Last week, I noted the crisis of apathy within the Green Party. Even though the US Green Party has ballot access in most states, in almost every congressional district, there is not a single Green Party activist willing to run for Congress in 2014.
It’s also important to report on the flip side of the story: In a few congressional districts, Green Party activists are taking responsibility for the future of their political party. Facing long odds, a handful of rank and file Greens are running for Congress in 2014.
The principled liberal position offered by these Green Party congressional candidates gives voters the opportunity to take a principled liberal stand themselves, in places where there had been no such opportunity before.
An example is provided in the 5th congressional district of Illinois, which arcs from Lincoln Park northward through Jefferson Park, westward to Franklin Park, and then southward down to Oak Brook. This district is currently represented by Democrat Mike Quigley, who has taken a strongly anti-progressive position on civil liberties.
Congressman Quigley has repeatedly voted to sabotage the guarantee in the 4th Amendment in the Bill of Rights of protection from unreasonable search and seizure. In 2010, Quigley voted to renew the Patriot Act without any reform. This year, after news broke of the massive electronic surveillance network created by the military’s National Security Agency, Quigley voted against legislation that would have compelled the NSA to identify specific targets for its spying activities, rather than grabbing private communications from Americans en masse.
The Republican candidate in the race, of course, isn’t opposing the NSA’s unconstitutional spying either. So, what’s a voter to do?
In 2014, 5th district voters will have a chance to register their disgust with the seizure of power by the spies at the NSA, thanks to Green Party candidate Nancy Wade. Wade is campaigning in clear and strong opposition to NSA spying. She writes, “Congress has voted to expand the police powers of the Executive branch beyond anything stated or implied by the Constitution. This has resulted in the virtual shredding of much of our nation’s defining document. Congress must now vote to defund, downsize, or dismantle the Executive’s police state institutions, beginning with the continually expanding and largely unaccountable intelligence agencies. Congress must repeal the legislation that has granted these dictatorial powers, including but not limited to the Patriot Act, FISA, and the NDAA.”
If there was a Green Party congressional candidate running against NSA spying in every congressional district, we might see a realistic chance of the repeal of the Patriot Act and FISA Amendments Act – not just in 2015, after the election, but in a preemptive move by the current session of Congress. The failure of the Green Party to field more candidates like Nancy Wade is making it possible for congressional Democrats to ignore the NSA scandal, without fear of consequences.