|Headquarters||1623 Connecticut Ave. NW, Washington, D.C. 2009|
|Political position||Fiscal: Center-left, Left
Social: Center-left, Left
|International affiliation||Global Greens|
|Politics of the United States
The Green Party of the United States (GPUS) is a political party in the United States, and similar in mission to many of the worldwide Green Parties. The Green Party of the United States, a voluntary association of state parties, has been active as a nationally recognized political party since 2001. Prior to national formation, many state affiliates had already formed and were recognized by their corresponding states. The Association of State Green Parties (ASGP), a forerunner organization, first gained widespread public attention during Ralph Nader's presidential runs in 1996 and 2000. With the founding of the Green Party of the United States, the party established a national political presence becoming the primary national Green organization in the U.S. eclipsing the earlier Greens/Green Party USA which emphasized non-electoral movement building.
The Green Party in the United States has won elected offices at the local level; most winners of public office in the United States who are considered Greens have won nonpartisan-ballot elections (that is, the winning Greens won offices in elections in which candidates were not identified on the ballot as affiliated with any political party). The highest-ranking Greens ever elected in the nation were: John Eder, a member of the Maine House of Representatives until his defeat in November 2006; Audie Bock, elected to the California State Assembly in 1999 but switched her registration to Independent seven months later running as an independent in the 2000 election; and Richard Carroll, elected to the Arkansas House of Representatives in 2008 but switched parties to become a Democrat five months after his election. In 2005, the Green Party had 305,000 registered members in states allowing party registration, and tens of thousands of members and contributors in the rest of the country. During the 2008 elections the party had ballot access in 31 states.
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The Green Party of the United States of America emphasizes environmentalism, non-hierarchical participatory democracy, social justice, respect for diversity, peace and nonviolence. Their "Ten Key Values," which are described as non-authoritative guiding principles, are as follows:
The Green Party does not accept donations from corporations and the party's platform and rhetoric critiques corporate influence and control over government, media, and society at large.
What began as the decentralized Green Committees of Correspondence evolved into a more centralized structure with a more traditional emphasis on electoral campaigns. Before the formation of a national party, early Greens were committed to an emphasis on educational projects and non-partisan activism. The idea of an "anti-party party" was formed by Petra Kelly and other leaders of Die Grünen in Germany. Their vision was a non-traditional organization in which electoralism would be the least important of the three components. A struggle for the direction of the organization culminated at the 1991 Green Congress in Elkins, West Virginia – during which those who favored an emphasis on electoral politics began to consolidate power – primarily through sheer numbers.
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.
In the year 2000, the ASGP nominated Ralph Nader and Winona LaDuke for president and vice-president again. This time, 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 October 2000 (during the campaign), a proposal was made to alter the structures of the ASGP and G/GPUSA to make them complementary organizations with, respectively, the ASGP focusing on electoral politics and the G/GPUSA focusing on issue advocacy. The Boston Proposal (so named because it was negotiated at Boston in the days before the first presidential debate) was passed by the ASGP at its next annual gathering, but 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 has been criticized for being a spoiler candidate for running or having "stolen the election" from Al Gore, the Democratic Party nominee. This criticism has largely put Nader's supporters on the defensive on this issue, citing both rights based arguments, for example, that no one owns anyone's votes and so Nader no more spoiled the election for Gore than Gore spoiled it for Nader, as well as practical arguments, such as citing that the number of states that Buchanan "spoiled" for Bush would have resulted in a Bush victory if neither Buchanan nor Nader had participated. Or pointing out that Gore failed to win his own state of Tennessee (no presidential candidate has lost his own state and won the general election). 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.
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). Political strategists with the Democratic Party used aggressive legal tactics to remove Nader's name from the ballots.
The voting results from the 2004 presidential election were considerably 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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
& Caucuses Apportioned
1 "2008 Green Party Presidential Nomination Delegate Count". GPUS. July 3, 2008. http://www.gp.org/2008-elections/Delegate-Vote-Count.php.
2 "2008 Presidential Convention Ballot Results". GPUS. July 2008. http://www.gp.org/2008-elections/2008-Presidential-Ballots_1.htm.
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.
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 Green Party has two national committees recognized by the Federal Election Commission:
The Green National Committee is the central governing body of the Green Party of the United States. The GNC is composed of delegates from each of the affiliated state party organizations and from recognized caucuses. The GNC oversees all national party functions and elects a Steering Committee to oversee day-to-day operations.
The Steering Committee is composed of seven Co-chairs together with the Secretary and Treasurer. The Co-chairs of the Green Party of the United States are currently (2009 August): Jill Bussiere (WI), Sanda Everette (CA), Mike Feinstein (CA), Farheen Hakeem (MN), Jason Nabewaniec (NY), David Strand (MN), and Craig Thorsen (CA). They are elected from the delegates, who serve on the Green National Committee. The Secretary is Holly Hart (IA). The Treasurer is Jody Grage (WA).
The GNC has several standing committees:
Three identity caucuses have achieved representation on the GNC:
Three other caucuses are working toward formal recognition by the GNC:
The Blue Greens (workers' caucus) and the Native American caucus also exist, but have not established organizing committees as of yet.
The Green Party has shown its strongest popular support on the Pacific Coast, Upper Great Lakes, and northeastern United States, as reflected in the geographical distribution of Green candidates elected . Californians have elected 55 of the 226 office-holding Greens nationwide as of June 2007. Other states with high numbers of Green elected officials include Pennsylvania (31), Wisconsin (23), Massachusetts (18), and Maine (17). Maine has the highest per capita number of Green elected officials in the country, and the largest Green registration percentage with more than 29,273 greens comprising 2.95% of the electorate as of November 2006. Madison, Wisconsin, is the city with the most Green elected officials (8) followed by Portland, Maine, with (7).
One challenge that the Green Party (as well as other third parties) faces is the difficulty of overcoming ballot access laws in many states. This has prevented the Green Party from reaching a point of critical mass in party-building momentum in many states.
The Green Party currently has at least 193 party members in elected office in the U.S. as of December 14, 2008. By comparison there are currently 207 elected Libertarians serving in office across the United States. In April 2007 the Greens reached the most officeholders serving at one time ever when there were 230 greens in office . With the November 2008 election of Richard Carroll as State Rep. District 39 (Little Rock) the Green Party gained its first ever state Rep. in Arkansas and the only currently elected state representative of any nationally organized Third Party. Gayle McLaughlin, is mayor of Richmond, California. With a population of 103,000, Richmond is the largest city in the United States to have a Green Party mayor. There are also Green Party members on city councils (or equivalent) in San Francisco, Boston, Cleveland, Minneapolis, Madison (5 Members), and New Haven. .