We Must Build Choice
A frequent question that people ask is why the Greens run candidates for the larger state-wide offices. Why not start at the local level? The truth is we do run locally and have several local elected officials serving under the Green banner in Pennsylvania (GPPA 2020). But why run for state-wide offices?
National polling indicates that nearly 40% of Americans believe the two party system is failing and that a third major party is necessary (Hart Research Assoc 2019). This position is held by 62% of independents, 37% of democrats, and 31% of republicans. Partisan powerhouses have created vast areas of the state where people feel that their vote has no impact on elections. Our first past the post governance has created a scenario where negotiations and coalitions are not necessary. We have a system that limits our choice and restricts our voice.
In the US, total eligible voters compared to voter turnout lags behind other countries with multi-party systems (PEW 2018). This allows a small fraction of our population to decide our elections. Alternative voting methods and distribution, like that of ranked choice voting or proportional representation, are effectively used outside of the US and have increased civil engagement. Yet these enriching practices would be highly damaging to a two party arrangement. Therefore, we must create an alternative to the two party system which is presently dominated by the old parties.
In Pennsylvania the pathway to build an alternative to the old parties is codified in the law. Step one is based on gaining 2% of the vote in a state-wide election. That establishes a foothold for a party to control its ballot line and launch candidates in special elections. It reduces signature thresholds for their candidates to seek office. It provides the requirement to have the party presented as an option for voter registration. In 2016 the Greens met this requirement when the votes cast for Auditor General and State Treasurer were 3 times greater than the votes cast for the Green Presidential candidate. Step two to build an alternative party, becoming a major party, is based simply on obtaining 15% of the total number of registered voters.
The process to build choice for voters that can better serve them is then clear and laid before us. Winning local elections is just one part of the work we must do. We must also run state-wide candidates and register voters who are outside of the old parties.
Green Policies And Actions Are Popular And Benefit All
One of the greatest strengths of the Green Party is the popularity of our policies and our ability to introduce cutting edge ideas into the mainstream. Greens work side by side with citizen activists, frontline communities, and grassroots organizations to generate movements that positively affect policy for the enrichment of our society. Along with OUR allies, the Greens have brought forth some of the most essential and popular policies of our time by using our political influence.
Paramount to the survival of people and the planet, the Greens were instrumental in introducing the Green New Deal to the public consciousness. As early as 2010 Green candidates were presenting the concept of a Green New Deal to voters (GPUS 2019) and by 2012 the plan was taken to the national level during the presidential election (Guardian 2012). As Greens continued to spread the urgency of their plan a movement grew behind it. In 2019 a Green New Deal had introduced in the US House of Representatives (H.R. 109) and a majority of voters support the policy (DataForProgress 2019).
Similarly, other popular policies have been elevated by the Greens including Universal Single-Payer Healthcare, Ranked Choice Voting, overturning the Citizens United decision, a Ban on Fracking, and the opposition to US military intervention and imperialism. With their robust platform of progressive policies, the Greens continue to build support within US politics that is built on the pillars of non-violence, ecological sustainability, social justice, and grassroots democracy.
Where partisan powers have built unfair and dangerous institutions the Greens have gone to the courts to remove these barriers of democracy. In Pennsylvania, exorbitant ballot access requirements were dismantled in 2016 when the courts decided in favor of the Greens’ 2006 U.S. Senate candidate. It was then determined unconstitutional to require minor parties to collect nearly 100,000 petition signatures to obtain access to the ballot. The threshold to obtain the ballot by ordinary people was therefore lowered.
Additionally, the courts decided that those making a challenge to a candidate’s ballot access petition could not levy their court expenses on the defendant. This decision dismissed over $80,000 in fees and penalties placed on the Greens’ 2006 U.S. Senate candidate. The win now prevents the practice of using the cost of a ballot challenge as a tool to discourage every day people from seeking elected office.
Further, other legal wins for democracy have involved the Greens. Such as the scandal known as “Bonus Gate” where state money and resources were illegally used by the Democratic party to challenge the ballot access petitions of the Greens in 2004 and 2006 (Philadelphia Inquirer 2008). Or more recently when the greatest overhaul to Pennsylvania’s election security infrastructure, requiring a verifiable paper record of votes, was triggered by the Stein campaign’s legal actions (VotingJustice 2018).
Greens continue to propel progressive policies forward into the mainstream while simultaneously making our government more fair and accountable to the people.
GPPA https://www.gpofpa.org/elected_officials. 2020
Hart Research Associates https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/5756864-19062-NBCWSJ-February-Poll.html. 2019
GPUS https://www.gp.org/run_on_the_green_new_deal. 2019
US House of Representatives https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-resolution/109/text
Data for Progress https://www.dataforprogress.org/the-green-new-deal-is-popular. 2019
Philadelphia Inquirer https://www.inquirer.com/philly/news/breaking/20080714_Bonusgate_tied_to_campaign_against_Nader.html. 2008
Voting Justice https://www.votingjustice.us/pa_recount_settlement_a_victory_for_voters_everywhere. 2018