With a bit of daring leadership, the Green Party could take a page from the Protest Party playbook and make themselves (and their worldview) quite relevant in 2016. Here’s how it could work:
- Party leaders such as Jill Stein announce that if Bernie Sanders wins the Democratic Party nomination, the Green Party will throw their support to him. Most potential Green Party voters are likely thinking of voting for Bernie anyway. American “thought leaders” will respond with think-pieces about what this means for Hillary’s campaign and the Democratic Party generally. With 3.3% of the vote in Ohio in 2014, the Greens are already on the ballot and well positioned to swing a general election.
1a (Optional.) Try to get the Sanders campaign to agree to endorse the Green Party for President if Sanders is not nominated. This would probably be a non-starter for Bernie, but if it worked it would be a real coup for the Greens. Importantly, it would further diminish Clinton’s perceived “electability” in the general election if a segment of the left pledged not to vote for her.
2. Capitalize on publicity to play up Bernie’s viability in the general election, especially as compared to Hillary. Make sure primary voters take notice. Even a couple percent bump in the Iowa polls will have the pundits buzzing. The more viable Bernie looks, the more his ideas will be disseminated.
3. Be vocal about your differences. No reason to throw your own views out in supporting Bernie. This is your chance to get your views heard in the mainstream.
4. Follow through. By fall, either you have helped catapult Bernie to the nomination and possibly the presidency, or Clinton has won and you can campaign against her. If you managed to finagle a Bernie endorsement (1a), you’ll likely coast to minor party status in most states.
Green Party voters admirably subscribe to that famous Eugene Debs quote: "I'd rather vote for what I want and not get it, than for what I don't want and get it." This is a pithier way of saying “Don’t vote for the lesser of two evils!” The question is, can a Green Party supporter really call a vote for Bernie Sanders “evil”? To be sure, his promise to endorse Clinton and his stances on Palestine, immigration, Snowden, ISIS, and other issues should be troubling to Green voters, but to stand on principle and demand purity here would be to miss a quite real opportunity to change the course of American history in ways that should be quite exciting to the Greens. Ralph Nader said that if Al Gore had wanted the support of the Green Party in 2000, all he had to do was adopt most of the platform of the Green Party. In 2016, hasn’t Sanders done enough to earn at least a tactical partnership?