Why I Joined the Green Party

UPDATE: I re-registered as a Democrat on 15 May. I decided to accept the reality of the two-party system and make my liberal voice heard within the big tent of a major party. In addition, Florida has closed primaries and I want to vote as often as possible.

My trek across the political spectrum has been as radical as that across the religious spectrum, and for much the same reasons. Within a few weeks of turning eighteen years old, I registered to vote for the first time. Since I was religious and conservative, I chose to affiliate with the Republican Party. Several years later I became so frustrated with the Republicans for not being conservative enough that I almost registered with the reactionary Constitution Party. I acquired a new voter registration form, filled it out, but then decided not to mail it in for whatever reason. After my deconversion during my mid-twenties, without the influence of religion, my politics quickly changed. I had been taught my entire life to listen to ecclesiastical authority instead of thinking for myself and now, having thought for myself by investigating my doubts about the faith, I had very explicitly rejected that authority. So I carefully examined my political positions, which had mostly been based on dogma and ignorance, not on reason and wisdom. As a result, many of them changed radically; some remained the same. In the end, however, I came to identify myself as a liberal. I wasn't in a hurry to change my party affiliation, but I did switch to the Democratic Party before the next major election. That's where I remained until yesterday, when I mailed off a new registration form in order to switch to the Green Party.

My departure from the Democratic Party is primarily the result of the party's failure to represent my voice. The single largest issue is the Iraq war. The newly elected Democratic majority in Congress has failed to bring any troops home and there's still a real possibility that the superdelegates will award the party's nomination to someone who voted to authorize the war in the first place and who has shown utter contempt for the democratic process throughout her campaign. If Obama wins the nomination, I still intend to vote for him in the general election. If Hillary wins, I absolutely refuse to vote for her and will most likely cast my ballot for the Green Party nominee. Other issues are the party's connections to corporate interests, its pandering to the religious, and its lack of support for democratic reform of our electoral system. I acknowledge that my joining the Green Party is mostly a symbolic gesture of protest against the Democrats and in support of the Greens, but it feels good and I'm glad I've done it.

When I examined the Green Party's 2004 platform, I found a number of my own views in it which the Democratic Party's 2004 platform lacked:

  • unequivocal opposition to the Iraq war
  • reduction of military spending
  • repeal of the Patriot Act
  • establishment of single-payer universal healthcare
  • abolition of the death penalty
  • full support for gay marriage
  • support for proportional representation, preferential voting, and neutral redistricting
  • abolition of the electoral college
  • support for statehood for the District of Columbia
  • support for stringent environmental standards (naturally)

There was even one section entitled “Religious Freedom and Secular Equality” which I would like to present in full:

The United States Bill of Rights guarantees freedom of religion. We affirm the right of each individual to the exercise of conscience and religion, while maintaining the constitutionally mandated separation of government and religion. We believe that federal, state, and local governments must remain neutral regarding religion. We call for:

a. Ending discriminatory federal, state, and local laws against particular religious beliefs, and nonbelief. The U.S. Constitution states that there shall be no religious test for public office. This requirement should apply to oaths (or affirmations) for holding public office at any level, employment at all government levels, oaths for witnesses in courts, oaths for jury membership, and the oath for citizenship.

b. Prosecution of hate crimes based on religious affiliation or practice.

c. Elimination of displays of religious symbols, monuments, or statements on government buildings, property, websites, money, or documents.

d. Restoration of the Pledge of Allegiance to its pre-1954 version, eliminating the politically motivated addition of “under God.”

e. Ending faith-based initiatives and charitable choice programs, whereby public funds are used to support religious organizations that do not adhere to specified guidelines and standards, including anti-discrimination laws.

f. Ending school vouchers whereby public money pays for students in religious schools.

g. Ending governmental use of the doctrines of specific religions to define the nature of family, marriage, and the type and character of personal relationships between consenting adults.

h. Ending religiously-based curricula in government-funded public schools.

i. Ending the use of religion as a justification to deny children necessary medical care or subject them to physical and emotional abuse.

j. Ending the use of religion by government to define the role and rights of women in our society.

k. Revocation of the Congressional charter of the Boy Scouts of America. Any private organization that practices bigotry against certain religious beliefs and classes of people should not have a Congressional endorsement or access to public property and funds.
Of course, I can't say that I agree with everything in the platform, but it certainly reflects my views much more closely than that of any other party. I'm glad to be a Green. I don't know whether my political journey has ended, but it has certainly been a wild ride so far. I might be the only person in the country to have voted for both Alan Keyes and Barack Obama in presidential primaries. I can only claim mental illness in the first case.


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