JUST A WORD, BEFORE IT HITS THE FAN…


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:

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(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.

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(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.

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(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:
http://progressgreen.wordpress.com/2012/01/31/four-candidates-seeking-2012-green-party-presidential-nomination/
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.

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(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:
http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2011/10/03/roseanne-barr-behead-bankers-who-dont-give-up-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..

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(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.

…and drop away when they find out about picky little things like expecting party members to do and decide some things for themselves, not to mention an already-existing platform.

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.

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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:

(1)  get a little media attention to some ……..issues

(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

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(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.

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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..
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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.

So comment, already.

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18 Responses to JUST A WORD, BEFORE IT HITS THE FAN…

  1. I love this line: “Is everyone tired yet of watching the Republicans campaign for Obama?”

    Rosanne Barr has been unsuccessful at everything she’s tried, so I wouldn’t be too worried about her. Like most things she does, this smacks of a stunt. You make some great points about celebs and running for office.

    Hope more people read this… 🙂

  2. Susan Sayre says:

    Maybe Roseanne could even put enough pressure on the media and the other “powers that be” to invite all presidential candidates, including the presidential candidates for the Green Party and other 3rd parities,to participate in the presidential debates. Is it possible that Roseanne could be encouraged by the Green Party to strongly publicize the right of all voters to have all inclusive debates so that they can make an educated vote for the presidential candidate of their choice?

  3. Nancy Nolan says:

    I changed my party to Green a few weeks ago, should have done it years ago.

  4. Nancy Allen says:

    Great article ! It says a lot of what I, and I imagine other Greens, are feeling.
    I loved when Jill Stein tweeted Roseanne and told her she was glad she was in the Green race and that they should “roll out the truth like thunder”

  5. kitchenmudge says:

    Is there another Nancy out there who can comment? If I get three in a row, what happens?

  6. I feel like you should know that had you only posted the Office Space photo, that alone would have been enough for me to Like this post…

  7. Ric says:

    Were it ever to be serious, Roseanne’s candidacy would go down in flames on the first showing of her Star Spangled Banner gig. But only if anybody were paying attention to her candidacy. Do Colbert and Stewart know about this yet?

    • kitchenmudge says:

      I haven’t watched them for a couple of weeks, but I’m sure they know. It’s been circulated quite a bit lately. Some things might be too easy even for Stewart and Colbert. The candidates have had their singing broadcast before, and it was a one-day thing.


  8. Roseanne is one smart lady. She knows how to make money, and was smart enough to get out of the limelight when she needed to. However, I hate that celebs are able to just walk right in and surpass others in the process that have paid their dues, but the same happens in business and everywhere. Thank you for your serious commentary on issues of our country. I am learning a lot.

  9. I’m Australian and as such, not ‘hip’ to the ins and outs of nomination or election in the US – my understanding is limited to the tid-bits fed to us through msm – which is surprisingly a lot, but not all that educational.

    I rate Roseanne, not just because she’s famous but because she has a set of values and stands up for them… I understand she had some involvement in Occupy Wall Street. Considering that Donald Trump had his own finger in the political-pie recently, I think that RB’s ‘celebrity’ is a nice equalizing factor to his ‘Wall Street’ objectives.

    But – there is a ‘cringe’ factor involved with celebrities in politics. (In Australia, we have our own Peter Garret of 80’s band Midnight Oil) It might start out like a novel idea to the gen pub but in the end, these celebrities who become politicians detract from the credibility of the causes they want to support. If they truly want to effect change, they should aspire to be more like Bono – not Arnold.

    My belief is that the President or Prime Minister or King or Queen of a country, is not just the LEADER of that country – but the REPRESENTATIVE of that country worldwide. Let’s face it, Bush, whether you liked him or not, was a gobal embarrassment to the states, as some currently consider Gillard to be embarrassing for Australia.

    I can tell you that Australians (and many other countries around the world) stood up, took notice and APPLAUDED the US for electing Obama – and are still rooting for him from the side-lines.

    As far as celebrities go, their influence in effective change is more powerful if they keep their fingers out of the election pie.

    • kitchenmudge says:

      Thanks for your observations. Good to have a foreign perspective on this.

      There are some indications that Roseanne considers Stein the presumptive nominee because she’s too late to get into many primaries or caucuses, and plans to just be a spokes for the Party. I’m sure we’d all welcome that unless she gets too risky with the jokes & such.

      One thing you need to know about the U.S. electoral system is just how hard it is to get the Green Party, or any “third” party started. Most elections are “plurality takes all”, i.e., if there are three candidates, one can win with only 40% of the vote, even if the 40% goes to a “conservative” and the two “liberals” each get 30%. This keeps most people from voting for “third” parties, and has preserved the two wings of the monoparty for 150 years.

      Sad, I know, but people from other countries with more sensible systems often aren’t aware of it.

  10. ggpmusings says:

    Wow, I really hope your voice gets more attention in Green Party circles. Brilliant.

  11. “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.”
    I gotta go right now, but I’ll be back because I can really relate to this line.

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