Dear Dennis KucinichGreen Party organizer and political consultant responds to the Democratic candidate's letter to CommonDreams.org
By Kenny Mostern
Dear Congressman Kucinich:
I read your letter of July 24 (Open Letter to Nader Voters and the Greens) asking for my support for your campaign with interest, but also with some bewilderment. Let me say up front that I would love nothing more than to vote for you for president. I read your long list of issues on which we agree, and I certainly felt it was a shame your name will not appear on my primary ballot in March.
But, you see, Congressman Kucinich, last time I checked, you were not running for President as a Green Party candidate. And while you claim to "understand that Greens and Nader voters are not just liberal Democrats," your letter does not say one word about the key issues that make it impossible for third parties like the Greens to run in the U.S. You say nothing about how the Democratic Party colludes in ensuring that corporate control, a two-party system, and undemocratic elections remain the only game in town.
Now, if you were to announce that you were seeking the Green Party nomination as well as the Democratic nomination ? if I could vote for you without changing my registration ? I certainly would do so. Yet short of your doing so, here are my suggestions about how you might approach Greens when asking for our vote:
1. Acknowledge that voters have a right to more than two parties as a basic democratic right. We have for so long had an electoral system that confuses "bipartisan" with "nonpartisan," so that honest people seem to forget the basics: There are more than two opinions about issues.
Democrats seeking Green votes might start by discussing what they are going to do to open up the political system to multiple parties. (Hint: This might help fix that problem of low voter turnout we constantly complain about, too.)
The Green Party formally supports Instant Runoff Voting, or Ranked Choice Voting, as a means to open the electoral system to more parties. IRV allows individuals to list candidates in order of preference, so that if their candidate is eliminated, their vote may be redistributed to their second choice. In the 2000 election, it is reasonable to believe that enough Green Party voters in Florida would have placed Al Gore as their second choice, ensuring his election.
2. State clearly that the Green Party is never responsible for Democrats losing at the polls. More Democrats voted for George Bush in 2000 than voted for Ralph Nader. Al Gore was stiff in each of the debates, agreeing with Bush more often than he disagreed with him. When Bush declared himself the victor, Al Gore did not act like a president or an opposition leader ? he let it happen.
3. When you promote one of our issues, name the Green Party as an important force in bringing it to the forefront. It is a pleasure to see you articulate so many issues that are part of the Green platform. But instead of preaching to us about them, why not go into rooms full of Democrats and tell them how much you?ve learned from Greens, and how much you think the Democratic Party can learn from us? We?re tired of a one-way dialogue
4. Express your desire to caucus with Greens in a progressive caucus. In a legislature, you are not what your campaign promises say ? you are, however, who you caucus with. Indeed, the Congressional Progressive Caucus is a vital institution, despite the fact that all but one member are Democrats. Think how much more vital it would be if it were made up of members of two parties, one of which was bound by its own principles to refuse all corporate donations.
5. Understand that even if we vote for you, it is a temporary, strategic decision. We will continue to build the Green Party, and continue to ask you to join us. We are Greens because we believe that rightward drift at the governmental level is not a temporary phenomenon, but is the general trend of U.S. politics at least since the New Deal.
Have you taken seriously the possibility, Congressman Kucinich, that we really do have something you need, and it isn?t just votes? It is our understanding of what would be necessary to break from this duopoly that prevents progressive change. Perhaps you, and the whole Congressional Progressive Caucus, would be more effective in accomplishing your goals outside the Democratic Party.
In fact, Congressman Kucinich, if you are the Democratic nominee this time, I might just vote for you in November 2004. But if you are asking for my support at this stage, my answer is: I?d love to support you. Please run for president in the Green Party?s primaries, so that I can.
Kenny Mostern (email@example.com) is a Political Consultant based in Oakland. He was Fundraising Coordinator for Peter Camejo?s run for Governor of California in 2002. This is a condensed version of the open letter published on August 1, 2003 by CommonDreams.org. ###
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