Here’s a story that you won’t see in the corporate media: The Green Party is growing — getting bigger, stronger and better-organized in every election cycle. Even after the infamous 2000 presidential election, when the media and Democrats blamed us for Bush’s selection and ignored the blatantly illegal and biased behavior of Jeb Bush, Katherine Harris and a Republican Supreme Court majority, our numbers have grown.
In 1996, the Green Party was organized in 10 states, guaranteed a ballot line in just five and had elected 40 officeholders. Today, we have parties organized in 44 states, 23 with guaranteed ballot access, and hundreds of Greens elected to public office, including the mayors of Santa Monica, California, and New Paltz, New York, and the president of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. And, for the first time in our party’s history, we have two registered Greens as our presidential and vice presidential candidates, myself and Patricia LaMarche, respectively.
The goals of the Cobb-LaMarche campaign are to present a genuine, progressive alternative, grow the Green Party and have this year’s election culminate with the removal of the White House’s illegitimate occupant.
We are speaking truth to power in this campaign. We are the only party calling for decisive action on catastrophic global climate change and our addiction to fossil fuels, a living wage, universal healthcare under a national insurance plan, real steps toward racial equality, an end to the so-called USA Patriot Act, and the removal of U.S. troops from Iraq.
We are also confronting the “spoiler” issue head on. When this question is raised, it provides us with an opportunity to talk about reforming a flawed electoral system. There isn’t a spoiler problem. The problem is an antiquated, anti-democratic electoral system that forces people to vote for a candidate they really don’t support in order to keep an even worse candidate out of office. We deserve a more democratic and more efficient electoral system, representing the diversity of people and opinions in our country.
Instant Runoff Voting (IRV) is one solution. IRV allows people to rank candidates in order of preference so that if your first-choice candidate doesn’t win enough votes to make it into a runoff, your second choice vote is automatically considered. IRV is used to elect officeholders in Australia, Ireland and London and is soon to be implemented in San Francisco. (Learn more about IRV, proportional representation and other reforms to ensure fair elections on the Web site for the Center for Voting & Democracy at www.fairvote.org.)
Third parties have played a critical role throughout American history. In their heyday, third parties elected mayors, governors and members of Congress. In fact, the entire social fabric of our society was woven from ideas that originated within third parties: the abolition of slavery, women’s right to vote, Social Security, the 40-hour work week and the direct election of U.S. senators, to name just a few.
What we are trying to accomplish through our work with the Green Party is greater than any one campaign or any one election. We are in this for the long haul. One of the key steps to growing our party and eliminating a dangerous global threat is ensuring the removal of George W. Bush from office. Bush is a huge problem. But he is not the problem. The problem is a corporate-military-industrial-prison-judicial system that is destroying the planet. We need to address the larger problem, but we also need to remove the most immediate threat to global peace — and that means getting Bush out of office.
I am in no way suggesting that anyone vote for John Kerry. Kerry is a corporatist and a militarist who supported the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the passage of the Patriot Act. He also opposes real universal health care and a living wage. However, although the differences between Bush and Kerry may be incremental, they are not inconsequential.
In 40 or so states the Electoral College votes have, for all intents and purposes, already been cast. For example, Massachusetts, California and New York will go to the Democrats; Utah, Wyoming and Texas to the Republicans. In these states, where our message is “Don’t waste your vote,” a vote for the Green Party is a powerful tool. In the battleground states that will decide the election, we understand if you won’t vote for our ticket this time. That’s OK. A vote is a powerful and personal decision. You can register Green and support us in every other way possible, especially with votes for state and local Green candidates and contributions of your time and money.
With the strategy we have articulated, we will grow the Green Party, provide voters with a genuine alternative and make the world a safer and saner place to live.