an occasional column by David McReynolds
Winning on Tuesday
One is tempted to blame the tardiness of these comments on the matter of age, having just turned 81. But let’s not use false excuses – it was a combination of a trip to California combined with a computer which had to be taken in for servicing (thanks to Carmen Trotta and Bruce Cronin for their help), which delayed writing this important election eve piece.
This is late. So I ask you, if you find these thoughts useful, send them to friends in New York. Because in New York state it is possible for us to “win while losing”. I’m not going to make things easier by starting with a quote from Martin Buber, which appealed so much to A.J. Muste that he often used it in his talks: “To drive the plowshare of the normative principle into the hard soil of political reality is a tremendously difficult undertaking”. What Buber meant is that turning your high morals into real politics is extremely hard. Slogans do not constitute reality.
On Tuesday, November 2nd, I hope you join me in voting for Howie Hawkins for Governor, and Gloria Mattera for Lt. Governor on the Green Party line. (I’ll also vote for all the Green candidates on the state but it is the vote for Governor that may make it possible for the Greens to secure a ballot line – they need 50,000 votes).
I know Howie Hawkins. He worked hard on my own campaign for Senator in 2004, when I ran on the Green Party line. He is a working man, a teamster who believes that government should serve working people. He has run for office before, he is a member of the Socialist Party, he is smart, well informed, and, if lightening struck and he was elected, he would make an excellent governor.
Gloria Mattera is someone I also know, and, like Howie, consider a personal friend. She lives in Brooklyn, is a community activist, is active in labor and environmental issues, and is well qualified for public office.
However they won’t win. One isn’t supposed to say that in elections, but I think facing reality is helpful. How can we win while losing? First, it is really a “free vote”. There is a consensus that Paladino has no chance of being elected. Don’t let Paladino scare you into wasting your vote by feeling you need to vote for Cuomo. Cuomo will win. He is running as the candidate of both the Democratic and Working Families Party.
Many, worried about Paladino, will vote for Cuomo on the Working Families Party line. There are times when this might be justified. I’m writing this as a man who voted for LBJ in 1964, and for McGovern in 1972. I’ve never felt guilty about that McGovern vote, but the vote for LBJ was one of the times I felt I had to choose the lesser evil. As I said in the first paragraph, translating your moral values into political reality is not easy. This just
happens to be one time when the right vote is also a safe vote – a bargain really sees in politics!
A word about the Working Families Party – since I have friends who are active in it, and I know a number of committed radicals have made that their choice. I respect their choice even if I do not agree with it. As Buber said, it ain’t easy knowing how to drive your moral values into the hard soil of politics. The problem – for me – is that the Working Families Party has endorsed the whole Democratic ticket, which includes not only Cuomo, but Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand (because Hillary Clinton resigned her seat to become
Secretary of State, Gillibrand had been appointed for the rest of her term and that is why we have two Seante seats open this year).
Schumer is one of the strongest supporters of Israel in the Senate, so there is no chance he will cast any vote to curb military and economic aid to Israel. Nor is there any reason to think Schumer and Gillibrand will move to cut military spending in Iraq and Afghanistan (though spending measures originate in the House).
If you oppose the Iraq and Afghan wars why vote for Schumer? If you oppose the role of the bankers in shaping US economic policy, why vote for Schumer? If you oppose the whole military/industrial complex, then voting for Schumer is a mistake.
I do understand that significant parts of the New York labor movement are involved in the Working Families Party and they hope to gain an advantage on issues involving labor, welfare, housing, etc. and are willing to make the compromise of backing the full Democratic ticket in the hopes that the Democrats, if they see that a significant number of voters voted for the Democratic candidates on the Working Families Party line will make compromises in the future.
But in the here and now, a vote for the Working Families Party is a vote to support the Afghan war. It is a vote to support Israeli policy in the Middle East. It is a vote to endorse the military/industrial complex.
The Governor’s race is in a separate category from the Senate races, because no matter how many votes the Green Party candidates get for their Senate candidates, it will not give them a ballot line. But if Hawkins and Mattera can rack up 50,000 votes, then New Yorkers will have a real “party of the left” on the ballot. It would be good for New York if we had a real third party – and, God bless them, the Working Families Party isn’t it. We
need a party which is independent of the corporate structure, and that is the Green Party.
On issues which I think matter – ending the drug war, equal marriage rights for gays and lesbians, cradle to grave medicare for all, public banks, etc. – the Greens offer a real choice. Check them out by going to their web site: www.gpnys.com and for full information on Howie Hawkins, visit www.howiehawkins.org.
I hope you can read this before Tuesday, and consider the “risk of winning by voting for two very good folks who will lose”.
EdgeLeft is an occasional column by David McReynolds. It can be reprinted and used without further permission. David was the Chair of War Resisters International, was the Socialist Party’s candidate for President in 1980 and 2000.
He is retired and lives with his two cats on the Lower East Side.