Democrats limit debate
by Barry Hermanson
It isn’t easy being a Green Party candidate in a Democratic Party town.
On the Muppet Show in the ’70s, Kermit the Frog sang “It’s not easy being green” (www.youtube.com/watch?v=rRZ-IxZ46ng). It isn’t easy being a Green Party candidate either, but there are some advantages.
I was a Democrat until 2001 when, at age 50, I registered to vote with the Green Party. Greens value people, planet and peace over profits. Leaders in the Democratic Party do not.
I am a candidate for Congress because San Francisco voters do not have an advocate for peace in Washington. Democratic Party leaders join with Republicans to fund never-ending wars. Little, if anything, is spent to promote peace.
I’d like to share with you some of my experiences campaigning over the last two years. I’ve been a candidate before. Voters will never hear about the Green Party unless we have candidates. I’ve never worked as hard on a campaign, never met and talked to so many people on the street, never walked so many neighborhoods or delivered as many campaign cards to voters. I’ve also never had as much fun. The people I’m meeting and their positive feedback give me energy to get up every morning and go out to meet more voters.
After Green Party mayoral candidate Matt Gonzalez narrowly lost to Gavin Newsom, the 38 chartered Democratic Party clubs in San Francisco were prohibited from endorsing non-Democrats. One clear disadvantage of being Green is I am not invited to speak to them. The advantage? I have more time to walk neighborhoods and engage voters one on one. Other than the SF Green Party, the only other political club that has endorsed me is San Francisco for Democracy. I am very grateful for both.
Since the leadership of organized labor is joined at the hip with the leadership of the Democratic Party, San Francisco is a one-party town. In 2006, I was invited to participate in a SEIU 1021 primary election panel opposite Democrats Fiona Ma and Janet Reilly for State Assembly. I was told in advance not to expect an endorsement. I’ve never been invited to speak at another labor candidate’s forum.
It isn’t easy being Green. I have walked a lot of picket lines with workers from Local 2, the Hotel and Restaurant Workers Union. One of the picket line chants begins: “Early in the morning and late at night … in all kinds of weather.” Yet, workers are told nothing about me by the leadership of the union. I think I’ve been taken off Local 2’s e-mail list since I don’t hear about its picket lines any more.
The California Nurses Association, one of the most powerful political organizations in California and the leading advocate for an improved Medicare for all, has not mentioned my candidacy to its thousands of San Francisco members even though we have worked together for many years. I support their number one policy objective – Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi does not. Advocacy for an improved Medicare for all has been a central part of my platforms for 16 years. It isn’t easy being Green.
On the street, I’m meeting Democrats, Republicans, Greens, Libertarians, members of the Peace and Freedom Party and those with no party affiliation. My message has not been filtered or blocked by any organization. I ask everyone: “Would you vote to give Trump more money for the military than he requested?” No one has replied “yes.” But, Nancy Pelosi, Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris did (HR-2810).
Why do Democratic Party leaders prioritize military spending over everything else? That is the question I am not allowed to ask members of chartered Democratic Party clubs, members of organized labor and many other organizations that are tied to the Democratic Party. It is fun, asking the question on the street and hearing voters respond.
Kermit finishes his song by singing, “I’m Green. It’ll do fine. It’s beautiful. And I think it’s what I want to be.”
I’m glad I registered to vote with the Green Party. Like Kermit says, it is not easy, but it’s what I want to be.
Barry Hermanson is a candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives. For more information, go to the website at Barry4Congress.org.