Nathaniel Batchelder, Director of the OKC Peace House has written an op-ed in the latest issue of Oklahoma Peace Strategy Newsletter, which I believe merits a response.

First, though here is reprint of Batch’s op-ed:

About Earth Day & The Green Party

I love Earth Day. And I love the Green Party Platform, including serious planks for environmental sustainability and preservation of Nature. I understand that the Green Party advocates a week of activities around Earth Day, encouraged by Green Presidential Candidate Jill Stein and other leaders of the Green Party. The idea is to make the connection that serious Eco-Policies are inherent in the Green Party.

But, although I love the Green Party PLATFORM, I do not support the Green PARTY. I’ve opined for years that Green Party candidates could register and run as Democrats, not Independents, identifying themselves in the primaries as Green Democrats. The Greens I’ve suggested this to are almost universally offended or puzzled by my suggestion. I suggest they study the Tea Party movement.

Tea Party strategists knew NOT to start a new party, but to agitate within the Republican Party. Today, moderate Republicans are terrified of primary challenges by Tea Party candidates. The Tea Party has become the tail wagging the Republican dog. Not bad for a bunch of rabid extremist right-wing fundamentalists who don’t believe in science!

Meanwhile, Green Party Independent candidates typically draw less than 10% of the vote on election day, and the consequences are to hurt liberal candidates, thus inadvertently helping conservatives.

Had Ralph Nader run as a Green Democrat in the 2000 presidential primaries, George W. Bush would never have become president. Bush’s 8 years cost America $15 to $20 TRILLION, adding up his two unnecessary wars, the 2008 economic crash (because regulation under GWBush was absent from 2000 to 2008), and the huge bail-outs.

Then Nader ran for President again, as an Independent, in 2004 and 2008. Eeek. Politics is the art of the possible. I believe we must first defeat the worst. This would generate hope among potential candidates that victory might be possible.

By Nathaniel Batchelder

I disagree with several points made by Batch, but primarily I object to this topic being considered by OPS Newsletter at all, because the Oklahoma Peace House is seen by our community as being the primary speaking point of the peace movement, and the peace movement is not, and should not, be a partisan thing.

When I think of my comrades in the cause of peace activism, both locally and nationally, I see a motley group of folks. Some of them are Democrats, some are Republicans (one of them, Ethan McChord, is running for Lt. Governor in Kansas), many are independent, a few are from third parties (including Greens, Libertarians and Socialists) and a decent number are anarchists who eschew all electoral politics.

We need all of these folks to engage in the cause of peace. Wars won’t end by electing one side or another. Lots of politicians will use the peace movement to gain political points but then do little to change the culture of militarism. Two recent examples come to mind — Nixon promised to end the war in Vietnam but instead secretly expanded the war to other countries, and Obama promised to end the war in Iraq while a the same time expanding the use of drone warfare against targets, both civilian and military. Change won’t came from the ballot box.

Ending war is hard-work. It requires deep organizing and sometimes even direct action to stop the machinery of death. In comparison, partisan politics is easier, but it frankly doesn’t work.

I respect the fact that Batch is an avid Democrat and he has the right to speak about his views on politics in other venues (or maybe even in the OPS Newsletter if he clearly states this is his opinion only and not the opinion of the OKC Peace house), but I don’t think that partisan advocacy should be done by the Peace House itself. Such advocacy is divisive and pushes potential peace activists away.

I think it is time for change at the Peace House, by embracing the idea that the peace movement is a diverse movement, with multiple political tendencies. I am sharing this message publicly in the hopes that supporters of the Peace House might voice their concern to the Peace House board.

If you share my concern, please send your thoughts on this subject to the Peace House using this web form.

Lastly, my criticism of the Peace House is rooted in my belief in its potential for powerful positive change. I care about this work too much to stay silent.

James M. Branum
(speaking only for myself)

P.S. This is a side point, but as a former Independent/Green Party state house candidate, I obviously disagree with Batch on the value of third party politics. I am one of the folks he spoke of, who was “offended” by his suggestion of running as Green Democrats, primarily because I see no reason to support a political party that doesn’t believe I should have the right to vote for the candidate of my choice in Presidential elections. I have voted for some Democrats (and Republicans and folks of other parties too) over the years, but I can’t support the Democratic Party as long as it refuses to take a stand for democracy through the enactment of reasonable and fair ballot access laws.

Also, Nader and the Green Party did not let Bush win in 2000. The false assumption is that all Nader voters would have otherwise been Gore voters, when in fact many would have been non-voters if they had not voted for Nader. See http://www.cagreens.org/alameda/city/0803myth/myth.html for more discussion on this myth.