Young Democrats of Harford County

For Democrats of all ages and other like-minded folks in Harford County, Maryland.

Our Progressive Agenda

Posted by piperj3cub on September 30, 2007

Why are we interested and involved in politics?  For me it is first and foremost a strong desire to see our country become more progressive; to recognize the inherent worth and dignity of all people in our country and the world.  This is accomplished through universal healthcare, fair wages, a fully-funded education system, and laws that protect the natural world around us and promote conservation of resources and the wildlife surrounding them.  Why am I a Democrat?  I know that the Democratic Party offers the BEST chance of moving the country towards those goals!

 

In a recent heated discussion, it was suggested that the Green Party is much more in-line with my values and beliefs, and as such I am “selling myself out” by being a dedicated member of the Democratic Party.  I could not disagree with this sentiment further.  In fact, I cannot help but feel that in America today, the presence of a third party is only a major detriment to progressive legislation.  It can be fairly argued that the obnoxious war in Iraq, the pitifully unfair tax system under which we currently labor, poor environmental laws and regulations, and the biased influence of corporations in crafting environmental, educational, and healthcare focused legislation is a result of the more “progressive” Green Party’s position in the 2000 general election.  It is abundantly clear that Al Gore would have been President had Ralph Nader not garnered 2% of the popular vote.  As a result of that election the progressive agenda has been sent back by decades.  Heck, our environmental protection was stronger under Nixon than it is now!

 

If the people of the Green Party really wanted to make a difference, if they really wanted to push forward a progressive agenda, they could do so much more effectively if they were part of the Democratic Party than they can separately!  Think about it.  If the most progressive and liberal Democrats boycott the party in favor of another, what happens to the Democratic Party as a whole?  We become more conservative.  If all of the true progressives in this country were active in the Democratic Party, our party would be considerably more in line with a truly populist agenda, and it is likely that so much of what we have been fighting for during the Bush administration’s rule would already have been achieved.  With these ‘progressives’ on our side, the left wing of the Democratic Party would have considerably more power, and the progressive agenda would be able to gain serious momentum.

 

If our governmental system was such that congress was parliamentary; if we apportioned seats by party voting percentages in the general elections, then I could see using 3rd parties to steer legislation.  But that is not the way it works in America!  We are not Britain!  So, the question is why are we in politics?  If the goal is to be a dissenter, to always have something or someone to fight against, then I can see being a member of the Green Party (or the Libertarian or other “3rd party”).  But if the goal is to effect legislation, then for crying out loud do what will get that legislation passed!  If the goal is to pass progressive legislation for the good of all Americans and world citizens, then it stands to reason that members of the Green Party must recognize their role in the Democratic Party if they came aboard!  They would steer DEMs towards our shared progressive goal.  As it stands right now, the 3rd party system, particularly with respect to the Green Party, will only continue to hurt the progressive agenda on a national level as their presence increases the likelihood of a Republican victory (something that must be avoided at all costs IMHO).  A friend once referred to the Green Party as standing for “Get Republicans Elected Every November”.  Unfortunately for us, for them, and for all that our progressive agenda would benefit, I fear that friend is correct.

 
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6 Responses to “Our Progressive Agenda”

  1. kalmia78 said

    I disagree. First of all, Al Gore lost the 2000 election NOT because of Ralph Nader, but because he (1.) didn’t mention the word “environment” during his campaign, (2.) distanced himself from Bill Clinton and tried to come off as more “centrist” and (3.) ran a poor, weak campaign. He and his advisors must have recognized the pull Nader was having in the run-up to the election, but he chose to do nothing to woo (or even acknowledge) those voters who were disillusioned with mainstream politics and rallying behind a third party. It’s a cop-out to say it’s Nader’s fault we have George W. Bush in the White House (which I agree, is a travesty for this country and the world).

    However, I have a hard time voting for the lesser of two evils. Why should I have to do so? If I do, I see it as an admission that our political system is fatally flawed; it’s just a bunch of sneaky deal-making and hand-shaking and that’s just the way it is. We should to vote for the person in one of two parties who comes closest to our beliefs, because that’s the best we can hope for. I’d rather hope for more. If this truly was a democracy, there WOULD be someone in office representing the percentage of people who vote for 3rd, or 4th, or 5th party candidates. If this were the case, I’d feel much better about the state of democracy.

  2. piperj3cub said

    That’s great Kalmia… you vote “your conscience”, and as a result we get King George II. This is a prime example of “the ends not justifying the means”. To what end did you cast your vote for Nader? Was it for the purpose of advancing a populistic/progressive agenda? Did it work???

  3. James said

    If you were a true student of history then you would recognize now is the most likely time for the rise of a third party– a President from the Republicans at record lows and a Congress under the Democrats at record lows. The combination is a recipe for the rise of the third party.

    You also have major dissenters–popular major dissenters– in both parties very reminscent of Teddy Roosevelt’s scenario, albeit not exactly the same.

  4. James said

    Curiously this blog has absolutely no discussion of the merits of the O’Malley Taxation Plan. Are you guys going to actually follow his talking points mantra that 83.5% of Marylanders benefit from his plan? I sure hope so. I would love to see you guys defend that point =).

  5. kalmia78 said

    If one of the blog posters would like to discuss O’Malley’s attempt to balance the budget (i.e. the “taxation” plan), that’d be great. Check back…this blog is obviously not always all-encompassing concerning the topics discussed, especially when there are so many county, state, and national level issues to cover.

  6. There are three major reasons I am a Green and not a Democrat, and why the Green Party needs to thrive, even at the expense of the Democratic Party. There are many more reasons which we can blog about later if you’d like.

    1. Choices. Everyone deserves more choices. There is no reason why a nation of 300 million should have to decide between two people or two parties. To do otherwise would discourage exclude people from participating in politics. Thinking that the Green Party creates a trade-off with the Democratic Party commits the same flaw as the Nader “election theft” argument – you assume that if a third option did not exist, everyone who utilizes it would accept one of the existing two options. If there were no Green Party in Maryland, I would not be a Democrat. I would be an unaffiliated voter or not registered at all, like I was before I discovered the Greens. Many others who are not willing to accept what they see as the “lesser evil” would be as well. It’s pretty presumptuous to assume that we need to recognize “our role” in the Democratic Party.

    2. Money, access, and undue influence. Most Democrats are corporate Democrats who sell themselves to the highest bidder. Maybe you don’t support them, but reality is that the corporate wing of the party controls it on every level. We expect them to regulate the very industries they depend on to get elected. O’Malley took tens of thousands of dollars from Constellation Energy, and now refuses to call a special session to examine BGE re-regulation issues. He wants to call a special session to get slots, which would benefit the racing industry he also took tens of thousands of dollars from. No member of the Green Party takes contributions from any business, union, or political action committee. This is necessary to avoid undue and unfair corporate influence in politics.

    3. Values. The Green Party knows its values. Democrats know “policy priorities”. You say that Democrats stand up for “universal healthcare, fair wages, a fully-funded education system, and laws that protect the natural world around us and promote conservation of resources and the wildlife surrounding them,” but Democratic administrations have come and gone nationally and locally and we have never had universal health care, a fully-funded educational system, a living wage (Maryland’s new “living wage law” only applies to government contractors of a certain size and requires a wage of less than $9/hr in half of state), or comprehensive environmental protection.

    The Progressive Democrats of America, for example, has five “priorities.” They are not values but policy goals. Ending the war, universal health care, economic justice (copied from the Green Party key values), clean elections, and “stopping global warming” [http://pdamerica.org/policy/priorities.php]. These are not values to believe in but goalposts to reach. What happens if these goals are achieved? The organization would no longer have any focus. It would lose its supporters who had joined in order to work for a particular goal. And as soon a Republican administration was back in power, the legislative “priorities” that progressive Democrats had managed to implement would be reversed. The Green Party has values that frame our mission and our policy goals but does not limit them to pieces of legislation. [Check them out at http://www.gp.org/tenkey.shtml%5D

    My final point on the rise of third parties and the Green Party in particular: the Green Party was founded in Maryland in 2000. Change does not happen overnight. The Democrats have had over 100 years to get into the position they are in now. I know you want to protect your position in 2008 and 2012, but think about what the world is going to look like 100 years from now. If you want to perpetuate the cut-throat two-party battle for generations to come, disregard third (and fourth and fifth) parties. The Democrats may be in power about half of the time, but Republicans will be in power the other half of the time. You will make changes (maybe) that they will just overturn as soon as they have the chance. Or, we can find ways to include multiple voices so everyone has a fair chance for representation and we can escape this race to nowhere.

    Brian
    Harford County Green Party

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