The Green Party of Tennessee met in a smoke-free back room at Nashville’s Italian Market last Saturday. I’d like to say we decided the future of Tennessee, with Party co-chair Katey Culver playing the part of capa di tutti capi, but overall I’m afraid our effect on Tennessee politics is just not that powerful.
The party is, however, beginning to make itself felt. Chris Lugo, who is once again the party’s candidate for US Senate, reported that the two months he spent as the only person seeking the Democratic nomination finally shamed the Democrats into running somebody against Lamar Alexander, who has been all but endorsed by our so-called Democratic governor. It’s a bad news/good news situation for Chris–while he’ll be in competition with a Democrat, candidate Bob Tuke is calling for a slow, “phased withdrawal” from Iraq and escalation in Afghanistan and Pakistan, leaving Chris as the “get out now/settle by non-military means” candidate. The rising tide of frustration with the war and the Democrats’ failure to end it, plus the fact that this is Chris’s second run, will hopefully improve his showing.
The party nominated TSU political science professor John Miglietta to run against 5th District Congressman Jim Cooper. John has a tremendous advantage over just about anybody else the Green Party could run, because he is not now, and never has been, a hippie, unlike most of the rest of the party. If most of us got anywhere close to mounting a serious challenge to the two-party system, the Demopublicans would have no trouble finding dancing skeletons in our closets, which they would use to fan the flames of voter hysteria, and, if necessary, have us arrested or at least publicly humiliated for daring to think for ourselves. But John, bless his heart, is just as square as they come, and he still sees things our way. That means a lot to me. For him, it means he could go all the way to the top.
One of my old hippie teachers used to talk about the importance of acceptance of our ethos by “honest squares.” This is actually quite scientific; if the hippie/Green world view can be arrived at by someone through a process completely independent of the counterculture, that amounts to independent validation of the results of the decades long “thought experiment,” to borrow a phrase from Einstein, that was originally launched by the late and much lamented trio of Dr. Hoffman, Dr. Leary, and Aldous Huxley. Well, this doesn’t have much to do with our current race for political office and against time, and will probably embaras the hell out of many Greens, but I just had to go and open my big mouth, now, didn’t I? Well, I’m not responsible for the fact that the Green Party’s lineage goes back through the North American Bioregional Congress to the Haight-Ashbury Diggers to the San Francisco Mime Troupe. I just think we should be proud of it, that’s all.
Back to the subject at hand! We also selected delegates to the party’s national convention, and determined who they should vote for–five out of eight are committed to Cynthia McKinney, with Kent Mesplay, Kat Swift, and “uncommitted” each getting a delegate. I have a hard time getting excited about Green Party Presidential candidates. In my view, it’s just a publicity stunt unless we’ve got a shot at getting a majority in Congress. We’re a grassroots organization, know what I mean?
Anyway, Cynthia is black, she’s a woman, and she hasn’t sold out. I wish her well.
Speaking of grass roots, I wish I had a whole lot more candidate news for you. I wish we had a crew of people running for the state legislature, where many races are uncontested, but we are awfully thin in the ranks. However, we do have a plan afoot that could change that.
The plan is our Ballot Access Lawsuit. The Demoplublicans have written the rules for getting on the Tennessee ballot in such a way that it is virtually impossible for any other parties to get their party name printed on the ballot. The only problem is, that’s unconstitutional, according to a court in Ohio, where the laws were about as tortuous and monopolistic as they are here. The Tennessee legislature could have changed that, but, being made up of Demopublicans and Republicrats, they had more important things to do, like allow mountaintop removal in Tennessee. So, we are having to sue in Federal court to overturn Tennessee’s laws. Since it’s the same Federal Court that overturned Ohio’s laws, we think we have a reasonable chance for success.
The State Attorney General, being a committed Demopublican, doesn’t want to let the Green Party on the ballot, and so he is doing everything he can to drag this case out past this year’s election, just as the state’s election officials are doing everything they can to stall legislation that will replace the state’s touchscreen voting machines with equipment that will produce a verifiable, recountable paper trail. Put that together with the fact that the US has more people in prison than any other country in the world, a quarter of the world’s known prison population, in fact, and you can get downright cynical about what a wonderful, free country this is.
Well, anyway, the Ballot Access lawsuit will put our party name on every ballot in the state, even if the newspapers won’t give us the time of day. That could just be the little match that starts the big fire. Maybe that’s a lot to hope for, but the future of the human race is at stake. “Once more unto the breach, good friends…..”