After the most recent election, a Minnesota-grown party candidate had some interesting things to say. In a letter to the editor:
Now we know how to win and diminish the votes of the two-party tyranny. We’ll be back to mess with you little Dutch boys. In the meantime, the cracks in the levee are widening, the flood is coming and the inevitable wave of Hemp for Victory will sweep away your injustices.
In a comment for the news:
Wright said that until marijuana is legalized, he will contemplate running again, and that one day it could make a difference.
“If I can take away another 30,000 or more votes, that’s gonna hurt them,” he said of the major parties. “That would really change things for these guys. They’re gonna want these votes, and to make me irrelevant they’d have to come out for legalization.”
So here’s the thing: No. And I say that as someone against continuing prohibition and someone who once voted for a Grassroots candidate. No.
Dear Minnesota Grassroots Party:
Your days as a political party are over, and you’ll get what you want much faster if you realize that. Well, frankly, you’re likely to get it soon anyway. Still, if you give up the pretense that you’re a political party, you have an opportunity to help make the change happen instead of turning into a sad historical footnote.
Why are you done as a political party? Weirdly enough, it’s because more voters than ever support your platform. Recent polls show that a large majority of Minnesotans favor the legalization of medical marijuana, and a substantial minority support legalization of recreational use. Other states are already making recreational use legal, which means that Minnesotans will lean that way shortly as a zombie apocalypse fails to materialize there.
Third-party candidates took note of that in this election. Independence Party candidates campaigned on legalization. Libertarian Party candidates campaigned on legalization. Our one statewide Green Party candidate campaigned on legalization. They found an issue where public sentiment didn’t match the offerings from the major parties, and they exploited the hell out of it.
This brings us to the other reason you’re doomed as a political party. You never were one. You were an advertising campaign. With one exception I can recall, you didn’t bother to field candidates who showed a broad knowledge of the responsibilities of the offices for which they ran, much less a substantial platform. You just put people on the ticket who, when researched by those few voters who do that for all candidates, explained why pot should be legal.
The Independence, Libertarian, and Green Party candidates, in contrast, put together a broad list of policy positions, not a long set of talking points on how legalizing marijuana would affect other issues. Legalization was on their lists, but it wasn’t the whole of the list for anyone except you.
Yes, you outpolled the Libertarian Party candidates. Don’t be too proud of the fact. Their candidates ran on nearly the same platforms as both the Republican candidates and Minnesota’s homegrown Libertarian party, Independence. They were picking up scraps, and they still nearly beat you.
For that matter, Dan Vacek, who ran under Legal Marijuana Now for his party instead of Grassroots as he did in prior years and who did no campaigning except on his personal Facebook page, outran you. His three-word platform and relative invisibility received more votes than the candidates you endorsed.
You’re never going to win a major election doing what you’re doing. You’re never even going to get the 5% of a statewide vote needed to attain major-party status again.
That’s okay. Really, it is. If you wanted to govern, you’d have the ideas required to fill out a platform. You don’t, because you don’t want that any more than we do. You just want to threaten major-party candidates.
The problem is that now that public opinion has turned, you can’t hope do that effectively either. When all your third-party candidates on the right and the left support legalization, they’re taking votes from both major parties. Not only that, but they’re splitting any presumed bloc voting on the issue by offering alternative candidates that fit both people’s stance on legalization and the rest of their political positions.
You, with no stance beyond “legalize it”, can’t promise a bloc of voters to either major party because you don’t know what your voters’ other political are. If you drop out, you can’t promise the DFL those votes won’t go to the Independence Party. You can’t promise the Republicans they won’t go to the Greens. Even as a wedge, you’re a wash.
It’s time for a decision.
Do you continue down your path of voter advertising sold as political party, or do you do the work it would take to achieve legalization? Do you pay the filing fees to continually run the same few people for offices they don’t want, or do you help people directly affected by prohibition make a case for legalization to their legislators? Do you keep making politically naïve campaign websites, or do you collect model legislation and make recommendations befitting existing Minnesota law? Do you make silly pronouncements impotently threatening lawmakers, or do you build the relationships with them that would give your legislation a chance?
In short, do you keep pretending to be the political party you so clearly aren’t, or do you do what it takes to make a difference in a world where your claimed goals are within reach? Do you choose irrelevancy or change?
I know which I’d go for.
P.S. Come get your supporters. They’re not helping you.