The California Recall and Greens

The California Recall and Greens

From Marc Cooper’s L.A. Weekly article on the recall election

“Myth No. 4: The Green Party is a viable alternative.

This should be a historic opportunity for Green candidate Peter Camejo, who got 5 percent of the vote in last year’s gubernatorial election.


Camejo has pushed marijuana legalization and instant-runoff voting (IRV) to the top of his agenda. These might be cutting-edge issues along the Venice boardwalk or in the UC Santa Cruz dorms, but they are not even remotely now on the minds of most California voters.

The Greens’ preference for talking to themselves rather than to others destinies, the party to soon wash up and splinter like the Peace and Freedom folks. Eventually the California Greens will be meeting in one guy’s house with different sectarian groups caucusing in the living room and dining room.”

Biting words, and Cooper is no friend of Greens. However, there’s more than a little truth in his words. As one who recently resigned his Green Party (GP) post, I had grown weary of pointless mind-numbing sectarian arguments that left little time for actually Getting Stuff Done.

Cooper is correct in saying that voters care not a whit about IRV. In fact voters tend to view Greens who talk endlessly about IRV as being from a different planet. IRV is a wonderful idea, however it is a terrible campaign platform — especially right now in California where economic matters are what everyone is thinking about.

My own painfully-arrived at conclusion is that the 2000 Nader run for President will in retrospect be seen as the peak for the GP, because the GP as an institution hasn’t the organizational structure or the will to run a serious campaign in 2004.

Here in California, in terms of voter registration, the GP is getting whacked on both sides. Some Greens are re-registering as Democrats so they can vote in the 2004 primary. Others are re-registering in the newly resurgent Peace & Freedom Party (P&F) because they want a more radical viewpoint. In fact, P&F is now the third largest party in Los Angeles County with the GP dropping to fourth. That’s right, P&F, a bunch of raggedy-ass Socialists, now have more registered voters in L.A. County than does the GP. This is not a good omen for the GP.

A serious campaign in 2004 by the GP could mean a full-throttle campaign nationwide by a major candidate. It could also mean not campaigning in states where Democrats might lose, giving the Democrats a pass in contested states in hopes of defeating Bush. But neither of these approaches can happen because there is no national structure in the GP for running a national campaign or for rallying the troops at the state and local level.

The times now call for the GP to get real, get organized, and get into the political fray. If it can’t I’m afraid it will, as Cooper predicts, disintegrate into irrelevance. Not for a lack of smart, dedicated people — because there are many of those — but because of a lack of any real organizational structure.