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.