The Hartford Advocate has a story out today about Green Party gubernatorial candidate Cliff Thornton, whose major difference with his rivals revolves around the war on drugs:
...Hartford native and Glastonbury resident Thornton, a long-time drug legalization advocate and first-time political candidate, saw a clear distinction between his campaign and the campaigns of DeStefano and Malloy.
¨I´m not insane. They´re insane,¨ Thornton said. Their insanity, he said, stems from support of drug prohibition.
¨DeStefano and Malloy are applying the same tactics that have been employed for almost a century, in and around drug prohibition. We have had almost a century of the war on drugs,¨ Thornton said. ¨Yet there are more drugs selling for cheaper prices on our streets than ever before. Would you say it´s time to look at something different than what we´ve been doing?¨ (Bulger)
The crazy thing here is that Thornton actually has a point. What we're doing about drugs isn't working. Maybe legalization isn't the answer, but so far no one else is even addressing the problem. Too bad no one's paying attention.
Such is the fate of the Green Party: to be forever ahead of the curve, then forgotten or shoved aside when everyone else catches up. Case in point: Iraq. A lot of Americans are upset with the way the war is being handled. Greens were out protesting it long ago. Another example is campaign finance reform and public financing, which were Green ideas long before Democrats and Jodi Rell discovered them.
So why can't the Greens get their message out? Funding is one issue: they don't have any. Members are notoriously cheap, and the party won't take corporate donations (not that any corporations would give to them). Another issue is the party members themselves: there aren't enough of them, and they don't get along. For example:
¨We´re a party that´s in the process of rebuilding, quite frankly. We´ve had an office we haven´t had a chance to fully staff,¨ Tim McKee, Thornton´s campaign manager, said. In order to get Thornton on the ballot, the Greens need 15,000 signatures by Aug. 9. McKee said they currently have just under 1,000.
Meanwhile, the party is still reeling from defections and from a divisive 2004 election.
¨I think people know that the 2004 presidential race split us quite a bit. Locally, people like [New Haven alderwoman] Joyce Chen switched and became a Democrat. [Hartford City Council member] Elizabeth Horton-Sheff left because she thought we were talking too much about international issues like the war. Quite frankly, this is the first time we´ve had to talk about statewide issues,¨ McKee said. (Bulger)
Worse, the Greens that I remember from my short time with them in 2002-3 were divided into factions, each vying for control of an essentially powerless organization. Infighting in small organizations can be deadly. Some of those fault lines may still remain.
In addition to all this, the Greens still have to struggle with lingering anger over the 2000 election. Paradoxically, some of the anger Democrats and other liberals feel towards the Bush Administration gets aimed squarely in their direction, when people remember that they're there at all.
The future of the Greens as a party seems pretty bleak, right now. They'll be stomped in the election like always, after which they may either revert to trying to win the odd municipal race or two or perhaps disappear entirely.
But their ideas, like radical new directions in drug policy, will stick around, and maybe edge into the political mainstream over the next couple of years. Not that they'll get any credit for them. By then, they'll be way beyond that old chestnut anyway, and on to something even crazier.
Bulger, Adam. "Green Thumbs Up." Hartford Advocate 15 June, 2006.