The Green Party is in the news again. And the stories aren’t flattering. No, we’re not seeing articles how this “third” party has struggled heroically against all odds to win elected posts from Maine to San Francisco, or how Green mayors, city councilors and school board members are dramatically improving the lives of constituents from coast to coast. The Green Party is in the news again because the general sentiment which emerged from a recent meeting of national delegates is—gasp!—we want to run a candidate for president.
The pundits are having a field day. Never mind that this country has dispatched troops to Afghanistan and Iraq (and Colombia, Panama, Grenada, Vietnam, etc.) all in the name of multi-party democracy. That sort of thing is fine elsewhere, but watch out if you try it here—in the land of the free. It’s as though the United States performs amazing feats of democracy abroad all the while flashing a message: Kids, don’t try this at home.
So, here we go again. The same old tired arguments will be trotted out for one more tired run. Never mind that Gore actually won the popular vote in 2000 but ran such an awful campaign that he managed to lose his home state of Tennessee, or that the Republican-dominated Supreme Court handed the election to Bush in a decision that famed prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi called treasonous, we’ll hear once again how the Greens took enough votes from Gore to hand the White House to Bush. The Democrats and pundits conveniently ignore the real causes of Bush’s selection and manage to overlook this fact: the Democrat’s problem wasn’t Greens voting for Nader, the Democrat’s problem was so many Democrats voting for Bush. And that is something the Democrats are clearly in a position to fix.
But since this is politics, we’re best off to ignore reality. Perception is what counts. And the perception is that the Greens cost the Democrats the presidential election. And if that is the case, then lo and behold, we are the mightiest of the mightiest, for we have the power to decide the fate of the free world! All hail and bow to the mighty Greens!
If the Greens are in fact so almighty powerful, then why haven’t the Democrats come to us and offered concessions in exchange for working together to defeat Bush and improve the lives of our fellow American citizens? Has anyone bothered to look at the facts or outcome of the recent Green meeting? Nader’s support is lukewarm; many Greens want a registered member of our party to run (Nader is not) and also want people to know that the Green Party is bigger and broader than one individual. Greens also agreed to focus our critiques on Bush’s disastrous blunders and lies. While this doesn’t mean that the Greens will abstain from the presidential race, it does pave the path for potential cooperation with a Democratic candidate, provided that we are treated with the respect we deserve.
The Greens will most likely run a candidate for president in 2004. We are a political party. That’s what political parties do. Please don’t insult us or the American ideals of Free Speech and Democracy by suggesting that we do otherwise. Challenge us on our platform, or our record of accomplishments, but don’t challenge our very existence. The pundits would love to see us as the big bad bogeymen in one more election; that kind of thing sells newspapers. The Democrats, I hope, will take responsibility for their own choices and their own candidates and campaigns and won’t blame others should they fail. However, I am confident that a majority of Americans don’t want to see George Bush re-elected. Heck, a majority didn’t want to see him elected the first time and our lives and economy certainly haven’t improved since then.
The Greens will likely run in ’04, but how we run, where we run the hardest and what we say has yet to be decided. Like any other political party, we have to consider both what’s best for our country and for our party. We’re willing to listen to serious and sensible proposals from potential coalition partners who recognize our strength, integrity and independence. There’s no hope for the pundits but the Democrats ought to stop the blame game and start thinking about how they can recapture the White House and whose help they’ll need to do that.
Blair Bobier, a lawyer and political activist, is one of the founders of the Pacific Green Party of Oregon and served as the party’s first gubernatorial candidate in 1998. He can be reached through his website.