Green Party Debate 2008 and the Nader Factor

Five candidates seeking the Green Party nomination for President debated in San Francisco yesterday in front of a packed theater of 800 in attendance. Cindy Sheehan was among the moderators posing questions to Cynthia McKinney, Jared Ball, Kent Mesplay, Kat Swift and Jesse Johnson.

Ralph Nader had apparently informed the debate organizers that for “legal reasons” he could not appear on the debate stage with the other candidates as he is not a declared candidate. One can only speculate that the legal reasons involve Nader’s many court battles across the nation on ballot access issues. Nader took to the podium following the debate and addressed the crowd and took questions. No, he didn’t announce his candidacy.

Reports from attendees at the debate suggest that there was a great deal of agreement on many of the issues discussed from the war to the farm bill, and Professor Jared Ball went so far as to suggest that he supported Cynthia McKinney and would continue to campaign for President for McKinney. For many this was a first look at some of the lesser known candidates such as Jesse Johnson, a filmmaker from West Virginia, Kent Mesplay, an environmental engineer from southern California, and Kat Swift, a 34 year old Green Party activist from San Antonio Texas.

Greens nationwide (myself included) are eagerly awaiting youtube videos to be posted anywhere online and a few have started to trickle out. Below is a picture taken by former Oshkosh resident S.S. who now lives in S.F. and attended the debate:

A question on the mind of many is the Nader Factor - will he run? And if he does run, will he seek the Green Party’s nomination as he did in 2000 or seek an Independent bid for the Presidency as he did in 2004? The tension surrounding Nader is having a significant impact on the Green Party internally as individuals and factions have swapped accusations of “fixing” the nomination either for or against Nader, calls for the resignations of various Green Party leaders, and an inability to pass a delegate apportionment formula that can satisfy 2/3 of the National Committee. (The latest proposal would give California 168 of 836 total delegates, just over 20% of the delegates, which for some isn’t enough. In almost every proposal Wisconsin would receive 24 delegates, just shy of 3%).

Most Greens desperately want party unity in 2008 and an end to the bickering and in-fighting that has plagued the party since 2004. If Nader declares his intention to seek the Green Party nomination for President, or if he declares definitively that he is not running for President, there will a collective sigh as the Greens will proceed with state delegate selection and the nomination process. If, however, Nader declares that he is again seeking an Independent campaign for President, and not the Green Party’s nomination, the Green Party will be faced with a significant internal battle between two camps that could likely split the party.

Disclaimer: These comments are my own opinions and not official Green Party positions.

Cross posted at the Babblemur & Akaoni Power Hour

UPDATE: Green Party Debate Opening Statements Video on YouTube (courtesy of Mike Feinstein)

23 Responses to “Green Party Debate 2008 and the Nader Factor”

  1. Susan Hogarth Says:

    If Nader declares his intention to seek the Green Party nomination for President, or if he declares definitively that he is not running for President, there will a collective sigh as the Greens will proceed with state delegate selection and the nomination process.

    Libertarians feel your pain!

  2. Ronald Kane Hardy Says:

    “Libertarians feel your pain!”

    Funny! [cough ronpaul cough]

  3. Preston Says:

    Great post.
    I love Nader. I really do. But he has too much baggage in Independent Voter’s minds. Though I’d vote for him if he ran, I would prefer it if he just campaigned for some other fresh face.

  4. Harvey Says:

    PLEASE nominate Nader! The Republicans will love you for it! Those Nader voting numbskulls in Florida alone gave us 8 fucking years of George Bush! Same with voting for the leftist lunatic Cindy Sheehan. If that doesn’t give Nancy Pelosi’s seat (and the Congressional majority) back to the Republicans nothing will. Then we can rant and rave for another 4 or 8 years which is really what we want because we are major league malcontents. Peace brother…oops…brothers and sisters!

  5. Robert Milnes Says:

    I have to agree with Harvey. Nader &/or Paul are little more than spoilers giving the election to the warmongering gop. Greens endorse the LP ticket has a chance of victory by not splitting the green & lib vote & getting ALL the anti-war vote.

  6. paulie Says:


    What have Nancy Pelosi and Hillary Clinton done to end the war?

    Maybe if Al Gore won Tennessee, or stood up to allow the House to investigate the Florida results, he would have been president and you wouldn’t have had to blame Nader for the Democrats’ shortcomings.

  7. Ronald Kane Hardy Says:

    You can blame Nader for 600 votes or you can blame those that conspired to prevent 90,000 african americans from voting Democrat in Florida in 2000. Whatever is easier for you.

    But come to think of it, this is what Cynthia McKinney said on the radio when asked about this same issue of being a spoiler:

    “…I do want to respond to the allegation that the Green Party and Ralph Nader’s actual participation in the democratic process somehow are responsible for George W. Bush being in the White House. Let me just say quickly that I join the caller in her anger, but I’m angry that Blacks were disenfranchised, I’m angry that Republicans conspired to deny Blacks the right to vote as we now know, and I’m also angry that the Democrats didn’t fight for the victory that the voters gave to them. I would certainly never blame anyone for participating in the political process. That’s ostensibly why we are in Iraq today; to provide for participation of Iraqis in their own political process. Of course, we know that’s not the real reason, but that’s what we’ve been told…we have to make sure that we also have integrity in our own democratic process.”

    Cynthia McKinney, on the Joy Cardin Show, 12-11-07

  8. paulie Says:


  9. Robert Milnes Says:

    Paulie, did you fail arithmetic? Nader was spoiler. Paul will be spoiler. Pelosi doesn’t have enough votes to be effective against the warmongering republicans. Add the lib & green vote instead of subtracting.

  10. Sean Scallon Says:

    Nader is becoming the Harold Stassen of the Green Party.

  11. paulie Says:

    Paulie, did you fail arithmetic?

    No, but you failed the DSM-IV

    Pelosi doesn’t have enough votes to be effective against the warmongering republicans.

    The Democrats have a majority. All spending originates in the House. Pelosi is speaker. If they want to end funding for the war, they can. They haven’t.

    They could also investigate torture and other adminstration abuses of power. Pelosi knew about torture before it became public. She and the Democratic majority in the House have done nothing.

    They have the power to initiate impeachment. Pelosi took it off the table.

    Hillary Clinton voted for the war, for the patriot act, for more war funding, and has talked about going to war with Iran and refused to rule out a nuclear first strike.

    There’s nothing to spoil.

    Add the lib & green vote instead of subtracting.

    And you would have less votes than the Democrats or Republicans. You can do this for any of the elections since the Greens have been running Presidential candidates. By your definition (not mine) that would be a spoiler.

    Besides, the Greens and Libertarians disagree on many important issues, and if they wanted to compromise away their principles they would not be in alternative parties.

    Now, I happen to see a way that Green and Libertarian ideas could be compatible, laid out by Roderick Long here:

    This view is not shared by most Greens or most Libertarians.

  12. Deran Says:

    Harvey and Milne are hacks.

    The Democrats nominate crappy candidates, those crappy candidates lose, period. Look at ‘04.

    2000: The Democrats spew hate at mr. nader, but Mr. Nader only cast one vote. It was people wanting something better that vote him that the Democrats hate. They don’t want anyone to want anything better, they just want you to be grateful for whatever they give Leftists. And the truly outrageous thing abt the whiny Democrats is that in fact Pat Buchanan’s ‘00 scam candaicy drew only a 100k or so votes, but in three states, the few people that voted for Buchanan cost Bush a win in that state.

    Anyone who suggests wanting something better defacto leads to something worse, is a hack or a flack.

  13. stephen conn Says:

    In 2004, the Democrats worked hard to keep Nader-the sole anti-war candidate off of the ballotby tying up his campaign with law suits to deny anti-war voters a chance to take a stand. That was a violation of your civil rights as well as his. The Greens could do no better than Ralph Nader.

  14. Steven R Linnabary Says:

    Blaming free elections for Gore’s loss in 2000 is absurd.

    If the KKKlinton regime hadn’t sent jack-booted thugs to capture an illegal immigrant (Elian Gonzalez), the Cuban immigrant community might well have made up those 600 votes.

    Heck, if the democrats had nominated a credible candidate, rather than one to claim to have invented the internet, the algorythem, and global warming, the election could well have been very different.

    Let’s put the blame for Gore’s loss where it belongs, not on free elections.


  15. paulie Says:

    The Greens could do no better than Ralph Nader.

    McKinney seems like a good choice this year.

  16. Ronald Kane Hardy Says:

    Ralph Nader’s work nationally right now in the judicial system fighting for ballot access for third parties and independents is HUGE for every Third Party. Democratic Party lawsuits against Nader just give him more opportunities to shine the light on the two party stranglehold on American Elections.

    Nader is a relentless fighter on the legal front. Don’t forget that before his presidential campaigns this man was a tireless legal fighter for consumer protection, occupational safety, clean water acts, clean air, and so many other battles that he fought and won for the American people. The legal system and the federal government bureaucracy were the two areas that Nader excelled at fighting in.

    So all third party folks should be very grateful for the work that Nader is doing now not for himself but for ballot access, fair and equal election laws, and to break the two party hold on American politics.

    That said, I am very happy that Cynthia McKinney is running as a Green for President, and if she gets the nomination she will be an experienced and charismatic champion for the poor and underprivileged, staunchly opposed to the war, and would bring to the campaign a congressional record that she can be proud of.

  17. Stephen Gordon Says:

    This exchange was funny as hell:

    Paulie, did you fail arithmetic?

    No, but you failed the DSM-IV

  18. Stephen Gordon Says:

    I’m grateful for a lot of work Nader has done with respect to ballot access and debates. I’ve met him several times before and personally like him, too. Matter of fact, the last time I saw him was in a supportive role at a press conference with Bev Harris following the 2004 elections while we were starting the Ohio recount.

    However, if I was a Green, I’d probably support McKinney. You’ve done the Nader thing before, might as well try something that’s new and promising.

  19. Jackcjackson Says:

    Nader might be a spoiler but the only thing Ron Paul can spoil is the party that he represents.

  20. Robert Milnes Says:

    Steve, I see you are still suffering from “Ron Paul Rapture syndrome”.

  21. Richard Says:

    By way of full disclosure, I must confess that I am a proud Conservative (in every sense of the word; and yes that includes natural conservation).
    Having said that, permit me to first make a flattering observation: Contributors to Third Party Watch are refreshingly careful about their grammar and punctuation! I survey a plenitude of news sites and blogs with bias toward both R’s and D’s (and G’s), but never before have I been so thoroughly impressed by the mean linguistic intelligence as here. Maybe you Greenies are smarter than the rest of us …

    But the real reason I came is to ask if anyone knows where I may acquire a full transcript of the recent GP debate. One of the men on the stand offered an incredibly foolish assessment of the current immigration issue. Since I heard it on NPR, I’m lacking a hard copy. If anyone knows where I can find it, please email me: [email protected]

  22. Arif Says:

    I am constantly amazed at the cognitive dissonance that people suffer when it comes to this topic. It is incomprehensible to think that Mr. Nader is somehow to blame for the election of George Bush. The blame rests solely on the “citizens”.

    Do we really have such a short memory? The last time I checked, it is Ralph Nader who has spent his life serving this country and trying to get people to realize that they have a responsibility to participate in this democracy not the democratic or the republican candidates running for office. No, they just want you to be lazy and dull thinkers and vote for them based on their rhetoric and not their service.

    Instead of engaging in a fruitless blame game why don’t we demand civic responsibility and get try to improve the abysmal voter participation numbers?

  23. Binod Khadka Says:

    I am attend your programee? Please send me offical invation letter?

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