Recently, Ansel Herz posted an entry to the Stranger Slog titled Dan Savage on Jill Stein: Just No. The post was mostly a transcript from a call-in segment of the May 24, 2016 episode of Savage Lovecast. Dan Savage is reiterating frustrations felt by a large number of Americans concerning the Green Party. There is serious worry that the Green candidate will be a spoiler, in essence handing the election to Donald Trump. Whatever Hillary Clinton may be, she is a known political entity that will likely influence the country in a political trajectory somewhere between Barack Obama and George W. Bush. Obama himself implied this when he famously said in reference to Clinton “I don’t want Bush-Cheney lite” in his speech on July 26th, 2007. Donald Trump is an egotistical autocrat that would likely spend his administration disassembling any public programs and institutions of democracy that he noticed were vulnerable. There is a difference between these two candidates.
There is also a difference between voting in a swing state and voting in a safe state like Washington. The Democratic Party has been winning Washington by larger margins despite the continued presence of minor party candidates. In Washington and other safe states, polling ahead of the election will let voters know that casting a ballot for Jill Stein won’t change how their state’s electoral votes are allocated. Each citizen’s right to determine and cast their own vote has to be the bedrock of any democracy. The Democratic Party’s concern that the Green Party divides the progressive vote is no more legitimate than our claim that they fail to earn it. Providing voters with more options means they are free to vote based on their values rather than their fears.
Having a candidate like Jill Stein in the race puts pressure on the other candidates to address the issues that her campaign brings to prominence. Hillary Clinton’s talking points and positions were certainly influenced by Bernie Sanders’s presence in primary. Now it is important for Jill Stein to make sure these issues continue to receive attention in the general election.
Minor party and independent candidates struggle to get the news coverage that they deserve. The dominance of the two party duopoly permeates into the realm of media. By running a presidential candidate, the Green Party has more opportunities for media appearances and can get its message out to a broader audience. That coverage ranges from the positive, such as Jill Stein’s interview in Real Change last year, to the negative, such as profanity-laden dismissals. This publicity strengthens the party and will allow it to run stronger state and local candidates in future races.
As disaffected Democrats and Republicans crowd into Green Party meetings, they are encouraged to choose how much they want to work on local and national campaigns. Those that do choose to work on the presidential campaign are encouraged to focus on opening the debate process and outreach to unregistered communities, as opposed to flipping Democrats. At the same time, Greens are critical of the Democratic platform and encourage reforms that would make their party more open to grassroots participation. The Green Party supports campaign finance reform and proportional representation, which would level the playing field for minor parties, and instant runoff voting (also known as IRV or ranked choice voting), which would completely eliminate the spoiler effect. These policies could become law with the support of Democrats and Republicans.
Those who are interested in running for office with the support of the Green Party in 2017 and beyond are encouraged to email us at email@example.com. Let’s all take this election seriously while at the same time realizing there are legitimate reasons for disagreement. Above all, remember to turn in your primary ballots by August 2nd and your general election ballots by November 8th!
Authored by Ethan Rourke and R. Jones.