August 8, 2018

How the Green Party can affect elections rather than be scolded for the results

Sam Smith - In the hotly contested Ohio congressional election, the Green Party candidate got 1100 votes, just 628 votes less than would have produced a defeat for the winning GOP candidate. Despite not actually changing the election, Green Joe Manchik is already being attacked for a role in the Democratic candidate's defeat.

This is not a new problem for the Green Party, which I helped to start. And it's one that increasingly troubles me. As I wrote earlier this year:
I felt at times as though I had joined a church rather than a political party. While, for example, I strongly agreed with the values it prominently pushed, I didn’t think talking about them should take precedent over issues that would attract new voters to our cause. A child of the Saul Alinsky era and an existentialist in philosophy, I didn’t care so much about stated faith as I did about actual action.

... As I wrote a few years ago in Green Horizon, “Judging the right tactics at the right time, as opposed to planning moves strictly on the basis of their presumed virtue, would seem to be the wisest course. To slow down traffic I might be morally justified in stepping into the Interstate, spreading my arms, and shouting, “stop,” but it is probably not the most useful thing I could do for the cause. Besides, like some third party presidential candidates, I might not have another opportunity. My initial virtue might turn out to have been terminal.”
In the style of pragmatism over virtuous declaration, I have long been a supporter of fusion politics, which unfortunately, is against the law in  most states. As I explained it:
Under fusion politics, a candidate can run on two tickets at the same time. In the late 19th century state legislatures began taking action against fusion because, presumably, they thought it was working. And it can be argued that the moves against fusion were part of a broader counter-revolution that included the end of Reconstruction and giving corporations rights of the individual. In any case, today forty states and DC ban fusion.

Where it still exists it can be powerful. Some highly successful third parties never ran anyone for president except in fusion with one of the major parties. The Liberal Party of New York remains the longest lived third party next to the Socialists. It supported Franklin Roosevelt in 1944 and claims credit for giving Kennedy enough votes for his presidential victory. Other nominees of the party have included Averill Harriman, Mario Cuomo, Jacob Javits, Robert Kennedy, Fiorello LaGuardia and John Lindsey. Swinging the gate of New York politics made it exceptionally important.

But there is a way around the ban on fusion. Nothing prevents the Green Party from, say, endorsing a Democratic candidate and not running its own. It could do so after negotiating with the Democratic candidate on conditions of support and, should the candidate win, might find itself getting credit for its role in the victory rather than being ignored or frowned upon for the small Green Party vote.
And a Green Party candidate could, if it appears that the race - as in Ohio - is extremely tight, withdraw in the middle of the campaign and throw support to the best opponent. Sure, it won't produce the virtue the party is seeking but neither does 1100 votes. And furthermore, instead of being blamed for the election results, the party might actually be able to take credit. 

1 comment:

Joyce Hernandez said...

There is very good reason that we have a Green Party. Compare the Green Party platform to the DNC. The Green Party is a real.progressive movement. While the DNC is reminiscent of the GOP party of the 60s and 70s.

The last thing, I would like to see is a Green Party candidate drop out in favor of the DNC.

Why are you even suggesting such a ridiculous scenario?