Green constable reflects on victory

On November 3rd in various towns in Connecticut, several Green Party members were elected to the largely symbolic and partisan office of constable.  One of them, a college student named Cole Stangler, reflects on his victory:

Last week, I  became a constable in my Connecticut hometown, representing the Green Party. I ran for constable, a government position requiring me to deliver court summonses, to highlight the significance of third parties. The United States is unique from other well-established democracies in that its political system is characterized by the relative absence of third parties. The dialogue in Congress, and consequently the dialogue portrayed in the media, is primarily between two enormous entities: Democrats and Republicans.

We’ve been told that the Democrats are the party of the left, and the Republicans are the party of the right—yet a closer, more nuanced observation reveals that there are more similarities than differences between the two. The sort of debate that energizes and powers a truly democratic society does not occur on fundamental issues that the Democrats have continually deemed “off limits”—such as whether the United States has the right to intervene unilaterally across the world to protect its interests, or issues like cutting the military budget, single-payer universal healthcare, cracking down on corporate welfare, and serious labor reform.

Because The Green Party does not hesitate to address the issues and highlight the dangers of corporate influence that permeate Democratic and Republican agendas alike, I started working for them a few years ago. The Green platform, in short, is based on social justice and environmentalism. It works towards the goal of peaceful community self-sufficiency in a country increasingly dominated by corporate influence. In my home state of Connecticut, the Green Party does have a small but stable support base—we are, after all, the home state of Ralph Nader. After working with the Greens on the Cliff Thornton for Governor Campaign in 2006, and Richard Duffee’s 4th district congressional campaign in 2008, the Fairfield County Greens apparently trusted me enough to ask me to run for constable in my town of New Canaan. A week ago, I was elected with 749 votes, good enough for fourth place out of six candidates.

Read the full thing here.

48 thoughts on “Green constable reflects on victory

  1. Ross Levin Post author

    Maybe I’ll do that. There’s a constable office in my township. I’d have to wait until 2011, though.

    David Zuckerman, a Vermont Progressive Party state representative, actually ran for state representative when he was in college at the University of Vermont. He lost by a few dozen votes and won the next time he ran.

  2. tiradefaction

    I think I’m old enough now to run for municipal and state offices, but I want to wait until after I start college and get more financially sound before I venture into something like that.

    In actuality, I probably would much rather join a movement to build a progressive third party on the municipal and state level rather than just individually running for office. I think that’d be most productive, especially focusing on the state assembly.

  3. Dave Schwab

    It’s encouraging that a lot of Greens are young, and a lot of young’ns are Green. I think it means we’ll have plenty of potential candidates in coming years.

  4. Robert Milnes

    Oh come on Dave. Every generation has their percentage of leftist youth. You needn’t fill their heads with false optimism. They always get stifled by the reactionary majority. Now, help elect a progressive government; that would be good for them.

  5. Robert Milnes

    OK. hijack. True the reactionaries are a majority. 60-40. BUT the reactionaries are split roughly in half-dems 30 reps 30. Unfortunately the progressives/revolutionaries are also split-27% left, 13% right(libertarian). So in order to win via PLURALITY in a three way race, the left & right must COMBINE their vote. This is another perspective for the PLAS. NOW, we have a clear opportunity to PROVE the PLAS. The special election for U.S. Senate in Massachusetts on Jan 19. IF the progressives can be pursuaded to vote for the libertarian Independent Joe Kennedy instead of the usual vote for the dmocrat, that could win by plurality. In a liberal state where a progressive /Green might have a chance to win but a libertarian virtually no chance, this would be dramatic confirmation of this Strategy. So I say let’s get Kennedy on the ballot, preferably as a Libertarian but if not then as an Independent. Deadline according to Prof. Phillies Nov.24. THEN come Jan 2, EVERY available progressive AND libertarian activist go to Massachusetts & campaign which should slowly raise his polling; the maximum about 40%. But as soon as it gets to about 10-15% frosty eyebrows will be raised. As the campaign heats up, the slow as molasses in January should go to flow like warm syrup on hotcakes! Now, I personally am willing to go to Mass. in January. With support like a motorhome which could double as my campaign vehicle. & travel expenses. etc. I’d like to be part of making this happen. But as it is I’m too broke & depressed. So go to my domain name website & make a donation. Let’s all go to Massachusetts in January!

  6. tiradefaction

    The Libertarians and Greens have too many differences to join together Milnes.

    While I like the libertarian policy on many social issues, I have very little in common economically.

  7. d.eris

    Tiradefaction: “The Libertarians and Greens have too many differences to join together.”

    I do not agree. Take the Green Party’s “10 key values” for instance. A number of them are basically in agreement with many libertarian principles: grassroots democracy, non-violence, decentralization, respect for diversity. Among the others, there are significant overlaps with a libertarian outlook: ex. equal opportunity, gender equality, personal responsibility.

    Where differences would be barriers to a strategic electoral alliance?

  8. d.eris

    Sorry, *what* differences. And, arguably, beyond such differences, a Greens and Libertarians would be better representatives of one another than the Democrats and Republicans are of either.

  9. Robert Milnes

    d.eris, thank you. Yes, we are talking about a strategic electoral alliance. That would be mutually beneficial to about the same degree. Due to the electoral situation in the USA. Presently & longstanding & not likely to change to some other system e.g. IRV anytime soon. Are you considering going to Massachusetts in January?

  10. tiradefaction

    @15

    What do you mean what differences?

    Just take the healthcare issue for example

    Greens favor a single payer universal system, and Libertarians a totally “free market” system of healthcare.

    In fact, I just had an argument with a libertarian on this blog earlier about that very subject.

    Libertarians and Greens also very much differentiate on the environment, with most Libertarians being “Climate change skeptics”

  11. Dave Schwab

    “How old are you Dave? If you don’t mind me asking.”

    I’ll turn 24 on Monday.

    “Oh come on Dave. Every generation has their percentage of leftist youth. You needn’t fill their heads with false optimism. They always get stifled by the reactionary majority. Now, help elect a progressive government; that would be good for them.”

    What you call false optimism, I call pragmatic idealism. The idea that either corporate-sponsored party can do right by the people is what I call false optimism.

    I think Cole Stangler’s final paragraph (which is mostly I.F. Stone’s, come to think of it) sums up my feelings pretty well:
    “But if I didn’t have hope that this situation could change, then I wouldn’t have run for constable in the first place. The United States has a rich tradition of third parties as the vanguard for change, from the Populists to Progressives and Socialists. The uphill battle is well summarized by the journalist I.F. Stone: “In order for somebody to win an important, major fight 100 years hence, a lot of other people have got to be willing–for the sheer fun and joy of it–to go right ahead and fight, knowing you’re going to lose. You mustn’t feel like a martyr. You’ve got to enjoy it.”

    Actually, I’m a bit more optimistic – I think the Green Party could be winning major fights 50, 40, even 30 years from now.

    Labels of left and right are mainly a stifling influence on intelligent discourse. There are many issues where a majority of the American public favors what we would call the “progressive” position. But contrary to what we were taught in school, our government responds less to the people’s will or to ideas of progress and general welfare than it does to money and political power brokers.

    Any movement to address this problem must recognize that freedom is participation in power. I can’t agree with those who say that by limiting government power, we will be free from power.

    Greens have elected Greens, and Libertarians have elected Libertarians. The problem with your strategy is that we are Greens because we’re for something; we’re not simply against the duopoly. Advocate for proportional representation instead; it’s more appealing and has a better track record than Green-Libertarian electoral alliances.

  12. Robert Milnes

    Proportional representation, IRV, range voting etc are not now in place or soon to be. Whereas The PLAS Strategyis. The PLAS Experiment could be tried in Massachusetts in January and if successful could be applied to the very next election.

  13. Mik Robertson

    @17 Two people do not comprise the entirety of either the Green or Libertarian party. There is a lot of overlap between the two generally.

  14. Mik Robertson

    @23 I don’t see anything in the clip that would preclude Greens and Libertarians working together on broad fronts, even endorsing the same candidates in some cases.

    The Green goals are not unlibertarian, although there can be unlibertarian means to reach those goals. Individuals are always going to disagree at certain times. You cannot let that be interpreted as defining the entire debate.

    In Pennsylvania we have a group that includes Libertarians Greens, Constitution Party members, and Socialists working together to reform ballot access laws in the Commonwealth. We have had former Green board members join the LP without any turmoil. There is a lot of common ground, why not work together when it is mutually beneficial?

  15. tiradefaction

    @24

    Oh yes, Greens and Libertarians can definitely work together on broad issues such as ballot access, access to debates, electoral reform, etc.

    “There is a lot of common ground, why not work together when it is mutually beneficial?”

    I totally agree, I just think we have too many differences to form as one party, but maybe I’m wrong?

  16. Robert Milnes

    tiradefaction, I viewed this YouTube & a related one. you say you are new to this blog. I take it you are not familiar with Prof. Phillies. Libertarian. Strong global warming stance. Not junk science.///The PLAS is not a coalition. It is vote coordination in order to elect Libs & Greens & vote out dems & reps. ONE Green OR Libertarian on EVERY ballot. Afterward in the New Congress of mostly Libs & Greens we can immediately implement our common agreements & work out our differences.

  17. tiradefaction

    @26

    Ah well ,voter coordination is a good idea, but voting out all or most Dems and Reps seems rather unrealistic, and simply replacing the two party dynamic would just get us two corrupt parties again.

    I like the organization Free & Equal, seems like a good broad based group based around giving all parties, Greens and Libertarians alike, a chance at winning the political “game”.

  18. Mik Robertson

    @25 “I totally agree, I just think we have too many differences to form as one party, but maybe I’m wrong?”

    I don’t think anyone is proposing to merge the two parties. There are possibilities, though. There is an effort to try to find statewide fusion candidates in PA next year that could be endorsed by the LP, GP and Constitution party.

    I think that may be a bit much to ask, particularly since there are only two statewide races next year in PA. Also, people tend to be part of alternative parties because of strong principles and opinions. Sometimes those get in the way of actually making progress toward your goals.

  19. d.eris

    @17: “What do you mean what differences? Just take the healthcare issue for example. Greens favor a single payer universal system, and Libertarians a totally “free market” system of healthcare.”

    That is indeed a difference. But since Democrats don’t support single payer and Republicans don’t support the market system, neither of those options is on the table in the current health care “debate,” and so the point is moot. It does, however, point toward the underlying philosophical differences between the Green and Libertarian outlooks. Again, though, this should not preclude strategic efforts to undermine the duopoly charade, which is in the interests of both Greens and Libertarians.

  20. Ross Levin Post author

    There are issues that work for coalitions and issues that don’t. Here in PA we’ve got the Balloy Access Coalition, which is made up of people from the Green Party, Constitution Party, LP, Reform Party, and indies, iirc. Of course they wouldn’t work together on environmental policy or health care policy, but there’s no need to.

    I think electoral reform and anti-corporatism (corporatocracy) are the two biggest issues that the parties could possibly unite behind, to a certain extent.

  21. Michael H. Wilson

    @ 17 tiradefaction wrote ;
    “Libertarians and Greens also very much differentiate on the environment, with most Libertarians being ‘Climate change skeptics’ “.

    That is probably true but some Libertarians have been active in solving the problem even if they don’t put much faith in it.

    We have been advocates for opening the urban transit market. And it has been suggested by some that by doing just that and providing the public with alternatives that we could reduce urban air pollution by 30% or more. One group puts the reduction at 50 to 75%. This will also slow the growth of roads and help protect streams and wetlands, improve job opportunities, educational opportunites and just possibly reduce the social problems related to poverty.

    In Curitiba, Brazil which has one of the world’s best transit systems the ambient air pollution is 30% less than similar cities and the transit system is made up of a number of private companies, about 13, that are overseen by a government agency. For the most part it is an unsubsidized system. Certainly it is not a perfect libertarian system but it is a step in that direction.

    Here’s part of the problem. About 1915 jitneys, which were private cars, started to appear on the city streets of America and pick up people going to and from work for a small fare, usually a nickle. Of course they competed with the streetcars and the streetcar companies managed over time to get the jitney’s outlawed. By about 1925 most of the jitneys had been outlawed.

    Over the years regulation of private urban transit has increased so that today it is difficult if not impossible to own an operate a private urban transit company. As a result people had to buy their own vehicles since they basically had no other alternative in most cases.

    This is a rather simplified version of a long issue.

  22. Kimberly Wilder

    I get tired of the discussion about can Greens and Libertarians create coalitions and support candidates.

    I have said this before:

    In NY, when the Green Party candidate for Governor was Stanley Aronowitz, Jennifer Daniels was elected by the State Committee to be the Lt. Governor candidate. There was enough common ground to make some joint literature. And, at one point the same year, Jennifer was a speaker at the Libertarian convention.

    I did not love the situation at the time. But, it happened.

    Also, here in Suffolk County, the Green Party and Libertarian activists intermingle all the time. And, we often offer each other support in various ways. Myself and avid Green John Keenan have been invited guests to some Libertarian get together panels. Since there was not green candidate running for countywide office, and the Dems/Reps at the BOE kicked the Libertarians off, I supported writing in the Libertarians, and I wrote in for one myself. (I picked Treasurer, because I thought we would have the least ideological differences.)

    I think this conversation would move forward so much better if we acknowledged what already happened. And, maybe discussed THE BEST WAYS for the Greens and Libertarians to coalition. And, maybe our personal feelings on it.

    But, pretending it is a NEW IDEA is illogical and tiresome.

    And, arguing IF IT CAN HAPPEN – when it has already happened – is an equally tedious discussion.

    Thanks,
    Kimberly Wilder

  23. Michael H. Wilson

    btw one more little comment on the transportation issue. In Seattle in 1915 the population was roughly 250,000. That city had 518 jitneys as of early February of that year and those jitneys had about 49,000 daily passengers. That roughly 25% of the city’s population.

  24. d.eris

    Kimberly: “pretending it is a NEW IDEA is illogical and tiresome. And, arguing IF IT CAN HAPPEN – when it has already happened – is an equally tedious discussion.”

    This part of your comment gets at a number of interesting issues: there are without doubt illogical, tiresome and tedious aspects to all political activism and advocacy. For instance, every election season brings media speculation about the “possibility of a third party”, virtually every day there are calls to “start a third party,” as if alternative parties don’t already exist and run candidates across the country! Such calls indicate that consciousness of third party and independent activism is quite low, and so, for many people it IS a new idea when it occurs to them that the two-party system is essentially rigged and they call for “a third party”.

    In a way, this means that every day you have to kind of start from the beginning, and this really isn’t any different from a lot of political organizing. Giving examples of x,y,z already having been done, especially with someone who maintains that it is nearly impossible, can be very persuasive. A weird thing about having to repeat yourself online is that you feel like you’re a broken record, but the information is still new in a way. I was not aware of the Green/Libertarian work in Suffolk and I’m a regular reader here at at Wilderside. Anyway . . .

  25. Michael H. Wilson

    Re: 32 LG. I didn’t orginally get into the issue of urban transit from the environmental side. I got onto the issue from wanting to reduce the need for government poverty programs. Having lived in Houston I saw that the lack of adequate transit keep people from getting jobs and I started researching the issue.

    It is rather obvious that people don’t really want to be on the dole and that it is the barriers erected by the government that help keep people poor.

    If we improve urban transit we can reduce poverty and the social problems that go with it. Those steps will eventually save us tax dollars and reduce a number of government programs in everything from welfare to the courts.

    The environmental issue just became icing on the cake. Now if I could just sell the idea to others.

  26. Don Lake, Prove Me Wrong ...........

    Transit [and I am a former bus driver] is the CONSTANT hope for the future [and out side of certain areas and certain eras] and usually a general failure.

    First the existing, usually troubled, traffic flow is greatly disrupted by the new construction. Even minor stuff like painting bus lanes on existing paving is a major hassle for every day folks, existing transit commuters and [so called] transit planners.

    I live near the world famous San Diego Zoo, ah, er, the world famous [San Diego Metro] Ti Jania Trolley. Most of the stops and road crossings are at grade level.

    Just think of the savings [time, congestion, gasoline, ware and tear ….] that the last four decades could bring with ditch or elevated crossings. Just like water piping of the era: disaster waiting to happen, planned counter productiveness.

    It has been said many times: a transit planner is a train driver with a college degree whom drives a non passenger private automobile to work!

    The only reliable transit that I can conceive of in most situations is FREE [pre paid] bus rides on a on going short term [every ten, ffteen, twenty minutes] basis. Miss one? Wait a reasonable amount of time for the next!

    I have found that veterans programs, transit, construction is often not about serving the public but merely creating jobs for the constituent communities.

    Selling ‘The Envionmental Issue’ ???? Pollution control maybe …. Global Warming ????? A done deal since the 1960s! [I chatted with Roger Revell personally on more than one occation.]

    Ya can’t stop an avalanche in the middle of the snow crush. How bad is the run away green house affect ?????

    Temperatures climb in the middle of a mini ice age! Ya got beach front property ?????? Sell it to some rube —– quickly!

  27. Brian Holtz

    LG, I’ll take @32 as compliment. 🙂 Yep, in the last few years I’ve become a convert to green-/geo-/eco- libertarianism. Prof. Fred Foldvary and other geolibertarians have been pushing progressive green libertarianism for decades, and there are good prospects for the LP to become more green. Here is Foldvary in 2007 asking Does free plus green equal victory? Here is Dan Sullivan in 1992 writing Greens and Libertarians: the yin and yang of our political future. Note also the Common Ground Declaration of Third Parties ‘96, a summit held that year. Even better is the platform of the Democratic Freedom Caucus. It’s only about five deletions away from being better than the LP platform.
    The Georgist single-tax-on-land movement goes back even further, and has included many prominent libertarians including Milton Friedman and David Nolan.

    Here is my portal for green libertarianism:

  28. Brian Holtz

    Robert, my answer grew into this blog post: http://libertarianintelligence.com/2009/11/toward-common-ground-with-greens.html

    It’s an invitation to Green Party insiders to take their scissors to either of two green-libertarian documents (the Free Earth Manifesto and the Democratic Freedom Caucus platform) and see how little they would have to delete to make the remainder supportable. I’m confident that the remainder would still be a bold and powerful statement for human liberty and ecological wisdom.

    Any takers?

  29. Clay Shentrup

    Robert Milnes,

    On the contrary, range voting is used to elect the Secretary General of the U.N.

    Proportional Representation is used in several countries (Israel, Italy, Australia, etc.)

    Instant Runoff Voting is used in Australia and Ireland, and various U.S. cities like my home of San Francisco.

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