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Demonizing the Green Party Vote

Photo by Tar Sands Blockade | CC BY 2.0

Photo by Tar Sands Blockade | CC BY 2.0

Third parties, especially during presidential election years, are subjected to a variety of criticisms from supporters of the candidates of the duopoly and their corporate media enablers.  The level of virulent denunciation in 2016 of the Green Party’s presidential candidate, Dr. Jill Stein, by Democrats and partisans of Hillary Clinton may be a reflection of how paranoid they have become over the thought that a misogynistic and xenophobic white nationalist like Donald Trump might actually win the election.  Although that is highly doubtful, especially given the demographics, the Greens have become, nonetheless, a target to be browbeaten and censured.

At the core of much of these criticisms is a profound misunderstanding of what a vote for a third party like the Green Party means.  To denigrate that vote as merely a “protest” neglects the fact that people have strong political perspectives and deep values for which voting is only one manifestation of those perspectives and values.  In addition, the presumption by HRC supporters that Green Party proponents are engaging in “white privilege” or self-indulgent moralism overlooks  the criticisms of HRC by Black Lives Matter and other groups promoting racial justice, the level of diversity within the Green Party, and the degree to which many Greens also operate out of a strategic and tactical sense for their voting.

Thus, the blanket condemnation of anyone voting for the Green Party’s ticket of Jill Stein and Ajamu Baraka, even in states that Clinton will dominate, such as California, Oregon, Massachusetts, etc., is a reflection of the inability to acknowledge the adoption by individual or organized Greens of a “safe-state” strategy.  One also sees among some of the hysterical attacks on the Green Party a level of fear mongering that infects much of the Democratic Party electoral strategy.  While there is certainly much to dread about Trump, Pence, and the right-wing politics of the Republican Party, that in no way negates the neo-liberalism and warmongering that is openly advocated by Clinton, Kaine, and the Democratic establishment.

One can also find evidence of deliberate distortion and misrepresentation of the positions of Jill Stein and Ajamu Baraka.  For example, the baseless allegation that Stein does not support vaccinations continues to rear its ugly head even after myriad statements by Stein of her endorsement as physician of vaccinations.  Ajamu Baraka’s perspectives on Barak Obama have been taken out of context and used to diminish his important voice as a human rights activist within and outside the African American community.

Another major problem confronting third parties like the Greens is that the electoral system is rigged to favor the duopoly.  Only in certain cities can one find ranked-choice voting or Instant Runoff Voting.  It is on the ballot in Maine for the November election and looks like it might pass, becoming in the process a template for electoral reform around the country.  Beyond this change in voting, there are so many other reforms needed that are not on the duopoly’s agenda that working for an alternative voice and movement like the Green Party is essential if there is ever going to be substantive change in the political life of this country.

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Fran Shor is a Michigan-based retired teacher, author, and political activist.  

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