Why shouldn't I become a Democrat? (Currently Green) (US politics)

As many of you know, I am a member of the Green Party. As none of you know (until now), I am now, also, an employee of the Democratic National Committee. Why? Well, I like the bastards. I’ve never been one to say “screw your third-party candidate, we need Democrats in office now!”, but that’s exactly what I’m doing in my fundraising job, and exactly what I told myself before I applied for it. I’m excited about Barack Obama’s message and I think he’s the first guy since McGovern with a real chance to turn this country around. I’m falling in love with Nick Leibham’s platform (he’s the Democrat running against Sith Lord Brian Bilbray in the 50th Congressional District of California). I find myself falling for the Party line and believing that Howard Dean’s army can win the very battles I joined the Green Party for in the first place. Plus, the Green Party of San Diego is so lackluster. I’ve begged to be put on mailing lists and get involved in some way, but I can’t even tell for sure when the meetings are because the website hasn’t been comprehensively updated in a couple of years, and the dates on the calendar are unclear.

So, to make a long story short, in the last week I’ve begun to seriously consider joining a major party for the first time. Because I feel this is a momentous decision for someone as politically active as myself, I am asking Dopers to give me a reality check and tell me why I shouldn’t do it. Your thoughts?

There is no reason why you shouldn’t do it. You should follow your principles, wherever they may lead you. It seems like you’re pretty intent on this, so go for it.

Well I’m a Dem, so you’re certainly not going to hear me try to stop you. I mean, if you no longer like the Greens and don’t think you can exert influence on them, why shouldn’t you switch?

You werne’t very clear to me on your ideology. If you’re actually an enviro-voter, the Greens are arguably the least environmentally-interested party in America right now.

I disagree. Their platform of making the soil rich with the blood of the white man sounds environmentally progressive.


The respective organizations might, but I don’t see any conflict of interest in trying to elect a Democrat for president, while continuing to work with the Greens in building their party and running candidates for lower level offices.

Personally, I lean somewhere between the Greens and the Social Democrats, neither of which are viable parties in the US, but the Greens seems to be making some progress (In Missouri the party is still split into pre- and post-Nader factions unfortunately and so is rather stagnant from what I have gathered.) So if I want to see any progress, I have to throw my lot in with the Democrats also.

I don’t see any break in the two-party system we have as long as third parties continue to use their limited resources trying to catch a prize they cannot (and more often than not, should not) catch. There will not be a third party president until we have at least a few third party governors and senators, and those offices will not be achieved until lower level offices are won. And that is where those resources should be focused. Trying to maintain ballot access is one thing, but pretending their candidate is on par with the majors is another ballgame, and one they have no shot at winning any time soon.


Winner take all voting systems are not especially kind to third parties.

Change the system to proportional representation (or a variant of it) and they will become viable.

The green party will remain a fringe operation absent a shift in US election law.

Until then, it will be a Democratic/Republican system, unless of course one of the 2 main parties decides to change its name.

I had been a registered independent since I was 18. I barely missed being able to vote in the 1996 election as I turned 18 in December of that year and the election was in November(my sister turned 18 in 1992, and her birthday was in November, but after Election Day, so she couldn’t vote that year either) I probably would have voted for Dole then(I was young?) I voted for Harry Browne in '00. I voted for John Kerry in '04. I switched my registration to Democrat to vote for Barack Obama in my state’s primary this year. If my state had open primaries, I would still be independent(or as my state calls it, non-affiliated, since there is an Independent Party. :rolleyes: ) If you really love the Greens, then stay Green. The system is stacked against independents and third parties and it won’t change if we all jump ship. I already did. It sounds like you actually favor the Dems though.


We certainly all have our own opinions of which candidate we want to support but I think most here would agree with the notion that you need to vote your conscience. We may disagree with you and try to sway you with this or that argument but in the end it is your choice to make.

Seems to me you are thoughtful of your position and candidates you want to support. Couldn’t ask for more. I have a problem with those who are hidebound to a given party for no more reason than, “I’ve always supported [insert party] and I will never change!”

If your party fails you or you change or whatever then go…find the one that more closely adheres to your ideals.

[sub]I am for Obama too but the above is meant to be neutral towards whoever you dig no matter what I think…just general principles. I’ll debate you elsewhere and tell you that you are nuts to support X-candidate if that is what I think. ;-)[/sub]

I became a Dem after many years as an independent when I helped volunteer to help a Democrat (any Democrat as far as I was concerned, it was Kerry in this case) get Bush out of office. To my surprise, many local activists were as disgusted with their party as I was, some even more so than I. They especially saw the corruption of money running out of control at Federal and State levels.

I stayed on to help them and discovered the blogs and saw the progressive movement grow. Howard Dean was helped into place by the progressives as the party chairman and has done many good things, particularly his 50-state strategy which was completely counter to the Democratic Leadership Council’s way of running the party into the ground over a couple of decades. He also helped enable huge amounts of funding to come from the party’s base; people who contribute $200 a year or less. These funds grew to be directly competitive with corporate funds (another DLC hallmark) and unions.

So, to make a long story shorter, I decided it made more sense at this time to change the party from the inside as opposed to standing outside and shaking my fist at it. Voices from the base are heard far more clearly than they have in years.

I have yet to regret it. I continue to see power being taken away from the top of the pyramid by the bottom of the pyramid. I think the neo-cons will find themselves much in the same position too before long.

In short, you can’t have people powered politics without more people participating effectively.

Short of PR, electoral fusion and instant-runoff voting would help immensely.

Check out the Center for Voting and Democracy.

Yeah, but that won’t happen without forcing it on the two party system. On the other hand, the Dems had a pretty robust, well vetted campaign with it’s more proportional system. Even with, and perhaps partly because of, the superdelegates.

Winner take all gave the Republicans John McCain who simply became an unstoppable force at one point early on.

Again, the process has already started, or is being demonstrated, on the Democratic side. It’s a chance to get try and get more people involved now, even if that only means they stay better informed though more sources and vote in every election, especially primaries if they want important changes down the road.

The key to it I believe is to realize that if 80 % the people who don’t vote decided en mass to simply join one of the two parties for a couple years, their numbers would completely hijack both parties. Even without that, if we got 15 - 20% new voters enthusiastic in their newly found voices to actively support broad change they believe in by representing themselves you’ll have noticeable change. That can be done with nothing more that lots of small donations out of wallets.

So that before long, we’re representing ourselves to parties set up to accommodate and pass law in part by that representation. We have the technology to create a Citizens Congress. Perhaps made up of millions of voters. We have a state government here that could use such a good talking to IMO.

In other words, there are enough people, in and out of the two party system, to demand plenty of changes from the employees if we can add even 10% more.

McGovern? Really?

The question to ask yourself is if you can have more influence inside the Democratic Party or the Green Party, and which is more likely to change society in a way you want. I’d say being in the Democratic party is by far the winner. Things Greens propose will always be either co-opted or considered to radical or fringy to pay attention to. Even fairly new ideas within a major party get respectability - the way UHC finally seems to. You’d probably have an easier time getting a Green platform to your liking, but to what benefit.

He would’ve pulled us out of 'Nam right away, wouldn’t he?

I guess. I mean, we started pulling out in '73 anyway.

Admittedly most of what I know about McGovern I got from Hunter Thompson, but he always struck me as one of those milquetoast chickenshit populists in the Gore/Kerry mold that Democrats always seem to nominate and then watch as they have their asses handed to them election after election.

Winner. I’m doing it.

Yes, really. If it weren’t for a dumb VP pick, he would have ended the criminal Nixon regime two years earlier and really changed the way things worked, starting with an immediate withdrawal from Vietnam.

Let’s be fair. That election was stolen.

I’m still scratching my head over that one, frankly. As far as I’m concerned, he’s the only Democrat who’s a big enough loser to actually lose to Bush. What, exactly, did Dean do wrong? Yell too loudly? Come on.