The North Carolina ballot in November will include Green Party candidates for U.S. Senate and NC Senate. If you dread the thought of Republicans taking either of those seats, I encourage you to forgo casting your ballots for these Green candidates.
Given that statement, you may be surprised to know that I’ve felt an affinity for green parties since their early ’80s origin in Germany. As a former organic farmer, I’m pro-environment. As someone who’s always made a living with my hands, I’m pro-worker and pro-union. As someone whose first political role at 18 was helping a candidate against the original Dixiecrat, Strom Thurmond, I’ve always supported marginalized people.
But when Green Party candidate Ralph Nader pulled almost 3 percent of the vote in 2000 and tipped the scales in favor of Republican George W. Bush, none of those causes were helped.
And in 2016, if voters in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan had voted for Hillary Clinton instead of the Green Party’s Jill Stein, Trump would not have become president.
How can the elections of Bush or Trump (and the Supreme Court judges they’ve appointed) be seen as a worthwhile trade-off for an opportunity to “make a statement” by voting Green at the state and national levels?
On two occasions activists have tried to start a Green Party chapter in my home- town of Durham. Each time I encouraged them to put their worthwhile efforts into running candidates in nonpartisan races like city council, school board, and even conservation district.
“How can the elections of Bush or Trump be seen as a worthwhile tradeoff for an opportunity to ‘make a statement?’”
In those local races, any citizen can get on the ballot. A local Green Party can build its base and its reputation from the ground up. Can build a bench of skilled candidates and campaign workers over time. All without spending vast resources on getting ballot access for state and national races. Races that can cause U.S. Senate candidate Cheri Beasley to lose a close election, for example.
The response to my advice to these local Greens was always the same: “It’s only at the state and national levels that we can make real change.”
Yes, on some issues, that’s true. But how good is your argument when the “real change” that your efforts bring is to help Republicans win elections?
Frank Hyman is a Durham resident and authored the first living wage ordinance in North Carolina. Find his essays at bluecollarcomeback.com.
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