Green party offers hope for real change

“Hope deferred,” says the Bible, “makes the heart sick. But a dream fulfilled is a tree of life.”

Lots of people these days have lost hope in the political system of this country. Hope and freedom seem like brand-names, bright packages on unsavory products. Practically everyone in America supports universal background checks for gun-buyers, but a handful of extremists backed by corporate money kept this measure from even having a chance at becoming law.

But pick your issue, left or right. The national parties are dim-witted porcine behemoths, unable to be prodded or led down any path that doesn’t end in a trough brimming with corporate cash. How will they ever change?

They won’t—unless they have to. And they might have to; identification with the national parties is at an all-time low.

But it’s probably a mistake to look for a new option, a third party, on the national level. The zero-sum game of the two-party system means that a vote for non-Democrat means a victory for a Republican, and vice versa.

It’s on the local level that third parties have the best chance to make an impact.

In the early part of the 20th century, the Farmer-Labor Party rose up in a couple of Midwestern states and kicked the round lazy asses of the national parties. In the end, they merged with the Democratic Party, but in doing so they transformed it.

Before the Farmer-Labor influx, the Democrats were the party of segregation and the KKK. Afterwards they were well on their way to becoming the party of civil rights, the party that would one day lift Barack Obama to the White House. It was the DFL mayor of Minneapolis who told the Democratic National convention in 1948 that “the time has arrived in America for the Democratic Party to get out of the shadow of states’ rights and walk forthrightly into the bright sunshine of human rights.” They did, and they changed America for the better.

The Republicans themselves began as a third party, climbing to national status over the broken shells of older parties that had proved unable to adapt to the times. Their local strength led to transformitive national power.

We have a local opportunity to enact some real political change here in Bowling Green. It might seem like a small election, but this year we are set to elect two at-large members of the city council. The Republicans have put forth two candidates, but the Democrats have put forth only one. That leaves an opening for a third party candidate, with a real chance of being elected, without playing the zero-sum game of two-party politics.

The Green candidate for Bowling Green city council is a guy named Joe De Mare. Lots of people in town know him already, and more will have the chance to meet him in the coming months. You can learn more about Joe and his views here: http://www.ohiogreens.org/node/65

Voting for Joe won’t be a gesture of defiance, a mere symbolic act. For one thing, he’s a person of sincere convictions. For another: he’s a Green. The Greens can’t be bought because they don’t take corporate money, on the national or the local level, and when they get elected, they change things.

They changed things in San Francisco, where the Green majority on the city council brought about universal health care. Even a single Green can change things, as in Cleveland where City Councillor Brian Cummins has helped keep a garbage-burning plant from being plonked down in a residential area.

If your heart is sick of politics, if you’re weary of waiting for real change in this country, I urge you not to despair. Plant this green seed of hope and watch it grow into a tree of life.

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