A Green New Deal

Dr. Jill Stein and Cheri Honkala Nominated to Lead Green Ticket

July 12-15, 2012—The Green Party of the United States held its Presidential Nominating Convention and National Meeting in Baltimore, MD.  Delegates nominated the ticket of Dr. Jill Stein, a physician from Massachusetts, and Cheri Honkala, an anti-poverty advocate from Philadelphia, PA, to lead the party into the general election campaign, now less than four months away. 

Stein is advocating a Green New Deal (+), which she says will end the recession by creating 25 million green jobs.  The Green New Deal, which Stein introduced in January opposite President Obama's State of the Union Address, further aims to bring about broad changes including a sustainable economy and financial and political reform.  Stein's campaign shares many themes with the Occupy movement, which focused the public's attention on inequality in 2011 but has been out of the spotlight in recent months.  Stein announced Honkala as her running mate on July 11.  The addition of the little-known activist to the ticket has an element of risk, but shows a commitment to making poverty an issue in the campaign.  Stein will be on the ballot in at least 40 states, and her campaign has qualified for federal matching funds. 

Stein announced her candidacy in October 2011, and during the first half of 2012 she competed in regular and mail-in primaries, caucuses and conventions in states around the country.  Her main challenger was television personality Roseanne Barr, but it was clear by the time the delegates gathered in Baltimore that Stein had enough delegates to win the nomination.  One question going in was whether Barr would attend the convention.  She did not, but had one of her supporters read a vituperative statement to the delegates.  When the votes were tallied, Stein won on the first ballot with 193.5 votes to 72.0 votes for Barr, 17.0 for Kent Mesplay, 3 for Harley Mikkelson, 2 not committed and 1 for Rhett Smith. 

The vote for president was the highlight of this gathering, but there was a lot of other activity as well.  Over 220 Greens are running for offices around the countr, and the Green Party held a couple of press conferences to highlight some of those candidates.  There were workshops, business meetings, a reception with international Greens, and a couple of fundraisers. 

Many Hurdles
Foremost among the many hurdles the Stein campaign faces is ballot access.  The campaign is in the midst of this process; their objective is that at least 90% of voters will have Jill Stein on the ballot.  They would like to top the mark of ballot lines 43 states and DC set by Ralph Nader's 2000 campaign, and they are about half way there.  These efforts, requiring collaboration of staff and volunteers, will continue into September. 

Even with matching funds, the Stein campaign will have a fraction of the resources available to the major party campaigns.  As of the time of the convention the campaign has about a dozen people working on it compared to hundreds of staff for the Obama and Romney campaigns.

Getting media coverage will be a challenge, as many of the mainstream media outlets frame the contest as Obama versus Romney.  Based on the experience of recent campaigns, the odds are very great that Stein will not be included in the presidential debates organized by the Commission on Presidential Debates. 

Finally, there is the party's track record to consider.  The Green Party in the United States traces back to 1984, but not until 2001 did it achieve status as a national party.  Stein's candidacy marks the fifth time Greens have supported a candidate for the White House.  Ralph Nader headed the first two campaigns in 1996 and 2000, but he ran as an independent and never joined the Greens.  In the historic 2000 campaign, Nader received almost 2.9 million votes. 

Greens' first homegrown presidential ticket, in 2004, consisted of activist and attorney David Cobb and radio host Pat LaMarche.  However, Green loyalties were divided.  Nader had sought the Greens' endorsement but ended up running as an independent with a Green as his running mate.  Cobb achieved a scant 119,862 votes (0.10%).

In 2008 Greens ran former U.S. Rep. Cynthia McKinney and hip hop activist Rosa Clemente. There was some thought that the ticket would appeal to minority voters, but then-Sen. Barack Obama's candidacy undercut that objective.  Additionally Nader was again an independent candidate.  McKinney, on the ballot in 31 states and DC, obtained 161,603 votes (0.12%). 

A Choice and a Voice
Despite the long odds, Stein's campaign manager, Ben Manski, argues that there is a path to actually winning the presidency.  Jill Stein clearly has the potential to do much better than past Green presidential campaigns.  Commentators have remarked on how substance-free the Obama-Romney debate has been thus far, and people may tire of the back and forth negativity.  (The Washington Post, on the morning Stein accepted the nomination, ran a front-page article headlined, "Obama, Romney ramp up hostility on campaign trail").  The Green New Deal provides a clear, bold set of ideas to rally around.  She has a clear track for the progressive vote as Nader will not be on the ballot.  Stein's background as a doctor gives her candidacy credibility.  She is not a political novice; in her 2002 gubernatorial campaign in Massachusetts she ran against and debated Mitt Romney. 

While it will require a near-miracle for Stein to have the opportunity to debate Romney and President Obama in October 2012, she made it clear in her acceptance speech that she will work hard advance her platform, get her ideas in the discussion, and build the Green Party.  Stein urged the audience "to answer the politics of fear with the politics of courage."  She spoke of following in the tradition of major progressive movements in American history and pledged, "We will give people a choice and a voice in the voting booth and enable them to go to the polls and vote for the Green New Deal and vote for the reforms that will improve our lives right now."

Links: Jill Stein for President  |  Green Party of the United States  |  convention page
+  program [PDF]

We the People
—the 99%—
have taken the stage, political stage once more in the United States of America. We will take the lead in our campaign as in our democracy. We will create an unstoppable movement. And we won’t rest until we have turned the White House into a Green House.  And together we take back the promise of democracy and the peaceful, just, green future we deserve.”
—Dr. Jill Stein