Presidential Politics and the Future of the Green Party
by Greg Jan and Dana St. George
Here in California, David Cobb and Pat LaMarche are the Green Party nominees, and Ralph Nader and Peter Camejo are running as independent write-in candidates. During the chain of events that ended with this result, many of the most active Greens had strong and difficult disagreements with each other. Therefore, by sometime next year Greens will undoubtedly start working on improving our presidential nominating process, for 2008. But beyond the more specific technical aspects involved in selecting our nominee are a host of larger strategic questions -- questions that are crucial for our future, for building the Green Party across this country.
In particular, we need to remember the context that we are operating in. That is, what specifically should be our strategy in regards to the two-party system itself? (This question of course involves not only the Presidency, but all partisan races). Given the space limitations for this article, we'd like to outline three related questions, to begin the strategizing process.
- Within the two-party system, how can we best advance ourselves? Although the current electoral system is very biased against third parties, we still have some decent opportunities, and on rare occasions we have actually won partisan seats. Both the national and state parties have good basic information on how to generally run a strong campaign, but here are two special strategic questions especially applicable for partisan races. First, for the "top of the ticket" races, to what extent is it important to have a candidate who already has a certain amount of "name recognition"? (Especially regarding who to run for President in 2008?). And second, can strongly prioritizing public campaign financing be a way that we can more quickly make progress? (Please remember, Maine and Arizona already have it).
- Changing the two-party system -- should that be our top priority? We are making significant progress with Instant Runoff Voting (IRV). This November's Board of Supervisors election in San Francisco will be the first IRV contest in California, and a number of other localities are also considering IRV. Could there now be a huge opening for us to expand IRV across the country? However, proportional representation is another question, but because we continue to be labelled as "spoilers"; perhaps there could be progress there as well. Groups that are underrepresented in legislative bodies (such as women and minorities) might especially be receptive to PR.
- Alliance-building: how important is alliance-building for advancing the Green Party? Many activist organizations share our perspectives on key issues, and are frustrated by the lack of progress from Demo-publicans. If the Green Party is truly going to be able to grow, it will be critical to have the support of many of those who are active with, or support, these kindred activist groups. We should carefully strategize about how to work with these activist leaders and groups, towards developing alliances with them. (Dana cites the example of New Zealand Member of Parliament, Ian Ewen-Street, at the Milwaukee National Convention, who particularly stressed alliance-building as the way the Greens gained political power in that country.)
Most of us will be pretty busy until November 2, but by early 2005, let's start working together to develop a strategy on these larger questions. By doing so, we'll be able to guide ourselves over the next presidential cycle, and beyond.
> Green Focus Home
> Subscribe to Green Focus