The Green Party of the United States is a union of smaller member states, each sovereign to some degree. It tries to coordinate the actions of separate entities with individualized ideologies and motivations. This could be a description of FYEG, the European Green Party or the American Greens.
Even though there is an ocean between them, the American and European Greens are similar in the challenges they face, such as carving out a position in the established political system. In America, the two-party dominance is a formidable opponent, which many voters believe to be an impenetrable barrier; however, cracks are showing. More people are starting to realize there is a third option, and from that, the Green Party has started to grow. Attention to the American Green Party flourished during Ralph Nader’s 2000 Presidential Election Campaign to accumulate 5% of the popular vote, a mark that would secure Federal funding for the Party. Even though he fell short of this goal at 3.51% of the popular vote, the result was a stronger Green Party, as it became recognized as a major third Party.
This paves the way for more election advances and a large niche in the media arena. With more people interested in the Greens, the media will give better coverage of their activities, and as the media gives more coverage, the people will become more interested in the Greens. It has only been the misleading charges by the Democrats that give the Greens bad publicity. They claim it was the Nader campaign that gave George W. Bush the White House. Exit polls showed this to be untrue as many of the people that voted for Nader wouldn’t have voted at all if it wasn’t for his campaign. Also to the Greens’ advantage following the Ralph Nader Campaign of 2000 was that the Greens of America were no longer viewed as holding such an extremist position. By European standards, the American centrists are right-wing fanatics, making it difficult for the left to gain support. Perhaps the events of the last four years and the skyrocketing oil prices will make voters question what is being done, and search for a better choice in the coming elections. There are currently no Greens in Congress but they are starting from the local elections up. Most of our hope lay with California, the Germany of the US Greens. It is the power basis for the Party and where many Greens place their hopes for the first Congressional Representative to be elected. They have the most representatives at the local and state level and will hopefully secure a congressional seat in the near future. Perhaps in the future there will even be a Green president.
The Green presidential candidate for the 2004 election is David Cobb. He is a former resident of Texas, relocated to California. He was a successful practicing lawyer until Nader asked him to manage the Texas Greens. There he raised the number of Chapters from 4 to an astonishing 28. His goal for this campaign is to strengthen the State Parties because the key to national growth is really a series of steps starting with local support. The most widespread of the local groups are the Campus Greens.
The Green Party of the United States has a large constituency with young voters, which give me hope for the future; however, voter participation for the young is extremely low at 36.1% of eligible voters from age 18 to 24 in the 2000 election. The trend is for voter participation to increase with age, up to 72.7% for the age range of 65 to 74 years of age according to the Current Population Survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau. As a result, politicians tend to not follow the demands of young voters. That is why one of the important rôles of the Campus Greens is to motivate action, much like FYEG in Europe. They organize nationwide protests and generally facilitate cooperation among the member organizations. There are other similarities between the European and American Greens.
Their platforms are different in form but similar in ideology. The American Greens present their manifesto in a Ten Key Values format, which can be viewed at their website, but the basis for their action is Grassroots Democracy with an eye to the environment. There is also a strong push for gender equality and improvements in educational funding because education is the starting block for everything else.
There are of course differences between the European and American Greens. For example, the Europeans are perceived by Americans as being more powerful and better established in the political scene. While being here, I have learned the European Greens too have a long way to go, but their foot is in the door and looks to come in even further. The future of the European organization is obviously based on the June elections, but is also closely linked to the global stage and what actions Washington takes. From this point, it is important to have close ties between the European and American Greens as well as mutual understanding. I encourage all of you to learn about or visit the American Greens, which I assure you will result in learning more about the European Greens.