Quote of the Day: “One week from today” – South Orange mayor on Menendez

Thanks to Matt Skeete & Joyce Frommer, who put the spotlight on this. These are the words of South Orange’s Village President (Mayor), Sheena Collum:

“Neighbors – one week from today, I’ll be voting for MenendezThis decision doesn’t come from a place of “enthusiasm” – it comes from a place of sheer necessity for our state and country. As a Democrat, I’ve had no desire to fall in line, fake excitement and show up for rallies as if to suggest I’m in any way “ok” with this. In fact, I’ve considered throwing the vote away as a protest in my own mind or writing in a candidate I feel is worthy of the office but that ends today – right now. So next Tuesday, November 6th, I will march decisively into my polling location, close the curtain and will push that button for Menendez without any hesitation and I’m urging you to do so as well. The stakes have never been higher for 327 million Americans.” – Collum

Over the last year, I’ve had many challenging back-and-forth conversations with Green Party organizers, who in NJ have never elected even a municipal candidate or Freeholder, let alone legislator, but keep running top-of-the-ticket candidates like last year’s Seth Kaper-Dale, a good man and pastor, but completely unprepared gubernatorial candidate who got one-half of 1% of the vote. Greens have the same strategy now; the only candidates they’re running – whole state, any level – are Madelyn Hoffman (U.S. Senate) and Diane Moxley (CD7).

I make the distinction with folks like this, that on issues & outlook they’re my allies – I would claim them, though they do not claim me – but as candidates they are unsupported except by a tiny minority (NJ has about 6,000 registered Greens), and will not match their electability to offices they can actually compete for, preferring instead to run for top-of-ticket races they can’t compete for. They’re not interested in the possibility that the electoral outcome of telling disgruntled progressive Democrats that they’re the “alternative” may be to help flip this Senate seat to the Republicans, and thus to Trump. That’s because, by their own words, there’s no difference between Republicans and Democrats – IMO that’s massively sloppy thinking.

I admire the Green U.S. Senate candidate Hoffman as a woman, and as a peace activist. Her platform is good (though thin, there’s no details). But without electability, there’s no power to transact any policy whatsoever; it’s just words and opinions. For months, I’ve been asking Greens if they’re disclosing to Dems (whose votes they say they want), that their candidates aren’t even filed with the FEC, meaning not generating resources to communicate much beyond the people they meet personally. I get back a faceful of personal invective, accusation (I’m a neoliberal, which will amuse Blue Jersey readers), and lots of schoolyard bully name-calling [not ever from the candidates, it’s important to say]. But I never get an answer to that question except to be told I’m the problem, and Greens “don’t take corporate money.” Frankly lots of people running actual viable campaigns don’t either, but are getting elected because they’re building something of power. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, for example, raised $1.9M (average contrib $22), like Bernie Sanders was viable (ditto, $27). She’s going to Congress. The real alternatives are people who have determined that the infrastructure of the Democratic Party is powerful, even if it has been misused, and with a restive electorate and the country’s future on the line, the possibility exists to shift it forward, to create a progressive power structure. It’s all an uphill climb, but there’s hope in it.

By contrast, the Greens appear to be more interested at throwing a stick at Democrats. And it’s a lousy year for that. I’ll vote for Menendez. Not the choice I want to make, but the one for those who take electoral outcome more seriously than self-expression. And at the very same time, I see my better allies working for reform in this party – for accountability, transparency, and bottom-up power – so we can get past this establishment-worship this party is stuck in.

But Sheena Collum put it better.



Follow on Twitter: @SheenaCollum. Please also follow @bluejersey

Comments (5)

  1. robosz

    I have always hated the phrase, “Voting for the lesser evil.” It should be re-framed as “I am voting against the greater evil.” In which that means voting to DEFEAT the specific candidate in each race who is most likely to be the greater evil, do the most damage to the interests I consider important when voting.

    I have never been politically-involved and so I could never relate to folks saying “I’m not energized” to vote, or “nobody thrills me this year,” etc. Or “I’ll stay home — That’ll show ’em!” I consider going to vote like going to the dentist … it’s something you just have to do, if you believe in the concept of democracy and keeping it (like your teeth) healthy. I’ve never had illusions about a single candidate being a hero, and so I don’t count getting on energized or swept up. I consider myself pragmatic, while others might say I’ve been cynical.

    And yet since my first opportunity to vote, I have never missed a single year (I’m pretty sure.) Since my first election — Reagan in 1980 — I’ve pretty much identified that the GOP’s plan, through all levels of government, has been to get people to hate government, despise it, and be apathetic about it, … in turn rallying their own base with the necessary distractions to still “take over” the governments they think are so ineffectual, in order to push their own policies on a population who has been brought up to believe that “government can’t do anything” and “all politicians are crooks, so why bother.”

    In all these years of voting I have yet to feel bad or “proven wrong” for voting against the GOP. I am no rally guy nor do I need to be energized by a slogan or the campaign of a saintly new candidate in blue; I get my butt into the booth and do what I can to defeat the scourge of Republican power-grabbing. And that means adding my vote to the greater number of votes going to the next person in line who has the best chance of defeating the GOP’s leading candidate, in any and every race. And yes, that’s always been a Dem.

    Unfortunately, my philosophy does nothing to help spur non-voters to action. Fair enough. But among the segment of people on the liberal/mainstream/progressive side of things, people who normally do vote, I find it a self-defeating waste of energy for people to publicly do the hand-wringing, vacillating thing, as if we had no unifying priority staring us right in the face. In 2018, if you aren’t “energized” to defeat every single Republican running for office from Senate down to school board, then consider yourself another victim of the GOP’s very successful 40-year campaign to turn voters off.

  2. robosz

    And Rosi — with regards to Greens giving you grief as if you’re not as progressive as they are: there is always someone holier-than-thou. Just beyond the Greens you have Anarchists, who probably look down on the Greens and call them “corporate sell-outs” or “Institutionalists” or something. And don’t even get into the issue of how much damage Jill Stein did; even apart from the election, how can a Green Party leader cozy up to Putin, whose whole economy is based on keeping and expanding fossil fuel industries in Russia? Talk about hypocritical stances and helping one of the nastiest oil/gas oligarchs of the world. How can the Greens be so pure? They chose Jill Stein. Bad choice for people worried about dealing with climate change, don’t you think?

  3. Bertin Lefkovic

    What truly baffles me is that people register Green at all. What do they think that they are accomplishing? The Green Party does not have primary elections. These 6,000 registered Greens would be better off remaining unaffiliated. At least then they would have the option of voting in a primary election if they came across a candidate inspiring enough to deserve their support.

    If progressive Democrats ever get our collective acts together and build an opposition line in every part of the state and for every office on the ballot, 6,000 votes could be the difference between defeat and victory.

  4. Joe

    I will be voting for Menendez, the much less damaging candidate. I have no patience any more for the ideological purists who refuse to vote for the lesser evil or for the corporate Democrats or who say that both parties are corrupt and beholden to the corporate oligarchs. So these holier than thou uber progressives vote Green or don’t vote and we end up with Trump. Jill Stein could not even beat out that libertarian idiot Gary Johnson (“What’s Aleppo?”). Johnson wants to raise the retirement age to 72. Libertarians are a horror show, they want to get rid of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and the ACA. The time to vote for a true progressive is in the primaries but in the general election vote Democratic. The GOP has become a dangerous cult and has gone off the rails into crazy land = Trump, Gohmert, Steve King, etc. Even if a miracle happened and Jill Stein won, she would still have to compromise and deal with her D and R opponents. I wish we had more parties and could get the dark corporate money out of politics but until then vote for the much less damaging party.

  5. NJBlech

    if you vote for Menendez you are concluding that his ethical and moral transgressions (so great that a bipartisan U.S. Senate ethics committee severely admonished him) do not disqualify him from being re-elected to the U.S. Senate. Sorry, but that is pathetic. Joe, those of us refusing to vote for Menendez (no that doesn’t mean we vote for Hugin) doesn’t make us ideological purists, but rather people who have minimum standards — minimum standards that Menendez doesn’t meet (he doesn’t even come close). So go ahead and be like Tom Moran and choke it down and vote for Menendez on Tuesday. And watch the monster you will have created for six years as he struts around the Senate knowing his moral and ethical lapses mean nothing as he was re-elected anyway.


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