Monday, January 14, 2008

Debate video

Video segments from the Green Party presidential debate are now up on YouTube. The candidates' opening statements are shown above.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Green Party presidential debate coverage

The Green Party presidential debate in San Francisco - January 13
The Green Party presidential debate was earlier today. I wasn't there, and I'm looking forward to seeing the video, which isn't available yet. Above is a photo that was posted online. The story excerpted below, from the San Fransisco Chronicle, says that Nader came late and did not participate in the debate, but addressed the crowd separately. He still has not formally entered the race, although his name will appear on the primary ballot in California.

Green Party presidential hopefuls debate in SF
About 800 people of varying age groups, economic backgrounds and political parties attended the "Presidential Debate that Matters" at the Herbst Theatre where the five Green presidential hopefuls spent more time agreeing with one another than actually debating.

"We're not so much against each other as we are for each other," said one of the candidates, Kent Mesplay, an environmental engineer who also ran for the Green Party nomination in 2004. "We have to be, because by no means is (the two-party system) a level playing field."

The nearly three-hour event was co-moderated by "Peace Mom" Cindy Sheehan and KPFA radio host Aimee Allison, who allowed the candidates timed answers to questions about the war in Iraq, illegal immigration, the farm bill and healthcare, among other subjects.

Nearly every answer was greeted with nods of agreement from the other candidates waiting their turns and by roars of applause from the audience, giving the forum a pep rally feeling.

Bay Area Green Party elected-officials including Richmond Mayor Gayle McLauglin, San Francisco Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi and San Francisco Board of Education member Mark Sanchez also took to the podium, urging the crowd to see the Green Party as the most progressive political option and not as a wasted vote.

"Please. This is serious. This is not a joke. This is about starting a real movement in this country," said candidate Cynthia McKinney to a standing ovation.

The former Democratic congresswoman from Georgia who converted to the Green Party last year was, at one point during the debate, acknowledged as the frontrunner. The party's presidential nominee will be selected in July in Chicago.

The other three candidates included Jared Ball, a hip-hop scholar and assistant professor of communications at Morgan State University in Baltimore; Kat Swift, a 34-year-old dread-locked activist from San Antonio who said she will "be just old enough to be president by the time of the next election"; and actor and filmmaker Jesse Johnson from West Virginia, who is still dealing with a technicality in his home state's law that has kept him from making his candidacy official.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Who really won in New Hampshire?

Within all the analysis of the primaries, there is one fact that is rarely mentioned. Clinton didn't win in New Hampshire--she got more votes, but the same number of delegates as Obama. See Slate's explanation of why both candidates got 9 delegates. Iowa is pretty much the same, with Obama only receiving a couple more delegates than Clinton. And Edwards is still in the race.

I don't understand how the media gets away with hyping these results as so much more meaningful than they are. For instance, many have said that if Obama had won New Hampshire, instead of Clinton, that the race would have been over. But if the percentages had flipped the they still would each have received the same number of delegates.

Meanwhile, there doesn't appear to be an active Green Party in New Hampshire.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Greens in Iowa won't be caucusing this week

With all the attention on the Iowa Caucuses -- the first "voting" in the 2008 presidential election -- I was curious to see what Greens in Iowa are up to. Just coincidentally, today is the first day that Iowans are able to register on government forms as members of the Iowa Green Party.

As can be seen on the Being Green in Iowa blog, there is some resistance within Iowa itself to the very idea of caucuses in Iowa: "As Greens we value both grassroots political efforts and democratic procedures. I think it is clear that the caucus is almost as grassroots as you can get in many ways. I think it is also equally clear that it is about as undemocratic as you can get in almost as many ways."

The caucuses require a minimum of 15% support for a candidate at a caucus site to get votes from the site. This forces campaigns to form alliances and makes it almost impossible for lower-tier candidates to get their share of votes (Dennis Kucinich has apparently directed his supporters to back Barack Obama on the second count). Caucusing is also more onerous than voting, as it takes much longer than simply touching a screen. So it isn't surprising that turnout is usually 6% of voters (according to Being Green in Iowa). It is only surprising that we pay so much attention to the results.

Green Party Presidential Debate - Jan. 13

There is a Green Party presidential debate planned for Sunday, January 13 at 2pm in San Francisco (with video to be made available soon afterwards on the web). Jared Ball, Cynthia McKinney, Ralph Nader, and Kent Mesplay are expected to attend. Cindy Sheehan is one of the moderators.

The Green Party presidential candidates

With the presidential primaries officially starting this week, and the California primary on February 5, many people still do not know who is running for the Green Party nomination.

Here are the names that will be on the Green Party ballot in California:
Jared Ball
Elaine Brown*
Jesse Johnson
Cynthia McKinney
Kent Mesplay
Ralph Nader
Kat Swift

I'll post more about these candidates in the coming weeks.

*Elaine Brown has withdrawn from the race. (You can read her statement at her website and a reaction to it at and; I may post more about this in the future.)