May 31, 2017

Hillary Clinton thinks Greens are 'crazy'

Sam Smith - In an interview with New York Magazine, continuing her refusal to accept any responsibility for her 2016 loss, Hillary Clinton made reference to “the crazy third party people.”  It was just a passing comment but the fact that she made it so casually was quite revealing.

As one who helped  to found two third parties – the national Greens and the DC Statehood Party -  I can assure you that mental instability is far less in third parties than in the major political alternatives. For example, I have never met a Green as destructively narcissistic as either Clinton or Trump.   

Which is not to say third parties don’t have problems. One of them is that they can become such comfortable havens for people’s worthy beliefs that the pragmatism inherent in successful politics is often ignored.  Having been raised in a political family, having stuffed envelopes when I was 13 for a campaign to end 69 years of corrupt Republican rule in Philadelphia, having the FBI come to our house when I was a teenager to question my father about some Democrats whom he  had worked against,  it has never occurred to me to confuse politics with religion. It was a tool available to the virtuous but like a hammer contained no intrinsic virtue.

And thus my major difference with most Greens has nothing to do with sanity but with differing views of the practical. I have, from the start, opposed them running  a presidential candidate because it could only help the worst in big party politics. As I noted in the recent issue of Green Horizon:

Over the past twenty years. Greens have run for president in six races with results ranging from 0.1% to 2.74% for an average of 0.84%. Although Jill Stein got 1.3 million more votes in 2016 than David Cobb got in 2004, it still came to only 1.06% of the total vote count. The emphasis on presidential races was meant to help build the party. National registration is down about 21% since 2005. 

Strikingly, over half of our Greens are in two free thinking states: California and Maine.  Yet in Maine, the birthplace of American Greens, only about a third of registered party members voted this year for Jill Stein, the rest presumably choosing Clinton or staying home.
 Meanwhile, as Wikipedia notes; “From 1994 to 2006, the party’s gubernatorial nominees received between 6% and 10% of the vote.” Nothing close to that is happening these days. And in 2004 we had 224 Greens in office nationally. Now it’s down to around 138.”

There is a cure for this: fusion politics under which a candidate can appear on both a major party and a third party ballot. Unfortunately, as Wikipedia points out:

Electoral fusion was once widespread in the United States. In the late nineteenth century, however, as minor political parties such as the Populist Party became increasingly successful in using fusion, state legislatures enacted bans against it. One Republican Minnesota state legislator was clear about what his party was trying to do: "We don't propose to allow the Democrats to make allies of the Populists, Prohibitionists, or any other party, and get up combination tickets against us. We can whip them single-handed, but don't intend to fight all creation.” …. By 1907 the practice had been banned in 18 states; today, fusion as conventionally practiced remains legal in only eight states.

But despite this, the Greens still have a way of influencing national elections better than they do today. They could decide to not run a presidential candidate and endorse a major party one instead. By holding off this decision until after the Democratic convention, they could in races like that of last year influence the decisions the Democrats make.

The best way to think about politics is to regard it as a battlefield and not as a religion. I voted for Hillary Clinton not because I in any regard liked or admired her but because fighting for the decent and the just would be easier on her battlefield than one in controlled, say, by a president who has done more damage in a third of a year than we have seen in decades.

It’s not a popular approach to politics these days but one that, over the long run, works.


Anonymous said...

And with my own experience with third party involvement the greatest impediment faced was that dealing with obstructive infiltration, individuals deliberately engaged in sabotaging organizational efforts. Greens have been particularly vulnerable to factions associated with Libertarian Anarchism. This was plainly evident during Nader's 2000 campaign, and has been encountered many times since. If anything, it has been the Green's failure to thoroughly vet individuals in ostensible leadership roles. The party tends to become preoccupied with the quantity of members versus the quality. This carries over into policy as it does the party little good to achieve ballot status only to offer up candidates not fully qualified. It is a topic of concern I've expressed, to little avail, with the organization, such as it is, in my own state.

Anonymous said...

You play right into the trap of Lesser of two evils with your ideas. The fact that, aside of Religion, and maybe gun's there's not much different between our ruling parties. Because they both take money from the same LOBBIEST! Until we can do something about Money in Politics, and the Electoral College, we are DOOMED to repeat our terrible choices in the next election.

Anonymous said...

Hillary is too busy blaming the Vast Right-Wing Russia conspiracy to pay attention to any third party. It's all about HERSTORY!!