The Avocado Declaration
This statement was initiated by Peter Miguel Camejo, “life-long fighter for social justice”, Green candidate for Governor in California in the 2002 general election and in the 2003 recall election.
In this incendiary, brilliant document, he eloquently explains why Greens must run a candidate in 2004.
The difference is not over whether to “defeat Bush” – understanding by that the program of corporate globalization and the wars and trampling of the Constitution that come with it – but rather how to do it. We do not believe it is possible to defeat the “greater” evil by supporting a shamefaced version of the same evil. We believe it is precisely by openly and sharply confronting the two major parties that the policies of the corporate interests these parties represent can be set back and defeated.
Every major gain in our history, even pre Civil War struggles –such as the battles for the Bill of Rights, to end slavery, and to establish free public education– as well as those after the Civil War have been the product of direct action by movements independent of the two major parties and in opposition to them.
When social justice, peace or civil rights movements become massive in scale, and threaten to become uncontrollable and begin to win over large numbers of people, the Democratic Party begins to shift and presents itself as a supposed ally, always seeking to co-opt the movement, demobilize its forces and block its development into an alternative independent political force.
Democracy remains a great danger for those who have privilege, and control. When you are part of the top 1% of the population that has as much income as the bottom 75% of the people, democracy is a permanent threat to your interests.
The ability of the Democratic Party to contain, co-opt and demobilize independent movements of the people is a critical element in allowing the continued destruction of our planet, abuse, discrimination and exploitation based on race, gender, sexual preference and class, and the immense misdistribution of wealth.
Democrats: Patriot Act and Unequivocal Support For Bush
The Democratic Party leadership voted for the USA Patriot Act. In the United States Senate only one Democrat voted against the Patriot Act. Democrats considered “liberal” such as Wellstone and Boxer voted for the Patriot Act. Huge majorities have repeatedly passed votes in the Congress against the United States Constitution. Democratic Party politicians, when called upon to support the Republican Party and their corporate backers, repeatedly comply and vote against the interest of the people and against the Constitution they have sworn to uphold.
Lesser Evil Leads To Greater Evil
Behind <the anti-Green> view is the concept that politics can be measured as degrees, like temperature, and that the Democrats offer a milder and thus lesser evil alternative to the Republican Platform. This view argues that to support the “lesser evil” weakens the greater evil.
Such a view fails to grasp the essence of the matter. Political dynamics work exactly the opposite. To silence the voice of the Green Party and support the Democrats strengthens George Bush and the Republican Party because only the appearance of forces opposed to the present policies, forces that are clearly independent of corporate domination can begin to shift the relationship of forces and the center of political debate.
Despite the intention of some of its promoters, the anti Green Party campaign helps the policies pursued by Bush as well as his re election possibilities.
Although some claim that George Bush’s policies represent only a small coterie of neo-conservative extremists, the reality is otherwise. Bush and his friends serve at the will of the corporate rulers. His standing with the American people can be crushed in a moment if the corporate rulers so choose — just by the power of their media, which today is concentrated in the hands of a half dozen giant conglomerates.
Short Term Versus Long Term
The idea there is a conflict between the short term and the long term is a cover for capitulation. It has been the endless argument of the Democrats against challenges to their policies. When independent movements appear they call on people to enter the Democratic Party and work from within. There is no time to go outside the two-party framework, they argue.
Rather than success, these movements have found the Democratic Party to be the burial grown for mass movements, and of third party efforts that sought to defend the interest of the people throughout American history.
If we follow the advice of the “left” Democrats who call on Greens to return to the Democratic Party, the Green Party will collapse like the New Party did for fear of confronting the Democrats.
The Year 2004
The year 2004 will be a critical year for the Greens. The campaign of the Democrats will be powerful and to some extent effective. Some will abandon us but others will be attracted by our courage and our principled stance. We may very well receive a lower vote than in 2000. But if we do not stand up to this pressure and hold our banner high, fight them and defend our right to exist, to have our voice heard, to run candidates that expose the two-party system and the hypocrisy of the Democratic Party and its complicity with the Republicans, we will suffer the greatest loss of all.
The full text of the Avacado Declaration, which is currently floating around Green listservs, is quite long. Email me if you want a copy. Update: 01/05/04. The final version is available here.
Is Camejo interested in running for President as a Green? As of a month ago, the answer was No. I view this Declaration as a call to arms and not as a candidacy statement by Camejo. Having said that, I think he’d be an articulate, powerful, energetic candidate, should he actively seek, and get, the nomination.