Nader-Gonzalez ticket and the Green Party

Written by Guest Contributor. Posted in Opinion, Politics

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Published on February 29, 2008 with 9 Comments

Ralph Nader and Matt Gonzalez
Photo by Luke Thomas

By Susan King, special to Fog City Journal

Editor’s Note: Susan King is an elected member of the San Francisco Green Party County Council and a spokesperson for the California Green Party.

February 29, 2008

These past few days, there has been much speculation on what the Nader/Gonzalez campaign ticket means for the Green Party and the impact on the outcome of the presidential race.

First, let me clear up some common misconceptions.

Nader does not equal the Green Party. While he ran as the Green nominee in 1996 and 2000, his 2004 and, as of now, 2008 campaigns, will be as an Independent. In 2004 the Green Party nominated David Cobb, and it appears likely that we will nominate former Democratic Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney in 2008.

Cynthia McKinney

The Bush presidency has been blamed on the Green Party, based on the examination of a handful of votes in Florida won by Nader that might have gone to Al Gore. Those who cry ‘spoiler’ conveniently chose to overlook the rampant disenfranchisement of African American voters in Florida (and other states), the fact that a Bush campaign staffer was Florida’s Secretary of State and his brother was Governor, the impact of the butterfly ballot, hanging chads and mis-counted votes, and the fact that Gore failed to win his home state of Tennessee and the President’s home state of Arkansas which would have made Florida’s outcome inconsequential. Moreover, there are many of us who believe that Gore actually won, and a partisan Supreme Court picked Bush over the will of the voting American public.

In the face of this, Greens have articulated the notion that it is anyone’s right to run a candidate for president, and Green/Independent/third-party presidential bids add to the public debate and give voters more options. In a twist of irony, it is now the Greens that have to deal with the impact of a Nader candidacy on our own presidential bid.

The Green and Independent presidential campaigns’ impact on this race will be determined by each candidate’s ability to attract voters. If the Republicans win this year, it is because they ran the best race, or they cheated. I put neither of these options past them.

The real challenge the Green Party faces this election cycle does not revolve around who we chose as our nominee, or how many votes we ultimately get, but how we behave towards one another during this potentially contentious campaign season. We can continue to rub salt on the open and gaping wounds of the divisive 2004 race, or we can unify our movement outside of the presidential campaign.

One of the Green Party’s 10 key values is Respect for Diviersity, which can and should include diversity of opinion within our ranks. Whether Green/Independent voters support the Nader/Gonzalez ticket, the Green Party nominee or – recognizing the inherent flaws of our electoral system – focus on building the party at the grassroots level and stay away from third party presidential campaigns this year, we must recognize our shared values and comport ourselves in professional and civilized manner that enables us to regroup in 2009, to work together on our collective vision of a more just and sustainable world.


Comments for Nader-Gonzalez ticket and the Green Party are now closed.

  1. Mckinney, Nader, and Gonzalez should call for 435 independent green candidates for U.S. House of Representatives in 2008, 33 Greens for U.S. Senate.

    It’s far too early to see how 2008 will play out for the Green Party.

    One thing is proven. This is how Nader competes for the Green Party nomination. Passive Agressive.

    It’s fascinating. The Green Party has proven, and will again, that it survives, and even thrives whomever leads the Presidential ticket.

    Greens have a lot of good candidates seeking the nomination. Even former U.S. Senator Mike Gravel has said publicly he’ll see the Greens nomination.

    All of this is cause for great Green Party optimism, and growth.

  2. I have the same questions that Mike Smolek has about what Nader and Gonzalez will leave for us after the 2008 election is over. I suspect not much, and hope fervently that they do not attempt a hijack of the Green Party nominating convention in Chicago this summer, as Nader and Camejo did in 2004.

    I also think that it is interesting that, while Nader professes to believe in opening up the presidential debates (it’s on his website at he refused to participate in the Green Party presidential debate himself, held here in San Francisco in mid-January, under the guise of not having yet declared his candidacy. He did, however, attend the event, and his handlers and groupies managed to finagle a special time for him to speak on the stage, all by himself, unlike any of the other candidates (let’s face it, at the point the line between declared and undeclared candidate was very fine).

  3. Gonzalez is Latino, Mike Zmolek, not a white male candidate. To compare to Obama, he would be the First Latino VP.

  4. Just endorse Nader guys. Stop torturing yourselves.

  5. i was green. then i was blue. about 10 months ago i was independent. still am.

    I back Daly, Mirkarimi, and Obama, AND, I think that it is a darn fine thing that Matt Gonzalez is a Vice Presidential Candidate. Look at the issues.
    This kid will bring the best debates you’ve EVER seen into US politics, in decades. I WANT to see my candidate “have to” answer to Mr. Matt Gonzalez. That is the ONLY way, that I know, that MY CANDIDATE, OBAMA, can, and will, UPHOLD HIS WORD OF CHANGE. I am looking forward to this occasion. I am hopeful. I am so so scared………………………………..and that’s sorta cool, no? at least you are *here…………………..:)

  6. “I don’t see a future with the Green Party in it. ”

    I don’t see a future without the Green Party. I agree with Matt that there is no “unified and collective vision” but I do not believe in the myth of coups, hijackings, and evil “demogreens” taking over the Green Party.

    The Green Party can learn to live without Ralph Nader while still acknowledging everything that Nader did for the Party in 2000. Nader did the Greens huge favors in 1996 and 2000. We should be grateful for his gift and grow the Green Party.

  7. With all the buzz about enthusiasm out there for electing the first black or the first woman president, Ralph Nader’s choice of a white male running mate seems, well, a little out of touch, especially after he ran with native activist Winona LaDuke in 2000.

    What is Ralph Nader building? What will be left standing after he and Gonzalez lose this election? At a recent forum in DC I told Nader that I joined the Green Party in 2000 in part because I was excited about his suggestion that 100,000 citizens, putting in 100 hours and $100 could build a viable third party. Finally, someone was putting some serious ideas on the table for how to build a viable alternative to the dominance of the corporate sell-outs!! Only later did I learn that Nader himself didn’t belong to the Green Party. So in 2004, as a voter looking to BUILD something and not interested in voting for Nader as an icon, I voted for David Cobb, about whom I knew very little. At the forum, I asked Nader why in 2000 he felt he was in a position to advise a party to which he did not belong, why he doesn’t just join the Greens and whether he planned to go ahead and split the progressive vote in ’08 as he had done in ’04. His response was that getting involved in the “internal” politics of the Green Party was not his “role.”

    Since then, before he was even a declared candidate, Nader’s name was put on the California ballot in violation of Green Party rules. His 61% showing demonstrates strong support for him in California, but it also shows that certain important leaders in the California Green Party have less respect for observing election legalities than Diebold-backed Republicans.

    Rep. Cynthia McKinney, meanwhile, has taken the plunge. She has joined the Green Party and has observed its procedures rigorously. One wonders whether white Green voters are aware of the potential boost she brings to the party. McKinney is popular with low income black and latino voters, whose issues she has long championed. A voting base of black, latino and white progressive voters could form a solid foundation for getting a third party over the 5% threshold.

    To take one example of McKinney’s level of commitment to the struggle against poverty and racism, in February 2006 McKinney was the ONLY member of Congress to walk shoulder to shoulder on the Crescent City Connection Bridge with Katrina survivors protesting their being turned away by racist cops when trying to flee flooded New Orleans. Jesse Jackson subsequently organized a repeat of the March, on April fool’s day. Yes, McKinney does stand up to cops. (And in case you missed it, despite being the target of perhaps the biggest smear campaign by the corporate media since the Lewinsky affair, the ridiculous charge that she assaulted a Capitol Hill Police officer was thrown out of court. But you’d never know it from all the reporting by journalists who still refer to her as the Congresslady who hit a cop–the same journalists who once parroted Bush’s fearmongering claim that Iraq had nukes).

    McKinney also brings to the progressive scene something Nader lacks: experience as a Member in Congress. Besides that, she’s black, she’s sassy, she’s gutsy, with a dash of southern charm. Democrats are clearly ready to back either a black man or a white woman for president. The question is: are greens and progressives ready to back a black woman?

    Nader’s run in 2004, in my view, practically erased the momentum of 2000. Apparently Nader’s agenda in 2008 is to obliterate it. One fails to understand the loyalty of white Green voters to a man who offers lots of good critique but no strategic plan for implementing the vision of a serious, viable alternative to the corprecrats.

    Forget Obama vs. Clinton vs. McCain. Whoever gets elected, corporations win and voters lose. How about a more exciting debate? Nader vs. McKinney. Bring it on!

  8. “Do, or do not. There is no ‘likely’.”

    ( With Apologies to Master Yoda)

  9. I don’t see a future with the Green Party in it. There will never be a unified and collective vision within its ranks until all the REAL Greens (i.e. the silent majority) have rightfully abandoned it and left the coup-mongers all by their lonesome.

    What is most likely is that the Demogreens (with its epicenter in San Francisco) who have hijacked the party but not the vision of the Greens as a whole (as exemplified with Nader’s 61% slam-dunk in the California Green Primaries) will fizzle out into nothingness while a new, fiercly independent, vanguard party, with a “Key Value” of not wimping out and capitulating to the Democrats, will take its place. Certainly, that is my hope.

    Matt Gonzalez has already hinted that he might jump the sinking and hopeless Green Party ship and I suspect that he will be the bellwether. I, and the majority of other Greens who feel that the Green Party leadership have ruthlessly betrayed and disenfranchised us, are likely to follow him.