Some people say that there’s no difference between Democrats and Republicans. I don’t think it’s fair, or for that matter, plausible, to make that claim. The problem with the Democratic Party is that there isn’t as much of a difference between Republican politicians and Democratic politicians as there ought to be – certainly not as much of a difference as Democratic voters like to believe that there is.
Those of us who are in the Green Party need to remember that most Democrats truly believe that there is a great deal of difference between their leaders and the leaders of the Republican Party. What Green Party candidates need to do is to walk a balanced line, acknowledging the differences that really do exist between Republicans and Democrats, while showing Democrats the ways in which the distinction between the two dominant parties is insufficient.
A timely example of this balanced approach is the issue of nuclear weapons. Tomorrow is the 64th anniversary of the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima, Japan. A poll of Republicans, Democrats and political independents (not members of the Independent Party) about the Hiroshima bombing, by Quinnipiac University, was released just yesterday.
The results: Republicans were strongly in favor of the nuclear attack, 74 percent supporting the decision to drop the atom bomb, and only 13 percent against. Democrats were different. The largest group of Democrats, 49 percent, expressed support for the nuclear attack. Only 29 percent of Democrats said they disagreed with the attack, and 22 percent said they were unsure.
Let’s not make the mistake of thinking that political independents are more likely to reject the Hiroshima attack than Democrats. 65 percent of independents expressed support for the nuclear attack against Hiroshima, and 23 percent being unsure.
What about Green Party members? Where did they stand in the poll? Well, they didn’t stand in the poll. They weren’t counted as Green Party members. However, it’s a safe bet that a strong majority of Green Party members would express rejection of the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima. After all, the Green Party has non-violence as one of its 10 key values. The Democratic Party doesn’t even have the word “non-violence” in its platform.
What do we do with this information?
It’s clear that the Democratic Party is not a party of non-violence. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t any Democrats who support non-violence. There are many who do. In fact, of the three political groups considered by this poll, the Democratic Party had the most non-violent members. With only the information contained in the poll, many voters might conclude that the best way to support non-violence. Of course, if the Green Party is added to the consideration, the Democratic Party’s support for non-violence looks downright weak.
There are 29 percent of Democrats who expressed a strong belief in non-violence in this poll. They aren’t being represented well by their own political party. They ought to be open to considering the Green Party, but that consideration won’t take place unless they perceive the Green Party as being a politically viable option.
We need to woo these Democrats, not assault them with generalizations that they know aren’t true. They know that there’s a difference between the Democratic Party and the Republican Party, and they also know that there is a great deal of diversity within the Democratic Party. When we acknowledge that diversity, we encourage non-violent Democrats to differentiate themselves from their political party as a whole. When that differentiation is accomplished, these Democrats can begin to see that their ideals aren’t being promoted by the Democratic Party leadership, and the Green Party option, reasonably communicated, becomes a lot more attractive.
You’ve got to recognize the sheep as an individual separate from the flock before it will have the courage to start acting like a goat.