In the 2000 Presidential election, Ralph Nader received almost 3 million votes. In 2004 he pulled in about 500,000 votes and over 700,000 in 2008, his last run for that office. In 2000 and 2004 Ralph was a Green Party candidate. He was an independent in 2008, getting more than 600,000 more votes than that election’s Green candidate. In 2012, the Green candidate got about 500,000 votes. I figure if Ralph was running as an independent in that election the Green candidate might have wound up with maybe 100,000. I voted for Nader every time he ran for President. Sure, it was a protest vote, regardless of his party affiliation. Voting Green is pretty much always a protest vote. But with fewer such “protests” being registered as time goes by.

Apparently, the Green Party needs to clone Ralph, and have his clone be 30 years younger than the original, who is now in his early 80s. That or find someone of his ilk to get some political mojo flowing again. His 2000 totals are still impressive, given he had the mainstream press either ignore or attack his candidacy. When Nader’s candidacy started getting some real buzz, though buried in back of most newspapers or mentioned in passing by TV news, the insular corporate media actually had to focus their attacks on Ralph with laser precision. After all, when he spoke in auditoriums, the place tended to be full. Fear factor! Hell, there’s a documentary about Ralph entitled An Unreasonable Man, circa 2006 (the title was, of course, intentionally ironic).

That was then.

Some people still blame Ralph for Al Gore not becoming President, but those folks are just plain idiots. George Bush fell a half-million votes short of Gore’s total, and what critical thinking person doesn’t understand by now that 2000 was a stolen election by way of that “hanging chad” nonsense in Florida and the U.S. Supreme Court literally inserting Bush as President. Al couldn’t carry either his home state of Tennessee or Bill Clinton’s state of Arkansas, either of which would have given Al enough electoral votes to make Florida irrelevant.

Speaking of irrelevant, let’s get back to that Green Party. I admire and applaud their efforts, but finding Green candidates on ballots is more and more of a challenge (where I vote, the 2014 mid-term ballot didn’t include a single Green for even the most microscopic area office). The Greens have been pushed aside by redistricting and other Power Politics, true. As though Ralph was still captain of their ship. Who steers the ship now? Whatever means by which the Greens are funded, the System seemingly has reduced their profile quite a bit from Nader’s virtual 3 million votes 15 years ago. Green candidates for ultra local offices up to President, having once been a noticeable political alternative, now barely register a blip on any but a Green Party member’s radar.

Sad but true. Seriously, Nader was the Green Party. But now, it’s Nader Radio and not much else. He certainly still supports Greens, but he’s still shut out of any political discourse that the public-at-large might hear. You, know: if a tree falls in the forest and there’s no one to hear it…?

Now, unlike 2000, social media and all things Internet give everyone a voice (like mine, even!). But there’s so much babble bouncing around it’s hard to make sense of much of it. Tripe. Trash. Empty calories  by the cyber ton. Amidst this digital deluge, I get emails from the local Greens, certainly worth glancing over. Recently one caught me off-guard, carping about Illinois state senator Don Harmon–a democrat–and the Sierra Club for not doing more regarding the politics of nuclear energy.

Fair enough. But for a political party that is spiraling downward election after election, referring pejoratively to Harmon and Sierra Club as “the usual suspects” stuck me as not seeing that forest for those trees. You know, the forest where no one is around to hear the sound of the thud when things get knocked down. Would the Greens prefer there be a republican in Harmon’s seat? The email inferred Harmon had been bought by the nuclear lobby. No evidence presented. Would Illinois be better off without Harmon, who has been given high ratings by some  independent watchdog groups. He’s not perfect, though. Who the hell is? And do the Greens really think Sierra Club does not work to protect the environment, promote “green” policies, wind and solar energy, among other uses of its political heft? Is Sierra too big to trust? Is that it? Again, would the environment be better off without a Sierra Club?

Perhaps the political thrashing the Greens have had to endure for so long has turned them a bit cantankerous. Remember, more sugar, less vinegar attracts…well…whatever.

Sierra Club. Wind turbines. Clean energy. Like the old-fashioned windmill.  Maybe I’ll be accused of tilting at windmills with my future protest votes. But I’ll vote Green in 2016.

If I can find one on a ballot.

About jharrin4

mass communication/speech instructor at College of DuPage and Triton College in suburban Chicago. Army veteran of the Viet Nam era.
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