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Green Party meets struggle to capture national attention

Fighting for a chance in the national spotlight, the Green Party campaign of presidential candidate Jill Stein suffers from a lack of publicity in mainstream media and exclusion in political debates, party members said.

The Green Party is still working to build the party at the national level, said John Andrews, senior advisor to Jill Stein.

“The Green Party [in America] is still small compared to Europe,” Andrews said. “There are many barriers erected to the campaigns of third parties.”

Stein and her vice presidential candidate Cheri Honkala will appear on at least 85 percent of November presidential ballots, according to Stein’s website. Thirty-eight states and districts will have the Green Party on the ballot and nine states will have a write-in for other candidates.

Cheri Honkala, Green Party vice presidential candidate, said third-party campaigns do not receive enough publicity.

“We don’t have freedom of press,” she said. “Only a small number of corporations control the media. Other viable candidates are blocked out.”

Andrews said The Boston Globe has not printed Jill Stein’s name since July and deliberately edited her out to discuss the positions of Republican candidate Mitt Romney and Democratic candidate President Barack Obama.

“This is not democracy,” he said. “This is not journalism. When they don’t put her in the news, it’s not fair.”

But the third-party presidential candidates squared off in their first major televised debate on Tuesday night in Chicago, featuring Stein, Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party, Virgil Goode of the Constitution Party and Rocky Anderson of the Justice Party.

David Shawn, a Boston University writing program professor who teaches a class titled The Campaign — Running for the Presidency, said a focus on the two main parties hurts third party campaigns’ chances.

“The Green Party will have almost no influence in the upcoming election,” Shawn said. “They get very little publicity … Many college students might agree with Stein, but because they don’t hear about her a lot, she won’t receive many of their votes.”

In 2000, Green Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader won 2,882,955 votes, comprising 2.74 percent of the electorate, according to Federal Election Commission statistics.

In 2008, Green Party presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney won 161,603 votes, comprising only 0.12 percent of the electorate.

In her second run for governor of Massachusetts, Stein won 32,895 votes —1.4 percent of the electorate, according to state statistics.

Andrews said one of the main publicity struggles the Green Party has is with presidential debates.

“The Commission on Presidential Debates favors Democrats and Republicans,” Andrews said. “It is a staged show, and the press goes along with it.”

The Commission on Presidential Debates is a nonprofit, nonpartisan corporation that has sponsored presidential debates since 1988, according to its website.

Since 1988, only the 1992 debate cycle has included a third-party candidate, when independent presidential candidate Ross Perot debated at all three debates, according to the CPD website.

“It is [debates are] a theatrical show,” Honkala said. “It reminds me of a scene from The Hunger Games with all the bickering between the two.”

Stein and Honkala were arrested on Oct. 16 outside the presidential debate at Hofstra University.

The candidates were standing outside protesting not being able to participate in the debate, and were charged with obstructing traffic, according to a Green Party press release.

Massachusetts Republican Party communications Director Tim Buckley said third parties are not perceived to have chances at success.

“Third parties are generally seen as a distraction with very little chance of being successful,” he said.

Andrews also said new technologies and social media will allow the Green Party to become more popular and well known.

“More and more people are getting news online and not from highly controlled media,” he said. “The use of the Internet for political communication is tremendous to make the Green Party viable.”

Despite exclusion from the 2012 presidential debates, some Green Party members said they know they are making a difference.

“People hear us, but are afraid to vote for what they want,” said Massachusetts Green-Rainbow Party Statewide Secretary Merelice. “We have a harder time influencing the vote.”

Merelice said she is confident the Green Party will win a national election at some point.

“The day will come when we will win,” Merelice said. “We cannot be governed by a fear of failure.”

Boston University political science professor John Gerring said in some elections, third parties have played an important role.

“I have heard speculation about the Libertarian Party taking some votes, but not the Green Party,” he said. “In an extremely close election, anything is possible. If one third party gets enough votes, it can skew the whole election.”


  1. Libertarian candidate, Gary Johnson was amazing last night and is on 48 state’s ballots. Governor Johnson would repeal the Patriot Act, end US interventions, stop the drones, replace green cards with work visas, and reform our tax system. He has a plan that will balance our budget in 2013 and actually included the details. When Johnson finished his second term as governor of New Mexico the budget was balanced, there was a surplus and jobs were up. He was affectionately called “Governor Veto” due to his vetoing 750 bills and using his line-item veto over 1,000 times. You can find out about Gary Johnson on Wikipedia and watch last night’s debate on YouTube. The next third party debate will be on Tuesday, Oct. 30th.

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