Whither the Green Party USA?
August 5, 2002 1:41 PM   Subscribe

Whither the Green Party USA? Reporting from the Green Party 2002 midterm convention, The Nation's writer reports an (uneasy) consensus for "spoiling" selected races against the Democrats, but less clarity on how to get from there to a policy-making role in government.
posted by MattD (17 comments total)
I love the quotes from Nader in this article. He's perfectly willing to support a Green nominee in Minnesota who may spoil Paul Wellstone's re-election bid, even though Nader admits he is not familiar with the politics of either Green seeking the nomination.

Wellstone has impeccable liberal credentials, so no one can make the argument that he deserves to be Nadered because he is indistinguishable from Republicans. No one except Ralph, of course.
posted by rcade at 1:51 PM on August 5, 2002

Ralph who?
posted by Postroad at 2:13 PM on August 5, 2002

And off we go again . . . there's a goat 'round here needs scapin'!

But for what it's worth, and as a registered Green, voting Green, and one-time candidate Green (ran against your mama 'cause she's part of the system, man), I've got to say that article was pretty reasonable.

The state Greens should reconsider the run against Wellstone. And, nationally, Democrats should consider running a candidate that would inspire enough people to vote for her that they wouldn't end up with a second tie.
posted by hackly_fracture at 2:16 PM on August 5, 2002

They tried to focus their power to "spoil" races primarily on conservative Democrats, not acting indiscriminately, lest they turn off potential supporters.

This is the tactic that prevents me from supporting the Green Party. They have lost my vote so I guess what they meant to say was "...lest they turn off potential donors." Nobody likes a spoil sport. Certainly not I.
posted by plaino at 2:30 PM on August 5, 2002

The state Greens should reconsider the run against Wellstone.

Actually, there was a sizable minority at the Minnesota Green Party that supported backing Wellstone. I believe Winona LaDuke sent a letter of support for Wellstone.

Frankly, enough greens support Wellstone that it's barely an issue.

What's more interesting is how the Minnesota gubernatorial race will turn out; we've got (officially) four major parties here -- the Republicans, Democrats, Jesse Ventura's own Independence Party, and the Greens. The first three have been polling around the same, and the Greens have been pulling in about 5%.
posted by Theiform at 2:50 PM on August 5, 2002

I am quite intrigued by the Green's transferable vote schemes, which will enable people to vote for third parties without "spoiling" anything ... and make it possible for some third party candidates actually to emerge winners.

The corporate scandals of the past year have made it quite clear that Nader was saying something in 2000 re: corporate (ir)resonsibility to which both parties needed to respond ... but had no need or interest in doing so. In my view, Nader's proposed solutions were all wrong, but it would have helped to talk about the problems.

If the Greens are fierce and succesful with their spoiler campaigns this fall, Democrats will have to fall in line with transferable vote schemes, for sheer self-defense. California is a likely starting place -- Democrats dominate (and so can adopt self-defense measures without Republican interference, or much of it) while Greens are making a push.
posted by MattD at 2:55 PM on August 5, 2002

If you can't win a campaign, you deserve to lose. Unless you're a Democrat, then you have to blame somebody else. Kudos to Gore and Daschle for not being schmucks on this point.
posted by raaka at 3:05 PM on August 5, 2002

greens are running in wellstone's race because it's a prog area, like the 10 states where new party is winning local races.

they/we will continue to "spoil" democratic candidates' races until the DP responds to prog issues. as to the recent presidential election, those close percentages that "cost" gore the election are better understood when taking into consideration those millions who voted by not voting.
posted by aiq at 4:21 PM on August 5, 2002

If the Greens are running to make the Democratic Party more progressive, how is their cause served by defeating Paul Wellstone?

The people who are voting Green to change the Democrats should start supporting progressives in the Democratic primaries, where they have a chance to make a difference without knocking off people like Wellstone.
posted by rcade at 4:37 PM on August 5, 2002

You still bother to vote?

"...it is the responsibility of voters to take initiative in becoming politically involved. However, the current electoral system in the United States is not one that fosters voter participation..."

Why would anyone go to a library where they don't let you read books? Or get in a fight with five big guys who tie your hands behind your back before anyone throws a punch?

Vote red. Vote blue. Vote green. It doesn't matter. You still get mud.
posted by ZachsMind at 5:02 PM on August 5, 2002

There is no way we will see fundamental change in our political system until it becomes broken for the current winners. Whether on the left, or the right, until it becomes impossible for one of the two parties to win, we will never see changes to ballet access laws, campaign finance laws, meaningful, accountable dialog, etc.

I'd like too see the greens run a national campaign (a la contract with/on America) but target just enough congressional seats to ensure neither party had a majority. I think you could find 30ish congressional districts where just the thrill of throwing a monkey wrench into the DC works, all the while cheered on by the media, would be incentive enough. Then let the quid pro quos begin...
posted by tellmenow at 5:41 PM on August 5, 2002

An interesting question will be (assuming third-party ascendency at some point) whether the grassroots approach will catapult a third-party to relevance, or whether it will require a prominent public figure. Early returns on the latter are not, thus far, promising.
posted by apostasy at 6:01 PM on August 5, 2002

Let's challenge the basic axiom that Greens shouldn't challenge liberals.

If being Green means, first and foremost, a concern with environmental issues, then should Greens properly call themselves liberals? Can a Green support a conservative idea that is very pro-environment? What about a libertarian idea?

Is calling a Green a "liberal" the same as calling him a "green democrat?" Is the label "Green" unique from either "liberal democrat" or "conservative republican?"
posted by kablam at 7:40 PM on August 5, 2002

I'm sympathetic to the principles the Green Party stands for, but I think the only logical outcome of a policy of challenging progressive democrats is to push the Dems and the nation farther to the Right. If Dems feel the leftward 5% of voters are going to regularly vote Green, they will be abandoned, not courted.

I don't neccessarily agree that GREEN means "Getting Republicans Elected Every November" as Dem wags like to say. But I am sure that it means the Dems will end up more New Dem than ever.

I'll never vote Green as long as the party's just in it as a spoiler.
posted by AlexSteffen at 12:34 PM on August 6, 2002

It's amazing that whining Democrats are still bitching and moaning about Ralph Nader almost two years after the election. If that doesn't prove that they don't deserve my vote, I don't know what does.

The Supreme Court decided the election. Al Gore voted to confirm Antonin Scalia, arguably the biggest conservative on the Supreme Court bench. Democrats also confirmed Clarence Thomas. Came back to bite you in the ass, didn't it Al?


The people who are voting Green to change the Democrats should start supporting progressives in the Democratic primaries, where they have a chance to make a difference without knocking off people like Wellstone.

I would make the argument that if Wellstone is such a swell guy, than he shouldn't worry about Greens costing him a few votes now should he? Democrats love Greens as long as it costs Republican votes. I know most Democrats would be thrilled if Green Party voters followed their party line in every election, but that's not really democracy, is it?

If the Democrats (or Republicans) would rather push me in front of a train instead of voting for a third party candidate, I've got two words for them. Fuck off! I can vote for anyone I want (and I do). Don't like it? Too bad.


Vote red. Vote blue. Vote green. It doesn't matter. You still get mud.

I'll asume from your statement that you can't be bothered to vote. If not, I address the U.S. non-voter.

Your cynicism is why have the idiot leaders that we have now. Please spare us the spineless and cynical non-voter cop out that "nothing can ever change".

Tens of millions like you are too lazy to take a few minutes every couple of years to go to the polls and vote. Are you really telling me that all of you put together can't make any difference?

There are many millions of people in the world that would give anything to have the opportunity that you so callously throw into the garbage.

Yes, I'm a bit of an idealist. I know that the times we live in make the slightest modicum of idealism a target for both scorn and ridicule. So be it.
posted by mark13 at 12:58 PM on August 6, 2002

In Australia voting is compulsory with a wide variety of voting systems. And yes, it does get confusing.

One of the proportional voting systems recently contributed to the (Tasmanian) Greens becoming the major opposition party - outvoting the Liberals (the conservative party!). The Greens website doesn't yet show the victory - I think they're still partying. Slowly the Greens are becoming much more sophisticated than just "tree huggers", embracing concepts such as "natural capitalism" and frankly, honesty. No wonder people are interested. Idealism is more attractive than vulgar greed.
posted by ozjohn at 6:22 PM on August 6, 2002

Apotsay: While I do appreciate the work that LP supporters have put into building a third party, I would hesitate to lump the US Greens in with Perot/Ventura. While Nader may have been a catalyst for bringing the Greens into the national arena, he has more or less left the Greens by the wayside since 2000.

I have been active in my state's GP as well as my county local for more than a year now. We are running several candidates this election cycle and have a good chance at winning a few races. We have benefited from Nader's name recognition to some extent, but the majority of our gains have been due to the same sort of dedicated grassroots democracy that has brought the LP some success.

I'm not saying we're going to change the world, but if we don't it won't be due to a lack of effort.
posted by Fezboy! at 8:18 PM on August 6, 2002

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