LETTER: Creating a viable Green Party is about more than ‘winning’ elections

Dear Editor,

In an article about the Green Party that The Statesman published on Oct. 26, Green Party State Co-Chair Art Goodtimes discouraged Green Party candidates from running for state or federal offices because they can’t win.

Art Goodtimes himself was first elected to the office of San Miguel County Commissioner as a Democrat. He ran for re-election as an incumbent after switching to the Green Party. This was in a small, rural, and heavily Democratic county.

Running under the Green Party banner is, in reality, a liability rather than an asset if your goal is to get elected. Unfortunately, if you want to get elected to a partisan office, you have an infinitely better chance of success if you run as a Democrat rather than a Green. Choosing the Green Party is a statement of principle, rejecting the corruption of the two corporate parties. It’s good to run Green Party candidates at all levels: local, county, state and federal.

Most of the Green Party candidates who have been elected to public office in the United States have been elected to small, local, non-partisan offices. That means that the label “Green Party” did not appear next to their name on the ballot.

Running campaigns isn’t just about running in elections that we can win. It is about “speaking truth to power” by standing up for what you believe is right. If you only want to run campaigns that you can win, there is no point in having a Green Party in the United States, and no point in running as a Green. The election system in the United States is rigged against minor party and independent candidates from start to finish.

The necessary first step to creating a viable Green Party in the United States would be to change the voting system so that legislators are elected by a party list system of true proportional representation. This could be done at the level of state legislatures through the ballot initiative process.

Green Party candidates have been elected to national parliaments in dozens of other countries because they use party list systems of proportional representation, not the archaic winner-take-all voting system used in the United States.

Gary Swing
Colorado Green Party candidate for US Representative 2010 and 2012

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