9 02 2020

Once again, we Greens are being told that “the stakes are too high” for us to risk “spoiling the election for the Democrats.” Progressive activist Michael Albert wrote an “open letter to Howie Hawkins and The Green Party,” asking us not to get in the Democrats’ way, and then got a number of other writers and activists to sign on to it, including luminaries Barbara Eherenreich and Noam Chomsky. Hawkins wrote an impressive, eloquent, detailed response. Here’s my two cents on the question. It’s an expanded version of the response I submitted to Truthdig, one of the sites that published Michael Albert’s letter.

This article displays such ignorance of the facts of the matter, from the vote results to the Green Party’s strategy, and so blithely accepts the US media/electoral system as if fair, that I am surprised and disappointed that Prof Chomsky and Ms. Ehrenreich, both of whom I hold in the highest respect, would put their names to it.

In his letter, Albert accuses the Greens of depriving Ms. Clinton of the votes she needed to win the election. Let’s look at the numbers: in 2016, just under a million and a half people voted Green. Approximately seven million people switched from voting for Obama to voting for Trump, and ninety million potential voters stayed home. Even more stayed home in the 2018 midterms. To focus on the one and a half million out of that ninety-eight million who voted for the kind of radical change this country needs, as the ones bearing the onus for the Democrats’ loss, is a peculiarly biased way to write recent history. The Democrats spent a billion dollars in their effort to elect Ms. Clinton. We Greens spent three million on the Stein campaign, which may sound like a lot but is 0.3% of what the Democrats spent. And somehow their loss is our fault? That’s right up there with a few amateurish clickbait ads from a Russian source being the problem. In other words, The Greens are not the Democrats’ problem. (Howie Hawkins wrote an article by that title, but I didn’t know it when I wrote that sentence.)

Albert’s letter repeats the readily-refuted canard that “the number of people who voted for Jill Stein in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan would have given Hillary a win in those states if they had voted for her.” In Pennsylvania, 50,000 voters chose Jill Stein, while nearly four million didn’t vote at all. In Wisconsin, 31,000 voted for Stein and nearly a million and a half stayed home. In Michigan, 51,000 voted Green and about 2.75 million stayed home. In the face of such massive voter indifference, the Biblical phrase “straining out gnats and swallowing camels” comes to mind. The camel, in this case, is that in all of these states, and a great many others, more people declined to vote than voted for the “winning” candidate. The message here, I think, is that our established political parties each inspire only about a quarter of the voters, leaving a large plurality of the voting public feeling unrepresented. Something is missing from our political spectrum, and to attempt to suppress those who are trying to advocate for the missing ideas is to miss the point. Perhaps those who are deeply committed Democrats or Republicans are not missing the point so much as refusing to acknowledge it. Read the rest of this entry »

%d bloggers like this: