Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Green Party: Lessons Not Learned

Brian Beutler has an interesting story on unions talking about supporting a Green Party candidate against Blanche Lincoln in the 2010 Arkansas Senate election. The most likely result would be throwing the election to whatever Republican challengers her.

As a progressive Democrat, I am torn by this. Blanche Lincoln sucks. I want her to support the Employee Free Choice Act. I want her to support a lot of things that she doesn't. I also think unions need to show some political muscle and make people suffer who oppose them.

However, I also have pretty clear memories of the last time progressives decided to throw a Democrat under the bus in a protest vote. That didn't work out too well.

Lincoln is from Arkansas. It's amazing the Democrats have 1 senator from Arkansas, not to mention 2. You can't expect her (or Ben Nelson or Mark Begich for example) to vote a liberal line all the time. They come from conservative states and are likely to face tough reelection campaigns even if they don't vote with the leadership on controversial issues. And what is replacing her with a Republican going to do? Is that going to help EFCA pass? No. In fact, it takes a page out of modern Republican tactics which, as we may recall from Arlen Specter's situation, haven't brought them a lot of results in recent years.

Plus, attacking Lincoln avoids the real problem--the filibuster. We don't need Blanche Lincoln or Mark Pryor or Ben Nelson to pass EFCA if we can get it to a vote. Unfortunately, the Senate is an institution where Republicans need 51 votes to pass legislation and Democrats need 60 votes. If unions want to get rid of anyone, it should be tossing Harry Reid from Majority Leader. It's highly unlikely that any even remotely controversial legislation, not to mention pro-union legislation, is ever going to pass with 60 votes, especially in the face of a disclipined minority. So the key is to pass it with 51 votes and to create the change necessary in the Senate to make that happen.

Throwing support to a Green Party candidate in an Arkansas Senate election will accomplish nothing.