Friday, May 18, 2007

Who is entitled to what?

One thing that has always pissed me off is when I hear that Greens take away votes which would otherwise go to democrats. First off, it's not accurate. If there were only Democrats and republicans in a partisan race I would either not vote or cast a write in vote. Yes, if a Republican and Democrat were running for Congress without independent or third party competition, I will either not cast a vote in that race or cast a write in ballot.

But that's just me. I'm from the "Don't vote. It only encourages them" school of thought. Sadly, around these parts the political machinery uses low voter turn out as "proof" that the voters are satisfied in the way things are being run. If voters were unhappy, they would be voting in droves.

The other thing about such beliefs is that it assumes that the Democratic Party is entitled to certain voters. Environmentalists who vote Green are killing the very Democrats who can do the environment the most good. Labor leaders who endorse Greens are harming Labor's cause by hurting the Democratic Party. Peace activists who lead their local Green Party chapters are responsible for Iraq war dead because they are splintering the peace vote.

But worst of all is the Black Green. Unforgivable!

Steven Colbert interviewed a member of the US House. I can't remember his name, but Colbert read him a quote. It went something like this:

SC: Congressman, Time Magazine quotes you saying "The black community must show the Democratic Party that they can't take our votes for granted any longer." Congressman, did you say that?

CM: Yes.

SC: So, which Republicans do you think black should vote for?

CM: Um...I don't think blacks should vote for any Republicans.

SC: But you just said that the democratic Party should not take black voters for granted.

CM: Yes.

SC: So, which Republicans should blacks vote for? If they are not going to be taken for granted by Democrats, who else will they vote for?

CM: Um...

SC: Moving on...

Of course, it's funny as hell when Colbert does it, but it shows the truth. Just as the crowd exploded at the State of the Black union in 2005 when a speaker said "To hell with the Democratic Party" only to be chastised almost immediately by Donna Brazil and other Democrats, the black community must decide not between the Democrats and Republicans, but between voting Green or not voting at all. If enough Black Greens run for office and win office, the voter who is staying home will have more reason to skip the Simpsons one Tuesday and go ahead and vote Green.

Over at Ca Greening Alex Walker discusses the question of identity politics in Los Angles. Specifically, what happens if a black nominee, a Latino nominee and a Green all run for an open congressional seat, risking changing the congressional representative from black to Latino.

Is the Green Party responsible for whether the Democrats or Republicans win this or that seat? Are we only responsible to ourselves and our principles, or are we responsible for outcomes that others control at least as much as we do?

I think I agree with Mr. Walker's observations. I hope you'll hit the link above and read it. It's not brief, but worth a few minutes to read over.

Thanks to Wes for pointing the piece out to me.
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Right you are Greg!
See the video recording on June 9 in NYC. McKinney talks about running in 2008.
I think when the "black" community sees a black former Democrat running as a Green for President there may be a clear choice.
McKinney running in 2008
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