In Massachusetts, her own home state, a state where it was clear from the start that Barack Obama had an extremely safe margin of victory, so that voting for a third party candidate wouldn’t imperil an Obama victory, Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein didn’t even get one percent of the vote.
Only in two states did the Stein for President reach the one percent threshold: In Maine, with 1.3 percent, and Oregon with 1 percent of the vote.
Last night, the Stein for President campaign sent out a graphic showing what it would consider to be thresholds of success. 1% would be a great showing, 3% would be even better, and 5% would be a tremendous political achievement, the graphic suggested. Jill Stein’s campaign could not muster even 1% of the national vote.
Certainly, Stein did better than some others. The Justice Party, with its presidential candidate Rocky Anderson, got only a few thousand votes nationwide, making Jill Stein appear to be a political juggernaut by comparison.
In the middle of the night, Stein declared herself to be “thrilled with the numbers coming in”. That was at the height of excitement in the election’s historical moment. I hope that, when she wakes up this morning, Dr. Stein and the rest of the Green Party will be sobered by them.
Ben Manski, Stein’s campaign manager, wrote tonight that “The Green Party is back.” Back where? In the back closet of American politics, hidden under a basket of unmatched socks, perhaps.
Greens could go on and blame the corporate dominance of politics, and say it isn’t fair, that the Green Party was shut out of power. But really, this is a description of the Green Party’s failure, not an explanation of it.
It’s the job of a presidential candidate, and the political party that supports that candidate, to effectively manage power on a national stage. During the campaign, it’s relevant to point out that corporations are trying to give voters a limited choice, and influencing politics in an unhealthy way, but now, after the vote is in, the Green Party must not accept that justification for its failure to capture a significant minority of the vote or even to affect the course of the election in a significant way.
The tactics used by the Green Party didn’t work. Its strategy was ineffective. Will the Green Party have the courage to admit that, and start to work on a new path, or will it repeat the mistakes of the past, celebrate its fraction of one percent of support as a great move forward, and continue its decline?
To be honest, I expect the latter path will be the one chosen. People who read Irregular Times know that I voted for Jill Stein, and that I judged her to be the most worthwhile of the presidential candidates. I stand by that judgment, but I also recognize that more than 99 percent of American voters disagree with me.
Jill Stein’s loss is a loss for American liberalism. Barack Obama has not been a liberal President, and he did not run a liberal campaign. The re-election of Obama was the re-election of a center-right President, and this year, Obama has shown that his efforts to move the Democratic Party to the right have been successful. Democratic voters have now joined Republican voters to clamor for tax cuts, expanded oil drilling and coal mining, preservation of George W. Bush’s unconstitutional expansions of government spying power, prolonged wars and military spending, and neglect of the growing crisis of climate change.
Obama has achieved this rightward transformation of American politics through a smart combination of lofty but vague rhetoric with remarkably conservative policy. If American liberals are ever to recover from this maneuvering of the nation away from the battle of right vs. more-right, we need to be equally smart.
We need new strategy, and new tactics. At the moment, early on the morning after Election Day, I can’t begin to imagine what the new direction might look like.
I’d love to hear others’ ideas about how to move forward.