Web Letters | The Nation

Web Letter

Mr. Perlstein writes, "If only there was an American political party that unwaveringly reflected these views.... You might think it would do pretty well." There is such a party--the Green Party of the United States (GPUS). By some measures, it does do pretty well. For example, Rich Whitney, Green candidate for Illinois governor, got 10 percent of the vote last year, as did Maine's Green candidate, Pat LaMarche.

A major reason the Greens don't "do better" is our two-party, winner-take-all political system, funded almost exclusively by corporations and wealthy individuals. In Europe, where proportional representation is the norm, 10 percent support gets a party 10 percent of seats in the legislature. Here? Forty-nine percent support gets zippo representation. It becomes all about getting one vote more than the opposition, and you can win with far less than majority support. In Europe, parties have to build coalitions that can agree on a broad majority platform.

I would like to see The Nation do a series of articles on the two-party system versus the parliamentary system and show how different systems affect the nature of the political dialogue and the quality of solutions. I'd even volunteer to write them.

By the way, I speak only as a member of the Green Party, not any official representative.

Karen Peterson Young

New York, NY

Jul 8 2007 - 1:47pm

Web Letter

I enjoyed this article by Mr. Perlstein, and felt it had some good information and insight for the current situation. However, I think that two factors were overlooked (unless they were in fact addressed, and it was I who did the overlooking).

One is the "cloistered herd" mentality that the members of Congress have. Almost all of them want to play it safe, and not be criticized, especially by their peers. No one of them really wants to be daring, and who wants to be a leader. They are unlikely to break out of this current Jell-O mold unless a maverick has astounding success (in which case, they will timidly try to copy); or something really drastic happens in the world (and then, someone will have to tell them what to do).

The second factor is that of money. I think that if the people with money to contribute to campaigns speak, the members of Congress will listen. It seems to me that the "money" hasn't changed its mind on how things ought to be run.

Polls of the general populace, and arguments in their direction, are probably not going to have much effect.

Either we can convince "money" to change its mind, or we try very hard to get "money" out of the picture.

Yes? No?

Kerry Johnson

Bellingham, WA

Jun 25 2007 - 11:47pm

Web Letter

Progressive? You mean, those guys who hate private enterprise and love Big Government? Oh, yeah: that sounds very "progressive"...

Milla Kette

Huron, OH

Jun 22 2007 - 5:15pm

Web Letter

What is killing the Democratic Party is a lack of guts on Iraq and immigration reform. The people told them that they wanted our troops out of Iraq. They knew cutting funding for the war was the only arrow in the quiver. Whining about Iraq doesn't help get out troops out of that mess, but the power of the purse does.

The American people know Clinton started this NAFTA fiasco that is trashing Latin America and supported "Free Trade" that is trashing the world. They see their jobs and industries going to China and other places, and foreign labor being in sourced to drive down wages. They see both parties as the tool of the multinationals and big business. Democrat whine about getting more education so we can "compete," but in source foreign workers in high tech jobs. What good is an education if you cannot get a job in your field after you graduate?

These people are abandoning the two parties and going independent. The days of making promises and no action on those promises are over.

Pervis J. Casey

Riverside, CA

Jun 21 2007 - 3:50pm