With its numbers down and its stars leaving, a progressive party contemplates its prospects
But Mirkarimi and other Greens who endorsed Obama see this moment differently, and they don't share the hope that people disappointed with Obama are going to naturally gravitate toward the Greens. Rizzo and Kim fear these voters, deprived of the hope they once had, will instead just check out of politics. "They need to reorganize for a new time and new reality," Rizzo said of the Greens.
Part of that new reality involves working with candidates like Obama and trying to pull them to the left through grassroots organizing. Mirkarimi stands by his decision to endorse Obama, for which the Green Party disinvited him to speak at its annual national convention, even though he was one of his party's founders and top elected officials.
"After a while, we have to take responsibility to try to green the Democrats instead of just throwing barbs at them," Mirkarimi said. "Our critique of Obama now would be much more effective if we had supported him."
Yet that's a claim of some dispute within the Green Party, a party that has often torn itself apart with differences over strategy and ideology, as it did in 2006 when many party activists vocally opposed the gubernatorial campaign of former Socialist Peter Camejo. And old comrades Mirkarimi and Gonzalez still don't agree on the best Obama strategy, even in retrospect.
But they and other former Greens remain hopeful that the country can expand its political dialogue, and they say they are committed to continuing to work toward that goal. "I think there will be some new third party effort that emerges," Gonzalez said. "It can't be enough to not be President Bush. People want to see the implementation of a larger vision."