By Steven T. Jones
So the Bay Area's best and brightest liberals continue to leave the Democratic Party in frustration, the most recent being gubernational candidate, author, and anti-death penalty activist Barbara Becnel, who fought for years to help redeem and save Tookie Williams, who Californians executed last year. When she switched from Dem to Green last week -- with Green gubernatorial candidate Peter Camejo at her side -- she blasted the leaders of her old party for "allowing race and class bias to dishonor the Democratic Party." Becnel, a black woman, is part of a trend of people of color jumping ship because the Democrats have failed to take strong and principled stands against war, capital punishment, and a range of other economic and social justice issues. She said the party "has transformed itself from Dixiecrats to Richiecrats -- money counts, equal treatment does not."
SF Green Susan King told me the defections would be even greater if some liberals weren't still sticking with the Dems in a last ditch effort to save them from themselves. But philosophically, "There's a growing number of people who are quietly aligning themselves with the Green Party," King said. And prominent Greens like Matt Gonzalez, Camejo, and Oakland City Council candidate Aimee Allison are shaping the mainstream political dialogue.
Still, King admits that "The Green Party is consistently at a disadvantage because of the way the American electoral system is structured." But the people are getting fed up and looking for solutions, or just checking out. "The average voters at some point are just disengaging," she said. "If the Dems are worried about losing those votes, maybe they should adopt our platform."
It will be interesting to see whether the Democrats have what it takes to retake at least one house of Congress this fall. Even more telling will be what they do with that power if they get it. Because if they keep fiddling while American leaders burn to be the new Rome, cooking the planet in the process, you could see more people abandoning both major parties in search of new solutions, whether Red, Green, or something else.
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