Should the Greens have endorsed Obama?

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mccain-nope.jpgI wasn't going to write one of those identikit Obama blog posts that are currently clogging up the tubes of the internet, but here's one thought. 

During the US election, there were two schools of thought in the party and the Green movement. One said "there's a Green candidate and we should be backing her", and the other said "dammit, when will there ever be a better likely President than Obama?".

Obviously, they need a fair election system - even alternative vote would make a huge difference - but personally I'm in the latter camp, and firmly so. 

The US Greens should be working to build local bases, targeting their best areas, running for lower offices, and in this case they should have given an caveated endorsement for Obama. One more Nader effect in a tight election could have killed the party entirely. Also, as Jim points out:

"Unlike for the Democrats for them it's all about the top job, and I tell you, it takes something to be more hierarchical than the Democrats."

Now, of course, there's the "yes I'm excited, but surely he'll let everyone down" position, but the comparison with 1997 is poor. While Obama may disappoint, by 1997 I didn't know many people who were positively optimistic about Blair's Labour. Most were simply delighted to see the Tories crushed.


I voted for Nader in 2000 because a) I was voting in MA which was going blue no matter what and b) it was important for me to vote for someone who I believed in more than just "well, he's not a Republican."

After four years under Bush, I voted (very begrudgingly) for Kerry in 2004. At this point, "he's not Bush" became a serious selling point. Even though I knew that my state was going blue, I felt the need to contribute to the popular vote and (hopefully) help to avoid some of the shenanigans from 2000.

I often think that idealism and politics don't always see eye to eye. It would be far better if we had more idealists striving to make a change, but there is also a place for realism, especially if you want to get anything done. It doesn't do us any good if you split the electorate, get Bush II elected and further alienate democrats. Much more prudent to (as you said) build up your base from the ground up and make change wherever you can. Nader had a chance in 2000 to get his issues on the table, but it got swallowed up in hanging chads and butterfly ballots.

If I was Nader, I would have gone to Kerry in 2004 and said, "Let's let bygones be bygones. I'll endorse you for president, throw my support behind you a hundred percent, get my people to work on your behalf. In return, you need to work with me on these [select few] issues." If anything, it would have helped to distinguish Kerry from Bush. Who knows, the conservative attack machine might have had a field day with it, but if they were smart about what issues they chose, it might have motivated a lot of liberal voters.

Personally I think the Green Party probably shouldn't have taken a position (either way) because it would be too devisive - but greens generally, like all progressive people should, I think, have been behind Obama both before the elction and after (where suddenly lots of previously uncommitted people are saying how relieved they are).

Having said that I've been really pleased to see just how many Greens have supported Obama, some of whom actually went over and helped in the campaign.

I certainly believe there could have been a role for a well managed, relevant and articulate third party candidacy - but neither Nader nor McKinney were able to provide that.

Hi Jim, sorry to have misrepresented your position a little, then. Can you make sure you get the Obama manual from Gary, please?

And Hope, I voted Nader in Massachusetts in 2000 as well - an American friend who didn't care one way or another offered to vote whichever way I thought fit. I see all your logic, and it all makes sense to me.

Frankly, an honest endorsement of such a good candidate from the Greens which also pointed out the failings (hello Barack - coal! nukes!) would be harder for the Republicans to spin against a Democrat.

What's the latest? Georgia run-off still on?!

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