The Green Party’s Big Chance: Endorse, and Defer to, Bernie Sanders

by Keaton Weiss

In her recent appearance on the “Primo Nutmeg” podcast, Jill Stein recounts her public appeal to Bernie Sanders in July of 2016. Her offer was a simple one. She invited Bernie to replace her at the top of the ticket, and run for president as the Green Party nominee. She made this offer after all the primary states had voted, and just weeks before the Democratic National Convention, when Hillary Clinton was set to officially secure the Democratic nomination.

Stein, in her interview, expresses a good deal of disappointment that Sanders dismissed her proposal out of hand. In fact, the way she puts it, it’s unclear whether he formally declined her offer or simply ignored it altogether. In her words, “He didn’t even want to talk about it.” She goes on to explain why she feels that the deck is once again stacked against him in 2020. She mentions that superdelegates are still part of the equation despite the Democrats’ having removed them from the first ballot, and iterates a concern shared by many progressives that such a crowded Democratic field will yield a final result in which no one candidate has a majority of delegates secured going into the convention, and that ultimately the superdelegates could override the will of the people should they cast their votes on the second ballot for a candidate other than the one with the plurality of delegates, especially if the candidate with the plurality of delegates is Bernie Sanders.

“The Democrats have offered false hopes for decades and decades,” she says, “I personally can’t put my eggs into that basket, and think that the Democrats are gonna somehow magically allow a progressive to get the nomination.” Her bleak outlook extends far beyond Bernie’s prospects. She mentions that “America and the world are crumbling,” and that absent the implementation of a transformative vision, climate change, nuclear proliferation, economic inequality, and the rise of fascism, will swallow us whole.

Surely, if the game is as rigged as she says it is, and the hour is as late as she says it is, her answer for such a dire moment cannot possibly be another third party presidential run in which the best case scenario is a 5% showing to secure federal funding for her party the next time around.

Rather, I’d argue, it’s time to think outside the box. If the Green Party wants to finally become a relevant political force in this country, it now has its chance: endorse Bernie Sanders for president in 2020, and promise not to run a candidate on the Green Party line should he be the Democratic nominee. And make this announcement right now.

It stands to reason that the Greens would be open to such an arrangement, as Jill Stein herself was willing to cede her own presidential nomination to Bernie, and was confident she could persuade the party at large to sign off on such a move. Announcing this endorsement and defining its terms could have any one or more of many different effects, all of which are positive for both the Sanders campaign and the Green Party moving forward (to clarify, I’m not a Green. I’m an independent. This is just some free advice.)

First, it could win Bernie some votes by using the Democrats’ own neurosis, paranoia, and delusions against them. In the closing days of every campaign, a certain unfortunate contingent of nervous Democrats make it a point to admonish progressives against voting third party, lest they inadvertently play “spoiler” for the Republican candidate. The prospect of relief from such anxiety, i.e., not having a left wing spoiler in the race at all, could be a very attractive one, perhaps enough to elicit some much needed votes for Bernie in the primary.

Second, this arrangement could boost Bernie’s chances in the general election by padding his vote total with would-be Green voters who now feel compelled to vote blue, not because they’ve been harangued by annoying, vapid, loud-mouthed partisan hacks, but because the Democrats finally made enough good decisions to earn their votes the old fashioned way. A natural political alliance could be formed on the basis of a common political vision, and in the process, Democrats could boost their vote percentage total by one to one-and-a-half points, depending on the state. If that number seems small, consider that Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin were all decided by less than one point, and in the latter two states, Jill Stein’s vote total was higher than Trump’s margin of victory.

Third, if the Democrats remain unmoved by the proposal, as they likely will, and move full steam ahead towards a Biden-like nominee, this would expose the scapegoating of third party voters after Democratic defeats for the lie it is and has always been. By offering to step aside should a progressive win the nomination, the Greens can flip the script on the Democrats by putting them in the position of determining whether or not they want to take their chances with a Green on the ballot. For the Democrats to nominate a centrist candidate would thus demonstrate both an open willingness to accept that risk, as well as an acknowledgment that Green voters are not simply bitter, defiant would-be Democrats, but rather autonomous independent political actors who made them a good faith offer, which they declined. In other words, this would expose a common fallacy put forward by Democrats while simultaneously establishing the Green Party as a sovereign political entity.

And finally, deferring to Sanders and pledging to forego running a presidential candidate against him might, on its face, look like capitulation and surrender on their part, but conversely, it could bring an energy and excitement to the Green Party that they’ve likely never experienced, because, for the first time ever, they’d be in it to win it. They would no longer be the disaffected lefties casting protest votes out of disgust for the two party duopoly. Instead, their revolutionary politics could be implemented in the truly revolutionary pursuit of winning the presidency. In its current form, the Green Party is a waste of political energy. The political establishment which it rails against is actually relieved to see that the Greens have voluntarily relegated themselves to obscurity by withdrawing themselves from any actual power struggle, and instead pursuing symbolic benchmarks every four years as they toil in the single digits. Endorsing Bernie Sanders right now would instantly change that dynamic. Overnight, the Green Party would become a viable political force for 2020 and beyond. If you’re a Green, why pass up such a unique opportunity?

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16 thoughts on “The Green Party’s Big Chance: Endorse, and Defer to, Bernie Sanders”

  1. I like that Bernie ignored Jill Stein. He didn’t get to where he got by being stupid.

    Primo Nutmeg, eh? Looked them up, aside from interviewing the usual suspects like Noam Chomsky (Ugh), Ralph Nader (Ugh, again), etc, they also interviewed Wings member Denny Laine, the current bassist from Foreigner and Martin Barre from Jethro Tull! What the hell kind of podcast is this? Sounds like it could be interesting in a bizaro kind of way. Why are they demeaning themselves by interviewing Jill Frickin’ Stein? Ugh, she pisses and moans like a liberal arts freshman. I want more members of Wings, and late date Foregiener members!

    Oh, and this whole Green/Bernie alliance thing? Yeah, sure, ok. Are we saying, though, that if someone besides Bernie gets the nom, that the Green Party then says “No, we’re running Ralph Nader and Jill Stein’s love child, Trump potentially being re-elected be damned?” Because, I think that would piss off the general populace towards the Greens in a pretty big way. Just the idea of saying they will only not run somebody if their preferred candidate gets the nom seems bizarre. I mean, I would assume they wouldn’t have run Jill Stein in 2016 if Bernie had gotten the nom. To make a grandstanding announcement about it, and making it seem like they only care about Bernie getting in, and not caring whether Trump stays in, is the kind of thing that would probably end them for good. And why not? Like you said, they don’t really serve any purpose beyond a cosmetic one for disillusioned voters. Your suggestion would end The Green Party! Let’s arrange it! They won’t do it, though. They like hearing themselves piss and moan too much. They’ll be back in 2024.

    It’s all gonna be moot, though. Bernie’s not getting the nom, Trump’s gonna get bounced, and the Green Party will poll even lower than normal. Which is to say, can you get less than zero votes if you’re on a ballot.

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  2. So, if the Green Party endorses Bernie, and the DNC robs him at the convention (again) and nominates Biden instead. Could Bernie get on the ballot at the green party candidate?

    I know he already signed a pledge to support the Democratic Nominee even if it’s not him.

    I’m just asking if he “could” be on the ballot in the general this way?

    Ordinarily that would split the Dem vote and just make it more likely Trump wins re-election…. But, Biden can’t beat Trump anyway… and Bernie supporters would likely follow him to the green vote…

    This might be the best Anti-Trump
    Strategy.

    Plus, the promise not to run a green candidate alone might not be enough to convince the DNC to NOT rob Bernie again.

    The threat of a much deeper split of the vote by a Bernie green run might be enough motivation though

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    1. Hi there, thanks for reading and thanks for the comment!

      I’m not sure what you mean by “robs him at the convention again.” Last time around, he wasn’t robbed at the convention. He went in with fewer pledged delegates, and left the runner-up. The super delegates certainly went out of their way to spit in his face, for example, all of the super delegates in West Virginia went for Clinton, giving her more total delegates than him in the state, even though Bernie won every county in West Virginia. And I suppose that was a robbery of sorts, but it didn’t alter the overall outcome. Now, if by “robbing” you mean the potential scenario Jill Stein outlined, in which Bernie goes in with a plurality of delegates and the super delegates give the nom to someone else on the second ballot, then all bets are off, and I’d say under those extreme circumstances he should run on a third party line (and yes, it “could” be arranged.)

      But that’s getting way ahead of ourselves. All speculation aside, I think it’d be good if the Greens endorsed him, for all the reasons I outlined, particularly because it would exert some pressure on Democratic voters, who are and always were the real obstacle (and with that I’ll refer you to my previous blog post 😉).

      Thanks again!

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      1. Keaton – the robbing of Bernie started LONG before the convention, when Hillary bullied hundreds of SDs into supporting her, got the MSM to report SD votes in their reporting to give her an air of inevitability, for all intents and purposes bought the DNC and ran it as an arm of her campaign, engaged in voter suppression in various states, and railroaded Berners at the Nevada Dem state convention. And that’s probably not a thorough list.

        I’m also an independent, and I agree that the Greens’ best strategy would be to endorse Bernie now.

        In the event the Dems nominate #UncleHandsy or another shitlib, the Greens’ good-faith effort to join with the Dems to nominate a progressive to beat Trump would redound to a more significant Green tally in November, whether Bernie is the nominee or not.

        Side note: Stein has run twice. Do the Greens have a good alternative for her in 2020?

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      1. I dont like that Bernie supported Hilary either, but, to me, it gives him more credibility. You know he hated her, but he was required by signed contract to support the nominee, which was the deal if he used the Party for his election campaign. Would you rather he was a liar because he had to do something distasteful, or should he suck it up and do what he promised? Unlike almost every other politician, Bernie has credibility.

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  3. I volunteered for the last two years in social media, mostly Facebook, and interacted with hundreds of greens. They were all anti- Bernie. They willingly accept their role in a niche party and are proud that they vote their conscience. They aren’t centralized in their strategy as a party. I doubt they would be successful asking each Green Party to stand together on anything other than their existing platform.

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  4. The DNC most certainly “robbed” Bernie of the nomination in 2016, and intend to do it again. They manipulated many parameters to achieve their goal. This has been well documented. How can you write an article about Bernie’s 2020 run and not know this? In a fair primary, Bernie would need no help from the Green Party. In the fixed primary to come in 2020, no amount of support from the Greens wil matter. Our only hope is for a cadre of organized progressives to conduct an activist campaign directly against the DNC to EXPOSE and OPPOSE their plan to torpedo Bernie’s nomination again!

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    1. Max, thanks for reading. I assure you I know all about the shenanigans that took place within the party in 2016. My point in that response was that he wasn’t robbed “at the convention.” He went in with almost 4 million fewer votes than Clinton. If you want to make the argument, as someone else has in this comment section, that he was robbed before the convention, then that’s a different statement. As far as further efforts to sabotage Bernie, I just recorded a interview with Bernie’s national outreach director from 2016, and I’ll be putting that up on our Facebook page on Monday. You may want to check it out. Thanks again.

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  5. Would you please stop trying to disband us as a party because you dont understand Federal / State election laws. This is just as stupid as Bernie Bros getting mad about Jill Stein initiating the recount in the General Election instead of the Primary to help Bernie. Just as clueless as Trump Supporters. Please leave the Green Party alone. This is why Bernie will not win or get the minority vote. You have millions more non-voters than us. Focus on them.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. The fact is, the Green Party of the United States MUST run a candidate for President of the United States in the general election every four years in order to maintain ballot access in most every state. So if the Green Party endorsed a Democrat for president, the Green Party of the United States would cease to exist nationwide.

    Therefore, the proposal in this article is totally ludicrous because it would indeed be political suicide for the Green Party to do something this foolish. So I suggest that you just accept the fact that the Green Party is going to be around for a long time to be thorn in the side of the corrupt, Zionist, corporate owned Democratic-Republican Duopoly Oligarchy Mafia Cabal.

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  7. It was VERY SIMPLE in 2016 and the same applies in 2020. Having signed to run as a Democratic candidate, he made an obligation to support the eventual nominee. He couldnt ethically or morally have dropped out and run for another party. Regardless of the DNC subverting the democratic process, had he run as a Green, HE WOULDNT BE RUNNING NOW. We explained this 3 years ago. No wonder Trump is in the WH.

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