Nothing is more important in American politics today than establishing a new, independent political party of working people. (By "working people" I mean those who have to work for a living and who have debts--in other words, the vast majority of Americans.) We have to field many candidates who have never run for public office before. (By "many" I do not mean a few hundred but rather thousands and thousands, at all levels of government, all committed to the same basic list of progressive demands that have so long been ignored by the political establishment.) We have to create such a party right now, not in some misty, indefinite future when it will be "safe" to do so.
What this party will call itself or who will participate in creating it--none of that is certain just now. What is certain is that the country needs a party of rebels and renegades who will fight unapologetically for the interests of working people and let the billionaires and multi-millionaires take care of themselves. Nothing short of that will make a dime's worth of difference.
The emergence of such a party could be the most healthy, most positive, most powerful development in American politics in a generation. But this party must fulfill one crucial requirement: It has to be completely independent.
Even though I left the Green Party seven years ago, it's obvious to me that Jill Stein, the Green Party nominee for president, has run a bold, honest campaign that deserves the support of every progressive in the country. She has bravely and intelligently faced up to the bullies in the media and elsewhere much as Ralph Nader did in his Green presidential campaign in 2000. The courage and energy of Stein and her running mate Ajamu Baraka may be an indication that the Green Party might now be moving in the direction of full independence.
The country is demanding just such a new major party, as Stein herself has noted. But if the majority of active Greens do not want to take up that challenge, another group of activists will.
It may still be the case that many Greens are quietly sympathetic to the Democrats and are essentially opposed to a fully independent Green Party. That's all the more reason to support Stein and Baraka. The fact that Stein is attracting more support than any Green presidential candidate since Nader may be the proof that there are a lot of voters out there who are tired of being told to wait 'til the next election to vote for a candidate they really want. Many of them are probably fed up with channeling their energies back into the Democratic Party, where their hopes have so often been betrayed. This year, they may be ready to start taking command of their own government legally, constitutionally, and non-violently--and doing it on their own.
There have been signs of the Green Party getting stronger and more independent, notably Howie Hawkins' two strong campaigns for governor of New York in 2010 and 2014. Dr. Margaret Flowers, Green candidate for U.S. Senate in Maryland, has stated that the Affordable Care Act is "a step backward" in the march toward single-payer healthcare, adding, "It takes us farther in the direction of privatized health care." And she's right. These are two activists who are taking the Green Party in the right direction.
The best leadership model for the Greens, Socialist Alternative, and other progressive organizations is not (and never has been) Bernie Sanders and the Democratic Party. Rather, they should follow the excellent example set by tenacious rebels like Howie Hawkins, Kshama Sawant, Peter Camejo, and Ralph Nader.