Resist "Mirage" Democracy by Voting Green and Working for Real Reforms

As I watch Marylanders vote in this year's primary election, our mirage democracy seems so obvious. Democratic Party candidates, the dominant party in Maryland, spend hundreds of thousands - some spend millions - of dollars to combat each other using lies and negative attacks, printing thousands of signs, and hiring trucks to drive around with their messages. Their election is less a battle of ideas and more a battle for attention. In general, the biggest spender wins.

But what do voters get? They are left with the candidate who has the biggest ties to Wall Street money. And that's who they will represent, whether it's in tax breaks for developers, such as TIFs, or bailouts for the health insurance industry, such as the so-called Affordable Care Act.

Voters think that voting means they are participating in a democratic process, but elections in the United States are far from democratic. Big money dominates. The two big-money parties dominate. And all who challenge them are blocked from full participation. This is done to protect the status quo.

We have a serious crisis of democracy.

Grassroots democracy is a primary pillar of the Green Party. The press release below outlines some local steps that could be taken to create a real democracy in the US. Their suggestions should apply to all federal elections. Among the additions that I would include are campaign finance reform, equal air time and participation in debates for all candidates on the ballot, a constitutional right to vote and a national uniform and fair ballot access law.

Voting Green Party, and other third parties, is an act of resistance against the rigged, mirage democracy. If we want to change the status quo, we have to stop giving it legitimacy.

We have the power to elect candidates that represent the interests and will of the people. You will know who they are - they don't have a lot of signs and billboards and you won't see them on tv. They are the ones who refuse corporate money. They are the ones who talk to you on the street. They listen to what you say and answer your questions with substance.

Statement from the Green Party of NY on "Open" Primaries Lawsuit and Need for Democratic Reform

Purged Primary Voters Have the Greens' Sympathies, but Lawsuit For "Open" Primaries Fails to Address the Real Problems – and it Could Destroy Third Parties

April 19, 2016

The Green Party of New York (GPNY) has issued the below statement in response to frustrated voters calling for "open" primaries in the state of New York, and the recent lawsuit filed to that effect.

GPNY will not participate in the April 19th Primary Election for president, and instead New York Greens will vote for the Green Party's 2016 presidential nominee at a June 11 state nominating convention in Troy, NY (with a mail-in ballot available for Greens who cannot attend).

The Green Party of the United States national convention will take place in Houston, TX from August 4-7. The winner of the GPUS nomination will appear on the November 8 General Election ballot for all New York voters.

STATEMENT FROM GPNY:

We are not surprised by reports of would-be voters in tomorrow's presidential primary discovering that they do not, in fact, belong to the party to which they registered. Many of our members experienced similar frustrations when attempting to register Green.

But the solution to this and other threats to democracy in New York is not so-called "open" primaries, as proposed in a newly-announced lawsuit , but comprehensive voting reforms to support multiparty democracy and a board of elections that operates free from partisan control.

"Open" primaries funnel unaffiliated voters into the corrupt, undemocratic duopoly parties instead of building the grassroots parties we so desperately need. And in a "fusion" voting state like New York, with the odious "Opportunity to Ballot" provision that can force parties to cross-endorse non-members, "open" primaries could obliterate the progress of third parties by flooding them with non-members intent on backing duopoly candidates.

"Open" primaries only serve the short-term interests of unaffiliated voters at the expense of party members who spend time and energy building a fighting organization with a coherent platform and agenda. Should someone who is not a member of a union be allowed to vote for who will be the president of that union? Of course not: a fundamental element of the right to freely assemble is the ability to set reasonable criteria to establish who is a member and who is not.

GPNY welcomes allies from all parties and perspectives in the fight for truly democratic reforms such as:

• End partisan control of the Board of Elections and institute rigorous transparency to banish the patronage, unprofessionalism and incompetence resulting from the current system

• Same-day voter registration for general elections and eventually move to a more European-style system where citizens of age are automatically registered to vote by default, instead of "opt-in" registration.

• Move the deadline for party affiliation changes to at least 90 days before the first primary election of the year

• Eliminate gerrymandering, which allows single-party domination of districts and makes general elections seem perfunctory, by instituting an independent redistricting commission

• Proportional representation to end the disenfranchisement of voters who support third parties and independent candidates in general elections

• Eliminate the "Opportunity to Ballot" rule and reform "fusion" voting so that candidates are not incentivised to put their name on as many ballot lines as possible in every election

You want reform? So do we. We must work together to institute real reforms that allow grassroots, democratically-run parties to grow without interference.

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