Future Hope Column
By Ted Glick
June 4, 2002
One and a half years after the five not-so-Supremes
selected George Jr. to be President, there are still echoes of the
bitterness expressed by some Democrats over Ralph Nader's Green
Party Presidential campaign. And as Green Party and other
independent candidates move toward this year's November elections,
we can expect those echoes to become louder and stronger. This will
especially be the case in those situations where independents and
Greens are running for the U.S. House or Senate, risking Democrats'
hopes of maintaining control of the Senate and winning back control
of the House.
Forget the fact that virtually the entire U.S. House
and Senate, Republicans and Democrats alike, continue to give the
Bush oil-and-war-men a green light to pursue their so-called "war on
terrorism," a war that is having major negative impacts around the
world. Here at home it is bad for the economy, and it is being used
to further undercut basic civil and Constitutional rights.
The Democrats can't even get it together to move to
repeal the Bush tax cuts, 50% of which will be going to 1% of the
population in future years. A real party of working people, that
Don't get me wrong: I am not in support of the
Republicans controlling all three branches of government, executive,
legislative and judicial. As a defensive strategy, it is valid to
favor Democratic control of Congress so that there is somewhat of a
brake on the most extreme plans of the Republicans. There is
something to be said for going 30 miles per hour toward the cliff
rather than 50 or 60 miles per hour.
But this defensive strategy ALONE, this approach of
constantly supporting Democrats no matter how bad they are, will
never, ever get us out of the dangerous series of crises we are
facing in this country and world today. Under Bill Clinton and
"environmentalist" Al Gore, nothing, virtually nothing, was done
about the crisis of global warming, not even making it a major
talking issue. What happened to the "peace dividend" after the end
of the Cold War? It was Clinton who wheeled and dealed to get NAFTA
passed after it looked dead and gone under Bush Sr.
We can all add to this list.
Which is why, as someone actively involved in the
progressive third party movement for over 25 years, it is difficult
to take the attacks on us when we decide to run as candidates truly
about progressive politics and do so as independents. We are aware
of the risks. But we know that the bigger long-term risk is if we
continue with a strategically bankrupt approach toward our
undemocratic, two-party, corporate-dominated, winner-take-all
electoral system. We believe, based on some very concrete, empirical
evidence, that it is essential that the progressive movement build
an independent electoral arm to complement all of the other
non-electoral tactics we use. This has to be a central strategic
objective if we are to come to a halt before we get to the cliff and
But I've got an idea that might deal with this
problem, might even lead to some joint work on the part of
progressive Democrats, on the one hand, and Greens and independents,
on the other, and perhaps even some Republicans.
We need a new national organization, Democrats for
Instant Runoff Voting.
Such an organization would be a way for Democrats who
are critical of independent candidacies to channel those worries in
a positive direction. Instant runoff voting, a fast-growing,
grassroots movement, is a concrete way to deal with this problem.
Under IRV, voters number their preferences, 1, 2, 3, etc., instead
of voting for just one person. If no candidate wins 50% plus one #1
votes, then the #2, and possibly, other votes come into play. In
this way, people can vote for the candidate they like the best
without worrying that their votes will help elect the candidate they
like the least (go to www.fairvote.org for more
The city of San Francisco passed a referendum a few
months ago to establish IRV as their system for electing people to
office. In August there will be a statewide referendum in Alaska to
do the same. 48 out of 50 Vermont towns supported IRV at town
meetings in March. The Nation, Newsweek, Time, USA Today and many
other mainstream news sources are reporting on and/or supporting
this development. If there was ever a time for this growing movement
to become a big deal, this is it.
Come on, progressive Democrats. Don't gripe and
complain. If you're truly scared of us progressive independents,
don't attack us, join with us to build a strong pro-IRV movement in
states and localities all over the country. Let's deepen democracy!
Ted Glick is the National
Coordinator of the Independent Progressive Politics Network and the
Green Party of New Jersey's candidate for U.S. Senate. He can be
or P.O. Box 1132, Bloomfield, N.J. 07003.