Thursday, December 06, 2012
Green Shoots And Leaves
TBogg recounts his 2012 resolutions:
Destroying all of the third parties – This was actually easy because most third parties eschew mundane and tedious projects like fundraising, organizing, and running and electing viable candidates for entry-level political offices in off-year elections, choosing instead to save up their pennies for a ride on the Quadrennial Sparkle Pony Merry-Go-Round because this time – this time – THIS TIME – the brass ring is totally going to be within reach.
This certainly reflects a problem I have with parties like the Greens--with whom I share a great number of policy goals and philosophical stances--who get self-righteous about presidential votes and forget the practicalities not just of running an effective national campaign, but issues of governance beyond that. Really, how would President Jill Stein be able to accomplish much of anything without ideological and partisan support in Congress, should all the Manchurian Electors show their true colors when casting ballots on December 17th?
I'm not sure running for president with such little infrastructure in place really increases exposure for the party nor shapes the debate. And the 2000 debacle notwithstanding, it doesn't even have much influence on the eventual outcome with the duopoly so firmly entrenched (% this year for all 3rd parties wouldn't have given Romney any chance of winning).
It has commonly been the case that when I make observations about building a party from the ground up, Greenies will protest, "but we DO have elected officials!" Indeed: it appears to be 134 currently, though most won nonpartisan elections. Well done, you!
But let's have a little perspective. According to the US Census, there are roughly 500,000 elected offices nationwide (NB: those are 1992 figures, but the Census doesn't seem to have similar reports for more recent years yet, though the number of governmental units is roughly the same as of 2012). So Greens account for 0.026% of all elected officials in the US, almost all at the municipal level, down to things like Parks & Recreation.
In contrast, if we can suspend the law of small numbers for a moment, lemme try some apples and oranges with the Progs in VT. As of the last election, there are 5 Ps (I'm counting legislators with multiple party endorsements) in the 150-member House, and 3 in the 30-Member Senate. That's 4.4%, or about 170 times the relative success rate of the national Greens. Even the commie Liberty Union party got enough votes in a statewide race to qualify as a major party.
Is the system stacked against alternatives to the duopoly? Of course it is. So get to fucking work on the local level to implement IRV or other similar systems, build grassroots support for public campaign financing, etc, before you shoot your wad on another Quixotic presidential run and waste my time telling me why I should do anything that could possibly throw an election to a Republican.
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Thank you. Well, said.
Posted by: lea-p | Dec 6, 2012 11:27:28 AM
I missed my usual election-year conversation with a Green this year (perhaps because it's been a while since I was an officer in the local Sierra Club, which provided "opportunities" to chat with all kinds of candidates for public office). But when I have had such conversations in past years, my impression, without bias I think, was that Greens here haven't a clue how to get elected, and Greens are not too sure what they would do if they were elected. A noble sentiment is simply not enough to run on.
I do occasionally vote for a Green in a race in which there's no Democrat on the ballot. Sometimes even a dull stick in the eye of a GOP candidate is better than none...
Posted by: Steve Bates | Dec 7, 2012 6:13:25 AM