Peter Camejo wrote The Avocado Declaration in 2004. It details how a prime function of the Democratic Party is to siphon real protest into itself, where it then renders it inert. This has been going on for quite some time. After all, the Democratic Party backstabbed the Populist Party in the 1890’s.
He wrote this from a Green Party perspective as a vice presidential candidate on the Nader ticket. However, his analysis of how the Democratic Party pretends to be the friend of social movements before attempting to co-opt or neutralize them, remains on target and cogent. Both parties are corporatist and do not serve the people. That’s his primary point.
Camejo was a major organizer of antiwar protests in the 1960’s and was called one of the ten most dangerous citizens by then California governor Reagan. He ran for president on Socialist Worker’s Party in 1976 and was purged a few years later after refusing to follow their line. He was in hugely active in the California Green Party, where I knew him a bit, as well as at the national level. He was born wealthy but never stopped fighting for justice.
The Avocado Declaration
January 1st, 2004
The Green Party is at a crossroads. The 2004 elections place before us a clear and unavoidable choice. On one side, we can continue on the path of political independence, building a party of, by and for the people by running our own campaign for President of the United States. The other choice is the well-trodden path of lesser-evil politics, sacrificing our own voice and independence to support whoever the Democrats nominate in order, we are told, to defeat Bush.
The difference is not over whether to “defeat Bush” – understanding that to mean 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.
Ralph Nader’s 2000 presidential campaign exposed a crisis of confidence in the two-party system. His 2.7 million votes marked the first time in modern history that millions voted for a more progressive and independent alternative. Now, after three years of capitulation by the Democratic Party to George Bush they are launching a pre-emptive strike against a 2004 Ralph Nader campaign or any Green Party challenge. Were the Greens right to run in 2000? Should we do the same in 2004? The Avocado Declaration based on an analysis of our two-party duopoly, and its history declares we were right and we must run.
Origins of the present two-party system
History shows that the Democrats and Republicans are not two counterpoised forces, but rather complementary halves of a single two-party system: “one animal with two heads that feed from the same trough,” as Chicano leader Rodolfo “Corky” Gonzalez explained.
Since the Civil War a peculiar two-party political system has dominated the United States. Prior to the Civil War a two-party system existed which reflected opposing economic platforms. Since the Civil War a shift occurred. A two-party system remained in place but no longer had differing economic orientation. Since the Civil War the two parties show differences in their image, role, social base and some policies but in the last analysis, they both support essentially similar economic platforms.
This development can be clearly dated to the split in the Republican Party of 1872 where one wing merged with the “New Departure” Democrats that had already shifted towards the Republican platform, which was pro-finance and industrial business. Prior to the Civil War, the Democratic Party, controlled by the slaveocracy, favored agricultural business interests and developed an alliance with small farmers in conflict with industrial and some commercial interests. That division ended with the Civil War. Both parties supported financial and industrial business as the core of their programmatic outlook.
For over 130 years the two major parties have been extremely effective in preventing the emergence of any mass political formations that could challenge their political monopoly. Most attempts to build political alternatives have been efforts to represent the interests of the average person, the working people. These efforts have been unable to develop. Both major parties have been dominated by moneyed interests and today reflect the historic period of corporate rule.
In this sense United States history has been different from that of any other advanced industrial nation. In all other countries multi-party systems have appeared and to one degree or another these countries have more democratic electoral laws and better political representation. In most other countries, there exist political parties ostensibly based on or promoting the interest of non-corporate sectors such as working people.
Struggles for democracy and social justice
In spite of this pro-corporate political monopoly, mass struggles for social progress, struggles to expand democracy and civil rights have periodically exploded throughout United States history.
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.
Since the Civil War, without exception, the Democratic Party has opposed all mass struggles for democracy and social justice. These include the struggle for ballot reform, for the right of African Americans to vote and against American apartheid (“Jim Crow”), for the right to form unions, for the right of women to vote, against the war in Vietnam, the struggle to make lynching illegal, the fight against the death penalty, the struggle for universal health care, the fight for gay and lesbian rights, and endless others. Many of these struggles were initiated by or helped by the existence of small third parties.
Division of work
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. Its goal is always to co-opt the movement, demobilize its forces and block its development into an alternative, independent political force.
The Republican Party has historically acted as the open advocate for a platform which benefits the rule of wealth and corporate domination. They argue ideologically for policies benefiting the corporate rulers. The Republicans seek to convince the middle classes and labor to support the rule of the wealthy with the argument that “What’s good for General Motors is good for the country,” that what benefits corporations is also going to benefit regular people.
The Democratic Party is different. They act as a “broker” negotiating and selling influence among broad layers of the people to support the objectives of corporate rule. The Democratic Party’s core group of elected officials is rooted in careerists seeking self-promotion by offering to the corporate rulers their ability to control and deliver mass support. And to the people they offer some concessions, modifications on the platform of the Republican Party. One important value of the Democratic Party to the corporate world is that it makes the Republican Party possible through the maintenance of the stability that is essential for “business as usual.” It does this by preventing a genuine mass opposition from developing. Together the two parties offer one of the best frameworks possible with which to rule a people that otherwise would begin to move society towards the rule of the people (i.e. democracy).
An example of this process is our minimum-wage laws. Adjusted for inflation, the minimum wage has been gradually declining for years. Every now and then the Democrats pass a small upward adjustment that allows the downward trend to continue, but gives the appearance that they are on the side of the poor.
Together the two parties have made ballot access increasingly difficult, defended indirect elections such as the Electoral College, insisted on winner-take-all voting to block the appearance of alternative voices and opposed proportional representation to prevent the development of a representative democracy and the flowering of choices. Both parties support the undemocratic structure of the U.S. Senate and the Electoral College, which are not based on one person, one vote, but instead favor the more conservative regions of the nation.
Elections are based primarily on money. By gerrymandering and accumulating huge war chests –payoffs for doing favors for their rich “friends”– most officeholders face no real challenge at the ballot box and are re-elected. In the races that are “competitive,” repeatedly the contests are reduced to two individuals seeking corporate financial backing. Whoever wins the battle for money wins the election. Districts are gerrymandered into “safe” districts for one or the other party. Gerrymandering lowers the public’s interest and involvement while maintaining the fiction of “democracy” and “free elections.” The news media goes along with this, typically focusing on the presidential election and a handful of other races, denying most challengers the opportunity to get their message out to the public.
Corporate backing shifts between the two parties depending on short-term, and even accidental factors. In the 1990s, more endorsements from CEOs went to the Democrats. At present the money has shifted to the Republican Party. Most corporations donate to both parties to maintain their system in place.
No choice, no hope
The Democratic Party preaches defeatism to the most oppressed and exploited. Nothing can be expected, nothing is possible but what exists. To the people they justify continuous betrayal of the possibility for real change with the argument of lesser evil. It’s the Republicans or us. Nothing else is possible.
Democracy versus cooptation
Democracy remains a great danger to 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 potential power of the people is so great that it puts sharp limits on what corporations can do. 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.
As we enter the 21st century there is no more important issue than saving our planet from destruction. The world economy is becoming increasingly globalized. Corporate power is now global in nature and leads to massive dislocations and suffering for most people. The planet is overpopulated and the basis of human life declining. The greatest suffering and dislocations exist in the third world but there is also a downward trend in the United States as globalization leads to a polarization of income and wealth. This shift is making the United States each day closer to a third-world country with an extremely wealthy minority and a growing underclass. This polarization adds further fear of democracy for the elite.
The growing shift against the rule of law
The shift away from the rule of law has accelerated in recent years. This process will be a factor in the 2004 presidential elections especially if a Green candidate is involved in the race. The shift away from our Constitution is proceeding with the complicity of both parties and the courts. The changes are made illegally through legislation rather than the official process by which the Constitution can be amended because to do otherwise would awaken a massive resistance. A similar process is under way regarding the rule of law internationally.
The reason given for these steps since September 2001 is the terrorist attack within the borders of the United States. An attack made by forces originally trained, armed and supported by the United States government. The so-called “war on terrorism” does not exist. The United States Government has promoted, tolerated, and been party to the use of terrorism all over the world. The United States has even been found guilty of terrorism by the World Court.
The terrorist attacks against U.S. targets are important, but they need to be countered primarily in a social and political manner. A manner which is the opposite of that taken by the USA PATRIOT Act, and the occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq. On the contrary, by aggravating inequality, injustice, disrespecting the rule of law and its military interventions and occupation, the present policies of the U.S. Government add to the dangers faced by U.S. citizens throughout the world and in the United States. Especially dangerous are the promotion of nuclear, chemical and bacteriological weapons, and the open declarations of the intention to once again use nuclear weapons.
This recent shift, while rooted in bipartisan policies over the last decades, has been accelerated by the present Republican administration. Its ability to carry out these actions has depended on the Democratic Party’s support, and its ability to contain, disorient and prevent the development of mass opposition.
Amazingly, in December of 2003 General Tommy Franks, the recently retired head of U.S. Central Command was quoted as stating that he thought the people of the United States may prefer a military government over our present Constitutional Republican form, if another terrorist attack occurs. Such a statement is so far off base one must wonder why it is being made. The people of the United States are solidly opposed to any consideration of a military dictatorship in the United States. In fact, polls have repeatedly shown they favor increasing our democratic rights such as limiting campaign contributions and allowing more points of view in debates.
Never in our history have top military leaders or ex-military leaders spoken openly of ending our Constitutional form of government. No leader of the Democratic Party has protested Franks’ comments. How many officers in the armed forces have such opinions? If there are any they should be immediately removed from the military.
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 Paul Wellstone and Barbara Boxer voted for the USA PATRIOT Act. Huge majorities have repeatedly passed votes in the Congress against the United States Constitution. In one case only one Congresswoman, Barbara Lee, voted against the abrogation of the Constitution’s separation of powers as stated in Article 1, Section 8. 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.
The Democratic Party leadership as a whole gave repeated standing ovations to George Bush as he outlined his platform in his January 2002 State of the Union address, a speech that promoted the arbitrary decision to occupy sovereign nations through military aggression in violation of international law. The ovations given the Republican Platform by the Democratic Party were done on national television for the people to see a unified political force. The effect is to make people who believe in peace, support the U.N. charter, the World Court and the rule of law feel they are isolated, powerless and irrelevant.
A resolution was passed in March of 2003 calling for “Unequivocal Support” to “George Bush” for the war in Iraq. It had the full support of the Democratic Party leadership. Even Democratic “doves” like Dennis Kucinich would not vote against the resolution. Only a handful (eleven) of congressional representatives voted against the motion for “unequivocal support” to George Bush.
The role of the Democratic Party
The Democratic Party with its open defense of the Republican Platform and its attacks on our Constitution and the rule of law internationally would be of little value to those who favor the present policies if it allowed the development of a mass independent opposition. The failure of such forces to exist in sufficient strength permits the Democrats to be more open in their support for anti-democratic policies.
Nevertheless some voices outside the Democratic and Republican Parties are beginning to be heard. Massive anti-war street demonstrations, and the voice of a new small party, the Green Party, have gained some attention and respect. In no case did the Democratic Party as an institution support, call for, or help mobilize popular forces for peace and respecting international law. Yet large numbers of its rank and file and many lower level elected officials against their party participated and promoted anti-war protests.
Many lower elected officials among the Democrats and even some Republicans who defend the Constitution of the United States are voting to oppose the USA PATRIOT Act at the local level. Even many middle level Democrats have conflicting views and some time take progressive stances in concert with the Green Party’s platform. These individuals live in a contradiction with the Party they belong to. While we can and should join with them behind specific issues, we do not adopt their error of belonging to a party that is against the interest of the people, that is pro-corporate and is against the rule of law.
Democrats attack the Green Party
The Democratic Party allows its lower level representatives to present themselves as opposed to the war. Some of its leaders have begun to take on an appearance of disagreeing with “how” the policies of Bush are being implemented. The Democratic Party has unleashed a campaign to divide and conquer those opposed to the pro-war policies. On one hand it tries to appear sympathetic to anti-war sentiment while on the other it tries to silence voices opposed to Bush’s policies.
Soon after the 2000 presidential election The Democrats began an attack on the Green Party on the grounds that since there is no runoff system, that is, since the Democrats in partnership with the Republicans do not allow free elections, the Green Party’s existence and its candidate for President Ralph Nader in 2000 should be declared responsible for George Bush becoming president.
Progressive Democrats join attack
This campaign against the Greens has been heavily promoted by the corporate media. It has achieved success in part because of the support it has received by the more liberal wing of the Democratic Party and some of the “progressive” journals controlled by liberal Democrats, such as The Nation and Mother Jones.
Their political message is simple and clear: “no voice truly critical of the platform of the Republicans may be permitted; only the Democrats must appear as ‘opponents’ to the Republicans”. They have no objection to rightist, pro-war third party candidates entering the race and promoting their views. They only oppose a voice for peace and the rule of law like that of Ralph Nader in 2000.
Never in the history of the United States has a magazine claiming to favor democracy run a front page article calling on an individual not to run for president — until The Nation did so against Ralph Nader running for President in 2004. The fact that polls show 23% of the people favor Nader running (extrapolated to the total voting population this would represent about 40 million people) and 65% favored his inclusion in debates is of no concern to The Nation as it seeks to silence the only candidate who in 2000 opposed the premises of George Bush’s platform.
The conspiracy against the voters
The Nation’s editorial board is free to campaign for the Democratic Party and urge people to vote for the Democrats in spite of their support for the USA PATRIOT Act, their votes for “Unequivocal support to George Bush”, etc. That is their right. But they want something else. They want the Greens to join with them in a conspiracy to deny the voters a choice.
All voters are fully aware there is no runoff in a presidential race. Many who support the platform of the Greens will vote against their own principles by voting for the Democratic Party. Each voter will make that decision. But The Nation, along with many others, is calling on the Greens to disenfranchise voters who disagree with The Nation’s preference for the Democratic Party. It wants these voters to have no choice and be unable to express their electoral wish. The Nation and those it represents want to silence the voices of these voters, not to allow it to be registered, as a way to try and force them to vote for their party, the Democrats.
The passage of the USA PATRIOT Act, the undemocratic electoral laws, the manipulation of electoral campaigns by the corporate media and the campaign to silence the Greens are all part of the same campaign against democracy. They are just another example of how the two-party system is set up to repress and silence those who favor democracy.
Lesser evil leads to greater evil
The effectiveness of the “lesser evil” campaign has penetrated within the Green Party, where a minority supports the concept that the Green Party should not run in 2004. Behind this view is the concept that politics can be measured in degrees, like temperature, and that the Democrats offer a milder and thus less 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 in exactly the opposite way. 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.
It is in the interests of the corporate effort toward a new colonialism to have Bush re-elected in 2004, thereby legitimatizing his government before the world. In order to safely achieve that, the voices that truly oppose Bush’s policies need to be silenced.
Opposition is rising
Opposition is rising against Bush. The massive overwhelming majority of the world is against Bush’s war policies. The resistance to the occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the inability of the U.S. media and government to prevent the world from hearing the truth about these events, is weakening Bush’s standing. The corporate interests and their media apparently want to make a great effort to get Bush elected, but if this becomes too difficult, the Democratic Party will be prepared to appear as an “opposition” that will continue the essence of Bush’s policy with new justifications, modifications and adjusted forms.
The only force that could upset the general direction of the bipartisan policies put in place over the last few years would be a destabilizing mass development inside the United States, along with world public opinion. This occurred during the war in Vietnam and forced a reversal of U.S. policy.
In the case of Vietnam, the Republicans under Eisenhower initiated the direct U.S. intervention by sponsoring the Diem regime in the south of Vietnam when the French withdrew in the mid-1950s. With U.S. encouragement, his regime refused to abide by the peace accords and hold talks and elections to reunify the country. The Democrats under Kennedy sent ground troops in the early 60’s. The U.S. force expanded massively from 16,300 under Kennedy to more than half a million by 1967 under Lyndon Baines Johnson, Kennedy’s vice president, who won re-election in 1964 as the supposed “peace” candidate.
The rise of a massive uncontrollable opposition within the United States and around the world became a critical brake on the pro-war policies. An entire generation was starting to deeply question the direction of the United States in world affairs. The Democrats and Republicans, reflecting the opinion of the major corporate leaders and strategists, decided they had no choice but to pull back and concede military defeat in Vietnam because the developing division in U.S. society threatened to result in the emergence of a massive independent political force. This change in policy was carried out under Republican Richard Nixon.
Saving Bush from a backlash is now on the agenda, and the positions of the Democratic Party help Bush in several ways.
First, they seek to prevent even a small but independent critical political development, that is they try to silence the Green Party, and they orient those opposed to the new colonialism to stop demonstrating and focus instead on the electoral campaigns of their Party.
Second, they seek to convince the people that what was wrong with the invasion of Iraq was just that the United Nations -meaning the undemocratic Security Council dominated by the wealthiest countries– did not lend it political cover, or that NATO was not the military form used, or that the U.S. did not include France and Germany in stealing Iraq’s resources, or that not enough troops are being used or some other question about how things are being done rather than what is being done.
They promise that all will be well if the Democrats can take charge and handle the matter better. With this orientation the Democrats free the hands of corporate America to give their funding and support to Bush. With the exception of a relatively few isolated voices they offer, not real opposition, but only nuances.
And those isolated voices of opposition within the Democratic Party (Kucinich, Rev. Al Sharpton and Carol Moseley-Braun), no matter how well-intentioned, have a negative consequence: they give legitimacy to the Democrats as the “opponents” of the Republicans.
These exceptions to the general rule are allowed on condition that after the primary campaigns these individuals will urge a vote for the Democratic nominee. This must be done no matter how different that nominated candidate’s positions are from the positions taken during the primary campaign. The cover for their political sellout is the winner-take-all system that allows them to posture as just “opposed to Bush” as they support the very party that has supported Bush.
Those are the dues you have to pay to “play” in that game; otherwise they will be eliminated and driven out of the House, the Senate or a Governor’s office.
For the Green Party there is nothing more important or effective, long-term and short-term, in the efforts to stop Bush than to expose how the corporate interests use their two-party system and the role of the Democrats in that system. We must let all Americans who question the policies of Bush, who favor the rule of law, peace, and our Constitution and Bill of Rights see the Democratic Party’s hypocrisy, how they support the war and the USA PATRIOT Act.
Democrats help institutionalize Bush’s platform
It is transparent that the Democrats’ objective is to help institutionalize the USA PATRIOT Act and its break with our Constitution and Bill of Rights. They do this by proposing amendments and adjustments to the law that will disorient, divide and weaken the opposition to the USA PATRIOT Act, and give the appearance that public concerns have been corrected.
The Democrats are making interesting suggestions for how to pursue the war effort. Some are calling for a more extensive commitment and the sending of more troops to suppress any resistance to U.S. domination in Iraq and Afghanistan. Others are suggesting more flexibility in forming alliances with European nations that had made capital investments to exploit Iraq’s oil wealth under the Saddam Hussein dictatorship. These proposals are all aimed at continuing the denial of self-determination for the people of Iraq, which means continuing war and continuing violation of international law.
The Democrats and Republicans both supported Saddam Hussein and the Baathists in Iraq before 1990 when it served their interests. Now they argue with each other over how best to oppress the Iraqis as they try to fool the American people into thinking they are actually trying to bring the Iraqis democracy and freedom.
The role of these two parties is not a conspiracy. Boxer, Wellstone and many other Democrats did not vote for the USA PATRIOT Act consciously seeking to assist Bush. Being Democrats, they become part of a system that will have them removed if they do not follow the rules of support when corporate America insists. To rise in the Democratic Party there is a process that results in compliant people unable to question, who remain silent before betrayals, or criminal acts. Cynthia McKinney is an example of a Democrat who refused to go along, stepped across the line within the Democratic Party and was driven out of office by the combined efforts of both the Democratic and Republican parties and the corporate media.
The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution prohibits searches without probable cause and a judge’s order. Voting for a law that abrogates this amendment, as the USA PATRIOT Act does directly, is an illegal act. The Democrats and Republicans who voted for this law were fully aware of what they were doing. It is an insult to the intelligence of people like Wellstone and Boxer to say that they didn’t fully understood the choice they were making. The Green Party differs; it defends the Fourth Amendment and seeks to defend the Constitution and respect for the law which provides the only method by which the Constitution can be amended, requiring the consideration and vote of the states.
It should be said that there are many issues where Greens agree with Democrats like Boxer and Wellstone, and even admire positions they have taken and efforts they have made. But to go into denial, and refuse to recognize the obvious –that the Democrats have joined in passing and promoting the USA PATRIOT Act against the Constitution with the support of people like Boxer– is to deny the true framework we face politically in our nation.
The self purging process of the Democratic Party is an ongoing balance between allowing, even welcoming, voices of opposition in order to co-opt, but not allowing those voices to form a serious challenge, especially any challenge that favors the development of political formations not dominated by corporate money.
Success of Democratic Party
The Democratic Party should be seen historically as the most successful political party in the history of the world in terms of maintaining stability for rule by the privileged few. There is no other example that comes near what the Democratic Party has achieved in maintaining the domination of money over people.
Through trickery, the Democratic Party co-opted the powerful and massive rise of the Populist movement at the end of the 19th century using precisely the same lesser evil arguments now presented against the Green Party.
They blocked the formation of a mass Labor Party when the union movement rose in the 1930s. They derailed, co-opted and dismantled the powerful civil rights movement, anti-Vietnam war movement and women’s liberation movement. They have even succeeded in establishing popular myths that they were once for labor, for civil rights and for peace. Nothing could be further from the truth.
One quite popular myth is that Franklin Delano Roosevelt was pro labor. Continuing the policies of Woodrow Wilson who oversaw a reign of anti-union terror, including black listing and deporting immigrant labor organizers, FDR’s administration sabotaged union drives every step of the way. When workers overcame their bosses’ resistance and began winning strikes, FDR turned on them and gave the green light for repression after police killed ten striking steel workers in 1937. As FDR said himself, “I’m the best friend the profit system ever had.” After WWII Truman used the new Taft Hartley Anti-Labor Act to break national strikes more than a dozen times.
The Democrats have not abandoned “progressive” positions they once held, as some Democrats repeatedly claim but have simply shifted further to the right as world globalization has advanced leading to the lowering of democratic rights and the growth of wealth polarization within the United States.
If a massive opposition develops, if the Greens begin to win races and their following grows, the corporations will put more money behind the Democrats, the media will become more sympathetic to the Democrats, promote their more “progressive” voices. The media would also become more critical of the Republican lack of sensitivity, all in an effort to maintain the two-party system. That is, a shift towards the Democrats will occur if the Democrats cannot control the people.
The two-party system is a self-correcting mechanism that shifts back and forth between the two parties, and within different wings of those parties, to maintain corporate political control. Loyalty to the two-party system is inculcated in the educational system, and our electoral laws are rigged to discriminate against third parties.
Green voice must be heard
Those who call for a “lesser evil”, which is still a call for evil, will unfortunately succeed. The call for a “lesser evil” is what makes possible the greater evil. Those voices who say Ralph Nader should not run, that the Greens should consider withdrawing, that the Greens should not campaign in states where the vote is close are unconsciously helping Bush’s re-election by weakening the development of an opposition political movement which could shift the balance of forces. Nothing is more important than the appearance of candidates and mass actions that tell the full truth, that call for the rule of law, respect for the Bill of Rights, and speak out for peace and social justice.
There is nothing more threatening to the rule of the corporations than the consolidation of a party of hundreds of thousands of citizens, especially young people, that fearlessly tell the truth to the American people. Only such a movement can in time become millions, then tens of millions and eventually win. But it is also the best strategy for the short term, to force a shift away from the direction being pursued today.
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. This argument was made 100 years ago, 50 years ago, 25 years ago and, of course remains with us today. Millions have agreed there’s no time to do the right thing. Very powerful groups, like the AFL-CIO, have followed this advice. As a result, the number of workers in unions has dropped from 37% of the work force to 12% as they politically subordinated themselves to the pro-corporate Democratic Party.
Rather than success, these movements have found the Democratic Party to be the burial ground for mass movements, and of third-party efforts that sought to defend the interests 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 exact opposite is needed. We need to encourage those Democrats who are opposing the policies of their party to follow the lead of Congressman Dan Hamburg and break with the Democrats and join with us in developing an alternative force, fighting for democracy, social justice and peace.
All people who believe in democracy need to call on The Nation and others to stop their campaign against the Greens, a campaign at the service of corporate America. Instead they should join with the Greens in a battle for democracy in the same manner in which many progressive Democrats in San Francisco rejected their party’s nomination for mayor and joined with the Greens to create a progressive alternative. We need to suggest to “progressive” Democrats that they should concentrate their attacks on the leadership of their party and its support for George Bush’s policies, and not on the Greens for telling the truth and actually fighting for the ideals many of these Democrats claim to hold.
The Year 2004
The year 2004 is 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. In California, the Green registration continues to rise even as the campaign against the Green Party grows. 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 lost of all.
The Green Party
The Green Party can and will win the hearts and minds of people when they see us as reliable and unshakeable, if we stand our ground. In time this leads to respect and then support. Those Greens who agree with the Ten Key Values but have disagreements with this Avocado Declaration need to be respected. We need to allow an open and honest debate as an essential part of our culture.
Truth can only be ascertained through the conflict of ideas. Thus democracy is essential for society but also for our internal process. The present discussion around the 2004 elections is one that will not end but will be with us for a long time. It finds expression in many forms because it is the most FUNDAMENTAL ISSUE of American politics in our epoch. Are we willing to stand up to the rule of corporate domination and its central political agent that has deceived and betrayed our people, the Democratic Party?
The Green Party must be a pluralistic organization
The Green Party seeks to bring all those who agree with its Ten Key Values into one unified political party. It welcomes diversity, debate, and discussion on issues of strategy, tactics and methods of functioning. By its nature, a healthy organization that fights for the interests of the people will always have internal conflicts, sharp differences, personality difficulties and all other things human. This is not only normal, it is healthy.
The Greens do not consider themselves a substitute for other movements or organizations, such as peace organizations and other specific issue groups that seek to unite people of all political persuasions around a specific platform. We welcome diversity with other groups that seek to move in the same direction with us but are not agreed to join us. We will try to work with such organizations where common ground exists. Thus the AVOCADO DECLARATION includes a call for the Greens to accept diversity, and maintain unity as we seek to build an effective mass organization.
Let those that agree with the AVOCADO DECLARATION help protect and build the Green Party as a vehicle for democracy, freedom, liberty and justice for all.