by David McCorquodale, Green Party of Delaware
Both success and setbacks have been experienced in recent years by the 44 existing state parties, which together comprise the association known as the Green Party of the United States. Nationally, the Green Party hit a high watermark with the candidacy of Ralph Nader for President in 2000.
But with the disinformation concerning Nader’s effect on the outcome of that election, with the “anybody but Bush” phenomenon in 2004, and with what has proven to be the false hope for change with Obama in 2008, GPUS’ presidential candidates have not attracted nearly as many votes since 2000. With widespread disillusionment in the Obama presidency, that could begin to change in 2012.
Many state Green Parties have thrived and grown tremendously, while others are still struggling to reach a critical mass of party activists necessary for a vibrant state or local party. Some state parties face tremendous ballot access obstacles as many state legislatures, controlled by Democrats and Republicans, make it more difficult for smaller parties to achieve ballot access even though it is relatively easy for the corporate parties to maintain their ballot status. While a few state parties, notably California and New York, have had strong organizations for years, others have had strong growth since 2006, especially in Illinois and Maine. In 2006 Illinois Green Party gubernatorial candidate Rich Whitney received over 360,000 votes, enough to give the party “major party” status, which allows it to participate in primaries and avoid difficulty getting its candidates into debates and forums.
Currently there are 133 Green officeholders in the country. The largest office currently held by a Green is that of Mayor of Richmond, CA., a port city of 90,000 on San Francisco Bay, held by Gayle McLaughlin. Other Greens are mayors of Marina City, CA, Ward, CO, the Village of Greenwich, NY, the Village of Victory, NY and New Paltz, NY. Many Greens hold city or town council positions, are members of school boards, or occupy seats on Water or Land conservation boards.
Although 2011 is an off-year for elections, there are 11 Green candidates running campaigns this year, including the governor election in West Virginia, three mayoral elections and two General Assembly seats in the New Jersey legislature.
All state Green Parties need more people to be actively involved. Since Greens are committed to not taking corporate contributions, either for the party itself or for its candidates, personal contributions are necessary to help the Green Party to become a vital force for democracy.
Don’t just vote — run for office!