With the 2012 Presidential elections looming and uncertainty in the air, there is a lot of talk about a third party candidate – someone who is not a Democrat or a Republican. Not long ago that third party was The American Green Party (The Green Party). However, since the Green Party’s break out year in 2000, the Green Party has fallen off the radar, and sadly it is a shadow of its former self. Case in point, Roseanne Barr is, seemingly the Green Party’s presidential candidate for 2012.
So what’s Roseanne’s view on the political issues? Well, via Twitter:
Forgive all student loans, homeowner debt and credit card debt by “kicking out” the Federal Reserve; institute single-payer healthcare within 100 days of her inauguration; pursue those “financial terrorists”; reconfigure American diets, shifting away from animal protein and toward protein from nuts; and fight for gay rights.
A far cry from the motives of the last high profile Green Party candidate, Ralph Nader.
The Green Party got its start in 1991 with a focus on global responsibility and sustainability. The Green Party has been a major supporter of the alternative fuel movement. In 1996 the Green Party nominated political activist Ralph Nader as the Green Party Presidential nominee. Nader made a name for himself nationally with his 1965 book Unsafe at Any Speed which is critique of the safety record of American automobile manufacturers and most famously the Chevrolet Corvair.
The 1996 campaign did not have much impact, but with such a well known figure like Nader at the helm the Green Party gained recognition. By the 2000 presidential election Nader and the Green Party were back and took America by
storm barely perceptible drizzle. Night after night Nader took the stage across the country running on a platform of “Ten Key Values”:
- Grassroots democracy
- Social justice and equal opportunity
- Ecological wisdom
- Community-based economics
- Feminism and gender equality
- Respect for diversity
- Personal and global responsibility
- Future focus and sustainability
Additionally, Nader and the Green Party refused to take corporate donations, relying instead on the people to fund the movement. And fund the movement they did; when Nader was not invited to the presidential debates, Green Party supporters flooded the debates demanding equality. Donations increased and some historians argue that the Green Party’s actions in the 2000 presidential election actually shifted votes away from the Democratic candidate.
Political opinion of the 2000 presidential election aside, when a third party actually has enough influence to shift such a significant number of votes away from either the Democrats or the Republicans, that is a statement in and of itself.
In the wake of the 2000 presidential elections, Green Party members went on to win numerous state offices. If American’s wanted to vote for a third party candidate in an election, America turned to the Green Party.
Yet, after all the success things took a strange turn. As the 2004 presidential election came about the Green Party was split – do they support Nader for a third time and maybe risk taking votes away from the Democratic challenger as they did in 2000, or do they support a new, lesser known candidate?
In the end, the Green Party went with the lesser known candidate. Nader ran anyway as an Independent, thus splitting with the Green Party, and ultimately both the Green Party and Nader made almost zero headlines – and when they did appear in the news it was in the vein of “why are these fools running they are going to make us get Bush again”.
The momentum that the Green Party had built up was lost. In 2008 the Green Party nominated Cynthia McKinney for President, and that campaign went no place. Now, Roseanne Barr is the Green Party presidential nomination this year – a comedian is now the Green Party candidate. The Green Party is now literally a joke.
In a way the Green Party’s success in 2000 was its demise. The Green Party is far left wing and sides on many issues with the Democratic Party. When the news broke that the Green Party may have played a large role in aiding the Republican presidential victory in 2000, rather than taking the notoriety and momentum and running with it and further establishing themselves as a viable third party, the Green Party went with a no-name candidate and split its own limited appeal with Independent Nader.
When the party split with Nader that was it; with their star gone the support shrank, and the political and social issues that the Green Party had forced into the public light became overshadowed by Republican and Democrat infighting . Things had gone back to the way they were.
The Green Party has yet to recover and may never regain that lost momentum. I understand that the Green Party is not running a strong 2012 campaign because they want Obama back in office, but come on! Either run a real candidate or don’t run one at all. Potentially nominating a “joke candidate”, this type of action may appear fun and cute for the Green Party, but to the rest of the political realm it makes a party that once held power in state offices and took the nation by storm in an American presidential election (!!!) look illegitimate.
The larger issue here is why does this happen with these grassroots and green movements? These movements gain such momentum and power, and then they just squander it and flat line. It does not look good, it makes green politics seem like a fringe movement, when in fact green politics can be a strong national movement.
Look at the Occupy Movement that is happening right now. Oh you didn’t know it was still going on? Thank you for making my point.
The Occupy Movement was all over the place – from the east coast to the west coast, from the morning news to the evening news. Facebook, Twitter, Occupy was there. Just like the Green Party, Occupy had the attention, they had the power, they had the money and they had support of the people. But then the snow came. The police came. The message never fully formed. The Occupiers went home. The movement flatlined. Yes, there are holdouts, but the movement is not at the level that it was less than six months ago, and it may never get there again
Like it or not, the alternative fuel movement is in many ways the vanguard of all green movements. prices through the roof, food prices through the roof, and heating oil through the roof – yes the jobs are coming back, but the cost of living sure is not slowing down and the endless thirst for oil.
The green movement is not a joke,and the political stage is no place for nonsense (Could have fooled me. -Ed.) If the face of Green politics is treating it like a joke, then they are doing more harm than good and the Green Party has truly come to the end of the road.
Andrew Meggison was born in the state of Maine and educated in Massachusetts. Andrew earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Government and International Relations from Clark University and a Master’s Degree in Political Science from Northeastern University. Being an Eagle Scout, Andrew has a passion for all things environmental. In his free time Andrew enjoys writing, exploring the great outdoors, a good film, and a creative cocktail. You can follow Andrew on Twitter @AndrewMeggison