Jill Stein’s positions were nearly identical to those of Bernie Sanders, yet progressives who supported Bernie overwhelmingly rejected the Greens.
It is difficult to envisage a more compelling scenario for the Greens than existed in this election cycle. Bernie Sanders was cheated out of the Democratic nomination by a war mongering Wall Street shill, the Republicans nominated an anti-environment xenophobe, and the only voice of reason was Jill Stein.
Quite true. The 2016 Election was indeed a pivotal moment, and augured well for an increase in the national vote for the Green Party.
Yet Stein only received a quarter of the percent of the vote that Ralph Nader garnered in 2000.
For the progressive movement, the Greens are a non-starter.
If we as progressives are to succeed, we must wage our battles within the Democratic party.
Coming from an animal-rights group, this is an unhappy sentiment, I must say. It is surely unnecessary to have to document the fact that Greens are far more in favor of animal rights than the Democratic Party at present. It’s in our DNA, as the saying goes: we favor more humility toward the environment, we are much more likely to be vegetarian, we are committed to an extension of awareness of the claims of the earth and all of its inhabitants.
Asserting, then, that “the only voice of reason” is “a non-starter” is a temptation that comes from defeat. Roland Vincent, the author of this piece (about whom I know nothing) has compared the Ralph Nader campaign, one with a nationally known figure, whose subsequent career has shown an incompatibility with grass-roots organizing, with the Stein campaign, run by a doctor known previously as a city council-person in a small Massachusetts city.
The Stein campaign got the highest vote for a Green Party candidate since Nader, and tripled the vote for the Green Party nominee four years ago (who was, not incidentally, also Jill Stein). Stein got more votes in 2016 than Ralph Nader himself got in his 1996 run for President. And her 1.07 % in 2016 is not one-quarter of Mr Nader’s 2.74% in 2000, but four-tenths. So, on cherry-picked results, ignoring the stronger, more widely and more deeply based party organization, Mr Vincent asserts the necessity of progressives abandoning the Green Party.
Let me explain why the Democratic Party is no longer a live option for progressives. Start from the historical fact that the environmental movement stretches back some 100 years into the past of the United States, and long predated the Green Party movement. Recall that the last reasonably progressive President, Jimmy Carter (a Democrat), went against an environmental foe in the 1980 election and was soundly defeated.
Ever since then the Democratic Party has aligned itself with corporate interests. By doing so it has won several elections, but has lost many of its previous positions of power at the state level, such as governorships or control of legislatures. During this period of time the Green Party not only has come into being, but has steadily widened (as a genuine political effort must) its policy base, taking on platform commitments, not only for sustainable economic activity but also for nonviolent conflict resolution abroad and for caution with respect to high-tech chemical and biological — not to mention nuclear — novelties being imposed upon people, for corporate profit. In each of these expansions of the remit of the Green Party, the Democratic Party had previously pretty much abandoned its progressive stance, in favor of what its corporate backers preferred.
So, today, we have Native Americans being tear-gassed and attacked with concussion grenades, while Hillary Clinton remains silent and Barack Obama does little or nothing. In contrast, Jill Stein has been indicted for her non-violent support for the Standing Rock protesters. It is not just some Democratic Party politicians betraying the progressive cause, it is the incumbent President and the Party nominee for President: in short, the titular heads of the Democratic Party have no use for the outstanding progressive cause of the present day.
That is, in a nutshell, why it is the Democratic Party, not the Green Party, that is a non-starter for the progressive cause in the United States today.
Update 19 December 2016: For those like Roland Vincent who believe that there is a possibility for turning the Democratic Party around, the events since the election surely are evidence of the futility of their hopes (which futility they assign to the Greens, interestingly enough). Diane Johnstone writes this morning on Counterpunch [warning: this website is specifically among those that are not approved by the Washington Post]
The hysterical anti-Trump reaction is unable to grasp the implications of the campaign to blame Hillary’s defeat on Putin. Do the kids in the street really want war with Russia? I doubt it. But they do not perceive that for all its glaring faults, the Trump presidency provides an opportunity to avoid war with Russia. This is a window of opportunity than will be slammed shut if the Clintonite establishment and the War Party get their way. Whether they realize it or not, the street protesters are helping that establishment delegitimatize Trump and sabotage the one positive element in his program: peace with Russia.
Sexism is bad. Racial profiling is bad. Economic inequality, growing worse by the decade, is probably worse than either. But worst of all is the perpetual war, begun under both Democratic and Republican party leaders, and enshrined into the normal state of affairs since 2003. Peaceful coexistence departs radically from what Clinton was putting forward as the policy of the Democratic Party (and was not opposed audibly by Sanders). Peaceful coexistence is what Trump appeared during the campaign and appears since, to prefer.
All the more reason to stick with the party that has such non-violent conflict resolution as a founding principle, the Green Party, and to leave the Democrats, with their now front-and-center demonization of all who oppose U.S. world hegemony, behind.
Update 20 December 2016: I am apparently getting my oft-expressed wish granted; the machine here tells me that not a single person is viewing my posts. Be that as it may, this morning’s post by Dave Lindorff, another genuine investigative journalist, on Counterpunch, agrees with the above analysis of the Democratic Party abandonment of progressive voters. Further, considering the events since the election, Lindorff adds the comment you will also find in my posts, were you to read them,
The “false news” about Russians hacking US democracy, pushed by the Clinton campaign, sclerotic Democratic Party leadership, elements within the intelligence establishment and the Obama administration and parroted endlessly by the corporate media and by normally sentient liberals usually quick to condemn “conspiracy thinking,” doesn’t bode well for any real effort to wrench the Democratic Party away from its thoroughly discredited corporatist political stance, and raises the prospect of further Republican gains in the coming off-year Congressional elections in 2018.
Emphasis, as they say, added.