History of the Green Party of the United States
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The Green Party is a political party which was first established in Tasmania in 1972, with organizing in the United States begun in 1984, inspired by the success of European Green parties, notably that of the German Green party. In 2007, it became the third modern party with a Federal Elections Commission-recognized Congressional Campaign Committee (in this case, for the Senate). The Green Committees of Correspondence were the first Green political organization in the United States, forming in 1984 and eventually becoming known as the Greens/Green Party USA. This organization still exists. The first candidates to run on the Green Party ticket in the United States were Wes Hare in North Carolina and Joel Schecter and Richard Wolff in Connecticut, who ran for local offices in 1985. Official ballot access was not achieved, however, until Jim Sykes' run for governor in Alaska in 1990.
- 1 Green Committees of Correspondence
- 2 Greening the West
- 3 The Greens/GPUSA
- 4 Electoral participation
- 4.1 1996 Presidential Election
- 4.2 1997–1999
- 4.3 2000 Presidential Election
- 4.4 2001–2003
- 4.5 2004 Presidential Election
- 4.6 2006 Elections
- 4.7 2008 presidential election
- 4.8 2008 State and local elections results
- 4.9 Ballot access
- 5 Ballot access history
- 6 Campus Greens
- 7 Greens for Democracy and Independence
- 8 See also
- 9 Sources and further reading
- 10 References
Green Committees of Correspondence
In May 1984 at the first North American Bioregional Congress, a small group met to discuss the need for a green movement in the U.S. From this initial gathering, a larger meeting was planned for August. That fall approximately 60 people met at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota and founded the Committees of Correspondence (so named after the Committees of Correspondence of the American Revolutionary War). The Committees were formed to organize local Green groups, provide an information clearinghouse, publish a newsletter, and work toward creating a Green political organization in the U.S. The group adopted the Green Ten Key Values as their guiding principles. Charlene Spretnak of California, professor and author of several books on Green philosophy and spirituality, was one of the attendees. The Committees continued to meet until 1991, until the rise of the Greens/Green Party USA.
Greening the West
Greening the West gatherings were the next large-scale meetings of Greens in the U.S. The first was held in 1987, near Monterey, California, and drew more than 1,000 people. Greening the West was next held in San Mateo County, California, from Sept. 30 - Oct. 2, 1988. Again, more than 1,000 people attended the event. Speakers included many important philosophers and scientists. Among the speakers were David Brower, Ernest Callenbach, Fritjof Capra, Bill Devall (co-author of Deep Ecology), Patricia Ellsberg, Harold Gilliam, Susan Griffin, Joanna Macy, Jerry Mander, Charlene Spretnak, Starhawk, and Brian Swimme.
This group arose in 1991, and became the first Green political party in the United States. It eventually became, after the emergence of the GPUS, a nonprofit organization rather than a political party.
1996 Presidential Election
At the 1995 national Green Gathering in Albuquerque, New Mexico, hosted by the New Mexico Green Party, a measure proposed by Steve Schmidt (New Mexico), Mike Feinstein and Greg Jan (California) to put a candidate for president on 40 states was adopted. A significant minority of Greens voiced strong ideological objections (based on the principle of decentralization) to the proposal to become involved in such a large-scale political arena for the first time. Those who wished to run a candidate for president continued to pursue the possibility. Working within their state parties, as well as through an independent organization called Third Parties '96, they convinced Ralph Nader to accept placement on the Green Party of California's March 1996 primary ballot. Eventually he accepted placement on more ballots, but ran a limited campaign with a self-imposed campaign spending limit of $5,000 (which allowed him to avoid being subject to the obligation to file campaign finance statements with the FEC). He chose Winona LaDuke as his vice-presidential candidate. A convention was held at UCLA in Los Angeles on August 20, 1996 where each state party who placed Nader on the ballot told their story, followed by a two hour and twenty minute acceptance speech by Nader that was broadcast on C-SPAN and Pacifica Radio - the first time Greens in the U.S. had that kind of national exposure. Nader/LaDuke were on the ballot in twenty-two states and received 685,297 votes, or 0.7% of all votes cast.
In the aftermath of the 1998 election, representatives from thirteen state Green Parties joined the Association of State Green Parties (ASGP), an idea promulgated since the early nineties by a small group of active greens. The ASGP, while still including issue activism and non-electoral politics, was clearly more focused on having the Greens run candidates in elections. In the years from 1997 to 1999, more local, regional, and statewide Green parties continued to form. Some of these parties affiliated themselves with both the ASGP and kept their affiliations with the G/GPUSA.
2000 Presidential Election
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In the year 2000, the ASGP nominated Ralph Nader and Winona LaDuke for president and vice-president again, this time at a national convention held June 23-25 in Denver  The pair were on 44 state ballots and received 2,883,105 votes, or 2.7 percent of all votes cast. Nader's strong showing in several states solidified the changes in the Green Party, transforming it from an "anti-party party" to an organization primarily dedicated to electoral campaigns. In particular, that was the widespread understanding of thousands of recruits to the party, as it went through an unprecedented rate of growth.
In December 1999, Santa Monica, CA Green City Councilmember Mike Feinstein and New York Green Howie Hawkins met in New Platz, New York during the state meeting of the Green Party of New York State and crafted the Feinstein/Hawkins Proposal, meant to create a single national Green Party from among the ASGP and GPUSA by Earth Day, April 2000. The proposal found quick support within the ASGP, but not within the GPUSA in time to make Earth Day. Instead it would be in October 2000 (during the campaign), that the Feinstein/Hawkins proposal was revisted and negotiated further and renamed the Boston Proposal (so named because it was negotiated in Boston in the days before the first presidential debate) was passed by the ASGP at its next annual gathering, but still did not pass at the GPUSA Congress. This caused a schism in membership among the GPUSA from which they never recovered. At its July 2001 meeting in Santa Barbara, the ASGP voted to change its name to "The Green Party of the United States" and apply for recognition of National Committee status by the FEC, which it was granted later that year.
Nader was criticized by some Democrats and others for being a spoiler candidate, ostensibly being responsible for Al Gore, the Democratic Party nominee, losing the election. This criticism put Nader's supporters, and the Green Party as well, on the defensive, as some complained that the Green Party effectively handed George W. Bush the election. Green Party members cited rights-based arguments, for example, that no one owns anyone's votes and, therefore, Nader no more spoiled the election for Gore than Gore spoiled it for Nader. Nader's role in the 2000 presidential election had consequences for the 2004 election, when some supporters of David Cobb advocated a limited role for the Green Party in presidential elections.
In 2002, John Eder's election to the Maine House of Representatives marked the first Green Party state legislator in the United States elected in a regular election. (Audie Bock had won a special election as a state legislator in the California Assembly, but left the party and eventually became a Democrat.) John Eder's party designation on the ballot in 2002 was "Green Independent". Eder was personally congratulated by Ralph Nader on election night. In 2004, despite redistricting in Maine that threatened to unseat Eder, he nevertheless won re-election.
In the Summer of 2003, as the 2004 elections loomed, Greens began an often-heated debate on party presidential strategy. Democrats, liberal activists, and liberal journalists were counseling and pressuring the Green Party and Ralph Nader not to run a presidential ticket. In response, a diverse cross-section of U.S. Greens issued "Green & Growing: 2004 in Perspective" a statement initiated by national party Green Party of the United States co-chair Ben Manski. "Green & Growing"'s 158 signatories declared that "We think it essential to build a vigorous presidential campaign," citing as their chief reasons the need to gain ballot access for the Green Party, to define the Greens as an independent party, and the failures of the Democrats on issues of foreign and domestic policy. Other Greens, most prominently Ted Glick in his "A Green Party Safe States Strategy", called on the party to adopt a strategy of avoiding swing states in the upcoming presidential election. A third, intermediate "smart states" position was drafted by Dean Myerson and adopted by David Cobb, advocating a "nuanced" state-by-state strategy based on ballot access, party development, swing state, and other concerns.
2004 Presidential Election
In the 2004 presidential election, the candidate of the Green Party of the United States for President was Texas attorney and GPUS legal counsel David Cobb, and its candidate for vice-president was labor activist Pat LaMarche of Maine.
On Christmas Eve 2003, Ralph Nader declared that he would not seek the Green Party's nomination for president in 2004, and in February 2004 announced his intention to run as an independent, but later did decide to seek endorsement (rather than the nomination) of the Green Party, and other third parties. Several Greens, most notably Peter Camejo, as well as Lorna Salzman and others, endorsed this plan (Camejo would later accept a position as Nader's vice-presidential running-mate) (see Nomination controversy, below).
The Cobb-LaMarche ticket in 2004 appeared on 28 of the 51 ballots around the country, down from the Greens' 44 in 2000; the Nader-Camejo ticket in 2004 appeared on 35 ballots. In 2004, Cobb was on the ballot in California (and Nader was not), whereas Nader was on the ballot in New York (and Cobb was not).
The voting results from the 2004 presidential election were less impressive than the results of the Green Party's Nader-LaDuke presidential ticket in 2000, which had garnered more than 2,882,000 votes. In 2004, running in most states as an independent (but with high-profile Green Party activist Peter Camejo as his running mate), Ralph Nader received 465,650 votes; the Green Party's 2004 nominees, David Cobb and Patricia LaMarche, mustered 119,859 votes. Some Greens were not discouraged by the relatively low presidential vote yield in 2004 for Cobb and for Nader, because the Green Party continued to grow in many parts of the country, increasing Green Party affiliation numbers and fielding Green candidates for congressional, state, and local offices.
However, the number of registered Greens declined by about 23,000 between January 2004 and March 2005, in contrast to a previous period of uninterrupted growth from 1998; the number of Green candidacies declined compared to 2002, and these candidates fared worse than in the past, particularly during the presidential campaign.
When Nader announced that he would run as an independent candidate, and later explained that he was not seeking the Green Party's nomination, but would (as an independent) seek the party's "endorsement", factions within the party which had been lining up behind potential candidates solidified into an endorsement camp and a nomination camp (the latter favoring primarily David Cobb).
On June 26, 2004, the Green National Convention nominated Cobb, who promised to focus on building the party. Just over a third of the delegates voted "No Nominee" with the intent to later vote for a Nader endorsement. Pat LaMarche of Maine was nominated for vice-president. Cobb and Nader emphasized different strategies. Cobb promised to run a "strategic states" campaign based on the preferences and needs of the individual state Green parties; as a result, Cobb campaigned heavily in some battleground states and not in others. Nader intended to run a national multiparty ticket uniting the Greens with other parties.
After David Cobb received the party's 2004 presidential nomination at the Green National Convention in Milwaukee, apparently in a show of unity, Nader's Vice Presidential running mate, Peter Camejo, said, "I'm going to walk out of here arm in arm with David Cobb." However, the nominating convention and the political discussions and maneuvering before it generated considerable controversy within the party. At issue was the apportionment of delegates and the method used to determine how many delegates each state received. The group Greens for Democracy and Independence, inspired by the principles in Peter Camejo's Avocado Declaration (in part a response to Nader's declaration not to seek the Green nomination), arose and became an organizing group for Greens disaffected with the internal policies and procedures of the GPUS, and sought reforms.
Two supporters of Camejo, Carol Miller and Forrest Hill, wrote one of a number of articles printed after the convention, including Rigged Convention; Divided Party', alleging that the convention elections had been undemocratic. Many Green Party members were upset at the nomination convention's process and results, and some expressed "embarrassment" that Nader was not the party's 2004 candidate.
Other Green Party members responded that the analysis they gave in the article was fundamentally flawed to produce skewed results. One such response was that of the national party Secretary, Greg Gerritt, who self-published a book on the subject, Green Party Tempest.
The Greens fielded candidates in a number of races in 2006. The party won 66 races nationwide, including 21 in California and 11 in Wisconsin. One of the biggest victories included the election of Gayle McLaughlin as mayor in Richmond, California. Richmond now has become the first city with over 100,000 residents to have a Green mayor. In Maine, Pat LaMarche received nearly 10% of the vote in the state's gubernatorial race and the Maine Green Independent Party also won two seats on the Portland City Council. In the Illinois governor's race, candidate Rich Whitney received 10%, making the Green Party one of only three legally established, statewide political parties in Illinois. In Colorado's First District, Tom Kelly received 21% of the vote in his run for the U.S. Congress. However, the party lost its only elected state representative, John Eder.
The Green Party of Pennsylvania, faced with an exceptionally high ballot access petition requirement, chose to run Green Party organizer, Carl Romanelli, for U.S. Senate. The race between incumbent, Rick Santorum, and the son of a former Governor, Bob Casey, was already prominent on the national scene. Although a strong volunteer petition effort gathered 20,000 to 30,000 signatures, it was clear that paid petitioners would be needed to clear the 67,000 signature threshold.
After Romanelli filed 99,000 signatures the Democrats challenged the petitions, and the Judge ordered the lawyers and nine representatives from each side to work full time reviewing signatures line by line, which continued for six weeks. Near the end of September the Judge abruptly ruled that Romanelli would be removed from the ballot. Following the controversial precedent set in the 2004 challenge to Nader's petitions in Pennsylvania, Romanelli and his lawyer were later assessed $81,000 for court costs and the challenger's expenses. The Green Party, having no statewide candidates on the ballot to get the required vote threshold, lost its "minor party" status in Pennsylvania, leaving only two parties still recognized by the state.
Approximately 8.7 million Americans voted for withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq and for impeachment resolutions on local and state ballots that were initiated or supported by Greens. Troop withdrawal initiatives won in 34 of 42 localities in Wisconsin, including Milwaukee, Madison, and La Crosse, and all 11 communities in Illinois, including Chicago. Of 139 cities and towns in Massachusetts voting on the troop withdrawal measures, only a handful voted nay on initiatives demanding that Congress and the White House end the war immediately.
2008 presidential election
In the 2008 U.S. presidential election, the Green Party nominated former six-term Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney of Georgia as its 2008 Presidential nominee and Rosa Clemente as its 2008 Vice Presidential nominee at the party's 2008 National Convention on July 12, 2008 in Chicago, IL. McKinney received less than 0.5% of the vote nationwide.
The following candidates also ran for the nomination:
- Jesse Johnson of West Virginia, Mountain Party 2004 nominee for Governor of WV and 2006 nominee for U.S. Senate
- Kent Mesplay of California, environmentalist and CA Delegate to the Green National Committee
- Kat Swift of Texas, Co-chair of the Green Party of Texas and 2007 Green Party nominee for San Antonio City Council
Former Green Party presidential nominee and 2004 independent candidate, Ralph Nader, announced in early 2008 that he would seek the presidency for the fourth time, running with San Francisco lawyer and Green politician Matt Gonzalez as his running mate. However, Nader and Gonzalez declined to seek the Green Party's nomination. Despite not being a formally announced candidate at the time, Nader won the Feb. 5th California and Massachusetts Green Party primaries.
Green Party presidential debates
On 13 January 2008, Sunday, 2 p.m., a Green Party presidential candidate debate was held in San Francisco. The Green Party of Alameda County, along with the San Francisco Green Party and the National Delegates Committee of the Green Party of California, sponsored the Northern California Green Presidential Candidates debate. About 800 people attended the debate with most paying a suggested donation of $10 to $20 to attend the forum. The three-hour event was co-moderated by Cindy Sheehan and Aimee Allison.
Primaries and caucuses
Green Party primaries in Arkansas, California, Illinois, and Massachusetts were held on February 5, 2008. California and Massachusetts were won by Ralph Nader, while Illinois was won by Cynthia McKinney. Washington, DC held the DC Statehood Green Party primary on February 12 which was won by McKinney as was the February 19 Wisconsin Green primary. On May 13 Mckinney won the Nebraska primary with 57% of the vote.
Other states will hold caucuses or will establish their candidate choices via state conventions. Most states will allocate their delegates proportionally based on the support for various Green Party presidential candidates.
2008 State and local elections results
In 2008 Richard Carroll was elected to the Arkansas House of Representatives. Carroll was the first Green to be elected to the Arkansas General Assembly. However, Carroll announced on April 29, 2009 his departure from the Greens and registering as a Democrat, citing personal ideological differences that were more in line of the Democratic Party. Rebekah Kennedy, running for the US Senate in Arkansas, received the highest percentage of the vote (20.6%) of any Green ever running for a US Senate seat.
Nomination delegate count
& Caucuses Apportioned
1 "2008 Green Party Presidential Nomination Delegate Count". GPUS. July 3, 2008.
2 "2008 Presidential Convention Ballot Results". GPUS. July 2008.
3 Nader did not seek the Green Party nomination. His total includes 8 delegates from
Illinois where Howie Hawkins stood on the ballot in his place.
4 Endorsed Cynthia McKinney.
Ballot access history
The following table is the history of the Green Party's presidential race ballot access:
|States||51||32 (49)||25 (43)|
|Electoral Votes||538||368 (528)||267 (479)|
|Percent of EVs||100%||68.4% (98.1%)||49.6% (89.0%)|
|District of Columbia||3||(write-in)|
The Campus Greens were founded in January 2001, arising from the group Students for Nader/LaDuke. The Campus Greens Founding Convention was held in Chicago, Illinois, in August with more than 500 students attending.
Greens for Democracy and Independence
This now defunct group arose within the GPUS during the 2003 search for and nomination of presidential candidates. In particular, those who formed Greens for Democracy and Independence (GDI) felt that the nomination process was flawed and that delegate apportionment to the Green National Committee is not representative of the membership of the GPUS. The Avocado Declaration of January 2004 by Peter Camejo was an important summation of the views of GDI.
- The Green Alliance
- Green Party (United States)
- Green politics
- Greens/Green Party USA
- John Rensenbrink, co-founder of the Maine Green Party and the Green Party of the United States
Sources and further reading
- Against All Odds: The Green Transformation of American Politics. 1999. John Rensenbrink. Leopold Press.
- "The Avocado Declaration," Peter Miguel Camejo. January 1, 2004.
- A Brief History of the Green Party (GPUS official website)
- Crashing the Party: Taking on the Corporate Government in an Age of Surrender. 2002. Ralph Nader. Thomas Dunne Books.
- "GPCA Founding & History", Mike Feinstein, Green Party of California.
- "The Green Alternative", Charlene Spretnak. In Context, Autumn 1984, p. 48.
- Green Party Elections Results
- Green Party Tempest: Weathering the Storm of 2004. 2005. Greg Gerritt.
- Green Politics: The Global Promise. 1984. Fritjof Capra and Charlene Spretnak. EP Dutton.
- Greens for Democracy and Independence (GDI official website)
- "A Historical Look at Green Structure: 1984 to 1992", Jodean Marks. Synthesis/Regeneration 14, Fall 1997.
- "Green Senatorial Campaign Committee". Greenscc.org. Retrieved 2011-01-01.
- "Green Elections". Greens.org. Retrieved 2011-01-01.
- Last updated: 07/28/2010 (JS) (2010-07-28). "GPCA Founding & History". Cagreens.org. Retrieved 2011-01-01.
- "A Historical Look at Green Structure: 1984 to 1992". Greens.org. Retrieved 2011-01-01.
- Lloyd Strecker (1996). "A Green President?". Synthesis/Regeneration 10. Retrieved 2008-06-07.
- "Third Parties '96". Third Parties '96. Retrieved 2008-09-18.
- "Green Party 1996 Convention". Green Party of the United States. Retrieved 2008-09-18.
- "Green Party 1996 Convention State Reports". Green Party of the United State. Retrieved 2008-09-18.
- "Green Party 1996 Convention Ralph Nader Acceptance Speech". Green Party of the United States. Retrieved 2008-09-18.
- "1996 Presidential General Election Results". Atlas of US Presidential Elections. Retrieved 2008-06-07.
- "2000 Presidential General Election Results". Atlas of US Presidential Elections. Retrieved 2008-06-07.
- "See full text of the Boston Proposal". Greens.org. Retrieved 2010-07-19.
- Manski, Ben. "Green & Growing: 2004 in Perspective". Greens.org. June 20, 2003.
- Glick, Ted. "A Green Party 'Safe States' Strategy". ZNet. July 1, 2003.
- Greenfield, Steve (March 20, 2005) "The Decline of the Green Party." CommonDreams.org.
- "Green National Convention". Gp.org. Retrieved 2010-07-19.
- "Rigged Convention; Divided Party'". Counterpunch.org. Retrieved 2010-07-19.
- "Response to Hill/Miller" GreensRespond.com
- "Forrest Hill (I)" GreensRespond.com
- "Green Party Tempest". Green Party Tempest. Retrieved 2011-01-01.
- "Greens Advance on November 7, Prepare for 2008 National Run". Green Party of the United States. 2006-11-09. Retrieved 2008-06-07.
- "Election Results - CBSNews.com". Election.cbsnews.com. Retrieved 2010-07-19.
- "Jesse Johnson - WV Mountain Party". Mtparty.org. Retrieved 2010-07-19.
- "VoteKat.org | transforming Government to serve the people not the Corporatocracy". Voteswift.org. Retrieved 2011-01-01.
- "Ralph Nader for President in 2008". Votenader.org. Retrieved 2011-01-01.
- Alexovich, Ariel (2008-02-28). "Nader Announces Pick for Vice President - The Caucus - Politics - New York Times Blog". Thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com. Retrieved 2010-07-19.
- "Green Party of the United States | Reading 2007". Gp.org. Retrieved 2010-07-19.
- "Green Party Presidential Candidate Forum". Green Party of Minnesota. Retrieved 2008-06-07.
- "Green campaign 2008: a presidential debate that matters!". Green Party of Alameda County. Retrieved 2009-01-19.
- Vigil, Delfin (2008-01-14). "Green Party holds presidential debate in San Francisco". San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco, CA: Hearst Communications Inc.). p. A-8. Retrieved 2008-01-14.
- "Major Third Party 2008 Presidential Primaries". The Green Papers. 2008-05-18. Retrieved 2008-06-07.
- "2008 Nebraska Election Results". Nebraska Secretary of State. 2008-05-14. Archived from the original on 2008-06-05. Retrieved 2008-06-07.
- "Nation's highest-ranking Green switching parties". San Francisco Chronicle. 2009-04-29. Retrieved 2009-07-06.[dead link]
- "2008 Ballot Status". gp.org. 2008-09-04. Retrieved 2008-09-04.
- "Ballot Access News » Blog Archive » Cynthia McKinney Will be on Ballot for 70.5% of Voters". Ballot-access.org. Retrieved 2010-07-19.
- "2008 PETITIONING FOR PRESIDENT". Ballot-access.org. 2008-10-23. Retrieved 2010-07-19.
- "2008 Election Timeline". Uselectionatlas.org. Retrieved 2010-07-19.