How Nader Killed The Green Party
by Chris Bowers, Sat Apr 23, 2005 at 03:21:17 PM EDT
Despite early optimistic assessments, the Green Party seems unlikely to have the sort of impact in the United States as it has in Western Europe. Fundamentally, like other minor parties, the Green Party will unlikely be able to overcome the traditional institutional and social-cultural constraints on third party success in the United States. However, the 2004 elections suggest that the Green Party is also suffering from the failure of a short-term strategy in supporting the celebrity candidacy of Ralph Nader in the 2000 presidential election rather than investing in long-term party-building to encourage local candidates to run office. Certainly, making a party that was supposed to be about broad grassroots development focused upon a single candidate was a big risk for the Greens in 2000. At the time, the Greens had very little development and infrastructure, either locally or on a national level, and they sought Nader as a means to quickly vault them into "major third party" status, or something.
Obviously, that risk that did not pay off, as Nader failed to achieve the national 5% barrier. Also, the first major splash the Greens made to most lefties in America was as the party that helped Gore lose in 2000. Whether or not that view was justified, that was the impression they gave to most of their "potential" members.
Further, the resurgent Demcoratic grassroots haven't helped the Greens much, either. Nader voters from 1996 and 2000 are vastly over-represented in the Democratic blogopshere. It now seems even less likely than ever that a major left-wing party could arise in this country.