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Monday, February 11, 2008

A Letter to Green Party Presidential Candidates

I've just sent the following letter to the four currently declared candidates for the Green Party's presidential nomination -- Jesse Johnson, Cynthia McKinney, Kent Mesplay, and Kat Swift -- as well as to Ralph Nader, who hasn't declared but has formed an exploratory committee.

As a member of the Green Party of Philadelphia I am trying to decide how I will vote in our caucuses on 29 April. While there are many factors that could affect my choice, the crucial one is likely to be this: which candidate favors an electoral strategy that will be most conducive to growing the Green Party and getting its message out?

My conviction is that attracting masses of working-class people and progressive activists requires two things: having a program that is clearly better than those of the two corporate parties, and having an electoral strategy that allows us to get that program to the public without the distracting issue of whether our campaign is helping elect the more reactionary corporate candidate, rather than actually elect a progressive candidate.

This will become a non-issue as soon as we can get a large segment of the progressive movements, and especially organized labor, to break from the Democrats and become a mass base for our party instead. But if we're to accomplish this, we can't give the battered-spouse-syndrome labor leaders the excuse that if anyone supports the Green nominees, s/he's really just helping the Republicans. So we have to establish in the minds of rank-and-file activists the confidence that supporting us can only help get our progressive message out -- and, along the way, offer a radical critique of the Democrat which can only make her/him appear more moderate and reasonable in the eyes of "centrist" voters -- and not help elect the Republican instead.

Ironically, the Electoral College system gives us a means of doing so without having to ask people to trust us up front. This would simply involve campaigning vigorously in all fifty states plus D.C., but only placing our nominees' names on the ballot in the "safe" states. The ticket would still have an important role to play in "close" states, by way of communicating our national platform to the public as well as mobilizing support for our state and local candidates.
If we win the progressive public's trust with this approach in 2008, it would then be possible to run officially in all fifty-one states in 2012, because people would have confidence that we'd withdraw from the ballot by deadline wherever it appeared necessary to avoid a "paradoxical result" as voting theorists like to call it. And having won this confidence may even make it unnecessary to do that, as we might accumulate enough support during the campaign to win the election outright.

Would you support this approach?

Eric Hamell

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