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Don't Stop Now: Let's Go For It!
Write-in "Doug Mann" for School Board
by Doug Mann, 29 Oct 2004, Submitted to the Star-Tribune for publication 28 Oct 2004
by Steve Welzer,
In this article I'll endeavor to make the case that the best campaign strategy for advancing the growth of the Green Party in the presidential election year of 2004 will be the most straightforward strategy:The Greens should run their strongest candidate and mount the most formidable challenge possible.
The Republicans and Democrats have had a near-monopoly on political significance in this country for so long that it will take years of increasingly serious challenges for a rising new party to gain recognition as a real force. Since 1865, a dozen or more third parties have had an impact for one or two or three electoral cycles only to then fade into
obscurity. At this point the power elites and the pundits are assuredly predicting that the Greens will be just another flash in the pan.
What the Greens need to do is make believers out of the young, the alienated, the disenfranchised, those who are craving a better alternative, and those who just want more choice. The Greens must present themselves as -- indeed, feel themselves to be -- *the* serious, creative, audacious, and enduring alternative ... possessing the potential to finally break the "glass ceiling," to open up the long-stagnant American political system.
It's understandable that some members and supporters of the Green Party get uncomfortable with the idea that November 3, 2004 could find George W. Bush reelected and blame leveled at the Green presidential campaign. But this will be an ongoing theme cycle after cycle. Reticence, constraint, or preoccupation with "spoiler avoidance" will impede the Greens' forward momentum (as has been the case with other recent third party initiatives, such as the New Party and the Labor Party).
Suggestions have been made that in 2004 the Greens run a low-key presidential campaign (to focus instead on state and local races) or campaign aggressively only in "safe states" (states where one of the major party candidates is sure to garner the electoral college votes). Allocation of campaign resources will certainly be an important discussion in 2004. If the race appears close in October, where to have the presidential candidate campaign most heavily will be
an important consideration. But it's not as if the national campaign will have $20 million for media buys during the critical final weeks. The bulk of financial and volunteer resources will undoubtedly reside with the state Green parties. I suspect that few state parties would be amenable to the idea of constraining their efforts. The presidential campaign year constitutes a great opportunity for the state parties to gain visibility. There is a danger that a
"safe states" strategy would set up a clash of intentions between the national campaign and Greens in the states.
Also: perceptions are critical at this stage of the development of the Green Party. Explicitly choosing not to run their strongest candidate or not to run aggressively in some states would give the impression that the Greens have an aversion to truly emerging from the margins when presented with the opportunity to do so. The Libertarians have been laboring for thirty years to get such an opportunity.
Regarding the question of who would be the strongest candidate, my own opinion is that it would still be Ralph Nader. Some Greens are understandably concerned about over-reliance upon or over-identification with a single standard bearer. But only a small minority of the electorate was aware of the 1996 run, so for all intents and purposes there has been just one significant Nader/Green Party campaign, the one in 2000.
Concern is also expressed about the "2000 spoiler backlash" effect. I think it will be far outweighed by other factors. One thing accomplished in 2000 was that Nader and the Green Party displaced Perot/Buchanan and the Reform Party as the leading third party alternative in the eyes of the electorate and the press. A 2004 Nader/Green campaign could pick up where the 2000 campaign left off. In 2000, the press was giving the Reform Party an unusual amount of attention early in the year, anticipating that they would be a major factor in November. Instead, the Green Party was the major factor. If Nader appears to be the frontrunner for the Green nomination in 2004, the press coverage of his
speeches and appearances and of Green Party activity will be unprecedented.
Nader has paid his dues as a supporter and promoter of the Greens. He has been one of the most effective fundraisers for the party, and it's likely that more people have been exposed to the Ten Key Values through his book *Crashing the Party* than through perhaps any other single source. An alliance with one of the country's best known and most well respected champions of democracy and justice is something the Greens should continue to take advantage of.
So: I believe the most significant national-level decision in 2004 will be made in Milwaukee when Greens opt to run their strongest possible presidential/vice presidential ticket. After that the state parties, without expecting overly much in the way of national campaign resources, will be conducting state-level campaigns centered around the
candidates on the national ticket. My guess is that they will recognize it to be in the interest of Green Party growth to work as hard as they can and maximize their impact as much as possible. Greens in all states need to show that they are aggressive, serious, steadfast, and here to stay!
GREEN HORIZON QUARTERLY
Volume I, No. 2
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Humanity's Number One Task Today
by Patrick Mazza
Kenya's Green Belt Movement
by Wangari Maathai
U.S. GREENS PONDER PRESIDENTIAL STRATEGY
* No More Excuses
by Pat LaMarche
* Don't Stop Now: Let's Go For It!
by Steve Welzer
* A Full Throttle Smart States Campaign
by Dean Myerson
* Ralph Nader, the Green Party, & the public interest
by John Rensenbrink
THE FOREIGN POLICY ELITE
Public Intellectuals or Private Careerists?
by Norman Birnbaum
CREATIVE COUNTERFORCE TO CORPORATE CULTURE
Sidetracking Corporations on Campus
by Brian Sandberg
Make Sure There's Plenty of
Chocolate for Your Politics!
by Morgen D'Arc
Growing the Culture of Democracy
by Ellen La Conte
THE STARK NEED FOR A NEW ECONOMICS
Downsize Me? Downsize You!
by Fred Dolgon
Beyond Capitalism and Socialism
by Steve Welzer
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Green Horizon Foundation
PO Box 476
Topsham, ME 04086