(reprinted from our November 2010 Green Voter Guide)
The need for a multi-party political system in America has never been clearer. Although the two dominant parties have some real differences, neither the Democrats nor Republicans support the solutions that America and the planet need. President Obama is a master of inspiring speeches, but his policies are shaped in backroom meetings with generals and corporate tycoons.
As both Democrats and Republicans move rightward, there will always be short-term benefit in choosing one over the other. As Democrats triangulate and adopt once moderate Republican ideas and policies, Republicans scream "socialist" and put up even more racist and crazy candidates. Democrats point to extremists like Palin, Paul and Whitman in order to scare folks into voting the party line, but when they govern, they have few alternative solutions or the will to implement them. On many problems, such as Peak Oil and Global Warming, time is running out and fine speeches won't help. Democrats' real policies rarely match their progressive rhetoric. At the moment, House and Senate Democrats are running ads scaring people with the idea that their Republican opponents are planning to cut Social Security benefits, while at the same time Obama's "Cat Food Commission" is planning to do exactly that--Pelosi has already scheduled an up or down vote on the commission's recommendations after the November election. A similar backroom deal between Obama and health insurance companies eliminated any chance of a publicly funded plan, while the real solution, single payer, was "off the table" from the beginning.
The Green Party is an independent party based on Ten Key Values, one of which is "future focus." America can't be turned into a multi-party democracy overnight. But it's a necessary reform towards solving the real problems we face.
San Francisco has already realized some of the benefits of a multi-party system. Even though Greens have never made up more than 3-4% of the electorate, we led successful campaigns to raise the minimum wage, institute ranked choice voting and publicly financed elections, and create public alternatives to PG&E. Because our ideas resonate with voters across the political spectrum, we have won seats on the School Board, College Board, and Board of Supervisors, and we nearly pulled an upset in the Mayor's race in 2003. However, since we've never held more than 1-2 seats on any of those boards, successful implementation of our ideas depends on electing and working with progressive Democrats. Our influence has been crucial to electing several of them, including Eric Mar and John Avalos, to office, and we have also been credited with moving the local Democratic Party in a more progressive direction.
Green registration numbers and influence have both slipped since our high point in 2003. In response, the current leadership of the Green Party has decided to do more direct outreach to voters through expanded distribution of our Voter Guides, as well as more visibility at street fairs and events. We closed our office and used the savings to hire a part-time volunteer coordinator and fundraiser. Attendance at meetings has increased since we've started holding them throughout the City. Locations and times are announced on our website and e-newsletter.
Progressives have previously faced a choice between working to build the Green Party and trying to move the Democratic Party in our direction. With the recent change to state law governing primaries, now we can do both! A silver lining of the "top two" primary is that registered Greens can now vote in the same primaries as Democrats (other than for President). Since there will not be a contested Democratic presidential primary for at least six more years, progressives can register Green in order to build our numbers, while also working to elect more progressives within the Democratic Party.
There are other advantages to registering Green. Unlike the Democratic Party, all our policies and endorsements are decided by our grassroots activists, not by our elected officials. Instead of voting for a DCCC member to represent you, in the Green Party anybody who spends an afternoon registering Greens at a street fair has a direct and equal voice in our decisions. It's easy to get involved and make a difference.
Register Green today. And if you are already registered Green, contact friends, relatives and neighbors about doing the same. Building a multi-party system is something we can't afford to wait for others to do for us. If you get this Voter Guide handed out by a volunteer, it may include a registration form. Fill it out, check "Green Party" for your political party, and be sure to sign, date, and check the red boxes that verify your age and citizenship. The same form can be used to register in any county in California. And if you got this Voter Guide mailed to you or it doesn't include a form, you can also register online at the Secretary of State's website: https://www.sos.ca.gov/nvrc/fedform/ That form is easy to fill out, but it requires you to print out and mail it in at the end of the process.