In the construction of a debate there are three basic elements. One is a resolution in which a given statement is made that defines the parameters and issues covered in the debate. The others are simply the affirmative position supporting the resolution and the negative position rebutting the resolution and its defense. The case being presented might be stated as a resolution in the following manner: " Resolved: Increasing primary candidates in the Democratic primaries will produce a significant change in the campaigns' political discourse that will alter or change the political agenda in the election."
Maybe because it fails to examine the unstated premises of the resolution: that the Democratic Party is capable of being the agent for change in America and that the progressive agenda is a vibrant trend that is capable of exercising influence in the political arena in the electoral process. Does this make me on the negative side of the resolution? I would have to say so. No debate can proceed without agreement on the definitions and I for one cannot agree either that the Democratic Party is capable of presenting significant policy changes and structural reforms before the American people or that the Democratic primary system and candidates lie at the root of the failure to redefine the opposition in a manner to make it more relevant to the American people.
As a Green since 1992, I have engaged in organizing and supporting candidates in a third party challenge that has had to confront numerous efforts to marginalize Green opposition from Democratic progressives by attempting to restrict ballot access, and oppose needed reforms to open up a wider range of perspectives in the political debate. Many Greens whom I have associated with in the past changed their registration and former Green candidates went as far as to urge a cross-over in the Democratic primary in 2004 for Dennis Kucinich. Many Democrats who supported the Green candidacy of Ralph Nader in 2000 fell prey to the Anybody But Bush campaign by the Democratic Party and concluded that they were really the culprits responsible for electing G.W. Bush as a result of the massive campaign from 2000-2004 to isolate the Green Party and funnel opposition into the Democratic Party.
In 2008 there are primaries in every Congressional District in which qualified candidates can make their case within the Democratic Party. It is truly the case that it is not my job to try and do their work for them. Cynthia McKinney's announcement for the Green Party Presidential nomination is an expression of the narrowness of the debate within the Democratic Party and an affirmation of a viable, alternative strategy for change. Cindy Sheehan gave up her initial effort to engage Nancy Pelosi from within the Democratic Party. Like Ralph Nader, she did so not out of some martyr complex but simply as a concrete result of the repeated failure of the Democratic Party and its supporters and voters to propose options for reform and change. The debate is to find a strategy and an agenda capable of pulling together a new coalition of voter blocs that can successfully challenge the defenders of the status quo. Cynthia, Cindy and Ralph have dared to walk outside the boundaries that others defined for them. The message may resonate with many, but the actors have not yet integrated leadership with direction and agenda, policy with public appeal or strategy with organization.
At this point a swing vote for a third party presents a more significant challenge to the current business as usual than do Democratic Party primaries. The DNC has used the stick against independents and Greens in an effort to marginalize their election impact. The challenges of state Democratic Parties have sought to limit the scope of policy debates and restrict ballot access. There is also a primary worth noting within the Green Party for the Presidential nomination that includes Cynthia McKinney, Elaine Brown, Jared Ball, Kat Swift, Jesse Johnson and possibly Ralph Nader.
It is good to center the political movement for change in the electoral arena. Democrats need to recognize the real odds of changing the role of the Democratic Party on the Iraq war, Executive power, defending the Bill of Rights and impeachment, as well as Republicans need to recognize the impact of Republican policies on Constitutional law, education, healthcare, foreign policy and energy transition. Those Democrats who come forward in the primaries can provide a voice in the internal debate. But as demonstrated by Dennis Kucinich's actions at the Democratic convention, the impact will be minimized and is clearly established to maintain the status quo and not to change the conduct of elected officials.