S. was completely worthless. I don't even know how to parse this. You're still obsessed with federal offices. This is consummately ahistorical. Do you honestly believe that "community organizations" -- a moniker that covers so much ground it's nearly useless -- can't actually DOMINATE local or state politics?

Have you even ever been to the South?

What the hell do you think good ol' boy networks were? What do you think churches do?

Honestly, I don't think we're actually talking about politics anymore. You're talking about Federal Elected Office (PBUI) and I'm literally talking about everything else.

How dare the Greens not in the space of a decade get the same level of fanatical devotion from a standing start as 300 years of bible-thumpin' Christianity!

WOAH, completely fucking wrong. Modern fundie political movements are less than 50 years old and arose as churches became more politicized in the mid-seventies. Seriously, with respect: you have no idea what you're talking about here. While fundamentalism is a corruption that can be found in nearly any given culture, fundies aren't creatures of mere cultural "christianity" but a very specific and very recent political tactic. Rightwing mobilization of churches in its modern form trace back to the introduction of abortion as a wedge issue, and THAT was the result of a literal conspiracy after Bob Jones v. IRS spanked racism as a go-to wedge issue.

Chris, when I picked the fundies and the Civil Rights Movement, I picked them for valid reasons. The Greens, and any other liberal anti-establishment group, have a huge cultural cachet to draw from. Perverse religion isn't the only game in town.

Reprioritizing annual budgeting in a left direction, holding political power in actual elected offices, reordering the national and international economy, stopping wars and changing foreign policy and rewriting law after domestic law is not the same as working on one issue largely in one region of the country.

Which may be why I didn't spout the bullshit you just said (which I bolded). Strawman, Chris. You know I wasn't talking about one issue; I didn't even cite a solitary issue. Come on, now. Maybe someone you argued with said that crap, but I sure as hell didn't.

I don't know where you get the notion that cities and states aren't absolutely reliant on federal funding to pay bills.

I don't know where you get the notion that states and municipalities do not redistribute wealth in any way shape or form. What the hell are you talking about? You're still going on about the fed at all costs, even if that means skipping what I wrote to argue against something I explicitly didn't say.

. . .Swearing off non-Democrat electoral politics because Nader didn't win in 2000 isn't good enough.

Only you are suggesting that. Either another strawman or you're arguing with someone else; in the latter case, I hope you convince them.

I hold the people who've bitten off this enormous task almost absolutely blameless for the failure of the VAST majority of self-described liberals/progressives/lefties to take advantage of these efforts and actually vote for what they claim they want.

Good thing I wasn't blaming them.

Chris, you're arguing with yourself. Seriously. You have this fucked-up opponent in your head that doesn't even resemble me (he or she is probably taller and more attractive, too).

Posted by: John Caruso | Thursday, August 04, 2011 at 10:39 AM

The quality of the Green-bashing in this thread has really taken a dive; maybe someone should link to it from Daily KOS so we can get some better trolls.

And I thought I was the mean one here. :-D

But this sort of thing is exactly why I find it so annoyingly necessary to a) obsess about morals in politics and b) make it very clear during the (pretty rare) times I post about organized, non-major-party political actors that I'm not making moral judgements -- unless I explicitly am. The default in our political universe is bass-ackward:

• If we're talking about the Dems or Repugs, we're talking about well-meaning people who sometimes strongly disagree.
• If we're talking about any other party or group, they are selfish, naive and morally questionable spoilers who spitefully ruin it for everyone.

Like I said, those "defaults," if one were to bother employing them (which seems like possible intellectual laziness, but it could be just convenience), should be reversed. Ironically enough, in the case of the Greens, they'd have to achieve ridiculous amounts of political victories before they even have the power necessary to reach the level of moral culpability that the RepubDemoCanCrats have for something they did over a given lunchbreak.

Posted by: Edward | Thursday, August 04, 2011 at 10:21 PM

Regarding the anti-Green shenanigans in PA, it seems to me an important, under-reported news story is the actions taken against anti-government speech/actions. Shouldn't the "free speech" zones at the democratic conventions be a huge deal, for example?

At the time, the anti-Iraq war protest was the largest protest in the history of humanity. No major network aired footage of it.

TV is over and done. It was useful in the sixties and mid-seventies before the total value of solid, unrelenting propaganda became apparent (and that revelation was only possible because of spiteful and small-minded changes to airwave regulations; our aristocracy isn't much for grand schemes). The Big Lie works.

Posted by: Jack Crow | Friday, August 05, 2011 at 09:30 AM

I'm not a defeatist, No One. I'm an anarchist. You don't capture the state and make it do good. It captures you. Always. Because states are organized to protect the ruling class.

Wait, what? When did I call you a defeatist?

What's going on lately? I can normally piss people off with just my viewpoint alone, but now people seem to be arguing against things I haven't and would never say. I think it's brutally unsporting if you become inflamed before I say something inflammatory. It's not like I ever fail to do the latter. Things are tough where I live; sometimes it takes a day or two before I can say something needlessly provocative. Work with me, people.

And your formulation was, incidentally, bullshit. States are captured all the fucking time by other states. The only problem with the state in a democracy occurs when the ruling class does not include the common citizen -- in such a case, you don't have a democracy, you have some kind of aristocracy (which kind is irrelevant). Anarchists don't like the state in the first place, true, but the problem there is that states are coercive and, to put it ridiculously simply, coercion is not nice. But the mere existence of a state doesn't negate democracy; indeed, democracy was formulated with the notion built in. This is why Paine called it a "necessary evil." (Jumping to statelessness gives you anarchism, but figuring out a practical way to pull that off is for political science what figuring out how to get the cycle of DNA to RNA to protein (which folds and modifies DNA expression) to arise spontaneously in an abiotic environment is to biology. And humanity will likely figure out the second one first.)

So saying that "states are organized to protect the ruling class" doesn't mean shit when the "ruling class" includes exactly the people you want to be ruling, which, in a democracy, is damn near everybody.

And I never said that capture was or wasn't inevitable. I don't really care. It's pointless. All that matters is material gains for your constituency (here, we're generalizing to the non-rich Americans). If the strategy employed grants you that benefit, good. If it does it for a short time, good. If it does it for a long time, better. Saying "but the policy/agency/candidate will be negated or captured or hit with a meteor" doesn't mean shit. We're all gonna die. I wasn't trying to express how to make a perfect system; I pointed out that a systemic flaw does not prevent material gains.

(Note that I have not made any claims of preference towards anarchism, democracy, or anything else at the moment. I'm more than willing to, but with people jumping on things I didn't say, I'm trying to narrow the field of shit I actually say.)

You think civil rights was a victory against capitalism?

No, Civil Rights, had fuck-all to do with capitalism and I have no idea what the fuck you're going on about. For one thing, while civil rights were good for some parts of our aristocracy, they were bad for other parts (which is why MLK backing union rights caused more consternation in many circles than his crusade for black equality -- and his assassination during the strike never struck me as coincidental). Second, while I can usually let this pass, since it was so random and had nothing to do with what I actually said, I should point out that your definition of "capitalism" is bullshit. We aren't a capitalist society. There isn't a capitalist society in the Western world. Capitalists have capital. We don't. We are consumers. Saying we're capitalist is like saying Nazi Germany was socialist because it applied socialist principles to the distribution of wealth to its leadership alone, or, even better, the U.S. is communist because powerful corporations practice communism vis-a-vis their leadership and public property (which they sure as hell do -- which is why so much of "public" property ends up in private hands). It's a complete perversion. Capitalism requires powerful and consistent referees that make sure the proper winners win and the proper losers lose; our "referee," our government, works its ass off to make sure the opposite happens. Capitalism is a damn-near values free system of property management and, in fact, isn't very important at all. Not good, not bad, a tool, and not generally present. What we have is a kleptocracy, if you need to really obsess over the economic system. Not that it matters much. So long as you're run by evil motherfuckers who use murder and rape and terrorism and threats and lies as political tools, any system of managing wealth they use will likely suck.

But, dollars to donuts, we won't be talking about the essentiality of moral actors within politics; we'll veer right back into bullshit about "the system" and all the triteness that such mediocrity demands. After all, if some psychotic asshole stabs your best friend with a leatherman, clearly, all debates should center on the best kinds of blades to hand out to our local psychotic assholes.

Posted by: Quizmasterchris | Friday, August 05, 2011 at 10:08 AM

Sophomore at Oberlin are we? Mom and Dad paying for the hair dye at Hot Topic?

Posted by: Jack Crow | Friday, August 05, 2011 at 10:29 AM

So, you can go suck a hot tail pipe, and choke on your sanctimony, please and thank you.

Seriously, folks, I'm the angry one here. Hey, remember me?

I think I'm losing my shtick.

Please don't make me calm. (by comparison)

You won't like me when I'm calm.

Actually, you might, but fuck that noise.

"Jack Crow -

There is a very long history in the world of the White Hats gaining political office and gaining everything from labor organizing rights to several weeks' paid vacation to national healthcare to free or nearly free tertiary education for the citizens of their countries. Life expectancies have literally risen as a result of certain political parties winning elections and being returned to office by an appreciate citizenry.

One can spend, as I just did, a few days in Montreal and compare the quality and quantity of services available to the citizens of that city vs. what is available to the citizens of my home city of Philadelphia and one can immediately see the better quality of life that having some honest people with their hearts in the right place occupying political offices. As I said earlier even honest centrist populists or mild honest lefties can change change lives for the better in ways that can't be reversed (a more extreme example might be literacy programs in Nicaragua, Venezuela, Cuba etc.).

Just because this hasn't yet happened in the US it doesn't mean that it can't. I don't get this defeatism."

No One, I've talked to you before on multiple occasions about things like telling people what they're saying is "bullshit". I'm getting tired of repeating it. If you can't comment without the in-your-face rhetoric and needless provocations, you're going to have to find somewhere else to do it.

John,

I apologize for the "suck on a tailpipe" portion of my comment. I reacted to the insult instead of taking pause and giving it a sufficient enough duration to lose its meaning.

NOoC,

I guess it's redundant to re-quote a passage someone else has already quoted.

Chris,

My apologies for the earlier harsh tone. But, please, before you assume - ask. If you wonder why I have no use for a state, while being poor, the answer lies in the spirochete burrowed in my son's flesh. I imagine a fairly predictable reply to that assertion, because I've encountered it often enough, and it's the one you already used: "...but what about public education (et cetera)?" I can only suggest to you that we have the capacity to create a Commons (in fact, we do it all the time, until it's taken from us) which does not require bosses.

Your state, in my humble opinion, is no less or more than a fiction. What exists does not conform, as far as I can observe, to the good intentions you assign to it. What "good" it does, especially as a delivery service for so-called protection, is more than offset by its industrial capacity for evil.

No One -

For about the fourth or fifth time I'm going to remind you that getting people on a ballot for local and national offices is NOT an either/or option. It is positively stupid to collect signatures for ballot access for 12 different state rep and city council races and not bundle the SAME signatures collected at the SAME TIME with the SAME RESOURCES to get candidates in state-wide races (this includes US president, governor, and US Senate). Most states allow this.

I get the impression from having to repeat this that I'm arguing with someone who's never bothered trying to be involved in independent or Green (or other small party) politics in any meaningful way. Honestly at this point the only reason I'm continuing this debate is for the benefit of any curious party who Googles this, not because I think I'm going to get anyone to decide to... um... try to succeed.

Yes, I am interested in getting people in federal (and every other level of) office. It is actually far LESS work where I live to run a candidate for US Congress than City Council or any city-wide office, no matter how piddling. I know this from first-hand experience. The geographic area is more compact and far fewer signatures are required for ballot access. The Congressional district is about 550,000 people in an area smaller than the city, which has over 1.5 million people. The rest of the math flows from that.

I am NOT making strawman arguments. I am defending the only people in this country who have have taken the most direct, obvious and practical route to winning actual power. If you're going to trash the Greens as useless (while not being willing to help them succeed in any way) by name I am going to defend them.

Christian fundies in the US do not have a political party, they get used and abused often by the Reps in a similar manner to which gay and women's groups get jerked around by the Dems.

The PATRIOT Act and Taft-Hartley and NAFTA and CAFTA and the Pentagon budget and our support of the IDF and our illegal wars and our hiring of mercenaries and nuke power issues and corporate welfare and the raping of the national forests and the mining and mountaintop removal issues are FEDERAL issues. Winning Dogcatcher in East Stain, Pennsyltucky is not much help with these issues, and beyond this it's hard to a dogcatcher's job when federal funding for your department is cut to maintain wars, cut taxes and bail out Wall St.

Why you think sit-ins and boycotts or... what... blog posts..?... by local community groups with no seats at a decision-making level in the federal government will affect the federal government more efficiently than holding power within the federal government and making the Democrats start competing for liberal votes is beyond my ability to discern.

How about being able to cast NO votes on harmful legislation, vote against terrible federal judge appointments, ask uncomfortable questions in hearings, introduce articles of impeachment (this requires ONE congress seat). How about getting on national TV and calling the president a liar for X, Y and Z reasons and for a change TV having a very hard time pretending you don't exist.

How about having a PAID STAFF to do activist work on these issues. The game changes 100% by winning congressional seats.

If anyone would like to start a new left political party that you think you can run so well that from a standing start you can avoid all of the pitfalls of the Greens, I'm all ears. All I see on this thread is serial trashing of people who I find to be mostly rational and functional and have the ten-ton gonads to take on a massive fight in the most direct fashion possible.

Living in a city with about 750,000 black American residents the vast majority of whom are poor and grow up with substandard everything I'm not about to declare the Civil Rights movement to be a completed success. Ironically the major victory of that movement was ACCESS TO THE VOTING BOOTH and this is exactly the tactical route that you're trashing!

Yes, I've actually been to every state that formed the CSA. The Mason-Dixon line is about 10 miles from where I sit in fact.

I reject the notion that it makes any sense nor is in any way acceptable to yield any part of government to two corrupt political parties and not even TRY to compete against them in an arena where the bar of success is as low as getting 35-40% of the 45-55% people who bother voting to do so for you. This is so much easier than trying to get people to general strike or march somewhere or what have you that it's a no-brainer.

Jack -

I apologize for tone as well. I have met and attempted to work with a number of anarchists in the area and a more frustrating group of inflexible, self-marginalized people I have yet to meet. I may be taking that out on you.

It so happens that my wife is a public school teacher. She has an advanced degree in reading difficulty issues and it's her job to help kids who have certain learning disabilities work through them. This is a service provided to kids by the state for free. Children in, say, rural Uganda might not be subject to such statist predations. Lucky them.

I find you can count on Fox News, Christian homeschoolers, libertarians and anarchists to draw the same general conclusions about public school teachers. Is it any wonder that my wife's union and districts like the one she works in are in the crosshairs? (My father in law is a retired union fireman - a uniformed state agent drawing a pension which sucks the blood of the masses. Pure evil, that man is!)

When you take the Social Security check away - the one she paid into for decades - from the 95 yr old woman who lives next door to us I invite you to "create your own commons" and become fully responsible for her care. I expect you'll also be shuttling around the million people or so who use public transit here every day; perhaps you drive a mini-van? I imagine you'll also be getting teams of people together to run the airports and repair the bridges and such. Busy schedule.

I'm sure the organizational work to run the commons will be sped along mightily by six different varities of anarchist debating all theoretical and practical aspects of decision-making protocol in everyone's ideal world through a non-hierarchical debate format before anyone is willing to swing a hammer or staple two sheets of paper together.

While you guys are working on that I'll be trying to run some candidates.

“For about the fourth or fifth time I'm going to remind you that getting people on a ballot for local and national offices is NOT an either/or option.”

And what do you do if all of your clipboarding keeps being knocked down for one made up reason or another? Just go out and do it again, or what? If clipboarding is the only path to power that a party is willing to try, even after being confronted with established institutional forces that are all too willing to exploit the laws to keep that party off the ballot no matter what, it doesn't inspire confidence in the ability of the party to actually fulfill any of the promises they might make on the campaign trail.

Sure, your party can complain about how it's unfair, and your party can say that anyone who disagrees with them is a major party plant or a lazy voter, but does this get the party on the ballot?

People, I haven't been following closely here, so I'm not sure whose side I'm on. I find myself in substantial agreement with Quizmasterchris's last comment, and would like to repeat an opinion I stated at an anarchist blog, in response to the host calling the social safety net "a bribe".

My view of the social safety net is different. it is not a bribe - it is transfer payments from one's peers, solidarity and compassion implemented by the state in its role as honest clerk to everyman. The social safety net is buddies helping a buddy out.

David -

The party USUALLY DOES get on the ballot, despite all of this. That's how functional the Greens have been, and that's how dysfunctional just about everyone else has been by ignoring this effort on their behalf. How inspiring that people are willing to try nothing after something doesn't work once or twice. How is what happens now working for you - voting for Democrats or staying home? Things headed in a direction people like?

All -

After eventually gaining ballot access in '04 a series of interesting offers immediately kicked in. I was interviewed at the local Comcast studios in a 5-minute segment on candidates in which I was able to advocate leftie positions on issues and the need to dump the Democrats. This ran on local cable several times and many people mentioned to me that they saw it who weren't even trying to find it. The Catholic church put me in a 10-question candidate response questionaire that is distributed to all parishioners in the city the Sunday before the election. I appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer voters' guide giving my view of the PATRIOT Act. About 10 different single-issue national organizations included us in their voter guides as well.

I'd have to say that getting the likes of Comcast and the Catholic church to distribute your message about thing like our illegal wars to large numbers of people for free is a mighty nice incentive to run candidates all by itself.

Actually, Quizmasterchris, your comments here have inspired me to pick up where I've left off with the GP. I met over coffee with the leader of the Augusta, GA GP in 2009 to discuss establishing Green presence at my then-University, right before my life became a blur of family illness, research and overwhelming schoolwork. I've lived in Atlanta for a while now, and things have settled enough that my lack of involvement is inexcusable. Thanks for holding out in defense of the party here, seeing this seems to be just what I needed.

Good for you, Amanda (and I'm always glad to hear when something on my blog actually inspires someone somewhere to do something).

Posted by: John Caruso | Friday, August 05, 2011 at 09:33 PM

No One, I've talked to you before on multiple occasions about things like telling people what they're saying is "bullshit". I'm getting tired of repeating it.

Actually, you only mentioned it once, when I used the phrase "fucking bullshit," and didn't have a problem with the term "bullshit" before, which I assumed was because "bullshit" is a very useful word and concluded that you didn't like the phrase "fucking bullshit." Self-depricating remarks aside, I didn't use the term bullshit to be needlessly provocative, but because it specifically points to a concept that obscures an issue -- that is not merely counterfactual (it can actually be factual) but is both irrelevant and distracting. English has nothing else but long phrases to express the concept.

I thought Jack, Chris, and Chatham were more upset at each other than me and no one has ever responded negatively towards me for the use of that term* (other things, sure, especially involving Obama), so I was again certain you were referring to "fucking." Since that could make sense. That said, I hear you.

*Come to think of it, skimming my hard drive, bullshit is the safest word I've used around the web. "Liberal" is dangerous, as is any term involving race, and "rightwinger," but I've never had a problem with the word with anyone until now.

Posted by: Quizmasterchris | Friday, August 05, 2011 at 11:35 PM

For about the fourth or fifth time I'm going to remind you that getting people on a ballot for local and national offices is NOT an either/or option.

Nope, you're going to state it for the third time and imply for the first time that this is somehow directly relevant to something I said. I never contradicted the notion that you could get signatures for both local/federal elections simultaneously and the ability to do so doesn't undermine anything I said.

I get the impression from having to repeat this that I'm arguing with someone who's never bothered trying to be involved in independent or Green (or other small party) politics in any meaningful way.

Didn't you just finish making an insulting and completely unfounded assumption about Jack Crow? Admittedly, this unfounded assumption is substantially less insulting, but it's still not the healthiest trend.

I am NOT making strawman arguments.

Yes you were. See above. I'm literally not even disputing some of the things you insist I'm disputing. If you were to begin a passionate defense of the musical "Cats" as being unfairly maligned by popular culture I wouldn't be anymore mystified as to who you're talking to.

If you're going to trash the Greens as useless (while not being willing to help them succeed in any way) by name I am going to defend them.

Yeah, saying over and over again at length that I have not ever accused the Green party of any moral failure and find it repugnant that people do so while questioning the methodology of some* of the Green party due to the fact that the methodology has not as yet achieved the goals of the Green party (in the view of Green party members!) after having been INVITED to discuss said methodology by yourself is exactly the same as "trash[ing] the Greens as useless."

(*Again, state/nat'l disparity.)

And the "while not being willing to help them succeed in any way" is just shit you made up. You have no idea what I have or have not done except what I told you, and the only thing I've told you was positive -- I've voted for Greens on many occasions. (I mentioned I was angry about some tactical decisions some Greens made nationally, but again, that wasn't an attack on them. I can get equally pissed at beloved family members but that doesn't require a blood oath of vengeance.) I've told you nothing else and -- I say this with honest disappointment -- I have absolutely no reason to tell you anything else and plenty of reason to not discuss it. Nothing -- absolutely nothing -- I've posted above justifies treating me like I'm a frothing daily Kos critic, but you haven't let that stop you.

How about having a PAID STAFF to do activist work on these issues.

How about having the infrastructure of a state sewn up enough that party loyalists and sympathizers make it impossible for Dems/Reps to pull criminal shenanigans on election day?

Look, you're not reading my posts when it comes to local politics, so I'll not repeat them further. You don't care about redistribution of wealth at the state level, so you're pretending (based on what I'm reading here) it doesn't happen such that the federal money passes through the state like light through dark matter and magically hits its targets. Fine, we can let that go, too. We didn't really agree to disagree, since there was never any acknolwedgement of what I wrote, which is disappointing, but okay. You're upset about being "trashed" by something I said (or everything I said) which overwhelms everything else and I don't know what parts of my post are "trasheriffic," so there's no point in stepping into a minefield again. Walking on eggshells is bad enough when it comes up irl; I don't intend to do that online as well.

So that's all a wash. But I want to make it clear that the notion that I'm "attacking" the Greens, here or anyplace else, given what I do politically irl, is pretty insulting, and if you didn't want me to comment, Chris, you shouldn't have asked.

In other actually really good news -- well, locally good -- and in a shocking return to the original post, Norman Mathews (of the orginal post's fame) has catalyzed a political realization in one group of people I know such that they won't be handing money to MoveOn and assorted Dems groups anymore. . . more out of disgust than anything else. The consensus seemed to be that the "oops, we were tricked!" notion made them sound exactly like Bush voters they'd criticized. Good to know the article can have an effect opposite of its intentions.

NOC: You've made some insightful points, and I intend to mash them together with a lot of other things and utilize them to the best of my ability.

Mr. Caruso: OMG YAY. And thank you for sharing your thoughtful perspective with the public. I've learned a lot from yourself and your readers, both here and at TR.

"I thought Jack, Chris, and Chatham were more upset at each other than me and no one has ever responded negatively towards me for the use of that term..."

Eh, I'm not really upset at anyone. I feel that the Greens have failed in general to make much of a difference. As I've mentioned multiple times, I would be more than happy to be proven wrong, and am open to any evidence of the contrary. But until now, nothing that's been presented has caused me to change my mind.

As for the party itself, I feel rather ambivalent.

I'm not so concerned with the reason for the failure, unless it leads to new strategies designed to negate these reasons.

I don't think the current strategy is working, and I don't think it's a great strategy. If you do, all the best to you, hope you prove me wrong. But I'm going to work on things that I feel will be more constructive.

Good to know the article can have an effect opposite of its intentions.

In fairness, outside of the portion I quoted the article was actually pretty good. That's why I didn't mention Mathews by name--I didn't really intend to criticize him, just the sentiments he'd expressed in this one excerpt, which are ones I've been seeing often lately as liberals have been waking up to what Obama's really about and scrambling to justify their credulousness.

There are a lot of things that could be done better, and that's a reason to support them, not to discount them (a statement which I might be unconsciously regurgitating from someone up-thread). In my teensy tiny experience I've recognized a few barriers formed ahead of the Augusta party due to what appears to me to be partially faulty reasoning, and another small fraction resulting from the imbalanced distribution of tasks. Coincidentally, I am a logical robot-y personality, and I've just pinpointed how I can be of use: defining a problem and determining the most efficient solution to satisfy all of the known constraints is my idea of a fun Saturday night. I would guess the types of personalities contributing to this comment stream might be the very people necessary to solve the problems magnified here.

Amanda-

Fair enough, and I think someone who's good at "defining a problem and determining the most efficient solution to satisfy all of the known constraints" is exactly what the Greens need. However, I'm looking at other options for involvement, partly because I'm not sure about the efficiency of working for a party in general, and partly because of the issues I have with Green management.

To be honest, I think people should be trying different things during this time, and bringing up what they view as weaknesses in the strategy of others. This won't lead us to all come to the same conclusion or march under a united banner, nor should it. But if we're open minded enough, hopefully it will inspire a critical look at current strategies (which don't seem to be working so well) and lead to people trying new movements, some of which will succeed, and some of which will fail.

Chatham -

Once again you've criticized the Greens for not having a good enough "strategy" (I think the strategy most years has been sound - barring the '04 Cobb sabotage with money I suspect came out of the Dems - but what they really lack are volunteers to DO THE WORK). You are proposing nothing concrete that you think would work better, other than the general idea that the Greens should adopt a strategy that would work better.

By now anyone with a few neurons to rub together would realize that the goals of a small party including losing a number of elections for a while until they get a critical mass of volunteers and attention that they eventually compete and/or win. Failing to become a major party in a few election cycles which included "Anybody But Bush" idiocy and the "ooohh he's half African" Obama-zombie phenomenon is not a general failure of the concept of Third Party politics. It seems the problem is that the Greens have been expecting the left to be rather brighter and more patient than it is.

I don't think that you are a plant of the Obama '12 campaign but if you were and I were your supervisor this is the sort of thing I would encourage you to type... vague defeatist disinvitation for left-leaning people to enter electoral arena, and yielding of same to the Democrats so that they may continue to triangulate anyone not owned by big business into oblivion.

It seems to be a protracted excuse for not trying, and when you do this in a public forum it seems to be to encourage others not to try right along with you. Good luck attempting the other unnamed project(s) that you say are a better use of your time with the two major parties and private capital arrayed against you. If you don't succeed on all fronts in a decade against enormous odds I imagine you'll be fine with the rest of us calling you a waste of time and a a failure.

Amanda -

Good for you! I too am redoubling my Green efforts this week. I am actually attempting a harebrained scheme to hijack a Democrat event to give out Green lit and make the case against voting for the bastards again. Now is so the time for that.

No One -

Most of your most recent post is not worth responding to. You're willing to try nothing, which apparently frees up a lot of time to criticize the people who are trying something that strikes me as 100% necessary. You can go declare rhetorical victory if you like, I don't care.

The mere fact that you continue to suggest that there's a difference between the party running local and state-wide (which includes in both categories in most states federal) candidates suggests that you don't really know what you're talking about. I am an elected office holder currently (Minority Inspector of Elections, a seat which DOES at the most local level possible give me direct control over the collection abd reporting of votes where I live) and I have been a candidate for federal office with Green endorsement who beat a challenge to our ballot access. Additionally in case anyone cares I have a political science degree.

You're not teaching me anything on this issue, and I don't believe for these reasons that you can. Like Chatham you seem to be just coming up with rhetorical excuses for why people shouldn't bother trying, and Obama, Pelosi and the DLC thank you profusely for your uncompensated endorsement of their default position.

Failing to become a major party in a few election cycles which included "Anybody But Bush" idiocy and the "ooohh he's half African" Obama-zombie phenomenon is not a general failure of the concept of Third Party politics.

Exactly. The main problem with Chatham's critique is that it proceeds as though the past 10+ years of electoral history didn't happen at all--it would be like analyzing U.S. industrial output from 1935-1945 without mentioning World War II. The fact is that in 2000 the Greens had a great strategy that came at a perfect moment in the trajectory of the left. Millions of people had rejected corporate-owned politics (remember the 1999 WTO protests in Seattle) and were refusing to go along anymore with DLC-style Democratic conservatism. In addition to running candidates at all levels throughout the country, many of whom won election, the Greens ran a high-profile presidential candidate who went all out against the Democrats and brought a huge amount of attention to the party.

The Democrats were scared shitless by that strategy--so much so that they used every dirty trick they could to keep Nader off the ballot in 2004, since (unlike the Greens) they understood who was driving the threat to their stranglehold on the left vote. But 2004 demonstrated that the left had abandoned any pretense of independence from the Democrats and had fully embraced the self-marginalizing notion that it had nowhere else to go. And the Greens, for their part, committed electoral suicide by nominating a non-entity for president who ran a safe-state campaign (to be clear: safe for Democrats). They essentially became a caucus of the Democratic Party and erased themselves from the national stage. It really was a crying shame.

So by 2008 the Democrats knew they didn't need to bother mounting a major fight against the Greens or Nader, since between their total success at selling the morality play of 2000 and the inability of identity politics-obsessed liberals to look beyond Obama's race and rhetoric to his actual policies, the left was entirely captured. And they were right. There's a slow awakening now from the foolishness of the past decade, but as the excerpt I cited shows, liberals still have a long way to go just to get back to where they were in 2000. That's a decade wasted, and a decade we didn't have to waste.

I don't think that you are a plant of the Obama '12 campaign but if you were and I were your supervisor this is the sort of thing I would encourage you to type... vague defeatist disinvitation for left-leaning people to enter electoral arena [...]

Agreed, and the vagueness and ahistorical nature of the carping just makes it look that much more like Democratic concern trolling, whether it is or not.

QuizmasterChris:

“The party USUALLY DOES get on the ballot, despite all of this.”

Well, that's certainly not the conclusion I reached after reading your commentary. You spent a lot of words talking about how dirty tricks keep the Greens off the ballot on Pennsylvania, and that sort of nonperformance seemed much like what happened to the Greens in Oregon after the 2000 election (they pretty much vanished from view after Nader folded up his tent, then spent the 2004 election season gazing sedately into their navels while the Kerry Edsel blundered around the state.)

“How is what happens now working for you - voting for Democrats or staying home?”

I don't do either of those, so I'm not really qualified to say how they would work for me.

I'm not sure I understand this. I say that I don't think the Greens have a viable strategy and have failed, you disagree, but then say:

"And the Greens, for their part, committed electoral suicide by nominating a non-entity for president who ran a safe-state campaign (to be clear: safe for Democrats). They essentially became a caucus of the Democratic Party and erased themselves from the national stage."

Wait, what? Do you view that as a success or a viable strategy?

Saying "best of luck working for the Greens, hope you succeed, I think at this time different multiple strategies should be tried and we should be open minded about which is the most successful" is Democratic concern trolling? Really? Where can I find these Democratic partisans that support people trying different strategies?

You guys are starting to sound like Democrats here with the whole, "this is the only viable way of making a political difference, not supporting the Greens is just helping the Dems." Replace Greens with Dems and Dems with Republicans, and you get the same kind of assumption that one group owns your vote as the Democratic party has.

This just reinforces my disinterest in working for a party:

A: "The Dems act like they own your vote, and that you can't make up your own mind and vote for someone else."
B: "Yeah, I know, right?"
A: "Yeah, but the Greens actually do own your vote, so don't vote for anyone else, OK?"

Boys, let's settle this like men. With swords.

Believe me, Amanda, there are times when I'd prefer that.

Chatham: I expected this kind of response, since it's just what you've done throughout the thread. You misrepresent or ignore the substantive points people make and then return to your trusty "viable strategy" line, acting as though nobody's addressed it--particularly funny in this case since I talked about multiple approaches the Greens have adopted, good and bad, and (in both this comment and others) have made it crystal clear which one I think was the right one. I don't know if this comes from honest confusion, but the fact that you keep tossing out absurd straw men like "the Greens actually do own your vote" rather than responding to what's actually being said doesn't exactly inspire confidence that you're interested in having a genuine discussion.

You do seem to be interested in tossing mud on the Greens, though. Despite the lip service about "inspiring a critical look at current strategies", what you've actually been saying--over and over--is that the Greens are a failure, they have no strategy other than sitting around complaining and doing nothing while they wait for the Democrats to spontaneously change their minds, and none of that matters anyway because even if they win they'll just be corrupted. (By the way, despite being such unmitigated failures who have no interest in doing anything other than complaining and occasionally running pointless symbolic campaigns, they've nonetheless managed to put 135 Greens in office at various levels around the country, at current count.)

If you think that's a good use of your time that's certainly your prerogative, but don't expect it to be taken even as worthwhile criticism, much less constructive.

Chatham -

I think the Green strategy at the presidential level was a failure in 2004. That's the long and short of that.

It so happens that it's not at all clear that most Greens in the country agreed with the Cobb nomination. Some did and a lot didn't. What did happen was that at the national convention in Milwaukee in 2004 some 800-odd people who showed up decided it would be a better idea to nominate Cobb and avoid running against Kerry in close races as opposed to using the late Peter Camejo's delegates transferred to Nader.

What the exact motivations for the Cobb people were were varied (some people wanted to show the world that they didn't need Nader to organize and others were just carrying water for the Deomcrats) and how the Cobb delegates were funded and so forth are interesting questions. Where are these people now? Would they have done things differently in hindsight? I don't know and I don't know.

At some level going forward I don't care as this is a situation with a near 0% chance of happening again for a number of reasons.

Chris,

Actually, I am one of those people who showed up in Milwaukee in 2004 hoping to run Camejo for President and ending up voting for Cobb. Where am I now? Still organizing with the Green Party, and working on what some would call a "pointless symbolic campaign" and others would call "raising our profile." See sfgreenparty.org for more info. And yes, the Democrats are still using the same tricks against us at all levels: invalidating our signatures because the handwriting supposedly isn't legible enough, and keeping us out of debates despite inviting lesser-known and lesser-supported Democrats.

I'm on vacation (after 2 months of spending my free time gathering signatures!) so I don't have time to follow this thread closely, but I wanted to point out that the narrative of David Cobb being the "safe states" candidate is a myth. Just as mythical as the narrative that Nader "spoiled" Gore in 2000.

If you're interested, Google my discussion with John on this blog from a few years back. I corrected him when he brought up this assertion before, but evidently it didn't sink in. I think it was in response to Amato's book (which, like most of what you can find on the internet, was based on inaccurate secondhand accounts about what happened in Milwaukee).

Actually, JMC, in that thread you disagreed about Medea Benjamin's role in getting Cobb/LaMarche nominated (and that disagreement basically came down to semantics). While I appreciate your opinion on that issue, it's just a fact that Cobb/LaMarche ran a safe states campaign. Here's Cobb blessing strategic lesser-evil voting against his own Green Party ticket:

DAVID COBB: I will, however, in swing states, tell voters "vote your conscience". [...] If a progressive voter in a swing state you are genuinely terrified of four more years of George Bush, then I understand why you may hold your nose and vote against Bush, not for Kerry, but against Bush [...].

And in this quote he explicitly said not just that he "understands" but that people "should weigh their options":

COBB: The reality is this: listeners in roughly 40 states, they're called 'safe states,' but I call them neglected states. The corporate parties and the corporate candidates are not going to actively campaign there because they are, quote, 'safe.' In those states, I say, 'Progressives, don't waste your vote. Invest your vote.' A vote for John Kerry in those states won't help to un-elect Bush. All it will do is signal support for the Democratic Leadership Council and the corporate policies that it represents. In the other states, I'm acknowledging that there is a profound responsibility on the citizens, and they should weigh their options and decide how to spend their very precious vote.

Cobb's attempt to claim that his verbal endorsement of the need to "un-elect Bush" didn't amount to a safe state (oops, "neglected state") strategy is the kind of laughable disingenuousness that wouldn't pass for a second if we were talking about similar statements by Obama or Gore. If Cobb honestly felt that way he had no business running as a Green.

And there's no ambiguity at all when it comes to LaMarche, who famously wouldn't even commit to voting for herself:

Pat LaMarche, the Green Party's newly nominated candidate for vice president, said Tuesday that her top priority is not winning the White House for her party, but ensuring that President Bush is defeated. She is, in fact, so determined to see Bush lose that she would not commit to voting for herself and her running mate, Texas lawyer David Cobb.

LaMarche, who won 7 percent of the vote when she was the Green Independent candidate for governor of Maine in 1998, said she'll vote for whoever has the best chance of beating Bush.

But "if Bush has got 11 percent of the vote in Maine come November 2, I can vote for whoever I want," she said in an interview with the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram.

The selection of candidates who were so openly dedicated to protecting the Democratic Party's fortunes rather than running all out against both major parties was a huge mistake, and I'd hope that people have learned from it.

John,

Sorry, didn't get the memo about when saying groups failed is considered tossing mud and when it's acceptable. Saying the Progressive Caucus or MoveOn is a failure I suppose doesn't count (as much harsher rhetoric has been leveled against them). Apparently, saying it about the Greens does. And apparently it's fine to say that what their strategy was a huge mistake, but saying it was a failure is just bashing Greens.

"what you've actually been saying--over and over--is that:"

Alright, I'll bite. Let's look at this:

"is that the Greens are a failure"

Yes, I think if you asked any of the Greens in '99 or 2000 what 10 years in the future would constitute success and what would constitute failure, most would not view the current situation as a success. One of the main goals at the time was to get 5% of the vote and be eligible for federal matching funds. That would allow it to grow into a strong and visible third party. We failed to get 5% of the vote in 2000, and I haven't seen the Green party be much of a presence either nationally or locally. In presidential elections, the Greens are getting only a fraction of what they got in 2000. Of course, Nader is running at the same time, but a) if your former presidential candidate breaks off from your party and gathers many more votes than your own candidate, it's not a good sign and b) even Nader is getting less votes than in 2000.

You even characterize the ten years after Naders campaign with: "That's a decade wasted, and a decade we didn't have to waste." This is success?

" they have no strategy other than sitting around complaining and doing nothing while they wait for the Democrats to spontaneously change their minds"

In response to strategy, at least half of Chris's posts (probably more like 75%) have been complaining about the Dems and talking about how the failure is not one of the Greens but of liberals not voting for them. This echos the sentiments I've seen before.

"and none of that matters anyway because even if they win they'll just be corrupted."

No, I said once that "it might very well be a pyrrhic victory even if they managed to overcome the gargantuan hurdles thrown up against them and won, since as a political party they'd still be exposed to the same corrupting influences." And you and Chris have said that in 2004 this happened. So, this happened even when the Greens were a small blip on the radar, but once they become a national party and the focus is on them, they'll be incorruptible? Because...why?

I think I've stated pretty will my position that more of a focus on local organizing is needed, and that I haven't seen that. If someone wants to come in and give pretty solid evidence that the Greens have been doing this, I'd be more than happy to hear it. But if someone challenges your party and your response is 75% "the other side sucks", well, that usually isn't something that really inspires people to join.

And I'll ask you once again - how does "I'm not going to work for the Greens, I'm going to find another way to change things" "That's just what the Democrats want to hear!" differ from "I'm not going to work for the Democrats, I'm going to find another way to change things" "That's just what the Republicans want to hear!" ?

Chatham: I think I've stated pretty will my position that more of a focus on local organizing is needed, and that I haven't seen that.

Yes, despite the fact that I just pointed out to you that Greens currently occupy 135 offices throughout the country at all levels--rent board, school board, city council, mayor, etc--and even gave you the link so you could see for yourself. I expected you'd ignore that in your response, since as much as you claim you'd be "more than happy to hear" about successes the Greens have had in local organizing, you just disregard anything that contradicts your preferred narrative of whiny Green failures. Again, that tells me you're not interested in a genuine discussion.

And I'll ask you once again...

You haven't asked me before, Chatham, but regardless, I'm not going to spend time answering questions about things I didn't say.

And you and Chris have said that in 2004 this happened. So, this happened even when the Greens were a small blip on the radar, but once they become a national party and the focus is on them, they'll be incorruptible?

You're just making stuff up out of whole cloth again; saying the Greens adopted a misguided strategy in the 2004 election in no way equates to saying they've fallen under the "same corrupting influences" as the Democrats and Republicans, as I'm sure you understand, and nobody's so much as implied that the Greens are "incorruptible".

These are exactly the kinds of misrepresentations you've used to construct your straw men throughout this thread. I still think it's possible there's more confusion than dishonesty in that, but at this point you've definitely exhausted the benefit of the doubt.

"These are exactly the kinds of misrepresentations you've used to construct your straw men throughout this thread."

Pot. Kettle. Black.

"You're just making stuff up out of whole cloth again"

Uh, OK. Mind telling me what I made up?

"saying the Greens adopted a misguided strategy in the 2004 election in no way equates to saying they've fallen under the "same corrupting influences" as the Democrats and Republicans, as I'm sure you understand..."

"even if they managed to overcome the gargantuan hurdles thrown up against them and won, since as a political party they'd still be exposed to the same corrupting influences."

This isn't that hard. Saying that a party would be EXPOSED TO the same corrupting influences IF THEY WON is not the same as saying that they ALREADY HAVE fallen under such influences. For someone that goes on and on about intentionally misreading comments and constructing straw men, you might want to, uh, stop intentionally misreading comments and constructing straw men.

"...and nobody's so much as implied that the Greens are "incorruptible"."

So then what are you guys so upset about? We all agree that they could be susceptible to corruption, but we aren't allowed to say it?

" I expected you'd ignore that in your response, since as much as you claim you'd be "more than happy to hear" about successes the Greens have had in local organizing, you just disregard anything that contradicts your preferred narrative of whiny Green failures."

I didn't include this in my response (even though I was tempted to comment that it took Green supporters 90 posts to bring up local office holders) because when I looked it up I saw that the Greens had 70+ office holders in 2000, and though 135 is certainly an improvement, it's a far cry from being the high profile third party people were hoping for in 2000, and doesn't even make it the third party with the most current office holders. And again, if you think of this as a success, then why are you even referring to this as a wasted decade? If you think that the Greens did a good job given the conditions and that the main failure is one of Democratic voters, that's fine, but how is that not "continuing with politics as usual and and hoping that the Democrats change their mind"?

It's pretty simple. You either think that:
A) The last decade has been relatively successful for progressive politics, in which case I'd disagree with you (but in which case you'd disagree with you two).

B) The last decade was a failure of progressive politics.

If B), then you can either think that:
1. The Green Party didn't fail the last decade, it's strategy was basically sound, it's the fault of the Democratic voters and other progressives who didn't support them. Fine, but in that case you are just doing the same things and waiting for voters to change their minds. I have no interest in this.

2. The Green Party failed in the past decade for a variety of reasons. It could have been a lot more successful, but it made mistakes. This is my opinion.

"You haven't asked me before, Chatham, but regardless, I'm not going to spend time answering questions about things I didn't say."

Verbatim? No. You said this:

"Agreed, and the vagueness and ahistorical nature of the carping just makes it look that much more like Democratic concern trolling, whether it is or not."

Criticism of Greens is dismissed as looking like "Democratic concern trolling", much as criticism of the Dems is dismissed as helping the Republicans.

Chatham -

When you post several times that the Greens have a poor strategy and need a better one, but fail in all of that to come up with even the most minor suggestion in that direction, I assume you're just arguing on the internet to argue at this point. By default you yield all political offices to the two major parties and choose to work on your (conveniently unnamed multiple times) other projects with them holding power at all levels of American government.

The Democrats have held the White House and both houses of Congress simultaneously and when this happens we get free trade agreements, war, increased Pentagon spending and attacks on single payer healthcare. This simply would not happen with Greens holding the same seats and I reject the notion that the parties are essentially the same because of that out of hand.

On the whole, as I've told you already on this thread more than once, I find that the Greens' strategy has been fine barring the Cobb fiasco. What they are lacking are enough people to do campaign work and enough people voting for them who should know well enough to do so.

So what do you do? You use a public forum to discourage people from working for them and voting for them. Thanks for that, very helpful. You might not be a Democrat troll but that would leave the only other option: attention-seeking wet blanket with a negative world view. You offer no constructive criticism, which might be because you can't think of anything the Greens could do better (if that's the case then maybe you need to stop suggesting that they can in the vaguest terms possible.)

There isn't even any logic to claiming that John and I are stating the Greens are the only game in the same way that the Dems do if A) you aren't simply shilling for the Dems and/or B) you suggest that all party politics is subject to corruption, therefore a waste of time. You really need to pick one and stick with it.

As I've already told you in this thread, the Democrats lie when they say that there isn't another party to their left to vote for, upon which their triangulation rests (i.e. the Greens exist). Unfortunately we don't live somewhere like Italy with a wide variety of left parties to choose from, and the plain, objective fact of the matter is that the Greens are it right now in the US (i.e. I don't know of any other left party with that level of organization in the US - do you?).

JMC -

I don't think that there's any question that in 2004 Cobb = safe states and Nader = running a 50 state campaign. In addition to the conclusive evidence John posted, I recall that Cobb wasn't even going to campiagn in certain states where Kerry and Bush were close.

All -

Comparison of how the 2000 Nader campaign expanded the Greens and how the 2004 Cobb campaign contracted the Greens shows me why having candidates at the highest levels as possible is a necessary component to people taking you seriously as a political party.

Incidentally the Green project in 2011 in Philadelphia is running Cheri Honkala for Sheriff. Ms. Honkala is head of the Kensignton Rights Welfare Union, Kensington being a large, poor section of the city. I should think the obvious reason for running here for this office has to do prmarily with foreclosures. I should point out again that city-wide offices here require more signature gathering (thousands more) and pollwatching over a larger area than congressional seats do, before anyone goes off on how great it is that the Greens are "lowering" their sites on an easier local seat.

I really need not to post before having any caffeine.

That's the "Kensington Welfare Rights Union."

Chatham: And again, if you think of this as a success, then why are you even referring to this as a wasted decade?

I'm glad you re-ran this deception since I didn't call you out on it last time (it's hard to choose when you pack so many into each comment). Here's the quote of mine you keep misrepresenting:

There's a slow awakening now from the foolishness of the past decade, but as the excerpt I cited shows, liberals still have a long way to go just to get back to where they were in 2000. That's a decade wasted, and a decade we didn't have to waste.

It was crystal clear that I was talking about liberals in general, not the Greens--but that hasn't stopped you from twice pretending otherwise. This is not only an example of your dishonesty but your inability to think in anything but black and white (as evidenced by your absolute dichotomies of success/failure, win/lose, etc). You can't seem to fathom that someone can think the Greens made a huge mistake in 2004 without dismissing the entire party as a failure, or see that responsibility for the problems of the US left over the past decade might actually be apportioned to different people and different organizations in different measures at different times; for you, everything is just another opportunity to bleat your mantra about what a failure the Green Party is.

Saying that a party would be EXPOSED TO the same corrupting influences IF THEY WON is not the same as saying that they ALREADY HAVE fallen under such influences.

I was responding directly to your claim that "you and Chris have said that in 2004 this happened", Chatham; you specifically claimed that we'd said this had already happened with the Greens in 2004 and then challenged me as to why, given that damning admission of mine, I thought they'd be "incorruptible" in the future.

It's amazing to me how you just lie and lie like this. I still vaguely wonder if it's intentional or if you're just so addled that you can't recall from one moment to the next what you or anyone else says, but it's an academic curiosity at this point; whether you're an actual troll or just someone with a towering grudge against the Greens who can't follow a simple conversation, you're not worth the time.

Posted by: Quizmasterchris | Sunday, August 07, 2011 at 07:44 AM

Most of your most recent post is not worth responding to.

Since you all-out ignore my actual statements, I suppose actually describing your irrational contempt is a step-up.

You're willing to try nothing

And that's simply not true.

Full stop.

I never said that. I never even said that there weren't alternatives to what I was saying (though I don't think there are many). I critiqued YOUR strategy and gave ONE alternative. Chris, what you wrote just isn't in my statements. At all.

Go on. Look for the rampant exclusivity that you're imagining to justify your hostility.

This is in your head. These are your creations. You're talking to yourself.

You can go declare rhetorical victory if you like, I don't care.

You care very much, hence the passive-aggressive nastiness. And it is quite all right and mature to care about discussions about serious things, but it's not cool to play "let's pretend" with posts.

At bottom, none of your venom was justified. None. You threw out personal insults for no reason in lieu of responding to posts. You don't want to respond? Perfectly okay. But being a dick about it all and claiming that said dickishness is a replacement for actual engagement is just embarassing.

And you could pull back from it all and say "we agree to disagree" even without actually addressing my points, but instead, you go for personal attacks. Dick-waving contests don't suit you. You insist on acting like I'm a Kos attack dog, but you're the one bringing Kos in here. Fine. Whenever the Greens come up you will become a terrible person and we shouldn't talk to you; message received. Luckily, we live in different places so there will be no need to expect to have to deal with you in person on any issue whatsoever, because the greatest immediate difficulty in organizing people is dealing with someone who'd rather dominate you than talk to you. I've worked in groups that have overcome a great deal of political adversity through cunning and tenacity, but avoidance was the most effective solution to dealing with simply nasty people. I wish those in your area well. Moving right along.

Posted by: John Caruso | Sunday, August 07, 2011 at 11:11 AM

And the Greens, for their part, committed electoral suicide by nominating a non-entity for president who ran a safe-state campaign (to be clear: safe for Democrats). They essentially became a caucus of the Democratic Party and erased themselves from the national stage. It really was a crying shame.

Yup. Let's not forget that during this whole period, there was no national move on their part to tackle spoilage rates -- at least, none that anyone heard of. This is obviously not a merely "Green" concern, but systematic voter fraud is a pretty serious problem for everyone without a (R) or (D) by their name. I knew a lot of activists who felt really alone on the issue. When I first started hearing the (now fossilized yet still walking) lie that Nader caused Bush's win, I was hoping for a rebuttal from Nader, the Greens, or anyone from outside the mainstream to use this as a chance to drag into the mainstream press this essential injustice. Note that I'm not saying they should have fixed the problem in and of itself: I was hoping for just acknowledgement. I still meet conscientious people who are amazed and horrified to find out how elections often work "normally."

This was shocking to me because the revelation that the 2000 problems happened again in 2004 and created no waves for many other activists (Greens or otherwise) was indicative of a serious cultural disconnect. Again, I still wasn't looking for remedy -- baby steps -- but some decent propaganda. Eventually I was actually meeting "radical" people who were discounting the notion that spoilage rates nationwide were swinging elections, both Greens and otherwise. Even just getting factual messages out was a problem. Knowledge-wiset was a tremendously mixed bag. While everyone has gained their own, likely justified, pet peeve controversy over the last ten years, even the most simplistic factualy common narrative can't be found over any large group, and this phenomenon seems both basic and important.

No One -

You described the Greens as "floor lint." And your "alternative" to the Greens in the electoral arena seems only to be not to bother with electoral politics. That's not an alternative, that's an excuse.

You say that you'll be impressed when the Greens "get up off their ass", as if the problem the whole time has not been the laziness (?!) of the Greens who slog through ballot access and campaigning, not the laziness of Democrat stooges nor - certainly not! - the laziness of people who bitch and moan on boards like this as to why a party such as the Greens isn't working yet, and therefore they aren't going to help it work. (And you are so much smarter than the people trying on this front... watch us struggle as you take the Superior Man's route of not doing anything.)

There's nothing "passive aggressive" about me. When I encounter asshole behavior I am aggressive, thank you very much.

As stated earlier I have had a good deal of real-time experience in doing work on independent and Green political campaigns as both a worker bee and a candidate and I am an actual elected office holder. From that vantage point I view your sideline carpings as not terribly useful, nor in certain details even valid.

NOoC: ...I was hoping for a rebuttal from Nader, the Greens, or anyone from outside the mainstream to use this as a chance to drag into the mainstream press this essential injustice. Note that I'm not saying they should have fixed the problem in and of itself: I was hoping for just acknowledgement.

That's odd, because I heard about voting irregularities (including spoilage) continually after the 2000 election. Greg Palast in particular was all over it--I attended multiple lectures of his in which he talked about it, and he brought it up on his BBC show many times and talked about it in books and articles. I don't have any specific references for Nader or the Greens, but voting issues were definitely being discussed and acknowledged widely, and Nader did explicitly try to rectify voting irregularities in the 2004 Ohio election.

So maybe you just weren't hearing the same things I was.

100!

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