Look to Canada as a reason why we shouldn't be afraid to teach democrats a lesson by voting Green, even in the mid-term elections
The mid-term elections in the United States are a couple months away. Chances are most of the political stories we hear from this point forward (from this site included) will revolve around said election.
Who will win a majority in the Senate? Will Democrats upset the Republicans or will it go the way it’s being predicted? Well, let me ask you something. With the filibuster being used the way it is, and no party expected to get past 60 seats, how much does it even matter?
The truth is, after thirty-five years of Reaganomics, deregulation and ridiculous free trade agreements, I’m still more interested in what happened to the left-wing of the country. Think as you might of the Democrats being the left-wing party in America, but that is a lie we all tell ourselves. The Democratic Party is a centrist party, has been for decades.
If you want to go back to the mid-twentieth century, things were very different. Back then, Democrats were the left-wing party and republicans were the centrists. Ronald Reagan changed all that. Republicans took a far right turn and dragged Democrats to the center. Clinton led from the center (some say right of center) and so has Obama.
You can argue that Obama does have some liberal views such as his support for gay marriage and women’s equality. While I applaud those values, it does not make him a left-wing president. The most important domestic issue every president has to deal with is the economy. It is here in particular that both Clinton and Obama have led from the center.
Neither of them did anything to roll back the damage that Reaganomics has done to the country. Nor have they done much to re-regulate the banks and enforce anti-trust laws. You can say there is no political will to do so (given their bosses work on Wall Street), but that is no excuse.
A true left leaning party would voice their discontent on a daily basis over how money has infected the political process. Republicans don’t do that, most Democrats don’t do that.
A left-wing politician would not lie about their faith as some democrats do either, even in the United States. Nearly 25% of Americans are atheists or agnostic, but there is not one Democrat who claims to be non-religious. Not one. They prefer to pull a Barney Frank and admit they are atheists after they leave office.
If you want me to sum up America’s lack of a left-wing party, I give you the Congressional Progressive Caucus. Have you ever heard of a Congressional Conservative Caucus? Of course not, Republicans are all conservative. The Progressive Caucus on the other hand has only 68 voting Representatives and one Senator who isn’t even a Democrat.
I’m sure some of you are thinking of the Green Party right about now. They are indeed the only real Left-Wing Party in America and they’ve been around for twenty years or so. They were the answer to the rightward swing the Democrats made in the early nineties.
The Green Party started to make a difference until they were misleadingly blamed for Gore’s defeat in the 2000 election. Since then, the Greens have not received more than 1% of the vote, likely out of fear of splitting the center/left vote.
Speaking from experience in Canada, you should never be afraid to vote for a third party. I understand the political systems are different, but politics itself is relatively the same in any democracy.
The Liberal Party of Canada started to drift toward the center in the nineties, with the thought that it could steal some centrist Conservative votes, and it did. So much so that it led to the destruction of the Progressive Conservative Party. What we were left with was a much more conservative Conservative Party and a Liberal Party stuck in the center. Not unlike Republicans and Democrats.
Throughout the 2000’s, the liberal party continued its journey to the center of Canadian politics culminating in the election of Michael Ignatieff, a man who supported the Iraq War among other things, as party leader.
The choice came down to a staunch conservative in Steven Harper, who had been elected twice without much power, a not so liberal Michael Ignatieff and a socialist leaning third party in the NDP (who admittedly had a great leader in Jack Layton.) Canadians gave a majority government to Harper, but gave the official opposition to the NDP. The Liberal Party was in ruin.
I won’t lie, the Conservative Party victory has been terrible for the country, especially if you are a progressive. But it looks as though their Majority Government will only last four years. Why?
The left-wing NDP has forced the Liberal Party to go back to its roots. The Liberals aren’t fighting for conservative voters anymore, they are fighting for left-wing voters. The Liberal Party is now more progressive on certain issues than the NDP, particularly marijuana legalization. This was unheard of ten years ago, but now the Liberals are leading in the polls and are primed to lead the country once again.
The Green Party in the United States got killed in 2004. Understandably, no one wanted to see Bush get re-elected, so they voted for Kerry, a centrist if there ever was one. If people had turned to the Green Party instead, even with 10-15% of the vote, yes, Bush would have been re-elected (he was anyway), but it would have changed the Democratic Party for the better.
If Democrats had been forced to gain back those Green Party votes in 2008, we might be saying America’s National Healthcare System instead of Obamacare. Who knows.
The point is, Americans should not be afraid to vote for an actual left-wing party. Especially in a midterm election where Democrats aren’t predicted to do well. There is nothing to really lose, except for a centrist party no one really wants.