To the Editor:

Benjamin Healey ’04 and Shonu Gandhi ’03 are obviously pretty new voters (“Greens not a viable choice for serious activists,” 1/30). As one who campaigned for John F. Kennedy and as a scion of a family whose Democratic roots go back to the emergence of the modern party, I have concluded with much reluctance that only great naivete or impenetrable self-delusion can keep progressive Americans bound to the Democrats.

The party of Roosevelt and Truman has been seized by opportunists of the most blatant sort, whose primary value is spelled with dollar signs and whose primary allegiance is to polls and plutocracy.

At the national level, Democratic and Republican policies in most key areas have become distinguishable only in subtle shades. Meanwhile the unsustainable, predatory global system they foment visits devastation on the world’s masses, sucks dry the well of the planet’s resources, exhausts the people’s treasure on wars on the poor, and goads us all toward a worldwide catastrophe of which Sept. 11 is merely the clarion call. Likewise, on the local level our region has for some time awaited the emergence of a vital, visionary second party whose ethics are beyond reproach.

Conscientious Americans now face a Hobson’s choice. We can vote Democratic in some vain hope that choosing the lesser of two evils will somehow produce the good — longing for the day when Democratic leaders will turn inexplicably from those who fund their campaigns to seek the guidance of the very progressives they have so contemptuously marginalized.

If this is our choice, we will be compelled to vote for Joseph Lieberman or whomever else is poised at the reactionary end of the Democratic spectrum, while we witness that spectrum’s continuing drift ever more rightward, election by election.

Or we can strike out on a new path to create a truly ethical, progressive political force even at the cost of electing some Republicans along the way, holding to our course over the decades until we prevail. And even if we never do, our efforts will be rewarded if we draw the Democrats back toward their original ethos, and politics for over 70 years has shown that there is no other way to accomplish that.

James van Pelt DIV ’02

January 30, 2002