An Open Letter to Rocky Anderson

Dear Mr. Anderson,

I was both encouraged and concerned when I learned that you were planning to run for President of the United States.  Your voice in our national discussion has been indispensible, both during the Bush administration decrying the myriad abuses of power and both before and during the Obama administration when you admonished the Democrats for either actively or passively allowing those same abuses to continue. You’ve proved yourself to be a man of profound integrity, bravery and competence and know you would make a fine president.

However, I was dismayed to learn that you will be seeking the presidency under a newly created party. I humbly ask that you reconsider and run as the nominee of the Green party. Creating a new party is a terrible, counterproductive and downright dangerous idea.

At best, it is needlessly challenging. The Green Party lines up with your views on virtually every issue. The Green Party not only agrees with the stances you have taken but would be uniquely privileged to have a candidate who has actively fought for progressive values. You have not merely passively and tepidly supported but, as a lawyer and mayor, boldly fought for citizens’ privacy, safety from police brutality, strong ethics laws, a healthy and livable planet, equal rights for the LGBT community and a livable wage. While the Greens do languish in relative obscurity due to limited media attention and the absence of corporate bribery, we have managed to establish a small but devoted network of volunteers and elected officials and hold ballot access in states that equal 243 electoral votes. Not running as a Green would mean forgoing existing support and stand as a slight to fellow citizens who are obviously your ideological allies.

At worst, however, running with new party would divide the left when we most need unity. 2012 could be a great opportunity for us. Obama has proved himself to be spineless, unprincipled and deeply ineffective, while the Republicans drift further and further into total madness. Those of us who desperately wish to see an America that protects its most vulnerable, works towards a clean environment and doesn’t engage in global imperialism have been forced to work outside the two party system. In 2012 we need a single leader, backed by a single party to articulate this dream and the frustration of those who share it to the country. In 2000, Nader had a positive impact on our democracy by finally challenging the corruption and hypocrisy of the Republicans and Democrats. However, in the later election cycles he created needless acrimony, redundancy and confusion by running as an independent against a Green with essentially the same platform. By not running as a Green you risk creating the exact same scenario: Two candidates with Green values, but only one formally representing the Greens, running for the same job.

Moreover, running outside the Green Party overlooks a key failing that 3rd party candidates for president too frequently make. The presidency is one elected job among thousands in America. The bids of both Nader and Perot overlooked this fact. They worked singularly to get themselves elected but neglected to put any energy into growing the parties they represented. Despite generating support and enthusiasm they were little more then flashes in a pan because they failed to build a movement beyond themselves. For political change to occur it needs to come from movements, not a messiah.  An effective movement needs more than just one charismatic leader but a legion of like-minded candidates, organizers, advocates and volunteers all working towards the same goal. It needs cohesion and patience that extends beyond 1 or 2 election cycles. Awareness and support needs to slowly be cultivated amongst voters. State parties need to build an experienced base of volunteers (or if funds allow, employees). Races need to be won at the local and state level, proving to the public and media that the party is viable and can effectively govern once elected. The Green Party has abided by this “tortoise” instead of hare strategy for years.

Having a national presidential campaign is essential because it can uniquely broadcast the party’s message to the whole country and attract media visibility.  However, it is equally essential that presidential campaigns work in tandem it’s party’s other campaigns for lower offices. All the support a presidential campaign gets is irrelevant if it loses without representing a party. The struggle to positively change America is a marathon. I’m afraid that starting a new party to facilitate you bid would be tantamount to sprinting, leaving you and your supporters exhausted and stranded.

I humbly and deeply ask you to reconsider.

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11 responses to “An Open Letter to Rocky Anderson

  1. You make some very valid points. But what we have is not working. The green party, the republicans, the democrats. NONE OF IT. We need a new party. And he might not win and there might be some ramifications. BUT, this is the kind of thing that needs to start happening. We need to start changing and evolving. Rocky is, if nothing else, making a statement and opening a crucial discussion. I acknowledge and think you make some very valid points, but I respectfully disagree. GO ROCKY GO!

    • I understand your frustration but what criticism exactly do you have of The Green Party? Why would creating a new party to facilitate a run for a man who shares the same values of an existing party make any sense?

  2. AN OPEN LETTER TO THE GREEN PARTY ?

    Hi Rocky,
    This could be a good opportunity to address the members of the Green Party and make some constructive propositions around the necessity to build a broad ranging coalition that INCLUDES, but goes beyond the actual somewhat marginal Green Party.

    In short, the members of the Green Party should have the choice between a “go it alone” strategy that will continue to be ineffective and marginal (the “less than 1%” strategy), or a “BROAD COALITION” strategy – including Labor, Progressives, Greens, Independents, Church groups and disgruntled Democrats and Republicans – a successful strategy used by the NDP in Canada that is actually capable of WINNING elections.

    Ben should know that we have already proposed to several key figures in the Green Party* to engage in this more successful “broad coalition” strategy. (*Jill Stein, John Andrews, Howie Hawkins)

    In my opinion, we should prepare an “OPEN LETTER” to members of the Green Party which clearly lays out these important choices that their Party will have to discuss and ultimately come to a political decision on.

    The Green Party’s National Presidential Nominating Convention will take place relatively late in the game at the University of Baltimore from July 12-15, 2012. They should also have the possibility of eventually supporting Rocky Anderson – among other Green Party candidates – and a long term engagement to build this broader ranging coalition. If the Greens choose to “go it alone”, they will continue to be politically marginal and relatively ineffective, but they need to have that debate within their ranks.

    This “open letter” to the Greens should be positive and constructive and help the Party start that debate. I believe that key people within the Green Party, like Howie Hawkins, would support the “BROAD COALITION” option.

    We will certainly be more effective during the 2012 election cycle and beyond, if we are able to work together, not only for the Presidential race, but also for the numerous other State and local races.

    Yours in solidarity,
    Michael McGEE
    Member of the Justice Party Steering Committee
    E-mail : wind-energy@evc.net

  3. Thanks for responding Michael, but I find your argument rather confusing.

    The Greens are not following a “less than 1% strategy” as you accuse us. While we do struggle for electoral success, that isn’t the result of strategic inadequacies but the natural consequence of being buried underneath an unfair electoral system that favors two parties and an unlimited spigot of dirty money going towards the Republicans and Democrats.

    The NDP’s success in Canada has little to do with a ““BROAD COALITION strategy”. The American Green’s are constantly trying to bring in, as you said, “Labor, Progressives, Greens, Independents, Church groups and disgruntled Democrats and Republicans”. The NDP was successful in Canada not because of some vague strategy you allude to, but because Canada has clean election laws that allows third parties to have a chance to compete. It is also ironic that you point to Canada because the Canadian Greens elected their first MP this year.

    Instead of building unity, the Justice party would needlessly rip like-mined individuals apart.

  4. Rocky Anderson should indeed go with the Green Party.

    He could help the Greens gain ballot status in 5 to 10 difficult states, and thereby win Green Party support within the party.

    Anderson would add to the primary contest and the Green Party presidential ticket, perhaps in the VP slot.

    It is difficult to see anyone running a better campaign than Dr. Jill Stein has done so far for the Green Party nomination. Stein has been perfect.

    Stein and Anderson would make a strong Green Party ticket.

    Rocky doesn’t have a clue about ballot access of pain of trying to get on the ballot in 50 states. Only with the Green Party does he get anywhere close in 2012.

  5. Thank you for the open Green Party letter to Rocky Anderson. I was thinking about exactly the same topic.

    Mr. Anderson would show smarts by joining forces with the Green Party.

  6. I, too, share the idea that Rocky Anderson and Jill Stein would make a very good ticket— but, as the candidates of the Justice Party.

    The Greens have pursued a “safe states” strategy as if the Democrats have some kind of right to win by virtue of their existence.

    The Green Party still functions as a junior Democratic Party— and often as apologists for the Democrats— in many areas.

    One need only look at the Green Party in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

    Here in Minnesota the St. Paul Green Party is working in league with both Democrats and Republicans to help the Ford Motor Company take the wrecking ball to the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant which will destroy thousands of present and future jobs instead of helping to build a movement to save this Plant and the jobs.

    I would point out that the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant has been turned into an exemplary model of a green manufacturing facility courtesy of local, state and federal tax-payers.

    The St. Paul Green Party just ran candidates for City Council in St. Paul and not one single one of their candidates spoke to this important issue— so much for the Green Party supporting working people.

    In Wisconsin, a Green Party activist whose own work on his own campaign for a State Assembly position which I admire greatly, Ben Manski, is now calling for people to support running Democrat and former congressperson, Dave Obey for Wisconsin Governor when Scott Walker is re-called.

    Furthermore, the Green Party has refused to support the struggles for justice by some two-million workers employed in the loud, noisy, smoke-filled casinos of the Indian Gaming Industry who receive poverty wages and have no rights under any state or federal labor laws.

    The Green Party hides it support for the Indian Gaming Industry behind its perverted sense of what sovereignty is. Since when is the sovereignty of any nation a license to abuse and mistreat working people and impose poverty on working people while subjecting them to work without any rights in unsafe and unhealthy working conditions?

    I am at present supporting Jill Stein for President but in no way, shape or form am I supporting the Green Party.

    I do acknowledge that the Green Party is a very “mixed bag;” such a “mixed bag” that it is not what you are claiming it to be.

    I can point to instance after instance where all that it takes from a Green Party member to become a Democrat is for Democrats to offer this or that Green a good-paying job.

    Here in Minnesota we have seen this “sell-out” over and over again. The case of the deceitful liar Elizabeth Dickinson, a foundation flower, is no exception.

    The Green Party should be encouraging a unity ticket of Rocky Anderson and Jill Stein under the banner of the new Justice Party.

    I support Jill Stein because as a doctor she would have one heck of a time ethically and morally weaseling out of doing something about workers employed in these loud, noisy, smoke-filled casinos at poverty wages without any rights. In fact, I will support any ticket she would run on.

    And Rocky Anderson has a proven track record of winning elections.

    Alan L. Maki
    Director of Organizing,
    Midwest Casino Workers Organizing Council

  7. I will add the the thoughts of my friend and ally, Alan Maki.

    In Minnesota, the Green part ran 58 candidates. i was one of them. That was due, in large part to the work and efforts of Ralph Nader. Now the National Green Party boasts of running 140 candidates all over the country. Often many of the successes are campaigns for Soil and Water Commissions that have two people in the race with two open spots.Until the Green party takes a good long look at itself and asks WHY so many dedicated activists have fled, these dynamics will not change.

    I visited the Green presidential debates in California, as a cyber visitor. I spoke on behalf of a new national organization, the New Progressive Alliance. I asked about having the Rocky and Jill campaign work together, in a fusion type campaign. The people present would not even ask the question. I then contacted Jill’s campaign via e mail, since I am now active in both NPA and Rocky’s campaign.

    To date, i have not even received an acknowledgment or response.

  8. I would like to point out that Ben Manski has contacted me and says he is not supporting former U.S. Congressman and Democrat David Obey for Wisconsin governor when Republican Scott Walker is re-called.

    I will take Ben’s word for this, and leave it to those reading the comments made on facebook to determine how I could have arrived at the conclusion I did.

    I do think it is the responsibility of Jill Stein and Rocky Anderson to work a little harder reaching a “meeting of the minds” that would create an atmosphere where they can work together.

    After all, it is our problems they both insist they want to work with us to solve as the reason for running.

    In our various movements for peace, social and economic justice we strive for the maximum unity possible; there is no reason why we shouldn’t strive for that same unity when it comes to electoral politics and the ballot box. Isn’t there already enough people fed up with this two-party trap which is causing disenfranchisement when it comes to electoral politics and at the ballot box?

    These two candidates want to lead this country; let them begin by leading us 99% in unity to break free from this “two-party trap.”

  9. I’m glad to have discovered this little essay from back in December. Those who favor starting a whole new party and point to Green failures should ask how many of those failures might be attributed to their own lack of participation.

    You might find a couple of my earlier efforts interesting:
    http://kitchenmudge.wordpress.com/2011/01/03/why-dont-the-greens/
    http://kitchenmudge.wordpress.com/2011/07/24/chickens-and-eggs/

  10. Just remembered this blog when I found out that Luis Rodriguez, Anderson’s running mate, is now running for the Green nomination for Governor in California.

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