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Monday, December 19, 2005

Greens Teach Dems How 2B Opp. Party

Updated 12/23 Note: Previously published on MyDD this afternoon, this article got my account there locked. Sheese! So much for democracy and free speech among Democrats!

I'm holding in my hand a newspaper article (covered below) that wonderfully illustrates the very essence of why Democrats should be thanking us Greens for teaching them how to be an opposition party instead of persecuting us for not being Democrats. Can you say "coopetition" or "coalition? Really the Dems and all committed progressives should welcome the presence of effective alternative progressive parties because we stake out difficult gadfly positions and issues which in turn provides political cover and lots of maneuvering room for the Dems.

Allies are what I see when I look at the Dems (and even the progressive Republicans -- and yes they do exist, though largely drowned out by the Reichwing currently). Respectable rivals and potential allies are how I view all reasonable and constitionally loyal people of all political stripes, whether they be from the Dems, Repubs, Naderites, Libertarians, Reform Party, American Reform Party, Socialist PartySocialist Party USA, Peace and Freedom Party, Liberal Capitalist Party, Labor Party, Independence Party or whatever. Activist allies are allies wherever you find them, and good ideas are worth incorporating no matter who originated them You don't need to agree on every single point to work together. If we are going to solve our very diffecult problems America needs to broaden its bandwidth of discussion and include more innovative voices, not just the voices of status quo.

Respect and collegiality is a vital part of making our democracy work. Nonpartisanship and multipartisanship is key in uniting not dividing. But there are lines that when they are crossed we must oppose. There are limits to collegiality. When political operatives -- whatever their party -- cross into immoral or criminal behavior and mislead the nation an effective opposition must courageously step forward and put a stop to it. That's a place we Greens can lend a hand to our Dem and other progressive allies.

We Greens know from the outset that we have
a difficult row to hoe. We know we have little chance to win significant races in the deeply flawed winner-take-all electoral system dominant in the U.S. (as opposed to any of the enlightened forms of proportional style voting and representation systems). There is really no "percentage" in being a Green since no one is waiting in the wings anxious to pour money on our activists and politicians. So in some ways we Greens are the quintessential permanent opposition party. We hold high progressive ideals and there's no getting around that ideals are difficult to bring into mainstream acceptance in a divided and relatively pragmatic America. But upholding and advancing progressive ideals is what we are all about and we do a reasonably good job of it given our small size and limited resources.

Sometimes I'm asked by my Democratic progressive compatriots how I can be a Green. After all aren't Greens undermining the progressive movement by running candidates against Democrats, criticizing Democrats, pressing issues that are generally considered Democratic party issues and just by being our own separate party. For people like me who truly believe in democratic choice the irony of a Democrat advocating single party rule on the progressive side is obvious. Nevertheless lets take a look at this discussion. I'd like to suggest that Democrats should be embracing the Greens instead of ripping them.

San Jose Mercury News, Sunday December 18, 2005


No Republican has dared to challenge Sen. Dianne Feinstien for relection next year; but a Green Pary activist planted himself in fron of the senator's San Francisco headquarters to join the battle.

Running on an anti-war platform, Oakland writer Todd Chretian has vowed to wage a "million votes for peace campaign" to criticize Feinstein for her vote in support of the Iraq war.

Since then, however, the Democratic senator has said she was miled by the Bush White House and that she regrets her vote. Feinstein has become a stong critic of Bush's war policy and of new allegations that he authorized domestic spying. On Friday, she in effect boted against the USA Patriot Act, which she had co-sponsored after the Sept. 11 attacks.

Chretien, who was an organizer for Ralph Nader's presidential campaign, was a co-author of San Francisco's successful College Not Combat ballot initiative, which mde it city policy not to allow military recruiters onto public school campuses.

I'd say up till now Feinstein has been suprisingly conservative given that she's a Democratic Senator from blue California and even bluer San Francisco at that. Did Feinstein pick up and move towards the center based on pressure from Chretien's Green pressure from the left? Well, obviously he's not the only factor -- along with more than 10,000 people I've marched in San Francisco for peace. But certainly Chretien did indeed wield a substantial progressive influence on Feinstein. He paved the way for her and made it okay for her to take a more centerist approach. Chretien helped Feinstein get unstuck from her out-of-touch position.


Americans have adopted this all or nothing mentality where the runner up doesn't count at all. IMO this is an tremendous mistake. Let's take a quick look at a quintessential American example of competition: The Superbowl. Of course we all understand what an accomplishment winning the Super Bowl is. But what about the team that losses the Superbowl? I think we Americans actually tear our 2nd placers down to such an extent that we take winners and deform them into "Losers". How is it that we forget no matter how the team performs in the actual Superbowl game (and recalling that on any given day any team can win), what an incredible gauntlet that team had to run to get there? Does that amazing lifetime accomplishment suddenly disappear because they lose one game? Of course not -- let's not be ridiculous.

And in politics being #2 actually provides a tremendous position of leverage that an effective loyal opposition can use to dramatically alter the direction of the body politic. Just take a look at how the Republicans leveraged their minority party position to gain advantage throughout the 90's! Think of the bold (if assinine) and effective initiative of Newt Gingrich. Did Dick Armey and Gingrich retreat to the shadows when they were in the minority and only speak up when there was a serious Democratic stumble? No, of course not. Though I totally disagree with what I call the "Contract on America", who can deny that the Republicans communicated clearly and concretely what they wanted to accomplish and even though few of their particulars came to pass in the short run, in the long run they've certainly had an enormous impact.

Why is it that the Dems have adopted such a passive, nambi-pambi stance? Are Democrats just so comfortable from being the majority party for many years that they've forgotten how to be a tough, aggressive loyal opposition? Randi Rhodes told C-SPAN she asked Sen Joe Biden "Senator can you tell me why the democrats have such a problem calling him what he is, he‘s a liar. He‘s a liar. And he said, you can‘t call the President a liar. Why do you have to pick the hardest things to do? And I said to him, are you kidding me? They called Bill Clinton a liar. They called him a murderer. They called him a rapist. What is – and he said democrats have a higher standard." Higher standards??? That is nonsense! If a leader lies, and as a result thousands of people die, and then the leader is caught in the act, it is absolutely incumbent upon the opposition party to hold that leader's feet to the fire. That is the definition of an opposition party's job. Call a spade a spade. The fact is that Bush has lied to the American people on numerous times. We know that beyond the shadow of a doubt now. Follow Randi Rhodes' lead: Speak the truth and call him out as the liar he truly is.

Bush himself is the "raging tyrant unconstrained by conscience or the rules of war" he spoke of last night.


As my blogs and many others have thoroughly covered, the 2000, 2002 and 2004 elections were demonstrably stolen. The nonpartisan Government Accountability Office's (GAO) report further supports this chargeStolen by a confluence of NeoCons, corrupt opportunist business people (like former Diebold CEO Wally O'Dell), and Dominionist TheoCons who used a variety of means to ensure that the NeoCon puppet Bush was installed in office and that the Repubs would dominate in both houses. We have word now that President-In-Exile Kerry realized the election was stolen, but chose not to challenge the illegitimate vote count. Why? My speculation is that the Lupron medication he was on caused him to behave more reservedly than would be normal for his personality and according to Rober Parry and others Kerry's advisor's pushed the fear of evoking the "sore loser" image. I will always maintain that was a poor choice that didn't serve America, but I continue to respect President Kerry and continue to support Kerry's legitimacy as the usurped real President of the United States and leader of the free world.

So since the Democrats actually did win (though had their positions stolen from them), they should take heart from the vote of confidence that America gave them, fly their flag and do their job of holding the Bush regime accountable.

So if those of us of the Fiercehearted Faction, whether Greens, Libertarians, Dems, Repubs can enhearten the Dems, give them a spinal implant, get them up off their good intentions and doing their job -- Dems should be thanking us. On behalf of the Fierce Faction I'll say you're welcome Dems!


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