Story URL: http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/washington/news.aspx?id=78905
Story Retrieval Date: 5/20/2013 7:57:13 PM CST
-- End racial disparity
-- Implementation of universal healthcare
-- Reform of the electoral system
-- Immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq
-- Repeal of President Bush’s tax cuts
-- Aid those suffering from the housing mortgage crisis
-- Address global warming
1. Grassroots democracy
2. Social justice and equal opportunity
3. Ecological wisdom
5. Decentralization (of wealth and power)
6. Community-based economics and economic justice
7. Feminism and gender equity
8. Respect for diversity
9. Personal and global responsibility
10. Future focus and sustainability
Residence: West Virginia
Experience: Chairman of Mountain Party (Green Part affiliate), 2006 U.S. Senate candidate, 2004 gubernatorial candidate in West Virginia
Campaign contributions: Johnson has not filed with the Federal Election Commission because he could not be an official candidate until he resigned from another political position. His campaign manager estimated Johnson has raised about $18,000.
More: Johnson has also been an actor and a filmmaker.
Experience: U.S. Congresswoman (1993-2003, 2005-2007)
Campaign contributions: $45,902
More: McKinney was a Democrat until 2007 because she felt she had lost the party’s support and was dissatisfied with its results on Capitol Hill. She was defeated in a bid for reelection to Congress in 2006.
Experience: sought 2004 Green Party presidential nomination, sought 2006 Green Party Senate nomination for California, biomedical engineer
Campaign contributions: $4,230
More: Mesplay works as an air quality inspector at the Air Pollution Control District of San Diego.
Experience: former co-chairperson of the Texas Green Party, 2007 San Antonio City Council candidate in
Campaign contributions: $1,100
More: Swift turns 35, the age minimum for a president, a few months before the 2008 election.
(not an official Green Party candidate)
Experience: presidential candidate four times
Campaign contributions: $100,286
More: Nader received 2.7 percent of the vote for the Green Party in the 2000 presidential election but ran as an independent in 2004.
Campaign contribution data comes from the Federal Election Commission. According to the Green Party, all candidates have raised at least $5,000 each.
WASHINGTON -- Picture the Green Party: Ralph Nader, tree huggers and an afterthought in presidential election results.
That stereotype is dated – at least the part about Nader and hippy environmentalists.
The party’s focus for the 2008 presidential election has shifted toward providing basic services for the poor, promoting universal healthcare and ending racial disparity. The more expansive rhetoric has surprised and attracted some Democrats, although Sen. Barack Obama is winning over much of the Green Party’s traditional base, young liberals.
The party’s old platforms, such as ballot reform to make it easier to run as a third party candidate, are still there. But Greens have grown.
“It was so awesome to see so much diversity in the Green Party that I never knew existed,” said Philip Riehl, a sophomore at the University of Maryland. “The Green Party is an alternative that I think I might be ready to accept.”
Riehl, a registered Democrat, went this week to a campus forum with former U.S. congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, the front-runner among four Green presidential candidates. She didn’t answer all of the questions Riehl came in with, he said, but McKinney brought up issues he never expected to hear from a Green candidate.
Hip hop artist Head Roc opened for “Sister Cynthia McKinney,” who held up poster-size charts about the economy,, a photo of a lynching, and a photo of the severed arm of an immigrant killed in an accident while trying to cross the Mexican border. She only mentioned the environment and energy in passing.
McKinney, who left the Democratic Party last year, said she became a Green because it’s too hard to run for public office, without a party-based support system.
The four Green candidates each have their own emphases, but critics said other than its environmental niche, the organization hasn’t proven itself on other issues at the presidential level.
“They’re not credible on those issues,” said Curtis Gans, director of the Center for the Study of the American Electorate at American University.
Greens don’t pull a lot of weight in presidential elections. There are an estimated 250,000 to 300,000 registered party members in the U.S., less than 1 percent of the electorate, according to data collected by ballot-access blogger Richard Winger.
Greens carried 2.7 percent of the vote with Ralph Nader in the 2000 presidential race and less than 1 percent in 2004 with David Cobb. The best turnout for a Green Party presidential primary so far this year was about 27,500 votes in California, and the majority of those went to Nader, who is not officially a Green Party candidate in 2008..
“By and large it is only on local and state issues that they have had any success,” Gans said.
There are 235 elected Greens in the U.S., most serving local governments, according to Brent McMillan, political director for the U.S. Green Party.
Gans said the Green Party’s ability to build a following at the national level, as with most third parties, depends on how dissatisfied voters are with the Democrat and Republican candidates.
Take Jon Tveite, formerly the advisor to Kansas State University’s Campus Greens group and now the faculty advisor to the school’s Progressive Coalition. He said the Kansas Green Party atrophied over the past four years, and his students, unlike in 2000, seem relatively satisfied with the Democratic candidates.
For the first time since 1992, Tveite said, he attended a Democratic caucus. Obama was his candidate.
Tveite said he and Green sympathizers seem drawn to Obama, but he can’t figure out why. Perhaps it’s Obama’s rhetoric about rejecting traditional partisan politics. Hillary Clinton is less attractive for people with Green values because voters associate her with mainstream politics, Tveite said.
Green Party leaders said they aren’t in a horserace with Democrats. The point is to develop a movement and offer people a way to voice dissatisfaction with the status quo.
“If you’re really trying to build a meaningful institution,” McMillan said. “It takes time.”