The Green Party
Seek "Serious, Credible, Platform-
Based" 2000 Presidential Campaign
by Eric M. Appleman
|[April 1, 1999, revised
June 20, 1999]--The Association of State Green Parties, a federation that
brings together 24 of the 27 state Green parties, is coordinating organizing
for a "serious, credible, platform-based" Green Party 2000 presidential
campaign. David Cobb, chair of the ASGP presidential exploratory committee,
outlined three main goals for a Green 2000 presidential bid:
The 1996 Green Party nominee, consumer activist Ralph Nader, appeared on the November ballot in 21 states and the District of Columbia, garnering 684,871 votes (0.71%). Nader ran as a non-candidate; he didn't campaign or raise money. While some Greens believe that the absence of an active candidate limited the party's showing on Election Day, Steve Schmidt, chair of the ASGP platform committee said that Nadar's campaign provided a "foundation of ideas and integrity. Now we have to build on that foundation."
The position of Greens now is much stronger than it was in 1995 heading into 1996. The number of states with party organizations has almost tripled. As a result of showings in the 1996 and 1998 elections Greens now have ballot status in ten states (Alaska, California, Colorado, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Maine, New Mexico, New York, Oregon and Wisconsin), twice as many as four years earlier. There have been electoral successes. In 1997 and 1998, Green candidates pulled double digit showings in several tight congressional races in New Mexico. On March 30, 1999 part-time college teacher Audie Bock gained a surprise win over Democrat Elihu M. Harris in the run-off election in California's 16th Assembly district, becoming the first U.S. Green state legislator.
Planning for 2000
In September 1998, the New Mexico Green Party proposed that a presidential exploratory committee be established. The coordinating committee passed the proposal on Oct. 30, and on Dec. 20 the steering committee appointed the seven-person committee. Exploratory committee chair David Cobb of Texas emphasizes that the committee's mission is not to choose the candidate, but to identify "candidates who are interested in seeking the Green Party presidential nomination in 2000." The members of the committee are serving as "information gatherers."
In January 1999 the exploratory
committee began soliciting names; by late January they had developed an
initial list of over 60 names. Through tele-conferencing and e-mail they
pared the list down and on Feb. 22 mailed an introductory letter and questionnaire
to about twenty people inviting them to engage the possibility of a presidential
campaign. Among those on the list were 1996 presidential nominee Ralph
Nader, 1996 vice presidential nominee Winona LaDuke, former congressman
Ron Dellums, and Lester Brown, president and co-founder of the Worldwatch
Institute. The majority of the prospects indicated they were not interested
in becoming candidates; several others did not respond. On
May 10 the committee sent the material to seven more prospects, and other
names may emerge as the year progresses. Thus far, those who have
indicated an interest or not ruled out the possibility of running are Ralph
Nader, Ron Ouellette (a member of the Green Party of Connecticut), Marianne
Williamson (an author, currently a Unitarian Universalist minister in Detroit),
and Stephen Gaskin (organized The Farm in Tennessee and founded Plenty
The ASGP's national meeting in Moodus, CT in June 1999 approved a proposal to create a presidential nominating convention committee, charged with putting together a 2000 convention. The convention is scheduled to take place June 24-25, 2000, in Denver, CO; as in 1996 it will be modest in size compared to the Democratic and Republican spectacles.
Delegates will be apportioned according to a proportional representation formula developed by the transition committee and approved at the June meeting. As an incentive to states to build successful parties, there is a weighting system, based on such factors as the number of Green candidates elected in the state and Green activity in congressional districts. Developing the specifics of this weighting system so that it was transparent and easily verifiable proved a challenging task. For example, in some states Greens, lacking recognized party status, cannot register Green. Therefore, the number of registrants was not used as a weighting factor.
Greens express a determination to run a platform-based rather than a personality-based campaign. A sixteen-person platform committee, chaired by Steve Schmidt of New Mexico, has been facilitating discussion and debate on the 2000 platform. The starting point is the platform used in the 1996 campaign, which Ralph Nader declared "far superior" to the "flaccid, insipid, empty, cowardly platforms of the Democratic and Republican Tweedle-Dum Tweedle-Dee parties." The platform is organized into four main sections: democracy, social justice and equal opportunity, environmental sustainability and economic sustainability. Greens from around the country have been submitting suggestions. Among the hottest subjects are economic globalization, biodiversity and bioengineering. Areas prompting debate include how to address welfare reform and whether a single payer or state-based system offers the best approach to health care. The platform will be proposed for adoption at the 2000 convention.
"You still have a choice"
1. Five percent in November 2000 will qualify the party's nominees in the next presidential cycle to receive general election financing (11 CFR § 9002.7).
Copyright 1999 Eric
M. Appleman/Democracy in Action.