Prominent Progressives Make "Split State" Endorsement for President
A group of progressive advocates -- including Daniel Ellsberg, former
California State Senator and activist Tom Hayden, and actor Peter Coyote
-- offer a unique approach to this year's presidential race in an open
letter to be circulated on the Internet. They advocate strategic
"split state" voting that takes advantage of the fact that a presidential
election is really 50 distinct state elections (plus Washington, D.C.).
The letter urges support for John Kerry in swing states and for Green Party
candidate David Cobb in "safe states."
Signers also include Medea Benjamin (Code Pink, Global Exchange); John Eder (Maine state legislator/Green Party); Angela Gilliam (professor/feminist scholar); Kevin Gray (Jackson '88/Sharpton '04); Elizabeth Horton Sheff (Hartford City Council/Green Party); Rabbi Michael Lerner (Tikkun); Robert McChesney (communications professor/author); Norman Solomon (author/columnist). All signers endorse the letter as individuals, not on behalf of any groups.
AN OPEN LETTER TO PROGRESSIVES: VOTE KERRY AND COBB
There is no greater political imperative this year than to retire the Bush regime, one of the most dangerous and extremist in U.S. history. As people dedicated to peace, economic justice, equality, sustainability and constitutional freedoms, we are committed to defeating Bush.
The only candidate who can win instead of Bush in November is John Kerry. We want Kerry to replace Bush, because a Kerry administration would be less dangerous in many crucial areas, including militarism, civil liberties, civil rights, judicial appointments, reproductive rights and environmental protection.
But while helping Kerry-Edwards defeat Bush-Cheney, we don't want to endorse Kerry positions that are an insult to various causes we support, including movements for global justice and peace that have burgeoned in recent years. Indeed, we want to communicate to Kerry and the world that we oppose many of his policies, including some that are barely distinguishable from Bush policies.
Accordingly, we encourage progressives to organize and vote strategically this year.
1) In "swing states," where few percentage points separate Bush and Kerry, we encourage activists to mobilize voters behind Kerry. (A frequently updated list of swing states is posted at www.swing04.com.)
2) In "safe states" (and Washington, D.C.), so overwhelmingly pro-Bush or pro-Kerry that we can be confident of who will win in November, we encourage activists to mobilize voters behind Green Party presidential candidate David Cobb.
3) In all states, we encourage activists to engage in election-year vigilance to ensure that all votes count, especially those of racial minorities -- and to advocate for instant runoff voting and other reforms so that voters in future elections can support the candidate they most believe in without risk of electing the candidate they most oppose.
David Cobb has earned our endorsement in safe states by deftly steering the Green Party toward a nuanced strategy dedicated to ousting Bush, while seeking to grow a grassroots party that stands unapologetically for peace, racial and social justice, economic democracy, civil liberties and genuine ecology. The Green Party gives political voice to movements that challenge Bush's Iraq policy and resist trade arrangements that trample on workers' rights, human rights and the environment.
Despite a Democratic Party base that is increasingly progressive, anti-NAFTA/WTO and anti-war, John Kerry has lost the strong, brave voice he had as a young man who challenged the Vietnam War and now offers a faint echo of too many Bush policies -- from Iraq and military spending to the global trade regime and corporate coddling (e.g. Kerry's plan to reduce
We are disappointed that, four years after the Florida disaster, Kerry and leading Democrats (with exceptions such as Dennis Kucinich, Jesse Jackson Jr. and Howard Dean) do not promote common-sense electoral reforms like instant runoff voting that would once and for all eliminate the "spoiler" risk that deforms U.S. elections.
With our electoral system yet to be fixed, we are left this year with the improvised solution of endorsing one candidate in some states and another candidate in other states. This dual-endorsement solution is preferable to endorsing either a candidate with important positions we oppose or a solidly progressive candidate whose votes in swing states could help Bush get four more years.
In this crucial election year, we encourage progressives to work tirelessly to vote Bush out -- as we build grassroots networks and coalitions to hold the Kerry administration accountable to the progressive values and policies shared by most Americans.
Elizabeth Horton Sheff
Rabbi Michael Lerner
(Signers endorse this statement as individuals, not as representatives of any groups.)