Entry for November 12, 2006

The image is from the website of the Independent Greens of Virginia.

You know, if you read the comments to Friday’s ‘s blog, my friend Barry in Radford wrote:

It occurred to me it might be apt to mention that the other person who ran for Senate in Virginia was an “Independent Green.”  My understanding is that this is a splinter from the Green Party, but I’m really not up on the ins and outs of that.  Anyway, she wasn’t a candidate of the Green Party of Virginia.  I don’t know that the Greens won’t every run anybody for Senate (and I cheerfully second the call for instant runoff), but since the Greens have taken such grief over Nader having run in the presidential race, I thought it might be well to distinguish what went on in Virginia’s Senate race. 
 
And never having passed along an email about your blog, now I’ve done it twice!
 
Warm regards,
He’s absolutely right that the Independent Green Party of Virginia is a different animal, as I might have learned if I had taken the time to look it up.  I would have been alerted if I had time ot find the picture of Gail Parker which I posted retroactively, as I had run out of time yesterday. 
 
Not thinking of Greens as conservative,  I now understand the quotation from Parker w;hich puzzled me when I read it  in November 7’s Roanoke Times.  (I quote it here from Washington Post  staff writers Tim Craig and Lisa Rein, whose article, “High-Wattage Politicians Help Allen, Webb Wrap Up” appeared the same day.)
 
I’m here today to offer support, encouragement and to say if folks can’t vote for us because we are too conservative, then for goodness sakes, vote for positive change.

So who are the Independent Greens of Virginia (email)?  Here’s a summary from Wikepedia’s article 
 
formed in early 2004, [t]he party is completely independent of the national Green Party (United States), which does have their own official affiliate in Virginia. This party holds a different platform from the Green Party in the respect that they claim to be fiscally conservative. They run on the tag line of “Fiscally Conservative, Socially Responsible.” The main issue this party focuses on is transportation with the slogan “More Trains, Less Traffic.”
 

The Roanoke Times story explained that Parker had not dropped out and endorsed Webb because he, like Allen had refused to debate her.  That’s not exactly true, according “Allen, Webb to debate on national TV: Russert to question senator, challenger on ‘Meet the Press'”

Staff Writer Tyler Whitley’s September 16 story in the Richmond Times Dispatch.
Not participating in any of the debates will be Independent Green Party candidate Gail Parker of Alexandria. Sponsors say Parker has not scored well enough in polls to qualify.
 
Parker said most of the polls don’t include her name, so it is impossible for her to qualify. She said in an interview this week that the rules are stacked against her. She can’t get name recognition unless she is included in the debates and is not mentioned in the polls because she lacks name recognition, she said.
 
The University of Virginia’s Center for Politics has set up a committee to determine ground rules for inclusion of third-party or independent candidates in future Virginia debates. The Commission on Presidential Debates sets a 15 percent threshold.
Just as I’m a fan of instant runoff voting to increase democracy and an opponent of the use of the Electoral College, I agree with Parker that she should have been allowed to debate.  I even  agree with her platform, as expressed on her website:
 
  • Extend high-speed Rail service throughout Virginia.  We need more trains: reliable, clean, efficient, quiet, safe Rail service. 40,000 Americans die every year on our highways. 1,000 are Virginians. 300,000 are injured every year in auto accidents. Rail service is safer and cuts our dependency on foreign oil.
  • Introduce legislation that is fiscally conservative and socially responsible.  We must pay off the $8.394 Trillion Federal debt and prevent future threats to our economic security. Cutting our addiction to oil enables us to save money. Then can we balance the Federal budget and pay off the Federal debt.
  • Cut wasteful spending. We must be able to track OUR money from the time it is appropriated to the time it is expensed. We start by installing an auditable accounting system at the Pentagon. We stop noncompetitive, no-bid contracts. We build Rail with the savings and balance the budget.

That said, barring the institution of such changes in electoral practices, I hold by my belief that third party candidates can move close elections in a direction opposite of that which they would have desired.  I know that some hold to the belief that it’s the principled thing to do, or that if things get bad enough, it will bring about a revolution, but I tend to believe that incremental change in the right direction is better than disastrous change in the wrong direction in hopes of a seismic change.

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