Wednesday, November 05, 2003

Democrats and Greens: a great two-party system (in San Francisco)

This is awesome news.

Green Party candidate Matt Gonzalez is in a runoff with Democrat Gavin Newsom for Mayor of San Francisco.

There is a two-party system in San Francisco: the Democratic Party and the Green Party.

That's the perfect relationship between the two parties.

The Greens are the minority party while the Democrats are the majority party. But still, the Greens elect people and they help push policy in an ever-more progressive direction.

It's hard to do. That's what I had tried to do with my involvement with the Green Party: build up a minority voice to articulate the progressive message in November elections.

But I've essentially left the Green Party over the last year to join the Democrats.

In Chicago, I've wanted the Green Party to eclipse the Republican Party (at least in the liberal areas) to continue to push policy left-ward, to bring out new voters and to energize people into participating in policy-making.

That didn't happen very well, and I've found much more traction advancing progressive issues within the Democratic majority (at least in Chicago and, more broadly, Illinois).

I'm still a big believer of a multi-party system. I still want the Green Party to be the 'second' party in liberal areas in the state.

But not with my direct involvement anymore in Illinois.

(Although I must say there's something wrong about defining political party affiliation in such personal terms: "I am a Green; I am a Democrat" as if it an ethnic background instead of an association. Many people are uncomfortable elevating a political association into a characteristic of self-identity. Any association with a political party is an imperfect fit as no one thinks exactly the way you do, much less tens of thousands of other people. Plus, lots of people like the flexibility of voting for the best candidates regardless of their partisan affiliation. So I think we should move away from the self-identity aspect of party affiliation as it makes it more difficult for people to feel totally comfortable about 'joining' a party and it tends to cultivate outright hostility towards other parties.

But back to San Francisco. What a victory for Matt Gonzalez and the San Francisco Green Party. I'll be sending him another small check. And San Francisco voters also approved an increase in the minimum wage to $8.50. That's smart economic development -- putting money in the local economy to be spent in the local economy. High wages is good for the economy and good for creating and maintaining high-wage jobs.

What a great city.

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