2012 Presidential Race

Well, it’s never to early to start talking about the next Presidential Race. I’d like this to be sort of an open thread – letting people give their opinions about what traits or abilities we would like to see in our next presidential candidate.

What do you think?

My $0.02 worth on what the best candidate would look like would be:

1. A long-term member of the party.

2. A current or former office-holder, who was elected as a Green.

3. A warm, confident, engaging communicator.

4. Someone who is capable of putting forth an inspiring vision of people-powered politics.

5. A person with a minimum of skeletons in their closet.

6. A person who avoids associating the Green Party message with conspiracy theories of any kind.

What do you want in your next candidate?

Daryl Northrop



A Green Party member since 2000, active in local, state and national affairs - I am dedicated to the permanent politicizing of the public, and forging a progressive majority.


  1. I’m dubious about #6. Would someone who believed that the Bush administration deliberately got us into the Iraq war in order to protect our oil sources be a conspiracy theorist?

    Sometimes our government does terrible things that don’t get reported in the mainstream media. Let’s not be too quick to label anyone who calls for an investigation of these things a conspiracy theorist.

  2. I put in #6 in part to address some of the dubious claims made by the McKinney campaign about government involvement in the 9-11 attacks and 5000 prisoners/looters being killed in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

    The Iraq invasion rationale, while I do not believe it was a conspiracy, seems more likely to have been a situation where the conclusion was drawn first, and then evidence was gathered to support it (instead of the other way around – evidence leads to conclusion), coupled with a desire to control oil resources, which is a standard great-power goal (the UK taught us well).

  3. #6 is one of the more important ones here. I think that calls for an investigation should not be made by presidential candidates as part of their platform, as there are other groups already working towards that.

    As much as I admire McKinney, I think that the candidacy can be hurt by what a lot of voters would consider to be ‘lunacy’, as holders of any level of conspiracy theories will inevitably be labeled.

  4. Kenneth- EXACTLY! Certainly a group of greens, either independently, or under the banner of a state party, could look into unanswered questions from 9-11 or Katrina.

    But, and this is a very big BUT, when running a presidential candidate whose goal is to: support state parties/candidates, raise awareness about the greens, get us 5% of the vote so we can get matching funds, etc – they have to be VERY careful (not timid, just careful) of what issues they make the center of the candidacy.

    Thanks for the comment!

  5. I like all the above. I personally have a few criteria which you can take or leave, as you like:

    1. Someone who will actively engage the party base, rather than shutting them out to attract new voters.

    2. Someone who’ll partner with, and draw publicity and resources to, the party locals and local candidates — rather than becoming a resource sink.

    3. Someone who understands that “speaking truth to power” is a non-starter. The Green Party needs to become The New Power — creating a vision of that will be central to saving the Greens from total irrelevance.

    4. Someone who knows that achieving #3 will NOT require us to sell out Green values or democracy.

    5. Someone who has, or can at least attract, money. Nothing happens without it.

    6. Someone with an appropriate sense of urgency. If indeed the system CAN still be fixed, from within the system, then surely we are running out of time to do it. Soon we will all be too caught up in the struggle for day-to-day survival, to care much about democracy and freedom.

  6. Alan- thank you for your feedback. I think you bring up great points. My list was only meant to be a jumping off point for discussion – your list of 6 criteria sound great to me! Best of luck in your race!


  7. I think instead of focusing on what traits we want our 2012 candidate to have, we need to be more conscious of local elections. I’m a supporter and member of the Green Party, and would love to see one of our candidates in the White House, but I’m also realistic. Local elections need to precede national. Once we have Green candidates in the House of Representatives, as Mayors, and on City Councils throughout the country, we’ll be able to present presidential candidates with experience, and the country would be more willing to consider an alternative party.

  8. Karmalily- great points! Greens historically have had success at local levels, and we have not fully developed that potential -and we should.

    Presidential campaigns should never pre-empt or supersede local, city, or state campaigns.

  9. I want to see an Ecological Warrior headlining 500 Green candidates for Congress, state legislatures, and local positions. I want someone with both charisma and wisdom, someone whom people can’t help to like, who inspires and offers a real vision of an ecology-based decentralized America. I want someone that people will notice, media will cover, and who appeals to broad segments of our people.

    But I agree with others that local elections and state level elections are far more important right now. Local elected bodies (County Boards, City Councils) are in the best position to make changes that actually impact people’s lives – planning and zoning, environmental protections, people-centered policies, etc.

    Consider Sarah Palin’s popularity for example. Her appeal is based on her conservative belief structure, not her experience. Her experience is based on local politics, not “insider” politics.

    A “Green” Sarah Palin would have a rooted belief system in Green Values (which most Americans already share), experience in local organizing or local government, a “…warm, confident, engaging…” communication style, etc.

    Kat Swift actually comes to mind.

  10. Ronald, it almost sounds to me like you’re describing Elizabeth May of the Canadian Greens… check her out, she rocks pretty hard.

  11. There was an Irish woman who spoke at the Chicago Convention, one of the key note speakers. What was her name? She had the kind of warmth and charisma combined with a fiery determination that I like.

  12. Just to put this in perspective though, I think Cynthia McKinney has many of these characteristics. She is fiercely independent and determined, charismatic, and very likable. She knows what she is talking about, she has that first hand experience of how government works and she knows its ugly. She exceeds expectations when it comes to the war, social justice, and grassroots democracy. But I really doubt she will run again after this year. At least not in 2012.

  13. I think its inappropriate to post this in the midst of a the campaign. We shouldn’t be publicly slamming our own candidates. Monday morning quarter backing should take place after the game not during.

  14. I’d like to see a unifier who could rally the base AND attract new members.

    Someone good at working the media.

    Someone who can translate the somewhat “ivory tower” ideals of the Green Party into something meaningful to everyday people.

    Someone who can explain how voting “Green” will strengthen our democracy and is in one’s self-interest.

  15. I love Cynthia and would love to see her again. We need to build and grow, and changing every 4 years, with no explicit support from the past person doesn’t help.

    What would I add to the campaign and priorities?

    better preparation in communication, debates, interviews, and speeches.

    clearer messages, better frames

    anyone who is selected a year in advance so we can do the proper ground work and build up.

    money is a good one, but we can raise that too.

    someone who can speak to the statistical college educated crowd, and someone who can speak to the skeptics in framed messages, at the right time.

    someone who is backed by nader so we can fold in all the support and fervor he has build up for politics.

    tons of others, but lets come together to start deciding that.

    check out greenchange.org for networking. i think its gonna be big in the next couple of years for us Greens, we gotta use it.

  16. I would think Cynthia would be far and away the front runner again. No one thus far on this thread has given a good reason why she shouldn’t be. With Curry, Swift and Mesplay all probably running again as well (and perhaps Rosa too), it should be a great race. As to the 9/11 and NO issues, there was a conspiracy in both cases. Whether it’s in our platforms in one issue, but I don’t see the issue with our nominee again being on the record supporting a 9/11 investigation. Look at the shithole we’re in, the fact that there’s been no 9/11 investigation, the fact that there’s more than enough circumstantial and overwhelming support from the victims families for a new investigation and the fact that every other major crisis this decade has been pulled by the administration (with democratic complicity/support, i.e. the wars, 2 stolen elections, the deliberate flooding of New Orleans, the self implosion of the economy, the blackout, the energy crisis, etc. etc.). Now tell me again why you don’t think it’s more than a little possible than 9/11 was either an inside job or was at least allowed to happen due to administration criminal negligence and/complicity??

  17. And let me add the key basic fact that the GP is quite openly on the record in supporting a new 9/11 investigation, as well as its nominee. I assume you “skeptics” know that, and it’s the last sort of thing that we should be thinking of changing about our platform/public policy positions.

  18. Thanks for the Kathy Kelly video. Is anything happening with those “America needs a second party: vote Green” stickers/posters?

    Let’s try to recruit candidates from all backgrounds, not just from long-time Green activists. We will grow the Green party by recognizing that our base is not the people who go to Green meetings; our base is the majority of Americans whose values are not reflected in our public policy (http://www.yesmagazine.org/article.asp?id=2836). The realities of a Democratic government – bailouts, pork, coal, oil, nuclear, pay-or-die healthcare, death penalty, drug war, Middle East occupation, etc. – will give us our best opportunity yet to convince lots of great new people of America’s need for a second party. Let’s look outward, not inward, and realize the full potential of the Green party (look to Canada for pointers – respect to Elizabeth May).

    some’s ideas are solid. Clearer messages, better frames, better preparation, more time to organize before elections, more networking. Go to greenchange.org, sign up for the network (it takes one minute) and start networking with your fellow Greens around the country and around the globe.
    Let’s run Cynthia for congress in Pelosi’s district – anyone?
    As for the ‘conspiracy’ issue, this can also be resolved by framing. New frame: ‘investigate 9/11 – investigate Katrina!’ Our candidates’ mantra should be: don’t speculate – investigate!

  19. Hi all- glad to see all the comments and spirited discussion! I know that politics at the presidential level brings out everyone’s passions and desire to run a candidate that reflects what is important to us as Greens. As far as addressing specific issues, we need to balance what issues are important to us, versus what issues are important to the public in general – ie, the people we are trying to attract to the party.

    Now, Katrina issues, and 9-11 intelligence/negligence issues are important, and deserve a fuller investigation, but in the context of the issues and message a presidential candidate is trying to relay – we need to ask “Does the public care deeply about this issue in relations to the presidential race?” If the answer is no, then quite possibly needs to be omitted from the campaign. Of course, this is not saying it cannot be addressed elsewhere within various state parties or by the national party.

    Great hearing from everyone, and keep those comments coming! We may have differing opinions, but now is the time to discuss them, work them out, and decide how to move forward as Greens.

    Green and Growing,

    Daryl Northrop

  20. Hi Daryl,

    I have to respectfully disagree with your statement; “Does the public care deeply about this issue in relations to the presidential race?”

    I think and issue like NO, where there is an abundance of evidence that hundreds, if not thousands, were killed by police, national guard, Blackwater, should not be an issue we shy away from. Putting principle over politics means tackling the tough issues that the major parties won’t.


  21. Tim – thanks for the feedback! I’m glad that many people have posted their comments – that was the whole idea, to get people talking about future campaigns, and how messages and ideas should be framed. 9-11 and Katrina are major issues, of that there is no doubt, but the framing of them is just as important as addressing them in the first place, in my opinion.

    Thanks for touching base! The more comments, the better!

    Daryl Northrop

  22. Our presidential candidate needs provide support to local candidates. People are focused on the presidential race, and we need a presidential candidate for ballot access reasons, but our best chance for success is at the local and state level. The presidential candidate needs to plug into local efforts and campaign in areas with the greatest chance of success to bring attention our candidates. David Cobb came to our college town twice, which energized volunteers and the community about our County Board Candidates. It lead to our success in petitioning for them, defending a lawsuit, and establishing the party in those districts with percentages over 10%, including a 19 year old college student who yielded 19% of the vote. In 2006, we shattered our previous records with two candidates in the 20%’s, including one who came within points of grabbing a seat against two incumbents. This year that candidate, against one non-incumbent, and two others are have a great shot at winning a seat. Although we put a lot of work into it locally, without Cobb’s support and energy we probably wouldn’t have gotten this far. Although we have strong candidates this year, we would have had more energy from the general community with support from a presidential campaign.

    We need a balanced ticket, in terms of region, previous party involvement, and issues. As someone mentioned earlier, we need to put environmental issues on the forefront.

    Someone with elected experience is a plus, and a strong grasp of the issues is necessary.

    In terms of actual candidates, I really can’t support Kat for president. I like her, but she just doesn’t provide enough credibility or knowledge of the issues. Her 08 campaign website didn’t even mention the environment, for example.

    I’m warming up to Kent Mesplay as pres or vice-pres, but he’d have to show more of a commitment to campaigning than on long weekends.

    Jesse Johnson would be a strong candidate as well.

    Matt Gonzalez might be an interesting choice, although I’d like to see him elected mayor of San Francisco!

    An established environmental or other expert might be interesting, like Lester Brown or Jared Diamond, but it would be tough to pitch to them.

  23. How about someone who:

    works on this campaign and not the next one.

    gets out from behind their keyboard and meets and talks to people face to face

  24. Wow. If someone hasn’t contributed financially they have no right to express an opinion? What about the poor? They should just shut it? For the record, I’ve already donated a significant amount to the campaign and encourage others to do the same. I supported McKinney in the primaries and continue to do so. Future focus is one of our ten key values and I’m glad we’re doing some straegizing. Our state party has set up a 2010 committee to begin planning a successful cycle. We don’t tend to think far enough ahead and need to do so if we want to achieve victories. Others may have other experiences locally, but I was contributing mine. I think that’s appropriate and to be encouraged.

  25. I think Cynthia met all of my ideals. I can assure you I’ve given financial support as well as been doing legwork. I just think it’s worth examining the process while it’s fresh.

  26. I wish this conversation could be saved for November 5th. We have so much work to do now.

    I think that most small and third parties consider that if their top rung candidate does a good job, they should run again next time. Of course, there can be other candidates and a process. But, I would hope that Cynthia would come out on top if she considered another run with us. I think what she could have used more of is: A. Our support (and hopefully we will be stronger in 4 years) and B. Nationwide name recognition (which she has gotten some more of from this campaign.)

    I am for Cynthia in 2012.

    I think the # 6 slam about conspiracy theories is ill-guided. When people attack conspiracy theories, they are really telling people not to look to closely at government and the interconnections among politics, money and corporations. If we can’t consider conspiracies, then we must accept everything the government and media tell us at face value.

  27. Who says there even will be a 2012 race. The financial fraud propping up this global economic system is on the verge of collapse; peak oil is about to make both transportation and home heating a thing of the past; the US Military is being redeployed onto the streets of America to prepare to control dissent; martial law is next; and the elections are all rigged anyway.

    Face it, future focus needs to be focused on how to implement a new green survival plan on the streets and on the land. Green leaders need to look to where they live and build the networks necessary to save our souls. Call them “local chapters” or call them “green cells”.

    In the mean time of course give everything you can to the McKinney campaign and hit the streets with literature and spread the word. Put your contact info on the lit pieces so you can build up your local cells with those newfound sympathizers.

    Everyone here is right, and everyone has the right to say write what they want, even if others don’t want to hear it or think it is misplaced. Can’t people take a little break from the campaigns to ponder the future?

  28. This talk brings up an important issue.

    Talking about who will lead us is one part, but what are we going to do collectively to build the party after Nov 2008? What are our short and long term goals. We can’t wait for the National Party to get everything together, because they are not centralized and they are moving a little slow. But us, techies move fast and we need to move.

    How bout a series of Think Tanks in regions, building up local chapters, making a 3rd/Green Party Documentary, creating a Young Greens organization to pass the torch, getting our frames together, flooding Youtube with videos and motivating clips, getting all Greens on Greenchange.org, and winning local elections.

    How bout that. Enough talk and cynicism. We need to act. Who’s with me?

  29. This invokes Clemente’s statement that the Green Party “is not the alternative, we are the imperative”. We seem to wait for a sense of urgency, that the “time is right”, but dammit isn’t this pretty damn urgent? Isn’t every time right – especially now-time? Can things get much worse? Or a better question – can they get much better? They can definitely get worse.

    By the way, I signed up with an account on Greenchange.org yesterday. There is a LOT of potential for Green networking there. I am ON BOARD. Sign up and get connected. We are going to explore ways that greenpartywatch.org can work more closely with Green Change and other Green networking sites. We need to pool our resources to offer the greatest solutions to the greatest problems plaguing America and the world.

  30. Our next presidential candidate should be working now to rebuild the progressive left-wing anti-war movement that was decimated by misdirection into the John Kerry campaign and the Pelosi/Reid Congress, rather than latching on to reactionary right-wing opportunists like Ron Paul and Alex Jones.

    Our next presidential candidate should not follow a kook economics guru who agrees with the late Jörg Haider about the Hitler regime. (http://www.webofdebt.com/articles/bankrupt-germany.php)

    Our next presidential candidate should be skeptical about “official” government stories about the causes of disasters like 9/11 and Katrina but also skeptical about alternative theories that are unsupported by evidence.

    And so I am not accused of burying my criticisms: Sadly, I think I must argue that our next presidential candidate should not be Cynthia McKinney.

    For the record, I have donated in the past to the McKinney campaign, though I do not plan to do so again. Has anyone here looked at her campaign spending reports?

  31. I would like to see Carl Mayer who has served as Ralph Nader’s campaign treasurer for both his 2004 and 2008 runs on the ticket. In 2000 running as a Green Mayer raised $259,257 for a US House run in New Jersey. Mayer could bring proven fund raising to a Green ticket, and possibly bring a number of Naderites back into the Green Party, by mending some of the lasting wounds from the last few election cycles. I also would like to see Matt Gonzalez on the ticket in 2008 I would have like him to see him in the VP slot with McKinney. Putting Gonzalez on the top of the ticket might not produce the Nader 2000 results but it would help to reunite progressives (due to the enormous respect that Gonzalez has in the progressive community). The combination of Gonzalez/Mayer would not generate 2000 type media but would likely deliver 3-400,000 votes and do a great deal for party building.

  32. I would love to see someone with good business sense and a strong background in global travels as well as finances. Someone who not only sees the world’s problems, but can empathize with the people dealing with those problems. I want to see someone in office who is not just thinking about now but also 10 or 20 years from today. A person who can help people, but not in a condisending way. A People person!

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