Rhetorical Agent Orange (Get It? Get It?!?)
Via Matt Yglesias, himself via Jesse, I see that the Greens are looking to target Senator Barbara Boxer in next year's elections.
Before I begin, I want to make clear that the following does not apply to Ralph Nader. I will get to him in a future post (yes, I've said that before...I mean it though). Briefly, Ralph Nader and the Green Party are separate entities which need to be approached in different ways. For now, though, let me repeat, this does not apply to Ralph Nader.
Having said that, are these people fucking insane?!
What the HELL is wrong with these idiots?
Good God. The Greens have always struck me as amateurs with just enough teeth to hurt their friends, but this is ridiculous.
I understand and approve of the passion and commitment of a lot of the Greens, but they don't have nearly enough political bloody-mindedness to actually make the kind of impact they want. This business with Sen. Boxer is, unfortunately, rather typical. By targeting Boxer, they run the risk of alienating one of the few major politicians who actually agrees with most of their positions, or, heaven forbid, handing her seat to a Republican. And we all know what kind of lunatics the GOP likes to run in California.
It's a classic case of choosing the battles they have the best chance of winning, and in doing so, guaranteeing that they lose the war.
This really should be obvious; if you pick off your friends one by one, you are eventually left with nothing but enemies. And in American politics, the only enemies the Greens have are to the Right of them.
This is not a good thing.
One has to wonder where the Green Party leadership's heads are. They are not nearly big enough to actually win any critical offices yet; for the foreseeable future, the Greens are going to have to accept the fact that they are little more than a stick with which to hit their enemies, not a viable replacement for them.
It's a question of resources: in terms of funding, Party machinery, and popular support, the Greens currently have very little, and are trying to do as much in as many places as possible with what they do have. However, in doing so, they are wasting what could potentially be a powerful force on the Left.
"He who defends everything defends nothing."
Frederick the Great said that, and he is generally considered to have been a Winner, so for now I will accept it as Truth. It can be applied to the Green Party in this way: By spreading thin their national resources by running as many candidates in as many races as possible, the Greens set themselves up for failure. Building a widespread foundation for the Party is critical, but simultaneously running all kinds of hopeless candidates in races they cannot win hurts more by wasting resources and making the Party look weak than it helps by improving name recognition.
The Greens want to be taken seriously. Well, fair enough. But this scorched earth thing, attacking those that agree with them, is massively counterproductive. The banes of their existence are politicians like Joe Lieberman and Zell Miller. These two men are the embodiment of the Democratic Party's Rightward shift, voting with the Republicans and business interests on nearly every bill that comes before them.
If you are going to use your party as a punishment to those whose views differ from yours, the smartest course of action is to use that punishment on the people whose views are furthest from yours, not closest. While such discussions are moot when it comes to Miller, who has declared that this term is to be his last, a concentrated Green campaign against the next Senate run of Lieberman (who, if God loves us, will be trounced in the Presidential primaries, never to be heard from on the national stage again) could be extremely effective, for two reasons.
First of all, there is an outside chance that Lieberman, afraid of losing enough votes on the Left to make him vulnerable to the Republicans (no matter how much he seems to enjoy cooperating with the GOP, he's a smart enough politician to know that if he looked vulnerable enough, they wouldn't hesitate to attack him with all the fury they could muster), would actually make some concessions to the Left. But more importantly, it would serve as an incentive to keep the rest of the Democratic steers inside the Lefty corral.
No wandering outside the pen or ZAP! goes the big Green cattleprod.
This is the ideal role of the Green Party, at least until they build up more party infrastructure and manage to get a James Carville-type to show them how to actually win things.
But, for now, as much as I hate to jump onto the bandwagon with the nitwits who deride the Greens as nothing more than granola-munching hippies, I have to say that the Greens are running in exactly the wrong direction, and until they get a major course correction, I'm going to have to continue to condemn them.
Shorter Mighty Reason Man: Until they build a more powerful national apparatus, the Green Party should use what influence it has to act as the Enforcer of the Left, keeping the Democrats in line by slapping Right-wing Democrats like Joe Lieberman, not Left-wingers like Barbara Boxer.