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2014 campaigns highlight growing diversity of Green Party

Green Party campaigns in 2014 made a splash, from Howie Hawkins’ historic result in New York to Gayle McLaughlin’s triumph over a Chevron-funded challenge in Richmond, CA. But another remarkable story is the growing diversity of the Green Party and the candidates who are its public face.

Respect for diversity has long been a key value of the Green Party US, but still, Greens have faced charges (from within and without) that the party and its candidates are disproportionately white and male. Yet it’s clear that as people of color are increasingly marginalized by the Democratic and Republican parties, more and more are finding a welcoming home with the Green Party.

p anita riosIn Ohio, Green gubernatorial candidate Anita Rios, a longtime advocate within the Green Party for Latino/Latina issues, earned nearly 100,000 votes for 3.3%, winning a ballot line for the Ohio Greens. In California, gubernatorial candidate Luis Rodriguez, a well-known Chicano activist and author, took 1.5% in the June “Top Two” primary, the top vote-getter outside the Democratic and Republican parties. The Texas Greens’ slate included Emily “Spicy Brown” Sanchez for US Senate, Antonio Diaz for US House, and Martina Salinas for Railroad Commissioner. The Tennessee Greens’ gubernatorial candidate Isa Infante was born in the Dominican Republic. In New York, Attorney General candidate Ramon Jimenez is a “people’s attorney” from the Bronx, and Daniel Vila Rivera took over 10% of the vote for US House.

p brian jones headshotAfrican-American Greens made their impact felt too. In New York, Howie Hawkins’ running mate Brian Jones was crucial to mobilizing NYC activists for the Green Party. Eugene Puryear ran the most dynamic city council race the DC Statehood Green Party has seen in years, building the DCSGP for future success. In St. Paul, Lena Buggs’ run for state representative showed that the Greens are fast overtaking the GOP as the Twin Cities’ second party. Glenn Davis, a veteran and colleague of Cheri Honkala, helped the Greens do the same in Philadelphia. In Oakland, the Greens nominated Jason Anderson, a veteran, artist, and activist, for mayor. And in Texas, the Greens ran Jamar Osborne for Attorney General.

p skip sandmanOne of the most talked-about Green congressional campaigns in 2014 was that of Ray “Skip” Sandman in Minnesota’s 8th district. Skip Sandman is an elder in the Fond du Lac band of Ojibwe, and drew widespread attention for his stand against an ecologically devastating sulfide mining project in the Duluth area (which Democratic incumbent Rick Nolan continues to support). Sandman’s call to protect the water for future generations garnered admiration from Greens across the US, as well as 4.3% of the vote in a hotly contested congressional race. Shortly after Democrat Nolan’s re-election, he voted in favor of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.

p keiko bonkAlso deserving of special mention is Keiko Bonk, who challenged Hawai’i’s speaker of the house with a run for state representative. A Japanese-American, Keiko Bonk became the first Green elected to partisan office in the United States when she won election to the Hawai’i County Council in 1992. While she wasn’t able to unseat the speaker, Bonk did win 23.3% of the vote, beating a Republican into 3rd place.

These are only some of the candidates showing the growing diversity of the Green Party – there are many other Green candidates, not to mention activists, who are defying the stereotype that all Greens are aging white men. However, Greens still have much work to do if they hope to create a welcoming political party for people of color, and turn the Green Party into a truly diverse multiracial coalition dedicated to winning liberty and justice for all.

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Who does the Working Families Party work for?

Andrew CuomoThe Working Families Party, which began in New York and has attempted to spread to other states, stirred up considerable controversy in 2014 by supporting Andrew Cuomo’s re-election campaign for New York Governor. Cuomo has done much to anger New York progressives, including breaking a promise to support independent redistricting and vowing to fight labor unions in his second term.

The Working Families Party’s decision to endorse Cuomo a second time has raised questions about their strategy of urging progressives to vote for right-wing Democrats like Cuomo, as well as possible links between this strategy and the WFP’s sources of funding.

From In These Times, “Andrew Cuomo and the Sad State of the Working Families Party”:

To demonstrate the party’s weakness, one need only look at how far out of its way the WFP went to win voters by not mentioning the candidate at the top of the ticket. Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) President Stuart Appelbaum on his Facebook simply said that he was voting for “Governor of New York” on the party line—no mention of who that governor was. Party mailers featured not an image of the governor but of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, whose plan for progressive taxation to fund universal pre-kindergarten was thwarted by the fiscally conservative Cuomo.

And there are many reasons why the party couldn’t talk about him. Cuomo failed to make good on a central promise he made in exchange for the WFP endorsement: to push for Democrats to regain control in New York’s State Senate.

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Howie Hawkins: America just took a wrong turn, it’s time to take a hard left

Howie Hawkins, 2014 NY Green Party gubernatorial candidate, writes in The Guardian:

America just took a wrong turn. It’s time to take a hard left

Double down on oil and trouble? Not so fast: fracking bans in oil country and common sense on infrastructure might turn the US a deeper shade of green between now and 2016

p howie hawkins carSometimes it feels as if Sarah Palin won the last two presidential elections. We’re not quite living in “Drill Baby Drill” America, but by co-opting the other Republican energy slogan, a meaningless plan literally called “All-of-the-Above”, President Obama has opened up vast new areas to offshore drilling and pushed hydrofracking for oil and gas onshore. Even as the president says that “we are closer to energy independence than we’ve ever been before”, sometimes it seems like the US is becoming a repressive petrostate.

And then some days, like the day after the midterm elections, it feels like a complete victory for Palinite politics. The Republicans took back the US Senate, and the only Democrats who won major races were those like Andrew Cuomo, who defeated my Green Party campaign for governor of New York with a $45m campaign war chest provided by a few hundred super-rich donors – Democratic and Republican ones.

But there were real victories this week for progressive alternatives on clean energy, economic security and social justice. The extremist blood bath may have painted the country more red, but there were more than a few important – and extremely promising – tea leaves of green. It was even enough to suggest a new, independent, hard-left turn in American politics is still very much possible. Continue Reading

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Howie Hawkins: Reflections on 30 years of Green Party organizing

p howie hawkinsThe Summer 2014 issue of Green Pages features an interview with Howie Hawkins (now running for Governor of New York) on his unique perspective on the Green Party as a founding member. From the article:

What got you into being part of the start of the Green Party?

I have been committed to a third party of the people vs. the corporate rulers since 1964 when as a youth in California I witnessed the Republicans, led by spokes­per­son Ronald Reagan, conduct a successful referendum to repeal a fair housing law, and the Democrats seat the segregationist Dixiecrat delegation instead of the integrated civil rights Freedom Democrats delegation from Mississippi at the Demo­cratic National Convention. The Democrats won in 1964 and escalated the war in Viet­nam. So I campaigned for the Peace and Freedom Party in 1968, the People’s Party in 1972 and 1976, and the Citizens Party in 1980. In 1984, I was invited to participate in the first national Green Party organizing meeting in St. Paul, Minn. as a representative of the anti-nuclear Clam­shell Alliance and I think Patch Adams, now Assistant Secretary of Health for Holistic Health in the Green Shadow Cab­inet, and I are the only two left attending that meeting who are still alive and active in the Green Party. Continue Reading

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Chris Hedges: Why I’m Voting Green

This article by Chris Hedges at Truthdig is one of the best cases for voting for Jill Stein that I have read this year.

I post here two excerpts, first on the case for an alternative political party:

It was the Liberty Party that first fought slavery. It was the Prohibition and Socialist parties, along with the Suffragists, that began the fight for the vote for women and made possible the 19th Amendment. It was the Socialist Party, along with radical labor unions, that first battled against child labor and made possible the 40-hour workweek. It was the organizing of the Populist Party that gave us the Immigration Act of 1924 along with a “progressive” tax system. And it was the Socialists who battled for unemployment benefits, leading the way to the Social Security Act of 1935. No one in the ruling elite, including Franklin Roosevelt, would have passed this legislation without pressure from the outside.

“It is the combination of a social movement on the ground with an independent political party that has always made history together, whether during abolition, women’s suffrage or the labor movement,” Stein said when I reached her by phone as she campaigned in Chicago. “We need courage in our politics that matches the courage of the social movements—of Occupy, eviction blockades, Keystone pipeline civil disobedience, student strikes, the Chicago teachers union and more. If public opinion really mattered in this race, we [her presidential ticket] would win. We have majority support in poll after poll on nearly all of the key issues, from downsizing the military budget and bringing the troops home, to taxing the rich, to stopping the Wall Street bailouts, to breaking up the banks, to ending the off-shoring of jobs, to supporting workers’ rights, to increasing the minimum wage, to health care as a human right, through Medicare for all. These are the solutions a majority of Americans are clamoring for.”

And on Obama’s policies and on Climate Change:

Obama, who has claimed the power of assassinating U.S. citizens without charge or trial, increased the drone war and has vastly expanded the wars in the Middle East. He is waging proxy wars in Yemen, Pakistan and Somalia. His assault on civil liberties—from his use of the Espionage Act to silence whistle-blowers to Section 1021 of the National Defense Authorization Act to the FISA Amendment Act—is worse than Bush’s. His attack on immigrant rights has also outpaced that of Bush. Obama has deported more undocumented workers in four years than his Republican predecessor did in eight years. There is negligible difference between Obama and Romney on the issue of student debt, which has turned a generation of college students into indentured servants. But the most important convergence between the Republicans and the Democrats is their utter failure to address the perilous assault by the fossil fuel industry on the ecosystem. It was Obama who undercut the international climate accord reached last year at Durban, South Africa, saying the world could wait until 2020 for an agreement.

“Obama is promoting oil drilling in the Arctic, where the ice cap has already collapsed to one-quarter of its size from a couple decades ago, and he’s opened up our national parks for drilling,” Stein said. “He has given the green light to fracking. He has permitted the exhaust from shale oil [extraction] to go into the atmosphere. He is building the southern pass of the Keystone pipeline. He brags that he has built more miles of pipeline than any other president.

“There is a protracted drought in 60 percent of the continental U.S.,” Stein said. “There are record forest fires and rising food prices. We have just now seen the 12 hottest months on record. Storms are growing in destructiveness. All this is happening with less than 1-degree Celsius temperature rise. Yet we are now on track for a 6-degree Celsius warming in this century alone. This is not survivable. The most pessimistic science on climate change has underpredicted the rate at which climate change is advancing.”

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“Voting Green in a Swing State” – Sid Smith

Like the author of this article, I am voting Green Party in a swing state, in my case Wisconsin. I also work on a college campus, and I had a professor this week ask me if I had an escape plan. “For what?” I replied. “In case Obama loses Wisconsin,” he said with a smirk.

I intend to send him a link to this article, which also appears at OpEdNews and CounterPunch:

VOTING GREEN IN A SWING STATE
by B. Sidney Smith

(Preface: This article isn’t really meant for everyone, so I might be able to save you some time. If you think climate change isn’t a serious electoral issue, this probably wasn’t written for you. If you think American presidents should conduct wars on their own authority and that it’s okay if they secretly assassinate whomever they (secretly) decide are bad people who might hurt us then you needn’t concern yourself with what follows. If you think the Bill of Rights of the Constitution doesn’t necessarily apply when terrorism is involved, or that letting gays have civil rights should be decided on a state-by-state basis like slavery before the civil war, or that the health of the environment isn’t more important than economic growth, or that whistle-blowers who expose governmental and corporate crimes should go to prison but that privileged lawbreakers shouldn’t, or that whether a candidate is electable should depend on how much she pleases wealthy donors—if any of these approximates your own take on the issues, please read no further. You’ll be bored. Honestly.)

I live in a purple part of the country (Virginia) and move in academic circles, so of course I know many, many people who will be voting for Obama. If that doesn’t strike you as funny, then you are the person I have written this for.

Of course it is impossible to know, but if I sodomized the Easter Bunny in front of their children the look on my Obama-voter friends’ faces could scarcely be much different than the look they get when I say I am voting for Jill Stein.

“But this is a swing state…you have to vote for Obama…what if Romney wins?!?

The pain in their voices tugs at my sympathies; their fear is very real. I want to reassure them, but I was cured a few presidential elections ago. I won’t be drinking from that cup again.

At first they assume I don’t understand what’s at stake. They tell me about the Romney/Ryan agenda. They tell me about Obamacare. They tell me about DOMA and the Fair Pay Act. But the conversation wanes when I am not only unsurprised by the information but able to supply amplifications and corrections. I’ve read the (detailed summary of) the Affordable Care Act. I know about Romney’s probable agenda. I even know the age and bodily afflictions of key members of the Supreme Court. In short, I know what’s at stake.

This is awkward and for some there is no plan B, but experienced partisans know where to take it next: there is something wrong with me. I’m a purist, a liberal elitist who won’t be satisfied, arrogantly “engaging in a form of rhetorical narcissism and ideological self-preoccupation.”1 I indulge in a “pernicious idealism that wants the world to be perfect and is disgruntled that it isn’t.”2 I trade the common good for private conceit.

Fortunately my friends are mature people with trained minds, so for most it is enough to mention the ad hominem fallacy, to remind them that my personal faults—which I stipulate are legion—aren’t relevant to the validity or otherwise of my position in this debate. Usually we can agree to leave that brand of “discourse” to the professional bloviators.

So at last we come down to it. What are the arguments? There seem to be only two reasons for a progressive (you’re still reading, so I suppose that includes you) to vote for Obama. Either (1) you think Obama is not so bad, really, and has done a lot of good and could do more, or (2) Obama’s record makes you green about the gills, but the thought of Romney winning is intolerable.

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Reply to Columnist’s Article — Shut Up and Vote: LA Times Columnist Repeats Tired Attacks on Green Party, Alternative Politics

By Matt J. Stannard
Political Context, June 10, 2012
http://politicalcontext.org/blog/2012/06/shut-up-and-vote-la-times-columnist-repeats-tired-attacks-on-green-party-alternative-politics/

Los Angeles Times columnist Dan Turner published his anti-Green Party screed (http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/opinion-la/la-ol-green-party-20120606,0,7045785.story) the same week that the Democratic National Committee and President Obama dropped the ball in Wisconsin, setting the stage for a re-boot of 2011′s anti-union assault and, quite likely, a GOP presidential victory in November. The GOP is not ahead of the game merely because of its advantage in spending; the Democrats could have massively mobilized their presumptive base, but to do so would have required acknowledgment that this base has a growing anti-corporate agenda. It would have required the institutional Democratic Party to follow the lead of, rather than attempt to co-opt the message of, the Occupy movement. It would have required the Obama administration to stop playing J. Edgar Hoover with the movement. And even if the Democrats could have done all this, it would have been
difficult to square with the Obama administration’s growing embrace of right-wing foreign policy strategies, uncritical acceptance of “free trade” and the hypercapitalist model, and a love of heavy-handed police tactics wherever popular revolt occurs.

All of this is lost on Turner, whose anti-Green rant is a clumsy and nasty rehash of half-arguments that are, by now, simply rote: the Democrats deserve the votes of progressives because they are the only thing standing between you and people that are slightly worse than us; the independent left is composed of naive hippies and stoners; and (in a stunning inability of Turner and other critics to actually analyze policy) the Greens have no concrete ideas to implement. Because of this, Democrats are entitled to our votes. Presumption is against us. And whatever scorn Democrats heap on Republicans, it pales in comparison to the abuse Democrats keep in reserve for Greens, socialists, and anyone who dares criticize the party or their President. Turner perpetuates this theme by arguing that, if the Greens are successful, such success could only mean getting Mitt Romney elected, which would be a disaster.

But if third parties left of the Democrats manage to damage Obama enough to get Romney elected, that will be because Obama refused to entertain or implement a sufficient number of progressive policies to satisfy that part of “his” base. It’s difficult to understand why that failure should be hung around the necks of those of us who are opposed to the colonization of politics by capital, the endless futile compromises with the right, or the cynical militarism and police state tactics of successive Democratic administrations. It seems like, in cycle after cycle, progressives are expected to demand and desire less and less, as the Democratic Party moves further and further to the right.

It’s time for independent progressives to reject the longstanding metaphysical presupposition that accompanies the argument that one party “siphons votes from” another party. The assumption is that there’s a purposive, ordained arrow of siphoning, as well as a Platonic place where the votes “belong” and where they don’t. These question-begging arguments are represented as “pragmatism” and “realism.” But the pragmatic reality is that the current system of electioneering is fundamentally anti-democratic, and capitulation to twin-party politics guarantees the continued colonization of the public sphere by big money. Another pragmatic reality is that the interests served by that big money are interests who are killing the planet, dooming the periphery of the human and nonhuman populations to either slow or calamitous death, and purposely blocking any solutions to any of those systemic problems. Concern for those systemic causes, those
structural problems, is always met with scorn by institutional Democrats, who adopt Rahm Emmanuel’s “progressives are f—ing retarded” rule when dealing with brave and principled Democrats who dare to stand up to their party’s overlords.

Turner would rather hurl insults at Jill Stein than address any of these unpleasant realities. Having been nothing but a corporate newswriter all his adult life, editorializing with liberal use of personal attacks and other argumentative fallacies might well give Mr. Turner a secret schoolboy thrill.  So his piece is laced with right-wing enthymemes and stereotypes, like how the left needs to “buckle its Birkenstocks,” deal with the “crunchy-granola set,” and my favorite turn of phrase in the piece, “an economic program that sounds a bit socialistic.” Given that one facet of the debate about third party politics concerns the lack of originality in the ideas of the two parties, it’s curious that Turner’s piece is rhetorically as well as philosophically unoriginal.

It’s equally curious, given that Turner’s post purports specific concern for California politics, that he cites Obama’s commitment to draw down troops in Afghanistan as an example of something that should satisfy us impatient and unreasonable progressives. Turner, of course, misses the point here. The invasion and occupation of Afghanistan, as with Iraq, was facilitated by the two-party  duopoly to begin with. The cost of the war there and here has been astronomical, and a “draw down” is a pathetically insufficient answer to that. Nor, apparently, does Turner understand the dime-thin difference between the two parties on Afghanistan. The very phrase ”draw down” is contained within the vocabulary of both Republican and Democratic administrations, whose shared paradigm embraces an endless cycle of invasions withdrawals in a never-ending war on those who would question U.S. hegemony.

What Turner doesn’t discuss is even more important than what he does. He doesn’t discuss Obama’s illegal drone attacks. He doesn’t mention the Democratic Party’s miserable strategic and tactical failures in Wisconsin, its beholdance to corporations, or its refusal to stand up for a public health care plan that had over 70% support among the electorate. Turner doesn’t have much to laud about California Democrats either. That state’s allegedly powerful Democratic juggernaut hasn’t defended unions any better than Dems in Wisconsin did: This week, voters in San Jose and San Diego imitated Wisconsin and curtailed pension programs for public employees. There was no counter-campaign, no corrective education, by California Democrats in that struggle.

The most curious omission from Turner’s sloppy post is the role of the Green Party in local politics–you know, where things get done. It’s apparent that Turner hasn’t visited Richmond, Fairfax, or Arcata. He hasn’t talked with Mayors Gayle McLaughlin or Pam Hartwell-Herrero, pragmatic and realistic Green leaders, about Richmond’s $115 million settlement with Chevron, Fairfax’s local currency and plastic bag ban (Los Angeles recently followed Fairfax’s lead on this, something you’d think would be, well, noteworthy), Richmond’s anti-foreclosure ordinance, Fairfax’s and Marin County’s GMO ban, Fairfax’s rejection of chain stores and embrace of a host of progressive policies, and the list goes on. Turner can have his ideology, but it’s just sad that the Times so readily excuses his lack of homework.

Poor people and those affected by the recession apparently aren’t sexy topics for Turner either, but as Marcy Winograd recently wrote, the fight against foreclosures, and vanguard leadership in the Occupy movement, are also attributes of Greens locally and nationally.

Throughout the US, Greens and allies are at the fulcrum of the occupy movement, defending homeowners facing foreclosure, practicing participatory democracy in the street, and successfully altering the national discourse from deficits and taxes to wealth inequality and privilege. In Oakland, Green Samsarah Morgan helped start the Children’s Village at Occupy Oakland, where children can play and protest peacefully. Former LA County Council Co-Chair of the Green Party Rachel Brunkhe mobilizes marches on Bank of America in San Pedro, home to the largest port in the country; former Green assembly candidate Peter Thottam organizes thousands at Occupy the Rose Parade, where Wells Fargo, one of the most notorious banks for robo-siging illegal foreclosures, was one of the parade’s chief sponsors; Al Shantz, Green Vice President of Napa Valley College’s Student Senate, launches Occupy rallies downtown and on the Napa Valley College campus; Harrison
Wills, a Green President of the Santa Monica College Associated Student Body tells an Occupy crowd at his campus, “There’s socialism for corporations and capitalism for the rest of us.”

In the end, Turner’s attacks are inadvertently very good arguments in favor of the search for alternatives to the twin parties of corporatism and war.  Turner is telling us to accept more of the same. Increasing scores of voters and activists around the nation have already rejected his arguments. Black Agenda Report‘s Bruce Dixon put it best:

The only worthwhile political campaigns are ones that utilize public receptivity to discussions around issues to present and make popular accurate analyses of the world the way it is, and compelling visions of the world the way we want it to be. Not the candidate that sucks least. Win or lose, these are the only campaigns that empower people, the only ones worth pouring your energy into, the only ones that build, rather than strangle and discourage mass movements.

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Ralph Nader, Rocky Anderson, & Jill Stein

William Kaufman has an insightful article posted at Dissident Voice called “Ralph Nader, Rocky Anderson, and the Green Party: A Political Un-Love Story.”

The context of the article is Ralph Nader’s recent voice of support for Rocky Anderson’s Independent Presidential Campaign given Anderson’s centrist platform and Jill Stein’s solid progressive campaign. Some excerpts:

Although Nader claims that his backing falls short of a formal endorsement, the Anderson campaign isn’t echoing that semantic hair splitting. After the joint appearance, Rocky Anderson’s Facebook page was updated as follows: “At a press conference in Portland, Oregon today, Ralph Nader officially endorsed Rocky Anderson! It’s been a great day so far, now with everyone’s help let’s raise 10k in just 1 day! We can do it!”

Comparing Anderson to Stein: Continue Reading

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No Holds Barr: The Co-opting of the Green Party?

The following article was sent to us by Lauren Windsor, a self described civil libertarian and registered member of the California Green Party, and author of the website Lady Libertine. We are publishing it in its entirety, without editing. Green Party Watch does not necessarily share the views expressed by authors of articles we share here.

No Holds Barr:  The Co-opting of the Green Party?

Firebrand comedian and aspiring politico Roseanne Barr is running for the Green Party’s nomination for president of the United States in a move characterized by many as a publicity stunt à la Donald Trump. But with Barr the situation is not entirely as it seems. Yes, she sought to be recognized as an official candidate just as NBC picked up her comedy pilot “Downwardly Mobile,” but Barr has been talking about running for POTUS — and also for prime minister of Israel — since at least 2010. Her progressive persona is no act: Her 1988-’97 “Roseanne” sitcom examined working-class socioeconomic issues, as will her new show, and she has been a vocal supporter of Occupy, having addressed the Zuccotti Park assembly on the day of the movement’s inception. No one questions her progressive bona fides, but many question her motives.

At contention is whether rules were innocently skirted — or intentionally broken — to allow Barr to be officially recognized by the Green Party of the United States (GPUS) in time for an important California ballot deadline. With 65 delegates out of a convention of 400 and a majority of state parties with fewer than ten delegates, the California primary is an important win for Green candidates. Also at issue are apparent conflicts of interest for voting members of the national party’s Steering Committee, whose duties include the oversight and coordination of other GPUS groups like the Presidential Campaign Support Committee. Note that the national and state parties are different entities under the same Green umbrella.

On Barr’s presidential campaign and personal websites, she advocates the “Green Tea Party” and enjoins viewers to “Occupy the Green Party.” This language irks many party members, who feel that they are complicit in a ploy for comeback publicity, rather than part of a serious campaign; they are wary of being co-opted. Nationally, Greens are divided. On one hand, a celebrity like Barr gets people talking again about the Green Party, which suffered when Ralph Nader’s campaign was widely blamed for Al Gore’s loss in 2000. On the other hand, many feel that front-runner Jill Stein is doing the bulk of the heavy lifting in rebuilding the party, and that Barr’s charged rhetoric may ultimately damage the party’s credibility with independents and progressives.
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