When Massachusetts voters cast ballots on Election Day, they not only picked winners and losers in a host of key races, they also gave a big boost to those seeking an alternative to the state's two top political parties. By the time polls closed, the number of parties with official status in the state had doubled.
The Green-Rainbow Party and the United Independent Party now join the Democratic and Republican parties as those with official status, meaning they can hold primaries and field candidates under their party banners.
The Massachusetts Green-Rainbow Party is associated with the national Green Party, which is planning to run a candidate for president in the next election cycle in 2016. Since the presidential contest will be the only statewide race in 2016, the party is hoping their national candidate wins at least 3 percent of the vote here to maintain their status.
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Ralph Nader has urged the creation of a Big Tent--trying to challenge into existence an alliance of left and right wing political forces. He began this in 2004 as an Independent for President and again in his run for President as an Independent in 2008. It did not catch fire with the voters. Since then, but without running for high office, he has continued on this course. His new book is entitled "Unstoppable, the Emerging Left-Right Alliance to Dismantle the Corporate State."
I and many of you here and in the country worked with him from 1996 to 2004, some of us closely. We worked on his campaigns for president on behalf of the Green Party in 1996 and 2000. I tried several times to persuade him to join the Green Party. To no avail. We parted ways in 2004 when Nader decided to run for president as an Independent, turning his back on the Green Party; and I joined David Cobb's campaign for president as the Green Party nominee.
Many of us were very disappointed at Nader's turn away from the Greens. I was, too, and grieved about it. But I now feel that it was a more comfortable turn for him to go Independent and a blessing for the Greens in that we ran strong Green Party activists David Cobb in 2004, Cynthia McKinney in 2008 and topped it off with a truly remarkable campaign in 2012 with Jill Stein. We have shown that we can run effective campaigns for the presidency with our own Greens and on our own steam. Jill has done that with flair, great skill, and incredible dedication, both in the campaign itself and just as memorably since then. I will come back to this.
One trouble with Nader's idea of a Big Tent is this: to bring about an alliance of right and left you find yourself contriving a program that has to be whittled down to platitudes in order to minimally satisfy deeply conflicting values and interests. How far can Nader and Ron Paul really travel before they and their respective followers clash?
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