Thursday, March 02, 2006

Changing Party for Pennacchio

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I am a registered Green. Beyond that, I discussed my displeasure with the Democrats, and how I don't want to become one.

"The thought of registering as a Democrat makes me feel dirty and slimy."

Yesterday in the comments section of another post, Chuck Pennacchio: Part I; Chuck v. Casey, Charlie Crystle wrote:

"Would you switch your registration to Democrat to vote for Chuck? That is what all Greens should do. He's a green in Dem clothing, which many of us are."

Good question. First of all, I would like to thank Mr. Crystle for posting a comment on (and reading) my blog. It's an honor to have a former U.S. Senate candidate take an interest in The Cajun Jew. To answer his question: yes, I am going to register as a Democrat for the May 16th PA primary election. Now, the issue is why would (should) a Green do this. I have written that registering as a Green is a political statement. That,

"if enough progressively minded folks register as Greens it could send a message to the Democrats that our opinions are relevant and that in order to earn our votes the Dems. must become more liberal."

My thinking has not changed. More progressive Democrats and independents should register as Greens for the aforementioned reason. However, in states like Pennsylvania, which operate a closed primary, members of third parties cannot vote in the primary elections of the two major parties. So, Pennsylvania will not allow me, as a Green, to vote for Chuck Pennacchio. Be that as it may, I hold the power to vote for Chuck Pennacchio--all Greens do--by changing our affiliations temporarily to the Democratic party. We all can vote for Chuck Pennacchio, but some of us won't vote for him, because of our foolish pride. What matters more: having progressive ideals or progressive leaders to enact those ideals? Greens and progressive Independents must not be fooled by loyalty to our party or lack there of. I love being a Green, but frankly, my political beliefs are not beholden to party membership. If the person who I judge to be the most capable candidate is a Democrat, then it is my obligation to vote for that Democrat.

We Greens and Independents often call ourselves progressives, but look at that word for a minute progress-ive. We define ourselves as those moving toward a greater good, but what good, indeed what progress, can be made by not voting for the progressive candidate. Some will vote for Bob Casey Jr. believing that his conservative tendencies will lure moderate Republicans away from Santorum. It would be reasonable to vote for Casey over Santorum in the general election, because Senator Casey would be a minor improvement over Senator Santorum, bringing Harry Reid one Senator closer to majority leadership. But a vote for Casey in the primary election would not produce nearly as much progress as a vote for Pennacchio. If Pennacchio had no chance of beating Santorum, I could understand voting for Casey. However, a recent Zogby poll, shows that both Casey and Pennacchio can beat Santorum. So why should progressives vote for Casey?

There is no Green party primary election for U.S. Senator. In the general election, some progressives will vote for the Green Party candidate, Carl Romanelli. If people truly cannot stomach voting for Casey in the general election, I understand voting for Romanelli but respectfully disagree with it. I want the Democrats to hold a majority in the Senate, because that will give them the power to investigate the Bush administration's illegal and disgraceful actions (e. g. warentless wiretapping). If Pennacchio is not the Democratic candidate in the general election, and that means voting for Casey, then I must hold my nose and do so for the greater good.

Some Greens and Independents will not vote in the primary elections. That is a mistake. Complaining about not having the right to vote in the primary is silly and incorrect. Changing your registration to the Democratic party for one month does not mean sacrificing your progressive beliefs; on the contrary, it more fully expresses them. In all honesty, what do we as Greens and progressives have to lose by temporarily affiliating ourselves with the Democrats so that we can vote for Chuck Pennacchio? If we want Dr. Pennacchio to be Senator Pennacchio, then as good citizens we are obligated to vote for him. It's not hard. Just drop by your local post office (how about tomorrow before work?) and pick up a voter registration form. Fill it out and hand it to a postal worker (make sure you do this by the April 17th deadline). Then show up at your precinct on May 16th and vote for Pennacchio. Afterward, you can switch back to the Green Party or no affiliation. In a choice of pride or progress, we cannot betray each other.


I encourage you all to read Chris Bowers' excellent post on MyDD entitled, "The Ultimate Validation of Progressive Ideals." It's a marvelous essay on the meaning of being progressive, defining progressivism through actions rather than words.


At 2:56 AM, Blogger Charlie Crystle said...

Thanks for the kind words. Parties are organizations. Beliefs and principles are largely independent of organizations. I'm a Democrat and not a Green because you can't govern if you can't win. And these days, Republican, Democrat--well, they are so much the same. not in the positions they take, but in the complete lack of conviction, in the absense of any principle, and in the way each party succombs to corporate incluence and power. Weakness of different stripes, but weakness nonetheless.

I no longer care about labels. I want honesty, independence, and leaders who act for the common good. Republican, Democrat, Green; Liberal, Conservative, Radical, Fashionista or Sandinista--whatever improves the human condition, I'm for that.


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