Hardly anyone seems to have read my last post, but that’s ok. I’ve learned to expect that when I try to treat a serious matter and refer people to source material.
(WordPress stats don’t tell me WHO clicked on something, only HOW MANY clicks there were on something. From that, I can draw some conclusions.)
This will be another one like that: Just some things that I need to make sure you all have a CHANCE to understand, if you care to read. There’s nothing I can do for people who won’t read.
Is everyone tired yet of watching the Republicans campaign for Obama? Thought so. Time to think of more serious candidates. Many of my readers are Greens, and unless you’ve been occupied with other things, like, oh, your actual life, for the last week or two, you’ve heard that Roseanne Barr has decided to run for the Green nomination for President. Like most things that happen to us, this
presents a mixture of opportunities and dangers:
(1) Any kind of celebrity mentioning the GP in the media serves to inform a whole lot of people that we exist who didn’t know it before.
People definitely need this. You wouldn’t believe how many times we’ve been asked: “Greepeace?” by people who have “Green Party” spelled out right in front of them on a big banner, because the latter phrase is unrecognizable. Imagine going to a place where your name “John Smith” is so impossible for the natives to get their heads and mouths around that they decide to call you “Hotchkiss”. That’s the level of non-communication that Greens usually have to start from in explaining themselves to noobs.
The effect of any kind of celebrity mentioning us could have a similar effect to that of the Nader campaigns in 1996 and 2000, with some notable differences, mentioned below.
(2) A showbiz person in particular, known far more for telling jokes than for her politics, is more easily treated as a joke by the msm. (Notice that we don’t even bother to capitalize that abbreviation of “Mainstream Media” any more. I will follow this practice throughout.)
On the other hand, the msm have a well-established custom of treating “third” party and independent candidates as a joke in any case. If one ever shows potential for drawing more than 2% of the vote, the conversation then becomes all about “spoiler” potential. I hope we’re all used to this by now.
(3) Name-recognition alone could easily overwhelm more “serious” candidates for the nomination in the primaries.
This is a BIG thing. I’m not kidding. In 2008, Ralph Nader was at no time a candidate for the Green presidential nomination, but somehow people claiming to represent him got him placed on the primary ballot in California with a vague promise that he would declare his candidacy later. It never happened, yet name-recognition overwhelmed all other candidates in the voting result, despite all GP activists knowing that he was not a candidate. 60% of the voters in the primary ended up not being represented in the convention because they were lied to on the ballot. This demonstrates the wide disconnect between people who have any communication with the Green Party and the bulk of those who vote in the primaries, and the power of name-recognition.
We’ve had several other candidates for the nomination for some months now. See:
The other three have been conducting themselves like pretty serious candidates, whether anyone noticed them or not. I think Jill Stein has received the most attention, and was treated by some as the presumptive nominee until Roseanne came in. Whether Roseanne would be a better candidate for the overall result we seek is something to speculate on. But you see the problem here, in having to choose between a big name with little previous acquaintance with the Party and people who have done their homework and paid their dues.
(4) Celebrities have generally had a lot of work to do just being celebrities, and haven’t paid much attention to the GP platforms and culture over the years, not to mention internal procedures. They are more likely than most to misrepresent the Party and make all kinds of confusion as the Party’s processes scramble to accommodate them.
Example 1, about procedures:
As I understand it, Ms. Barr approached the GPCA ONE WEEK before their December General Assembly, expressing interest in being placed on the primary ballot in California. She seemed unaware at the time that being registered as a FRAKKING DEMOCRAT might be an impediment to this process, or that it was even possible to register Green, or
that we already had several candidates for the nomination. Faced with this news, she temporarily stepped back from seeking the Green nomination at that time. (Though she immediately re-registered Green)
Now that she’s changed her mind, at this point in the election calendar, I simply don’t know whether it’s possible to get her on the primary ballot in very many states. Each state has different laws and procedures about this. A presidential candidate needs to start researching this stuff YEARS in advance.
Example 2, about misrepresenting:
A while back, Roseanne called for decapitation of the rich who refuse to turn over their excess wealth:
Ok, yeah, she’s used to telling jokes, and most people will understand it that way. The trouble is, most Greens would never say this even as a joke. (I’m an exception.) Non-violence is one of the Four Pillars, and we consistently oppose the death penalty.
Then there’s the fact that SOME people will not take it as a joke, and might even make some hay out of it. It’s going into some territory that Greens don’t deal with very well: the shouting match nature of most of what passes for “discussion” in the msm..
(5) Noobs coming into the party due to the influence of that celebrity are likely to think the celebrity is the founder of the party.
We got this a lot after the Nader 2000 campaign. People came into the Party expecting it to be all about Nader and didn’t adapt very well to the fact that there was a party, governed by election laws, and its own bylaws, with a focus on local elections that could actually be won, and local politics to deal with.
So, considering these opportunities and dangers I’ve listed, I’d like to just remind people of a couple of things:
I. Much as we all should try to help with the campaign, DON’T EVER take the presidential nomination too seriously.
There is no chance, none, of getting a Green elected President in 2012, ok? The candidates will often say “I’m running to win!” because that’s part of the game. That “I’m going to win!” stuff is just an obligatory thing that no one with half a clue takes seriously.
Winning is not the point of the campaign. Nor is “spoiling”. It won’t happen anyway, so don’t even think about it. If someone brings up Nader and Florida, just laugh. People who live in swing states and think the Dem is better than the Rep will vote for the Dem. They always have, as they did in 2000. They didn’t need Molly Ivins to tell them to.
The purpose of a Green presidential campaign is to:
(2) provide voters who hate both “major” ……..parties with a way to register their ……..discontent when they would otherwise ……..not vote at all
(3) recruit people into the Party
(4) get enough votes for the Party to establish future ballot access in some states where ……..that’s a requirement
(5) (very remote chance) get 5% of the vote nationwide and qualify the GPUS for federal ……..funding for the next presidential election
That’s it. Those are the objectives. Focus on them.
Now, to the point of explaining all this:
Greens, and their associates, have a bit of history of not exactly considering any decision final. Always some kind of problem with the process, always a focus on the warts in a candidate, or the way something is done.
II. Far more important than who gets the nomination is how we all, including the losing candidates, conduct ourselves after the nomination is made.
Roseanne Barr could be a great asset to the GP whether she’s a candidate for President, a candidate for VP, or just a spokesperson for the campaign. The same is true of all those who compete with her for the nomination. If you’re not a nominee, you’re a spokes for the nominee. Got it?
This is what neither Nader nor Rocky Anderson seems to understand: that a lasting institution needs to be built. It will take time, starting small, and a lot more than one figurehead..
What we don’t need is to have anything other than friendly talk among us. Save the disagreements for private conversation. Note that very little is private in either politics or showbiz.