The Jill Stein Presidential Campaign Was Both a Dismal Failure and a Remarkable Win
After encouraging everyone to not be afraid of voting their green conscience in the past election, I really should've been on this sooner, but you know, a giant hurricane drove me from my home for two weeks...
So how did the Jill Stein campaign for president actually do? There are really two ways to view it, and both are correct from a certain point of view.
David Weigel over at Slate called it a "pathetic failure" and called her Green New Deal program "idiotic"—though I'm not sure if that's because of its contents or its branding. The latter probably could've been finessed a bit, the former was entirely solid.
However, the spin being placed on the voting results by Hot Indie News actually has more insight, seen in the light of the Stein campaign never actually thought it could win, and it will be a long uphill battle to make the Green Party nationally relevant, or even locally relevant.
Stein may have gotten just under 400,000 votes (0.3% of all votes), with her name on 85% of ballots, but that figure is actually over double those received by the Green Party presidential candidates in 2008, and over three times those received in the 2004 elections.
It's obviously still millions and millions of votes away from what's needed, but I don't think it's mere enthusiasm to see the increase in votes over the past eight years as a wholly positive thing.
I have to admit, while I wholeheartedly believe that the US desperately needs most robust outsider parties, on all sides of the political spectrum, I have no concrete plan for how the Green Party, or any other party sharing similar values, can improve its appeal to voters.
What I do know, however, is that Colin Beavan, who ran for Congress in Brooklyn on the Green Party ticket (losing to Democrat Hakeem Jeffries, who got something like 90% of the vote), is on to something.
When I interviewed him before the election he said:
The Green Party itself has to make itself more relevant... I spoke at the Green Party national convention this summer. No one there was paid to be there. There were no lobbyists having fancy dinners. There was a bunch of people who really care about politics, our country, and the constituencies where they are activists, people who paid their own travel, paid their own hotel rooms—amazing people. But because of the level of sacrifice they put in personally they cling pretty strongly to their activist rhetoric.
There was a point at which a Green Party activist got up at the Green Party convention and his speech pretty much comprised of getting the whole room to chant "No more war! No more war! No more war!" I agree we don't want anymore war, but the problem is that that kind of rhetoric and that kind of presentation is frightening to the American public. It's a fact of life.
The Green Party ultimately has to decide if wants to be a party that just appeals to the activists, or if wants to make itself relevant in the national scene, in which case it has to find a path where it remains true to its values but finds a way to communicate them—because the values, I think most Americans agree with the values of the Green Party—that doesn't frighten Americans.