It's Not Easy Being Green

What's it like to be all about the little guy on a big day?

For supporters of third party candidates, like Libertarian Bob Barr or Green Party nominee Cynthia McKinney, election day means crossed fingers for small victories.

"We're trying to build an alternative for the future," says Lyn Meza, the Massachusetts volunteer coordinator for the McKinney/Clemente campaign, "so that people don't have to choose between Tweedledee and Tweedledum."

The Green Party (known as the Green-Rainbow Party here in Massachusetts, having merged with the Rainbow Coalition Party in 2002) has had a relatively strong public presence for the past eight years, thanks in large part to that now-infamous campain run by then-nominee Ralph Nader in 2000. (Nader is running as an independent this year, with Matt Gonzalez as his VP running mate.) That year, Nader's supporters purportedly had a substantial negative impact on Democratic nominee Al Gore, who was subsequently cheated out of victory by the GOP, despite having won the national popular vote. 

As is the case for most third party initiatives, one of the Green Party's strongest priorities is to earn five percent of the national popular vote, therefore earning federally distributed public funding for the next election. But that five percent isn't the only priority.

"I'm working on a nonbinding ballot question," says Eli Beckerman, the Communications Director for the Green-Rainbow Party. "It's an advisory question calling for eighty percent of greenhouse gas cuts by the year 2020. The state has passed legislature that's trying for the same cuts, but by the year 2050."

The local ballot initiative, known as the Secure Green Future Question, appeared today on ballots in 11 districts. In addition to greenhouse gas reduction, it proposes rewarding local small businesses that are involved in renewable energy and sustainable agriculture, and phasing-out tax incentives for energy-intensive projects. 

"We're trying to change the conversation about the level of urgency for this initiative," says Deckerman. "Part of the need for the Green Party is to shake people out of these boxes they're stuck with."

Still, do Green Party members see either of the major party candidates as "the lesser of two evils?" 

"I think there's a psychological damage that's been tearing at people these last eight years," Deckerman says. "It affects Greens as much as it affects Democrats. Still, the Democratic party doesn't have a framework for getting us out of this mess. ... They're always blaming the GOP for their inability to do anything, but, if the Democrats become fully in control, they won't have any excuses anymore."

"Personally, I think it will be really hard," says Meza, of the Green Party's chances of winning five percent of the national vote. "I know that some people in our party plan to vote for Barack Obama."

Not all members of third parties  

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