Lately (and by "lately," I mean "for the past six years," though it's come to a head since Tuesday again), Democrats have been getting riled up at Green Party folk for splitting the vote on the left end of the spectrum (and, according to the narrative of some, providing a red carpet for the Republican Party to march into Congressional seats, the Oval Office, and so on).
Leaving aside for the moment the issue of the viability of third-party candidates (all right, fuck it, I'm going to say this once, so listen the hell up: Your vote should answer the question "Who would you most like to represent you in the government?", NOT the question "Who do you think is going to win the election?"), I suggest a bit of a compromise.
If Democrats are worried about Greens leaching support and/or votes away from them, then it seems to me that the logical solution is for the Democratic Party to reach out more the Green Party. If the Democrats want Green-leaners to vote for their candidates, they ought to give these voters something appealing to them. Go to the Greens and ask "What do you want to see in the government?", and then--and here's a radical idea!--listen to what they have to say. Listen when the Greens say "We would like _____ put in the party platform, and we would like you to pledge to pass _____ legislation when the time comes."
And I don't see this as "pandering to a special interest," not in the slightest. I posit that most Americans are worried about the sort of issues that Greens concentrate on. They worry about what kind of world they're going to leave behind to their kids. Despite the fact that they'll usually append a hasty "...but I'm not one of those environmentalists!" to it, they're worried about the stuff that industry dumps into the air, the water, the soil. Despite the (oil-industry-funded) battle over global warming, more and more people are getting more and more worried about a possible coming environmental collapse. Despite the constant stream of advertising, more and more people are beginning to question whether or not having so many, say, SUV's is really a good thing. Despite the fact that they'll usually append a hasty "...but I'm not a socialist or anything!" to it, they're worried about the spread of factory farms across the United States. They're worried that fewer and fewer big corporations are controlling more and more stuff, and that alternatives are becoming fewer and farther between.
They're worried...but they're also convinced that whatever action they take will be by themselves alone, and will not even slow down the inevitable. And what a union between Democrats and Greens can do is give people a genuine alternative to these trends, coupled with concrete policies to work with. How about tax breaks and debt relief for small farms and sustainable agriculture? Incentives to build light-rail lines instead of freeways? Bond initiatives to encourage and protect small businesses? With some political savvy, this could go far--even in the so-called Red States.
And if Democrats can learn to work with the Green Party, instead of treating them as some radical bomb-throwing enemy, who knows-- they might even find the courage to stand up to the taunts and smears of the right wing.
They might realize that there are far worse things than being called a liberal.