I recently received an email from Ginny Welsch, who is running for Congressman Jim Cooper’s Nashville seat. In it, she said, “I’m afraid that my affiliation as the Green party nominee will harm my chances right now of getting the support I need from other segments of the community. And I can’t risk that at this point, because that is not the focus of my run for Congress. I’ve already been accused of being a Republican plant, running to make sure Cooper’s vote is split and a right winger gets in. I can’t afford to give people who are already unsure about me any ammunition to undermine what I’m trying to do.” She has decided to remove all Green Party references from her website.
Chris Lugo, running as a Green candidate for the Senate seat that Harold Ford, Jr., hopes to win, has faced the same kind of accusations. And, in spite of the fact that the Governor’s race appears to be a shoo-in for Bredesen, Green Party gubernatorial candidate Howard Switzer also finds himself regularly shunned by people who should be his constituency.
This reminds me of something that’s happened to not a few police officers down through the years, when they have attempted to stop an act of domestic violence—let’s be blunt, a guy beating up his wife—and had BOTH parties attack him for trying to break them up. Liberals afraid of a right winger replacing Jim Cooper? Hey, the guy’s apparently already a member of the Heritage Foundation. How much more right wing could an out-front Republican be? Jim Cooper has been called a “Bush Democrat” due to his support for the Central American Free Trade Agreement, Bush’s so-called bankruptcy- and tort reform bills, his unquestioning support for the war on Iraq, and his vote for the bill that denied First-Amendment protections to the internet. He gets good marks from the League of Conservation Voters, but the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL) gives him only a 30% approval rating on abortion issues.
Harold Ford, Jr. largely echoes Cooper’s positions, including his lukewarm NARAL ratings and his flag-waving support of the war that’s destroying America’s future, but because he is black it is the liberal thing to do to support his candidacy. I don’t know if that’s reverse racism; it might be perverse racism. Ford is so close to Bush that when the resident visited Memphis trying to drum up support for his attempt to rip off Social Security, he gave Childe Harold a hundred tickets to distribute so there would be some supportive black faces in the room—and Ford did his master’s bidding.
Candidates like Cooper and Ford, who call themselves Democrats but don’t really take a strong egalitarian-populist stand, do not inspire confidence in the electoral process. They inspire cynicism, because they make a sham out of the idea of choice in American politics. Harold and Jim are abusing their constituencies. At election time they woo us with promises of benefits for us and protection from Republican boogeymen, but once we empower them, those benefits never show up and they become the boogeymen. Like abused women, we tolerate this….until enough of us have had enough and we leave. I’ve left, as best as I can. It will take a lot more of us getting fed up to really make a change. Won’t you slip away with me?