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Green Values: ECOLOGY • SOCIAL JUSTICE • GRASSROOTS DEMOCRACY • NONVIOLENCE

PA Green Party Funding by Republicans is Deplorable -- and so are the Actions of Democrats

Progressives around the country were shocked to hear that Carl Romanelli is running as the Green Party candidate for the US Senate from Pennsylvania with over 99% funding from the Republicans. The howl has gone up that the Greens are letting themselves be used by the Republican Party to keep a progressive Democrat from being elected.

But a closer look reveals a very different picture. The actions of the Green Party of PA candidate, though quite bad, are much less so than actions that the Democratic Party routinely takes each election. In fact, the Democratic Party should own up to the blame it bears for the current electoral crisis in PA.

Let's not beat around the bush. Getting on the ballot with 99% dirty money is a bad thing to do. The GP of PA should have given it back and said, "No thanks, we would rather not get on the ballot than do it with the funding of racist, anti-working class war criminals."

But this raises the question, Should all dirty money be returned? Democratic Party hacks have often been heard oinking and squealing that this Green got so many hundreds of dollars or Ralph Nader got so many thousands of dollars from GOP or war-monger doners.

Meantime, the Democratic Party pockets tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands and millions of dollars from its own dirty money sources. Many of the same corporate criminals who finance the RP also finance the Democratic Party and the Dems accepts this as "part of politics." But will those who oink and grunt so vociferously at the Green Party please answer this question: If it is bad for a Green to accept $1000 of dirty money, would it not be 1000 times as bad for a Democrat to accept $100,000 of dirty money?

Asking this of the Democratic apologists is met with a cold silence, or, more often changing the topic. They simply refuse to acknowledge that the corporations know that they have a good deal buying off both parties because they will be well served whichever one wins.

A much better way of framing the issue would be, How much dirty money is acceptable? No candidate or party has the time to scrutinize every check and verify its source. Some dirty money is likely to make its way into any campaign. The issue is, What proportion of money from filthy sources should make people wonder if the candidate is beholden to those sources?

Maybe a good number to pick out of a hat is 10%. If more than 10% of a candidate's campaign comes from slime, it is time to take a close look at the candidate. If it reaches 20-30%, it is clearly time to wonder who the candidate represents. In no way should the Democratic Party be immune from the same standard. If it routinely receives a quarter or half of its money from the slimy rich and their corporations, then it is clearly beholden to slimy rich corporations.

When the GP of PA accepts 99% of its funding from the Republicans, it is way over the edge in becoming so dependent on them for funds that supporters must ask if it is making its decisions based on who finances it. How this came about is far more than just Greens accepting dirty money.

The first source of blame is the Democratic Party, which still whines that Ralph Nader caused George the Lesser to win in 2000. Years after the event, the Democrats run and hide from their own role in instaling Bush. They try to divert attention from the fact that if the US had a system of Instant Runoff Voting (IRV-where voters rank order candidates) as is typical of civilized countries, Nader voters could have ranked the Democrat second.

The Democrats had no desire for such a system. Yes, it could have gotten a Democrat elected. But the cost for them would have been showing a massive number of people ranking Green first and Democrat second. Rather than have that happen, the Democrats prefered George Bush be president.

During the next four years, the Democrats had ample time to advocate IRV in national, senatorial and congressional elections. They did not do so. They proved that the Democratic Party preferred to have George Bush reelected than adopt a system allowing voters to express thay they might actually prefer the Green Party.

During the next two years, the Democrats had ample time to advocate IRV throughout the states. They had ample time to advocate that states have ready access to running candidates for statewide office. They did neither. The Democrats showed that they prefer to elect Republicans than for voters to have a genuine choice.

In PA, the Democrats have no problem with a requirement that new parties need 67,000 valid signatures to get on the ballot. This translates to nearly 100,000 signatures, since many are thrown out as "invalid." This is a nearly insurmountable task for most new parties, Green Party included.

So, it is understandable that that GP of PA agreed to accept the Republicans' dirty money. It was the unconscionable inaction of the Democrats which forced the Greens into a dilemma.

While the action of the GP of PA is understandable, that does not make it acceptable. Part of the reason for its bad decision is that the GP of PA is part of GPUS. GPUS models itself on the corporate parties by refusing to have a defined membership. Since it does not base itself on a dues-paid membership, GPUS must look to other sources. Years ago, many Greens predicted that this source of funding would be from corporations. In PA, events did not turn out exactly as predicted, since the funding was from the corporate-based RP rathern than directly from the corporations themselves.

Not all Green Party activists accept the corporate structure of GPUS and the GP of PA. The original Green Party, the GPUSA, is based on a dues-paying membership. It is this defined membership, not anyone who shows up, who makes policy, including what money to accept and from where. GPUSA has never knowingly accepted money from any anti-worker, racist or war-mongering source, including the Republican Party or Democratic Party.