How far will voters allow the Democratic Party to fall before they abandon the Party altogether? How many elections will come and go with voters demanding a socialist or democratic socialist agenda, while the Party establishment tells them to hold their noses, forget their ideals, and vote Democrat, because the establishment-chosen candidate is not as bad as the other candidate, and is the only electable choice?
Many now understand how important it is to protect the rights and the basic needs of the majority of the people, not the corporate donors that prop up both mainstream political parties. They are searching for a political home that serves their needs, not those of corporations.
As a Green Party of New Jersey (GPNJ) candidate for public office, in five New Jersey elections, beginning in 1996 (as the vice-presidential running mate in New Jersey for consumer advocate Ralph Nader) and continuing today, I have heard many dismissive arguments from Democrats. The arguments get louder each election cycle, as more of their automatic, unearned, base becomes less automatic.
This pandemic has demonstrated how dysfunctional US politics have become, and how dire conditions are for the majority of this country. It has demonstrated how many people are increasingly vulnerable to missing even one paycheck, to losing their insurance when they lose their jobs. Many find it nearly impossible to cover their housing costs and health care needs.
I take issue with DSA co-chairs asking swing state voters to vote for Joe Biden, as recommended in Should democratic socialists endorse Joe Biden?. This is despite Biden’s public rejection of parts of Sanders’ moderate version of democratic socialism. Why not advocate for electing candidates who represent the agenda we need? Howie Hawkins, GPNJ’s preferred candidate for the Green Party’s presidential nomination, promotes an eco-socialist program, one which includes Sanders’ agenda and more.
His running mate, Angela Walker, brings even more strength and commitment to a political agenda that includes: (a). support for a true health care for all program that takes private profit out of the equation, (b). support for Mutual Aid networks that Greens and others have constructed to be the lifeline that the government refuses to be, (c). guaranteed income well above the poverty line and (d). a real Green New Deal that confronts the military-industrial complex and redirects billions from the production of nuclear weapons and military hardware to programs like tuition-free college and elimination of student debt.
Putting a “D” in front of an establishment-chosen candidate, a candidate chosen to support the same corporate donors backing the “R” candidate, guarantees more of the same unjust and inadequate policies that some “D” Party legislators claim to oppose. Predictably, however, they vote for them, both legislatively, and through their choice of corporate-backed candidates.
Even in our present dire circumstances, the self-serving actions of the elites of both parties have not evolved.
We invite all Bernie Sanders supporters to join us in building the Green Party. How much more productive would that be and more hopeful for a different future than blaming the Greens for pointing out how the duopoly has not served us and never will?
In 1996, Ralph Nader warned voters that continuing to vote for the lesser of two evils was not a winning strategy. He said then that when you vote for the lesser of two evils, you are still voting for evil, and that you are allowing the quality of the candidate to get lesser and lesser. That was twenty years before the 2016 election, an election in which the choice given to voters was two candidates with the lowest approval ratings ever. This election cycle might be even worse.
Our electoral system (the “winner-takes-all” format and the Electoral College) does its best to lock us into this kind of choice. People with progressive ideals are pressured to stay within that box. We need to abolish the Electoral College and implement ranked choice voting, a system in which voters have the opportunity to vote for their first two or three choices: the person their ideals tell them to vote for, and then what they are told is the more “strategic choice.”
Without Green Party candidates in the race, these issues will never be raised or addressed. Without Green Party candidates in the race, there will never be an end to the seven ongoing wars the US is waging and the multiple regime change attempts the US backs (such as the recent embarrassing failed mission in Venezuela). Without the Green Party growing stronger, the country will continue to drift further away from its professed commitment to justice for all.
I, for one, cannot stand for that. I exhort voters to vote their conscience and help us build an alternative to the neoliberal agenda of both Republicans and Democrats.
Green Party of New Jersey’s candidate for US Senate in 2020
ran for U.S. Senate in 2018 and came in third, garnering 25,150 votes