December 8th, 2003

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(no subject)

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.
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Who is Dennis Kucinich (http://www.kucinich.us/issues/10key.php)?

This is from Kucinich's website. I was going to spend some time writing up a brief profile of him but when I ran across this which summarizes a lot of the main points I wanted to make. I post this for the benefit of the couple of people who, in my previous posts, expressed an interest in learning more about Kucinich.
Congressman Kucinich of Ohio is a modern "Profile in Courage." In the late 1970s, as the youngest mayor ever of a major city, Dennis bravely said "NO" to an Enron-like takeover of Cleveland’s city-owned power company, Muny Light. In retaliation, major banks—which were interlocked with the private utility that would have become a monopoly by seizing Muny—drove the city into default. Dennis’s political career was derailed...until 15 years later, when he was vindicated for resisting a corporate power grab and saving Cleveland residents hundreds of millions of dollars on their electric bills. In five consecutive winning elections since 1994, his campaign symbol has been a light bulb.

Elected to Congress in 1996, Dennis has continued to wage courageous battles for workers, consumers, the environment, and civil rights. He is the only presidential candidate who voted against the civil libertiesshredding "Patriot Act." He rallied opposition to the illegal and destabilizing Iraq war—from a small group of Congressional dissenters to the nearly 2/3 of House Democrats who ultimately voted against the war resolution. He co-chairs the Progressive Caucus, the largest caucus of Democrats in Congress. Dennis Kucinich is a heartland politician who can win elections. When he became mayor, state senator, and then Congress member, he defeated a Republican incumbent each time. In 2004, he hopes to defeat another one: George W. Bush.
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Green Mayor?

Check it out. A Green (Matt Gonzalez) might be the next mayor of San Francisco.

http://sf.indymedia.org/
http://www.mattgonzalez.com/
http://news.google.com/news?scoring=d&q=%22Matt+Gonzalez%22

If you live there, don't forget to vote tomorrow. Also if you live there, please tell me more about this thing. Is the sense on the streets really that this guy has a chance?

I guess they've gotten Clinton and Gore to come out and pitch for Gonzalez's Democratic opponent. If there's any remaining doubt about why I'm so disenfranchised with the brass of the Democratic party, this sums it up. From some random article that isn't even particularly pro-Gonzalez.
While the former president was en route to California on a private jet owned by one of Newsom's backers, Gonzalez was wrapping up his final day of campaigning with a "Punks for Matt" fund-raiser featuring former Dead Kennedys lead singer Jello Biafra.
Here's a race where the Green and the Democrat are within 7 to 10 percentage points the day before the race and there is no chance of a Republican winning no matter what the outcome. And yet the Democrats are bringing in a FORMER PRESIDENT to make sure those uppity Greens don't get their guy elected in one of the most radical-progressive-liberal cities in the country through a grassroots campaign. For years I've heard "Greens get Republicans elected" and "Greens should only run in local races where they can win". Why can't the Dems let us have this one? What are they so scared of? It's just a mayoral seat.

I heard this guy speak for an hour on the radio just now and he really seems to know his shit. He's on the city council and has been kicking ass in SF politics already. He's both highly qualified and completely grassroots. This is what it's all about. Again, I'm hoping to get some good perspective from the folks out there in the area. I'm bummed that my friends out there don't live in San Francisco proper.

EDIT: I hereby retract my senseless bitterness about the Dems fighting a hard fight to win this and pulling out all the stops. The posters here are right, it's a perfectly reasonable thing for them to do given the context. I spent all of an hour processing the news of this race this evening before posting what I posted. The closeness of the race was news to me (I think it's news to anyone not local to San Fran). Right now I want to spend the next 24 hours, not being bitter, but being GIDDY at the chance that Gonzalez could win this thing.

EDIT: The guardian in the UK even has a story about it. Bring Clinton in and everyone's writing about it (besides AP, Reuters, and UPI). christian science monitor, the nation, the age (Australia). These are just random non-newswire articles pulled down from news.google.com.