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Everyone is piling on and giving me shit for either being a Green or… - The Life and Thoughts of Zach

Dec. 8th, 2003

01:07 am

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Everyone is piling on and giving me shit for either being a Green or for supporting Kucinich in the Democratic Primary. I'm not sure which. I think it is different for different people. I'm amazed that there is still so much Bitter about the Nader thing. I want to post my defense (which was originally posted in response to ke_jia, but which I've editted and expanded here) here rather than repeat it over and over again as comments in that other post.

I have only marginal faith in electoral politics. I'm an anarchist most of the time after all. I'm all about the grass roots. Politicians are not all about the grassroots anymore. I know my people can't win national elections. I treat elections as an organizing opportunity.

Here's the thing. Here's why you don't have to get so bent out of shape about me. Most people aren't as radical as me. I'm a tiny percent of the population. Me and my people try our damnedest to make alliances with large moderate groups (Sierra Club, AFL/CIO, NAACP, etc, etc) with the sales pitch that the Dems are screwing them over. They either feel screwed over and get fed up and join us or they leave us in the margins and we stay small and ineffective.

Now if we aren't here at all then the moderate masses have no where to turn when they feel screwed over then everyone has to start at square one. Organizers have to build a structure to the movement so that when the masses are ready to join the movement it is there for them.

The way 2000 went down, EVERYONE who was on the fence between Gore and Nader ended up voting for Gore. Nader had up to 8% in the polls a few months before the election and when push came to shove he got 2%, so HUGE masses of Nader supporters jumped back over to Gore because Gore convinced them with his last minute appeal that voting Gore was the right thing to do. And Gore won because of it. He did a better job of courting the moderate left than the Greens did and he profitted for it. The less than 5% of us that were left over were inconsequential, we wouldn't have voted for Gore whether there was a Green party or not. We'd have voted for socialists or not voted at all or something. We're the non-swinging votes that the Dems are going to have a hard time winning.

And in the mean time, though we didn't get our 5% and though many of our early supporters voted for Gore, we organized hundreds of new Green party locals and gotten dozens of local Greens elected. I don't think the campaign for Instant Run-Off Voting here in Illinois would be nearly as energized as it is right now with out big support from Greens in 2000 and beyond. Our local greens are making great strides on their initiatives to create a municipal power authority and a citizens police review board. None of this stuff would have happened without the tremendous inspiration of Nader's run. I came to the Nader campaign because Nader inspired me, I wanted him to be my next president. And I continue to really want the Green party to grow up and become a real political party.

I resisted supporting Kucinich for a long time. But the man is AWESOME. How can I not support him? Democrats have been begging me to come back to the party since 2000 and if the party if going to run Kucinich I'm totally in. I think he'd make a fine president. I'm not hurting the party. I'm bringing people into the party by campaigning for Kucinich instead of the Greens. Kucinich has distracted me from my Green mission and I bet that at least 80% of the radicals that I bring into the Democratic primary to vote for Kucinich will stay on and vote for Dean if he's in the general. Just because I am not going to vote Dem in the general doesn't mean my campaigning isn't helping the dems. Like I said, you should be glad I'm even participating in the primary process. A lot of Dems have told me that if Leiberman wins the nomination then they will vote Green. Why is that any less wrong of them than for me to say that if Dean wins the nomination that I will vote Green?

In the end, for an organizer, it isn't so much about who you vote for, but who you get others to vote for. I believe that my work in bringing radical and progressive issues into the debate will get more people to vote, and that more of those people will support Democrats (even folks voting Green for president in the general will probably vote Democrat for other races in the same election). I'm not your enemy and you aren't mine. Specific democrats piss me off and the Democratic Leadership Council pisses me off but rank and file supporters of the Democratic party do not piss me off. I love you guys. You care about politics and the issues and you vote in a way that matters to you. I'm all over that. I'm glad you're working for Dean or whoever else. I'm glad to see people organizing for the folks they feel passionately about. The world needs more grassroots organizers.

Current Mood: defensive

Comments:

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From:khudirambose
Date:December 7th, 2003 11:11 pm (UTC)
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i always get mad when Dems give you shit about Nader. Voting for the lesser of two evils is just as bad as not voting at all.
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From:soulsong
Date:December 7th, 2003 11:26 pm (UTC)
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Dems just dont get the Nader thing. *shrug* I'm with you all the way.
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From:mr_ducktape
Date:December 8th, 2003 12:09 am (UTC)
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Ah, no need for you to feel defensive. As you say, your job is to stir up the shit and get the people who are pissed off to do something. Like vote. Whichever way they lean.

we wouldn't have voted for Gore whether there was a Green party or not.
Yup, that was me.

even folks voting Green for president in the general will probably vote Democrat for other races in the same election
And that was me as well.

The reason I actually started voting at ALL, for the first time in my life after years of frustration turned apathy, was due to you. So keep that in mind.
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From:zarfmouse
Date:December 8th, 2003 12:31 am (UTC)
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Thanks!

I shouldn't feel overwhelmed by the questions that people are asking. It's just that I've spent 3 years answering those questions in the other forums where I have political discussions and have come to a pretty good detente with the liberals there only to have the old argument flare up here.
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From:folkyboy
Date:December 8th, 2003 02:21 am (UTC)
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it's always people who are sheep and went for Dean because everyone else did. so fuck 'em! Kucinich kicks bootie!
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From:nomadwolf
Date:December 8th, 2003 07:03 am (UTC)
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baaah.

Dawn -- Nær Sólen Gar Nißer For Evogher -- Svarter Skiner Solen
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From:zsquirrelboy
Date:December 8th, 2003 12:28 pm (UTC)

Not to be petty...

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But there *were* some of us who were following Dean for a long time now. And even if you think his positions aren't very exiting (after all he is pretty much a centrist), they *way* he's running his campaign is very exiting.
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From:zarfmouse
Date:December 8th, 2003 12:50 pm (UTC)

Re: Not to be petty...

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I agree that Dean is running an interesting campaign and I'm heartened to see so many moderates mobilized and ACTIVE instead of just being the swing vote that everyone tries to shepherd.
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From:eee1313
Date:December 8th, 2003 06:49 am (UTC)
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This is the first I've heard of Kucinich at all, so I'll have to look into the guy. Thanks for putting another name in my head, because so far no one has rung any bells for me.

And about the Nader/Gore hate... I get a lot of shit from people about having voted for Nader, but here's the way I look at it: 1) Gore was going to win Illinois, anyway, so why not cast my vote for a 3rd party candidate?, 2) Nader more closely matched my beliefs and offered what I wanted in a candidate, and 3) it's my vote, and I'm voting rather than sitting on my ass and doing nothing, so back off. I just don't understand why people got so freaked out and said votes were "wasted" on Gore. A wasted vote is one that's not cast.
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From:desert_fox
Date:December 8th, 2003 08:11 am (UTC)
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I could not agree with you more. That's how I justified voting for Nader to all the people who scoffed. I actually would have considered voting for McCain if he won over GW in the primary. I'd do my homework first, but he inspired me through his charisma and a few of the interviews I've read. This election has a purpose. We need to collectively boo the current administration right out of the White House. To do that, efforts need to be consolidated. I'll vote Dem next year if there is any doubt in Illinois and if someone inspires me. All I'm saying is that we need to pull the reigns in on this warring state and chill out. I don't want four more years let alone four more minutes with GW. That is what most of all will guide my punch next November.
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From:zarfmouse
Date:December 8th, 2003 11:25 am (UTC)
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Check out his issues page for lots of good stuff!
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From:aethyric
Date:December 8th, 2003 02:59 pm (UTC)
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you know, i think it's a bit embarrasing to admit that you didn't vote for gore only because you lucky enough to be pretty certain illinois was going to pull up democratic (read: merely "not-bush") in the end.

i'm not pulling judgement here, though... i did the same exact thing.
nader got my vote in the end, but only because i felt i could.

this system... *sigh* makes me sad, sometimes.
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From:zarfmouse
Date:December 8th, 2003 03:12 pm (UTC)
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Which is why Instant Run-off Voting (kucinich link) is the really important campiagn for the future.

Thanks for poking into my journal. I've added you as a friend because you list LeGuin as an interest and you're friends with szasz so you must rock. :)



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From:aethyric
Date:December 8th, 2003 07:36 pm (UTC)
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well, in return, thanks for posting intelligently about politics.

you've been added, too, so i can keep up without trolling through to szasz's friends page. will have to bookmark that link for the time we call "after fall semester". (i promised myself i wouldn't get caught up in political ideology again until i got out of here first.)
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From:hope_persists
Date:December 8th, 2003 09:11 am (UTC)
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sort of in the same vein

Yes, if Kucinich wasn't running I would probably be supporting Dean. I don't like him though and I wouldn't be feeling energized by the organizing involved. Granted, I will vote for him if he wins the ticket.

I love Kucinich. I love all that he stands for. And the fact that he is running in the Dems gets me totally psyched. To me, that shows that my radical politics are being accepted by more and more people. GWB had just thew impact that so many of us expected: to piss people off enough into action.

And plus, since I've been working on the Kucinich campaign, I've been reminded just how much fun it is to do activist work. And so I've been getting involved in more activism across the board. So regardless, Kucinich has caused me to put more good work out there in the world.
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From:boannan
Date:December 8th, 2003 10:39 am (UTC)
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As a progressive but pretty rank-and-file Democrat -- thanks! :) And you've got my promise, man, I won't talk about Nader on this forum again. Debating it at this point does seem both a) pointless and b) an active waste of energy. And there's a lot of other work to do!
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From:zarfmouse
Date:December 8th, 2003 11:13 am (UTC)
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Well, you get to break the promise if Nader ends up running in 2004.

I do want to make it clear that, though I've made a number of assertions about what I am likely to do in the General, I'm not at ALL completely set on what my strategy/philosophy will be in the general election season. I really have to do some serious soul searching. I had to think long and hard before actually supporting Kucinich and I had asserted before that that I'd never support a Democratic presidential candidate no matter how progressive he was. After the primary is decided and after the Greens actually pick a candidate and once the debate gets rolling and I really think about all that is at stake and how different voting options will affect that...then I'll figure out who I will support and in what way I will support them.

I am open to debate in the general. Right now, given limitted information about who the candidates will be, I suspect that I'll vote Green in the general but that isn't set in absolute stone.
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From:bdar
Date:December 8th, 2003 05:35 pm (UTC)
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I'm sorry if you felt piled upon and if you perceived me to be a part of that pile. I don't believe I ever disparaged you for voting your conscience; my point at the start was that I no longer feel faith in voting on principle.

Good for you if you still can. But there was much ugliness surrounding the election in 2000, and it made me understand only that principle means little if you can't win.
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From:zarfmouse
Date:December 8th, 2003 08:20 pm (UTC)
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Ultimately, it was no big deal. It was a conversation that clearly needed to be had if I'm to continue posting Greenish stuff to this audience. Obviously it's something that's been on a lot of people's minds. I've had much of this conversation with other Dems that I discuss a lot of politics with and I'd forgotten that while the issue was now settled with them that it wasn't settled with everyone. I didn't really neccessarily want to spend so much time right at that moment writing so much stuff defending/exploring my ideas and reading/processing so much critique but in the end I'm glad I did.

I feel like we all kind of understand each other a little better now and it doesn't seem like feelings were hurt which is something else that worried me.
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From:bdar
Date:December 8th, 2003 08:22 pm (UTC)
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Glad to hear it. Some sort of glitch with the LJ was making it impossible to see any comments I had recently posted, and I'd feared you'd done some web maneuvering to block me out entirely--which would have been disappointing.
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From:zarfmouse
Date:December 8th, 2003 08:25 pm (UTC)
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Yah, LJ's been particularly weird lately about comment display latency.

Certainly I'd never shut you up!

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From:ke_jia
Date:December 8th, 2003 09:58 pm (UTC)
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I've been critical in these threads, but I hope I haven't crossed over to implying disrespect for your incredible activism and idealism. My intent has been to share my perspective, and solicit (then read, and consider) your responses.
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From:zarfmouse
Date:December 8th, 2003 10:03 pm (UTC)
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It was the volume of responses calling me out for voting for Nader, not any one response, that took me unawares. It's cool though. It's not like I have a reason to expect that I can take a radical stand and not have people question it or not understand it.
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From:zarfmouse
Date:December 8th, 2003 10:05 pm (UTC)
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Which is to say, I know I'm asking for it when I stir up the shit. I'm just so used to people not saying much when I post that I maybe haven't been treating my posts as if they are being read...so maybe I wasn't in the mindset of "form a really tight argument and be prepared to defend it" as much as "throw this random text out there for archival and amusement purposes". I expected those who agreed to say "yep, haha" and those who disagreed to say "that zach's such a predictible radical dork, haha". Ultimately I'm REALLY glad that it turned into an interesting discussion it just took me a little bit of time to adjust to that level of discourse in this particular forum.
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From:(Anonymous)
Date:January 10th, 2004 06:09 am (UTC)

Kucinich supporter supporting you.

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I can't tell you how many Greens, Independents and apolitical people I (and Kucinich) have brought back into the Democratic fold (myself included, for the first time EVER), because I don't know the exact #, but the way I figure, the non Kucinich Dems have no right to get mad at us, because a lot of the voters we bring in will probably vote Dem in the end, no matter who the nominee. Let's just hope its Dennis and let's just hope we bring in enough to make it Dennis. Keep the faith. Also wanted to spread the word about this "virus" http://www.madforkucinich.org/content-2.html I think it is definitely catching on. Pass the word along. People who get to see Dennis in action are almost invariably very impressed.
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From:zarfmouse
Date:January 10th, 2004 03:16 pm (UTC)

Re: Kucinich supporter supporting you.

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I'm downloading the VCD now. You'd better bet I'll be sending it to everyone I can think of.
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