Monday, August 07, 2006

Green and Blue Make Red

A lot of progressives in this area are going to be playing for the Green Team this time around in the US Senate Race.

Ideologically, I don't blame them a bit. Harold Ford is not exactly my dream candidate. Truth be told, I can't read through his voting record without antacids. I stand so far to the left of him that we could only communicate through smoke signals.

But if you need a better example of why we need to stand behind him, just take a look at the Green Party.

I have no idea what Chris Lugo's financials look like. He has yet to release them. To me, the total absence of disclosure seems to fly in the face of the transparency of government that has long been a Green plank. In fact, it's a pattern I detect as I try to cross-reference Green Party candidates with known donor databases. I''ve picked five names at random from a list of their 2004 candidates for federal races, and I'm not finding anything.

But in the races where disclosures are being made, you have to try pretty damn hard to not see a disturbing pattern.

In Pennsylvania, Green candidate Carl Romanelli has raised over $66,000 to campaign against Bob Casey and Senator Rick Santorum. Okay, maybe I've used the word "raised" a little loosely. Romanelli gave $30 to his own campaign, and every other penny has come from a Rick Santorum supporter. And that's after the Santorum staff helped him gather signatures.

This is not a new strategy. Ralph Nader's 2004 presidential campaign drew significant support from the Republicans. Perhaps they were so fond of him because of the way he helped tip the scales in 2000. One in ten of Nader's 2004 donations over $1000 came from Bush/Cheney donors. Considering that 50% of Nader donors gave $200 or less, you can imagine how significant those $1000+ donors were in building up his $4.5 million.

Ideologically, we've all got a lot in common with the stated goals of the Greens. We want an end to the war in Iraq. We want better energy alternatives. We want to keep the air clean for our kids.

The problem is that by shifting towards the Greens, we undermine the only party that actually has a chance to accomplish any of that. By weakening the Democrats, we don't do anything to accomplish our goals--- All we do is increase the likelihood of uninterrupted one party rule for the next several decades while the Greens find their feet.

It's not a great chance, but there is a chance that sending Ford to the US Senate this year will give us the majority there. The people that want to impeach the president will find that useful--- It gives us subpoena power. It also means that we get to pick the committee chairmen, and I can't even begin to stress how important that is. The Republicans have been using the "They offer no ideas" meme for the last four years in relative safety--- 74% of Democrat-sponsored legislation is killed in committee.

Want an end to the war? The Republicans won't do it on their own, and the Greens carry less clout than a flea. You've got to strengthen the Democrats for that.

How about healthcare? The last time the Republicans tried to do anything about it, it was a bill to deregulate the insurance industry that would have lifted the requirements that insurance companies cover most pre-cancer screenings such as mammograms, pap smears, etc. The Democrats were only able to hold together a filibuster by a razor-thin margin to keep that from going to the House, where it most assuredly would have passed with flying colors. The Greens couldn't have done that, and the Democrats wouldn't have been able to either if the Greens had helped split a few more votes during the last election cycle. I've not seen a Democratic plan yet (They learned the mistake from the Clinton health plan--- By the time he had a chance to implement his, the previous year of Republicans bashing it had taken its toll), but it couldn't be any worse than "Let's give back every bit of progress in the war on cancer that pre-screening has given us".

Wany gays to be able to marry? Most of us progressives do, but that one's not going to happen overnight. You have to change the people first and the representatives second. Doing it the other way just means that you AND the representatives are both marginalized. I can promise you this, though--- No Democrat is going to sponsor ballot initiatives that use you as political scarecrows.

Harold Ford is far from my ideal candidate. And a vote for Chris Lugo definitely sends a statement.

Unfortunately, that statement is "I'm willing to roll my dice with the Republicans".


Mike said...

Not everybody who despises Ford is going to vote Green. Otherwise, your arithmetic is correct - but tactical.

I prefer to think long-term. I know that eventually America is going to turn over the rock and thse fat Red Roaches are going to have to scatter. (If it doesn't happen, we are in a world of trouble. So I prefer to assume it will, sooner or later.)

When that happens, I would rather see a Corker Roach go running for his life than a Ford Tick safely ensconced in the Senate for the next umpteen years sucking our liberal blood.

Flush Ford now, flush Corker later.

Either way, nothing could be worse than the Dr. Frankenstein we have at the moment.

A Republican you can see is better than one you can't.

Mike said...

And, by the way, the Roaches are already looking for their next rock to hide under.

Three months ago I was at a Republican training for local candidates. They had state and Federal level operatives there. The #1 piece of advice:

"The Democrats are going to try and make this election a referendum on Bush. At all costs, don't let that happen. Don't even talk about Bush or Iraq. Change the subject. Talk about your candidate. Talk about the person. Talk about local issues. Our polling suggests these as good issues to talk about: [list]."

That suggests to me that the Democrats SHOULD make this election a referendum on Bush and Iraq. Do you think Ford's going to do that? Hell no.

nut-meg said...

At this point, the Greens are Republican tools. I'm all for third, and even fourth and fifth arties (etc etc), but the change can't happen overnight, or even over a decade.

The Greens continue to go straight for national office, without ever attempting to first build their party on the local level. Look at Santorum's Green opponent... He's getting all hios money from Republicans, and idiots who think they are progressive are falling for it.

It is far too dangerous right now to vote for a third party in a national election. The Repugs are taking advantage of the more gullible progressives who didn't learn their lesson in 2000. Sometimes, unfortunately, you have to vote defensively.

David Holt said...

Meg, you are a girl after my own heart. If greens want to push foward their agenda, they should start at the city council and state legislature where they could actually win some. Then they could get to the point where they can run credible candidates for higher office and maybe actually win.

Scott said...

The Green Party tends to be made up of people (educated, wealthy, white) who don’t need anything from the system and therefore have no immediate stake in who has power in government. If you are someone who needs health care now, needs protections for your low-wage job, or mental health services for your children, you don’t have time to be screwing around with a group that is going to stand on principle and get 1% of the vote. The Greens may be smarter, they may not take corporate money, they may drink fancier beer, but working class voters (who get it) need power now and they almost always need to seek out the most direct vehicle to get that, which is still the Democratic Party ineffective or not.

Behind all the rhetoric, elections are competitions for power and therefore should be messy and involve compromise. There is no honor in claiming to be “above” the current system. If saying you won’t take any campaign contributions means you have a zero percentage chance of winning then that means you have zero percent chance of impacting the power dynamics in favor of the working class. Voting 3rd party is fine, just don’t pretend that you are moving the political climate any closer to a day when power rests in the hands of ordinary people. That is going to take mass movements of people and voters most of whom are going to vote for the political group that gets results. The Democratic Party has been incompetent and sluggish recently but, simply put, the Green Party offers absolutely ZERO chance to compete for power which means it will get ZERO results in the near future so therefore effort made on its behalf will net ZERO change.

PeskyFly said...

I'm watching other races. If it looksd like we can go it without Ford I'm casting the protest vote. If we can't I'll hold my nose. But damned if I'll hold my tongue.

Jim Maynard said...

I think Rep. Bernie Sanders, the Indepdent (ie. democratic socialist, he is a DSA member), undermines the arguments many of you are making.
Most Democrats in Vermont are gong to probably vote for Bernie for the Senate, NOT the Democrat, and Bernie Sanders has had a major impact in Congress.
We need more like him, I don't care if they are Green or Independent..
Of course the problem is the "two-party" system, which both parties keep going and try to stop the "third parties"... too bad.
But I will will NOT vote for that Bastard Harold Ford Jr. and I don't see how any Democratc with a conscience could...
I'm sorrry, but when you compare HArold ford Jr.'s platform to Chris Lugo's I still don't see how you can vote for Ford jr.

Jim Maynard said...

I understand your (and the Communist Party's) argument about getting the Repubs out of control of congress, but at this point I'm more afraid of conservative Democrats like Harold Ford Jr. being in control of congress... I don't see how rewarding conservative democrats with our vote is going to make the Democratic Party more "progressive", they probably laugh at all the lemmings who follow THE PARTY line.

Jim Maynard said...

Again, I wish Democrats would quit attacking the Green Party and focus on what is wrong with the Democratic Party that is losing the support of so many people.. Is that the Green Part's fault. NO IT IS NOT. The problem is in the Democratic Party, not the Green Party.

Freedonian said...

I think Rep. Bernie Sanders, the Indepdent (ie. democratic socialist, he is a DSA member), undermines the arguments many of you are making.
Most Democrats in Vermont are gong to probably vote for Bernie for the Senate, NOT the Democrat, and Bernie Sanders has had a major impact in Congress.

I don't quite know that "major impact" is a phrase I would use to describe Sanders. He's well-liked and well-respected (To my knowledge), but his positioning keeps him from being a real impact player.

In the Senate, he will help us on up and down votes. The problem is, we need people up there that help us get up and down votes. We could probably win up and down votes here and there today--- I can name five Republicans that are as likely to vote with us on any given issue as against us (The GOP has to be just as frustrated with them as we are with Ford, Lieberman, Landrieux, Ben Nelson, et al). The problem is that with Republicans in charge of the committees, nothing of ours gets referred to the floor.

We can't keep playing defense. We've been playing it for four years now in the Senate and twelve in the House. I doubt I have to recount all the ground we've lost as a nation because of that.

Jim, I want you to be able to get married someday. If I had it my way, you could have years ago. Either that, or a ban on heterosexual marriage. You guys don't deserve to be any happier than the rest of us!

What you say about the conservative Dems--- That's a valid point. I don't like them any more than you do. I've said it on Cracker's site, and I'll say it here--- Give me a magic wand, and I'll give you a Senate that consists of fifty Paul Wellstone clones and fifty Russ Feingold clones (Maybe 60 and 40 respectively--- Wellstone was a God in my book).

But we've got to bring the nation around to our way of thinking for it to happen.

Did you ever read the book What's the Matter With Kansas? It's quite an interesting piece of work. Kansas was not always the conservative hotbed that it is now. 40 years ago, Sam Brownback would have been considered a lunatic (Not that he's far from it now).

The change in Kansas didn't happen because some ultraconservative ran for office and everyone thought he was a swell guy. The change in Kansas happened because a relatively small group of social conservatives worked their asses off and rebuilt the political landscape.

It's never easy to hear from your side of the table, and I can tell you, it's not easy to say from mine. Some of the rights that you rightfully want and I want for you are only going to come about if we rebuild the political landscape the same way the asshats of Kansas did four decades ago.

It won't take us as long as it did them. We've got the superior message. Ours is a message of inclusion and acceptance. Theirs was not. Ours is a message that calls upon the inner angels that you'll find in most human beings. Theirs played to the lowest common denominator.

But it will not happen overnight. And if we splinter, we marginalize you, me, and everyone else that is willing to put the time and effort into building a better America.

Do we have to deal with the social conservatives now? Unfortunately, yes we do. Electing a genuine liberal to a statewide office here is a long term strategy. Right now, we have to find a way to play a decent game when we've been handed some shitty cards. And the only way to play that hand well enough to even stay in the game is to stand together.

Freedonian said...

Not everybody who despises Ford is going to vote Green. Otherwise, your arithmetic is correct - but tactical.

I didn't really mean to imply that. Sorry if I did.

When that happens, I would rather see a Corker Roach go running for his life than a Ford Tick safely ensconced in the Senate for the next umpteen years sucking our liberal blood.

The Corker Roach would have no reason to scurry. His guys would be safely in control of all the committees. He would be very confortable, getting fatter as we scramble for crumbs that fall from the table.

That suggests to me that the Democrats SHOULD make this election a referendum on Bush and Iraq. Do you think Ford's going to do that? Hell no.

He can't. He's in The Kerry Crunch. Ford thought it was still 2002 until a few weeks ago, and he didn't realize it was safe to step away from Dubya until those approvals reached sub-Nixonian levels.

I'll neversay I like the guy. I'll say that at this moment in time, he's in our best interest.

He's our Lieberman. Unfortunately, TN is in no shape to vote for a Ned Lamont yet.

Freedonian said...

At this point, the Greens are Republican tools. I'm all for third, and even fourth and fifth arties (etc etc), but the change can't happen overnight, or even over a decade.


I would be in favor of a third party--- Just as long as it's a centrist party.

You and i are both looking at the current Republican playbook and reaching the same conclusion--- We can't allow the Greens to flank us. Over the long term, I would prefer that we adopt more of the Green platform to keep that from happening. We just can't do it this year.

And you and David are both right--- The Greens are focusing a lot of attention on campaigns that they can't even begin to raise enough money to win. Respectable wins on smaller levels of government would serve them much better than being used in bigger ones.

Freedonian said...


Your analysis is so spot on that I can only say "Bravo".


By all means, do what you gotta do. We're picking up seats this year. The only question is how many. I don't see us gaining enough to retake the Senate without pulling of an upset in TN, though.

Jim Maynard said...

NO ONE has yet explained to me how voting for a right-wing conservative Democrat is going to do anything to help progressive Democrats even in the LONG RUN. You are rewarding, with your vote, a conservative spineless Democrat who would sell out his own constituents, poor blacks, as well as gays, etc. to get elected. Its' right out of the DLC/Clinton Playbook, and you reward them by voting for them. Do you reward a child for bad behavior? No, then why in the hell do you keep rewarding Democratic politicians for their bad behavior.

It seems very simple, just compare candidates and vote for the candidate and party that is supporting your goals and principles, if that is Phil Bredesen and Harold Ford Jr., vote for them and reward them for defending your beliefs and principles.
I will not give them my vote.
If a Democrat wants my support or vote, they will earn it by standing for Democratic values.
Your vote is your political reward for what the candidate stands for.. so if you want to reward Ford jr. for his stands on church/state, gay rights, war, tax cuts, go ahead and vote for him.. but STOP atacking those us who vote our conscience and stand by what we believe and don't cave in to THE PARTY mentality.

Evil said...

I will only say that you guys should really watch the ads Harold is running. I think they are very strong attacks on Bush and the Republicans.

Now that he has an opponent those attacks can be more centered on him, but don't act like Harold hasn't said anything bad about the W.

Scott Banbury said...

I'm a Green and while I really don't agree with many of Junior's positions, I will carefully consider my vote and publlicly expressed opinions as the vote nears.

If Junior looks like he's well ahead (doubtful) I'll probably touch Lugo's name just for the warm squishy feeling of voting for my principles.

Third parties absolutely must start locally. Running for statewide or national office without an existing, well developed party apparatus is somewhat akin to pissing in the wind. The only way for Greens to ever win statewide is to establish outlets in every region and major locality.

But local races are tough too, just ask anybody who has gone door to door in July. It's much easier to get yourself on one of those slick, glossy "ballots" handed out by the compensated "volunteers" paid for by the reigning partisans.

For a look at and links to some of the other Greens running for statewide or federal office check out Timberoo

Scott said...

Bernie Sanders is actually not a good example because he got destroyed in his first 6 or so times running for statewide seats. It wasn't until he ran for Mayor of Burlington and actually got a record of being effective, that the voters of that area were willing to elect him. Let the Green Party get some results around here and then it's a vote that makes sense.

If you don't like Ford, don't vote for him. But at least admit that that vote is only a lone protest, not part of some vital larger movement. The idea that movement for social and economic justice will be set back by a vote for Ford gives too much credit to him and not enough to people who actually need justice (most of whom could care less about the Green Party or the DSA, sorry to say). There is such a hint of elitism in the mantra that just because a platform is better or more progressive that should automatically translate into votes without any of the blood, sweat, and tears of party building. I generally refuse to vote for anyone who thinks they should get political power just because they are smarter than the other candidate.

And on the point about the vote being a political reward for the candidate is only slightly true since the advent of television. Throughout most of United States history, your vote is a vote for a party and individuals didn't matter. Most candidates for national level office were marketed by party identification (because 75% of people who voted never even saw a picture of the guy let alone being familiar with his ideas) and almost everyone voted straight ticket with that party affiliation. Only television has given us the rock star politician who can give the illusion that they are bigger than their party.

Anonymous said...

Dear Freedonian Readers,

Hello, my name is Chris Lugo and I am the Green Party of Tennessee candidate for US Senate. I would like to say first of all thank you for your thoughtful correspondence on issues of how to vote. I would like to encourage you to vote your conscience.

If you feel that it is important to vote for a candidate, even if you don't believe in his particular brand of values, because you feel it is for the good of your party, then I encourage you to act in that way.

By all means vote your conscience.

I would like to respond to this discussion about the other candidates in the race. I have vowed not to publicly mudsling and have done my best to avoid an open critique of the other candidates or the other parties. I am not feeling that such actions are particularly useful or beneficial for the progressive community.

I don't think that it is Greens vs Democrats. I think that it is Greens and Progressive Democrats. This coalition has worked well in other states and I think it will work in Tennessee. I support progressive candidates and progressive causes, whether they are Democrat or Green. For instance, I am excited to hear that Steve Cohen, who has been a key voice on so many progressive issues in Tennessee, is in line to become your next Congressional representative. I have interviewed Steve on many occassions and impressed by his frankness and sincerity as well as by his willingness to lend himself to issues he believes in.

I will not engage in mudslinging on this forum or any other forum regarding Harold Ford Jr. The reason I am running in this race is simple. We have spent over $300 billion dollars on the war in Iraq. We have killed over one hundred thousand Iraqi people. We have sacrificed over 2500 American lives. We have left an entire nation in ruin and we have done this based on a lie. I will not vote for any candidate who supports or has supported war. I will work to bring peace and to end war. This is what I have dedicated my life to for the past many years in Nashville with the Nashville Peace and Justice Center and the Nashville Peace Coalition and this is what I am dedicated to doing as a candidate for public office. There is no other candidate who is willing to make a commitment to do this in the Senate race this year, although a majority of Tennesseans support ending the war.

There are no other candidates in the race this year who truly represent a progressive voice. I understand what a progressive voice means because I have been dedicated for the past eighteen years to the progressive cause. I believe that this voice needs to be present in the election this year.

Of course I encourage you to vote your conscience and to do what you think is best. I am not running in this raise to subvert the Democratic candidate. I work with Democrats in Nashville. Many of my friends are Democrats. I am not running against a person, rather I am running for an issue. This is why I am in the race this year because I want peace and I want there to be a voice for progressives to consider when they vote in November.

Thanks for your consideration.

Chris Lugo
Green Party of Tennessee
Candidate for US Senate

Jim Maynard said...

I agree with you Freedonian, and others, that ultimately, as long as we are stuck with this horrible two-party system (that needs to be changed in the future to allow more parties to compete), we have to move the Democratic Party to the LEFT.
I don't see the Green Party really being the major opposition party either, but I think it can be a tool to change the Democratic Party. The Green Party gives progressives and the Democratic Left a choice when the DLC (as Jesse Jackson calls them, the Democratic Leisure Class), pushes forward Harold Ford Jr.s. We dont have to vote for their candidates, we can vote for real progressive candidates. That means the Democrats may loose elections when they don't have candidates acceptable to Democrats who stand by their principles and values when they vote.
The problem with YOUR stragegy, is that you say we should vote for them anyway just so the Dems can get control of Congress. If we keep voting for these conservative Democrats, the DLC gains more and more power and their strategy of taking democratic voters for granted and erasing the differences between the parties wins. Even if the Democrats took control, with conservative Dems like Harold Ford Jr., will they impeach Bush? NO. Will they support universal health insurance? NO. Will they stand up to the theocractic christian right? No. So I don't see this as a very "progressive" strategy at all.
I think Harold ford Jr. is one of the most DANGEROUS Demcratic candidates running for office. I think he is dangerous for the Democratic Party, and dangerous for democracy. He as all the signs of a politician who will do anything and take any position to gain political power. I think it should be a priority of progressive Democrats to stop him NOW. Once he is in the Senate, it will be a disaster for the Democratic Party.
You keep saying gays won't be able to marry with Republicans in control of Congress. That's true, and you know what, we won't be able to marry with the Democrats in control either. And Harold Ford Jr. if he becomes a U.S. Senator, has already pledge his support for the Federal Marriage Amendment. The right of gays to marry is dead no matter which party is in power at this point, and we willl be no better off with Harold Ford Jr. in the Senate, in fact, I think we will be a lot worse off.
I consider it imperative to stop the bastard now.

nut-meg said...

I wonder if Lugo will vow not to take any money from Republicans. Will he vow to vet his major donors to make sure they aren't Republican fronts? Will he return their money if they turn out to be so?

Just look at the Green Party candidate running in PA, I believe his name is Dick Rantorum. He has gotten most, if not all of his money from right wing Republicans. I haven't seen any polling on that race, but if the incumbent wins, the Green Party will be over forever.

The Republican's backing of the Green Party should be a sign. A vote for a Green is a Republican vote. So-called "Progressives" who vote Green are voting against every progressive issue. I'd rather not vote at all.

I doubt the Green Party candidate will gain enough of a following to throw another election, it's just the principle of the thing. I refuse to fall for what is plainly a Republican divide and conquer tactic.

The Green Party doen't want to be bothered with local politics. They don't want to bother to build the party. They just want to grab at national office and will probably continue to do so until they fizzle out (Reform Party anyone?). Right now, they serve as a spoiler. That's all.

Jim Maynard said...

Chris has already said that he does not and will not knowingly take contributions from Republicans who trying to use him to undermine the Democrats..
Now to ask him not to take any money from Republicans is impossible, unless Paypal adds an option for party identification, and I dont think it would be fair to forbit Green Party candidates from accepting any donations unless you are willling to make the same requirement of the Democrat. and believe me Harold Ford Jr. is getting GOP money..he may be more conservative than his Republican opponent, even some of the pro-life ding bats are supporting ford.

nut-meg said...

Im not talking about individual lsmall donations. I'm talking about huge donations from Republican PACs. It's not hard to find out where those come from.

I'm not wild about Ford either. But I'll just not vote at all before I'd vote Republican/Green.

Jim Maynard said...

Well Chris Lugo has NO HUGE donations from any Republican PAC...
And I agree the Green Party should not take any big PAC donations from any Republican organziation, I don't think they would want that either..
I think they were side-swipped (?) by the Santorum nuts in PA.
Most Green Party activists are just as upset as you are about that..

nut-meg said...

Oh I'm sure the real Green Party people are horrified. They better do something quick before they totally lose their party.