Opinion: I'm Over Obama, and Over to the Green Party

Wednesday, August 01, 2012 - 10:21 AM

After several years as a Democrat, followed by more than a decade as an unaffiliated voter, I decided to change my registration to the Green Party for this year’s election. I joined the Greens not because I support every plank of their platform, but because I am tired of voting for the least bad candidate. The response of both major parties to the 2008 financial crisis compels me to join a party that really believes in changing the power structure in the United States.

The Green Party seemed the most reasonable choice. I think it is now beyond arguable that voting for Democrats and/or Republicans is essentially voting to maintain the status quo, which is precisely what needs changing. The personnel in office is less important than the system that personnel serves.

A vote for Obama (not to mention Romney), is a vote for the status quo. I am choosing to vote for a party, and a presidential candidate in Jill Stein, that would actually change things if elected. Like a lot of independents who voted for Obama in 2008, I thought I was voting for change. I was not naive, I knew he was a politician from the Democratic Party Establishment, but I thought a liberal intellectual, our first black president, might change things in important ways, especially in foreign policy.

But I was wrong. He withdrew from Iraq, yes, but on Bush’s timetable; he escalated the war in Afghanistan; he spent a billion dollars intervening in Libya; he continued the “extraordinary rendition” program; and failed not only to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay, but even to prosecute its inmates in our civilian federal courts.

Domestically, I don’t even want to discuss Obamacare, which is not national health insurance by any stretch of the imagination, but we must. I still find it surreal that the Democrats, controlling the White House and both houses of Congress, failed to institute national health insurance, partly because the administration, and the party’s recent vice-presidential nominee (Joseph Lieberman), bowed to the insurance lobby.

On the energy front, the U.S. has not even begun a serious transition to alternatives to carbon fuels. And, somehow, the Democrats have become a party that supports capital punishment, despite massive evidence that it has failed miserably and is applied in a racist manner. Economically, the president extended the Bush-Paulson bailouts and acquiesced in renewal of the Bush tax cuts, despite repeated vows to the contrary.

As for social spending, I expect the Republicans to advocate cuts in Medicare and Social Security, but I’m still trying to figure out how the Democrats can, with a straight face, do the same.  Furthermore, in a policy that boggles the mind, Obama brags about having cut the payroll tax, the primary source of funding for Social Security.

The Green Party is on the other side of all those issues, foreign and domestic. I don’t agree with everything the Greens advocate, but on the issues that I consider most significant for America’s future, the Greens are on the right track. They certainly do not represent the status quo. For one thing, Green candidates do not accept corporate donations. Their program, which is called the “Green New Deal,” calls for a cut of 70 percent in military spending, massive public investment in renewable energy, a carbon tax, single-payer national health insurance, tax reform and limits on credit interest rates.

To my friends who argue for economic justice, tax fairness, and true campaign finance reform, I say: you will never see any of that if you continue to support candidates and parties that are beholden to wealthy donors, whether they be individuals, unions, or the financial, defense and insurance industries. The system works as well for the Democrats as it does for the Republicans, and I no longer think being an unaffiliated voter choosing between the two is a viable option.

I know Jill Stein has no more chance of getting elected than Ralph Nader had, but I reject the argument that a vote for her is wasted. Either Obama or Romney will lose the election, so by that reasoning a vote for one of them is going to be wasted, as well. Change has to start someplace. 


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Comments [13]

Jessica from Toledo, OH

To those of you who are, as Mr. Sullivan puts it, "over Obama and over to the Green Party," please contact this staff member from the Young Invincibles organization - there is a national news agency that wants to interview people on this very topic:

Sep. 11 2012 05:57 PM
Joseph from Massachusetts

Bravo! Very nice article. I fell in love with Jill Stein too, and I very much look forward to voting for her in November.

Aug. 30 2012 12:29 AM
Hali Burley Price from Eugene, OR

I agree. Time for a MAJOR change in American politics. We actually need a choice - not just a less bad choice.

Aug. 13 2012 05:32 PM

The argument that "the greens should start smaller" is a red herring. There are already over 200 Green Party elected officials around the country.

Aug. 07 2012 02:26 PM

hmmmm...Boycotting an election is a cop-out. The proper place to sway your party is at the primary level. How many Democrats had primary challenges? If you fail to participate in the process and THEN complain that the choices are equally corrupt seems like you are letting yourself off easy.

Once we get past the primary stage, and the choice is him or him (eventually him or her and one day her or her), the voters' choice could not be more simple. Is Candidate A or Candidate B more likely to take the nation in a direction I'm comfortable with. My choice in November is clear and nothing on earth will stop me.

Aug. 05 2012 11:45 AM
John Rey2012 from Tim Sullivan Place, Bx

In New York City and New York State there are 20+ legislative and Congressional candidates running on the Green Party ballot line.
Colia Clark is running for U.S. Senate on the Green Freedom agenda, speaking out loud and clear for human rights and equality for all; and promoting a new economic Bill of Rights; and restoration and extension of political rights, civil rights, and civil liberties.

Aug. 03 2012 08:59 PM
Matthew Borenstein from NYC LES

Tim is absolutely correct = & Gore Vidal summed it up this way : There is ONE party in this country, the Property party, & it has two RIGHT-WINGS, the "Democrats" & the "Republicans" * For LEFT-WINGERS & progressives, it's past time to support, vote for & BUILD the Green Party political alternative. It was B.Obama who signed into law on 12.31.11 the first overt fascist legislation in the US, the NDAA (Nazi Detention Anti-America act) Matthew Borenstein on the LES

Aug. 02 2012 03:21 PM
Will from MA

"if the green party takes votes away from Democrats that enable Republicans to win, the status quo is pulled in the wrong direction."

This has already been addressed by Alachua, but here is a separate reason why this argument is a fallacy. What incentive do the democrats have to move in the right direction if they just need to be marginally better than the GOP? There needs to be some consequence for capitulation with corporate interests in the form of losing votes. That's why you should vote green not just because they are the better option, but because you shouldn't reward the democrats with your vote for their failures.

Aug. 02 2012 07:47 AM
Nick from Central NJ


Wow, intense and alarmingly close to home for me. I love your 2nd to last paragraph as it is as true as true can be.

The one criticism I have of the Green's is that they must start smaller. They have to get someone into Congress. I understand that they do not want to get caught in the dirty disgusting cesspool that is American Politics, but a real serious run in Congress and/or the Senate would make the possiblity of a Green presidential Candidacy more of a reality. A perfect spot for this would be my own district, in NJ, at some point in the future. Our current congressmen Rush Holt (I just got drawn into his district and I am beyond happy) is as far Left as left can be, and on paper is closer to a Green than a Democrat. If and when he calls it quits ever, he could hand off to a Green, which would be beautiful. But I am pulling the cart WAY before the horse on this one, and plus I would love Holt to stay in Congress as long as he lives.

Aug. 01 2012 08:34 PM
Alachua Green from Florida

Jill Stein and Cheri Honkala were arrested in Philadelphia today protesting foreclosures at the Occupy Fannie Mae bank sit-in.

Aug. 01 2012 07:54 PM

It would be cool if Obama were to drop out and endorse Jill Stein.

Aug. 01 2012 06:24 PM
Alachua Green from Florida

JB from queens writes:
"...if the green party takes votes away from Democrats that enable Republicans to win, the status quo is pulled in the wrong direction."

This is a cop-out, and arguments such as this are complicit in perpetuating a status quo that is unjust and immoral. It is time that all honest citizens who care about peace and justice BOYCOTT the scam that is currently being sold as "democracy" by the Democrats and Republicans - which are in truth both wings of the Wall Street, War and Empire Party. I can't in good conscience vote for Obama or Romney, but I can vote for Jill Stein and feel good about it.

Why should we lend our support to a regime run by corrupt banksters, war profiteers and empire builders? Supporting Obama because the alternative could be even worse is self-defeating. Let's be clear - the Green Party doesn't want Obama's votes. He can have them. We want the votes of all peace-loving citizens who cannot in good conscience continue to support a government of, by and for the 1%. We want the votes of all justice-loving citizens who cannot in good conscience vote for Obama or Romney.

If the "Democrats" want to live up to their name they should support a campaign to elect the president by popular vote instead of perpetuating the "winnner-take-all" Electoral College sweepstakes, which artificially creates the "red states vs. blue states" syndrome and provides the pretext for a "spoiler" argument. Every four years, minority parties are told to sit out the election because we might "spoil" it by siphoning votes from one of the sell-out corporate party candidates.

We can't spoil something that's already rotten. If we had a REAL democracy the process would allow us to vote our conscience without claiming we're "spoiling" an election.

Aug. 01 2012 04:56 PM
JB from queens

The problem with this thinking is that a status quo will always exist. ideological disruption will not happen in a country like this where vastly disparate demographics and perspectives at a huge population scale are at odds. thus, the lowest common denominator is the only possible consensus. this will always be the status quo.

thus, the only hope for progress is the evolution of the status quo. revolution is not possible. insofar as alternate parties like the Green party can pull the status quo in the right direction, then more power to them. however, if the green party takes votes away from Democrats that enable Republicans to win, the status quo is pulled in the wrong direction.

Aug. 01 2012 12:43 PM

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