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Tuesday, October 19, 2004  

Politics: Greens propose compromise

We're living in rather rigid times. The hard-line position taken by the Bush administration regarding the invasion of Iraq and other issues has resulted in the most politically polarized circumstances I recall. Then, along come people like those at Sinclair Broadcasting and the shameless liars of Swift Boat Veterans for Truth to pour salt in the wound. So, it was with some relief that I read a recent email from David Segal, chairperson of Greens for Impact. He is a city council member in Providence, RI. After considering the ramifications of casting a vote for a third-party candidate this year, Segal and his compatriots have decided on a compromise. Yes, I said compromise. In these uncompromising times, they are willing to consider a middle road.

What is Greens for Impact?

Greens for Impact is an organization of principled, pragmatic Green Party members and progressive populists dedicated to the goal of defeating George W. Bush in his bid for a second term as president, while simultaneously furthering the growth of the Green Party as an independent alternative to the corporate-dominated parties.

While we do not represent or work with any of the presidential candidates, we believe that this agenda is most-readily forwarded by a strategy designed to maximize the Green Party's impact. Greens for Impact works to:

1. Encourage voters to register Green,

2. Encourage voters in safe states -- those that are so overwhelmingly Republican or Democratic that we can be confident today of who will win there in November -- to vote for David Cobb in the General Election,

3. Encourage voters in swing states to vote for John Kerry in the general election, and

4. Actively and forcefully push for the use of instant runoff voting (IRV) wherever suitable, alongside ballot access reform and full public financing of campaigns.

The effect of GFI's plan will be bifurcate support from the Green Party in the presidential race. The party will continue to build its profile by establishing a presence in states barely contested by one of the major parties. In the swing states, estimated at from eight to 12 by various sources, Green Party voters are urged to cast their presidential vote for Kerry. As a resident of a state in which Ralph Nader achieved five percent of the vote in 2000, I can attest that the drain on votes for an embattled liberal candidate is real when some voters defect to progressive third-party candidates. I believe Greens for Impact's proposal has merit. And, why stop with Greens? Nader supporters should also consider GFI's proposal.

People who consider themselves strong adherents to principle will have doubts. If a member of a third party votes for a major candidate, has he abandoned his principles? I think that is determined by his reason for making the choice. Greens for Impact has considered why a break with convention makes sense.

The Presidential Election of 2004 is not a debate about voting your fears or voting your conscience. It is not an academic or theoretical exercise. Real people's lives are at stake. Women, people of color, the GLBT community, our nation's poor, and many others, save for the privileged few, will face real consequences from the outcome of this election. As a result, we must view the effect of our votes collectively, not merely by what they mean to us as individuals. Vote with your mind. Vote with a plan.

Segal observes that the margin of victory for Bush in several states was less than 7,500 votes in 2000. Votes from supporters of progressive third-party candidates can have a measurable impact on the close race of Election 2004.

Reasonably related

~ Visit Greens for Impact on the Web for more information.

~ In Oregon, members of the Green Party debated whether they should consider voting for Kerry. Hear the discussion at NPR.

2:30 PM