Editor’s note: This guest post was written by Justin Elzie, a member of the Lavender Greens Caucus of the Green Party, and author of the upcoming book “Playing By the Rules,” which details his experiences as the first Marine Corps “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” court case. Elzie served in the Marines for fourteen years, four of them openly-gay. Elzie is also a personal friend, and, I am proud to say, allowed me to co-edit his book.
As Progressives walk into the voting booth this coming Tuesday, many will be doing some soul searching as they vote again in a lopsided political system. They will step into the booth, close the curtain, and with disappointment vote for “the lesser of two evils;” politicians who haven’t lived up to their promises, have taken for granted the Democratic Party’s relationship with Progressives, and have dismissed progressive issues in a system that leans right.
Most books you read on relationships today mention that a lopsided relationship is something to avoid if you want to protect your emotional health and well-being. In our current political environment, the health and well-being of America’s Progressives is being dealt a severe blow by the Democratic Party.
The fact is we have a lopsided political system that leans right. The Republican Party is a party on the right side of the spectrum and will always be so. The Democrats in reality are a centrist party and lean right. Because there is no party on the left side of the spectrum in Congress, the Republicans continually pull the Democrats to the right. Truth be told, our system is out of balance. We need a strong left party in Congress to compete with Republicans and to pull the centrist Democrats to the left. Over the past two years Progressives have continually witnessed how Democrats have caved to demands from conservatives, and leaned right even though there was a Democratic majority in Congress. Whenever Democrats feel like they are threatened they run for the center-right and leave the Progressives behind no matter how big of a majority they have.
Here are some examples.
If you’re an environmentalist, you’re upset about the handing of the climate bill in Congress by Democrats. Conservative Democrats from coal and oil-producing states have put the brakes on any progress of the bill and are against Cap and Trade. You’re also upset the Obama administration adopted the Bush plan for the expansion of offshore drilling, something that no environmentalist would have ever thought a Democratic President would do.
If you’re Labor you are upset by how the Democrats have handled the Employee Free Choice Act. Key Democrats said they would not vote for it in its present form and now Labor is not supporting some Blue Dog Democrats in the midterms because of this. In the last two years, the Obama administration abandoned Labor over it and did not push for its passage.
If you’re anti-war then you’re upset that we are still in Iraq, increasing troops and escalating aggression in Afghanistan, and the Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp / Prison is still open. Nothing much of substance has really changed from the Bush administration.
If you’re in the LGBT community or an ally, then you’re upset by how the Democrats have handled the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT), and haven’t even touched the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). You’re also upset that the Obama administration has aggressively defended DOMA and DADT in the courts, with outrageous, egregious language. Not to mention, we see a Democratic President who continues to use his religious beliefs to defend his lack of support for marriage equality. He also continues to fire over 400+ LGBT servicemembers annually, even though, as Commander-in-Chief, he could issue a stop loss order to end these discharges.
All of this is under a Democratic Party Congressional majority. That bears repeating. The Progressive agenda has not moved forward with any significance under the largest party majority in the House since 1994 and the Senate since 1978. This year we have heard from many Independents, Democrats and the mainstream news media how the Democrats have acted spinelessly in Congress and have continued to have problems getting their message across. This becomes especially clear when you see how Republicans stole the message on health care and now fifty-three percent of Americans favor repeal of the health care law. At the same time, Democrats have lashed out at their own constituency, like the recent tirade by Robert Gibbs at the White House criticizing the “professional left,” which showed the party’s true feelings of how they view Progressives. He then went on to say that he still fully expects Progressive voters to go to the polls in 2010. Nothing could have been clearer how Democrats take advantage of Progressives than Robert Gibbs’ smugness in criticizing Progressives then still expecting them to still go to the polls!
When one starts to look at how Democrats have taken advantage of Progressives it becomes clear there needs to be a strong left party. A party that will take seriously and fight for issues of importance to progressives. Issues like the environment, Labor, civil rights, economic justice, the peace movement, etc.
That answer is the Green Party. With the current paradigm of the political spectrum of Republicans at one end, as the party on the right, Democrats near the middle but leaning to the right as a center-right party, we need a strong Green Party on the left to counteract the pull the Republicans are having on the center right Democratic Party.
The Green Party is a viable alternative. A recent Gallup Poll showed that fifty-eight percent of Americans are interested in a third party and would vote for one. A second poll done by The Hill showed fifty-four percent in a 2010 midterm election poll said they’d like an alternative to the Democrats and Republicans. That number rose to sixty-seven percent for independents.
There are currently over 100 Greens in office across the country and many Greens are currently running for the 2010 midterm elections, campaigning on the “Green New Deal,” including eleven running for governor, seven for U.S. Senate and thirty-five for the U.S. House of Representatives.
You will occasionally hear Democrats disparage the Green Party because they feel threatened by them. Sometimes you will hear someone say: “A vote for a Green takes a vote away a Democrat.” Actually, that is a good thing! If every Independent, Progressive, and Democrat who believed in the Progressive agenda voted for the Green they would win and we would get something accomplished. This would definitely send a signal to the Democrats that the left can’t be taken advantage of anymore. Until Progressives get out of the mindset that they have to vote for a Democrat and that they have no other options, only then will the Progressives’ agenda be realized. The fact that there are over 100 Greens in office across the country is proof that Greens are running for office and winning against Republicans and Democrats.
The Green Party has what it calls its Ten Key Values which are guiding principles for the Party: Grassroots Democracy, Social Justice and Equal Opportunity, Ecological Wisdom, Non-Violence, Decentralization, Community Based Economics and Economic Justice, Feminism and Gender Equity, Respect for Diversity, Personal and Global Responsibility, Future Focus and Sustainability. Both Democrats and Republicans take corporate money, yet the Greens take none. The Green Party Platform is progressive and practical.
The sad fact is the Democrats will never be a true progressive party. And the solution is clear , that having a true progressive party that gets elected and passes progressive legislation will force Democrats to lean left verses right and will add a counter weight to the Republicans and Conservative Blue Dog Democrats.
Without the Green Party, Progressive issues will continue to be dreams and not reality. The Democrats will never have discipline or a soul for true progressive issues. Progressives will always be disappointed until we say, “enough is enough,” and vote for hope and change and vote for a true progressive party, the Greens.
Vice President Biden recently put his foot in his mouth and upset a lot of Democrats by telling them “to stop whining and get out there and look at the alternatives.” Well I think that’s what you should do. Look at the obvious and smart alternative. Vote Green!
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