As previously reported here, a (possibly former) Young Democrat named Sean Burke is running in the Green Party primary for Cook County Board President in Illinois. There has been some concern that he is some kind of saboteur from the Democratic Party – concern that is not unwarranted, given the filing of a neo-Nazi in some Green primaries in Illinois this year and previous efforts by Democrats to undermine Greens (for the example, the bill that passed the legislature in Illinois this year making harder for Greens to nominate a candidate).
Now some are questioning the justification for Green concerns, like in this post at True/Slant:
The whole thing sounds downright paranoid. If you scroll down the NBC link, Sean Burke made the first comment on the story, and the only reaction to his post was by another commenter making fun of Burke’s website and telling him “you’re full of crap”. This Burke is 24 years old, and I buy his switch, his disenchantment with the Young Democrats. The Green Party platform is an interesting mix of Republican and Democratic ideas, and I myself can understand the appeal.
The comment that the blogger is talking about reads:
Hi I am Sean Burke. I did design the website for the young dems and have worked with them for several years along with other Democratic politicians. However, the leadership at the young dems changed and they did not want me to continue doing their website.
I decided I had some ideas for Cook County government that would have been a good contribution to the debate. I thought a green party candidacy was my best bet at having my ideas heard. In all fairness I did get in touch with the Green party much later than I should have but I was caught up in getting my petitions signed and working on my platform on my site amoreperfectcounty.com.
I did not think I had a chance to win this election but I did want to let voters hear some of my thoughts on how county government could be run. My main point was that to restore faith in local government we need to put in place a web based system similar to social networking sites like facebook where all county employess and contractors have their responsibilities posted online and on which voters can leave feedback. Additionally 5% of the county budget should be turned over to the voters so that they can attack the problems that they think plague their neighborhoods, so that they can plan the solutions to these problems and so that they can decide who will be given any contracts or responsibilities in the implementation of any solutions. Visit amoreperfectcounty.com for a more detailed explanation.
I apologize for not being as organized as I should be for a campaign like this but I am just one person and I just wanted to get out there and tell people we need a system of voter driven change not change handed down from on high from party leaders.
It seems entirely possible that Sean Burke is either a legitimate Green or a tool of the Democrats. For what it’s worth, the following exchange took place in the comments at True/Slant:
If you also read the NBC story carefully, you’ll also find that the Mr. Burke made no contact with the Greens whatsoever before considering a run. Even after filing, he did not return phone calls to the Greens. So there was no good faith effort.
As a active Green member in Cook County, I would have been okay with him AND Tresser on the ballot if the membership in Cook County was able to vet him and see if he holds Green values (see: that story about a neo-nazi trying to run as a Green in the 10th District). Our bylaws state that there is a internal recognition process by which the Green members in that local district give the okay and say “hey this person is a Green and he/she is legit.” So that way, you can have multiple RECOGNIZED Green candidates in a given district. We Greens believe in internal democracy unlike the Democrat machine and the Republicans.
As a member of my party, I want to know if my standard bearer: Is he/she serious about running? What does he/she think of our Ten Key Values? Is this person interested in building a third viable party or is he or she just using our ballot line for their own person agenda.
You see, as a grassroots Green member living in Cook County, I didn’t get that chance to ask Sean Burke questions or anything to see if he holds Green values. On the other hand, Tom Tresser came to the party, was transparent and any Green member was able to ask questions about his candidacy before recognizing him as a Green candidate.
And the reply from the blogger:
While I don’t know what is going on in Mr. Burke’s head:
I didn’t find the “not answering the phone” bit suspicious as I don’t know any one that age who answers an unknown number for fear of talking to a debt collector or a student loan officer. I am betting texting or e-mails would have yielded more results?
From what little I’ve seen of Burke, and his statements on the matter, I think it’s safe to assume he didn’t really know what he was doing, which was why I found the resulting hoopla hilarious.
Our very own Dave Schwab added in what amounts to a wise, reasonable conclusion (forgive me for a bit of bias here):
Hi. I’m a contributor at Green Party Watch. I can understand how the Greens’ reaction to Burke could seem paranoid, if you don’t know some of the details. Apparently, he hadn’t been in touch with anyone from the Greens before he filed as a candidate – and didn’t return their calls when they tried to get in touch with him. That’s suspicious, because getting on the ballot takes a lot of petitioning and the first thing most candidates do is call up the party for help. The fact that Burke had no contact with the Greens before his name appeared as a candidate, his link to the Democratic Party, and the Democrats’ history of messing with the Green Party (I can elaborate, if you have a few hours) are enough to raise a red flag or two. Maybe it’s much ado about nothing, but we’ve been burned too many times not to be cautious.
I encourage you to check out the Green Party – hopefully you’ll find that it’s a good fit for you.