Missouri Green Party fights for space on state’s 2024 ballot. Will it find favor?
COLUMBIA, Mo. — Outside the bustle of the Columbia Farmers Market, Les Hahn was busy selling registered voters on an alternative political party’s quest to make the Missouri ballot in 2024.
The Missouri Green Party, with none of its statewide candidates winning at least 2% of the vote in 2018 and 2020, failed to make Missouri’s ballot last year.
St Louis Post Dispatch
October 31, 2023
But Green Party volunteers such as Hahn have been making a concerted push to gather the 10,000 valid voter signatures state law requires to reclaim ballot access.
The ballot push — in combination with other efforts to draw voters from the two major political parties — could make a big impact on election outcomes in 2024 if third parties grab a significant portion of the vote.
Hahn, carrying a clipboard and wearing a Green Party T-shirt and rainbow suspenders, said people signing the petition wanted an alternative to the "corporate-owned" Democratic and Republican candidates.
Nathan Kline, who is leading the Missouri Green Party's canvassing effort, said the party as of October had secured more than 5,000 signatures, putting it on track to submit the required number of signatures by the July 29 deadline.
"A growing number of Americans are understanding that we can either have one person, one vote, or we can have one dollar, one vote," Kline said. On the climate, he said, "we see this as an existential crisis and the most important thing. I mean, if you don't understand it yet, you soon will, as the climate continues to get worse."
A key Green Party selling point is that it rejects corporate PAC donations. That stance has caught on in Washington, almost exclusively among Democrats, with more than 70 members of the current Congress saying they were swearing off such contributions, up from 59 in the previous Congress, Roll Call reported in December. Some Republicans, such as U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, have also renounced corporate cash.
Kline said both the Democrats and Republicans actively take money from the fossil fuel industry and support continued fossil fuel subsidies.
Kline also claimed Democrats had issued more oil and gas permits than Republicans.
In fact, during Biden's first two years and seven months as president, the Democrat's Bureau of Land Management had approved more oil and gas leases on federal land than Trump in that same time period, according to an analysis by E&E News published last month.
The federal government expects surging domestic oil production to reach a record 12.9 million barrels per day by the end of the year, the outlet reported.
"We've already had four years of Donald Trump administration. We know what it is," Kline said. "It's incompetence and it plays on some of the worst aspects of American history — our racist, sexist history. But he's no more dangerous to the future of life on Earth than the Blue Team."
"Over-inflating him (Trump) as, you know, as the existential crisis himself is a lie — or a profound misunderstanding — or maybe both," Kline said.
But Greens, and voters inclined to vote for the party, could be weighing issues other than the climate next year.
Liberal activist Ralph Nader, 89, who led the party's presidential ticket in 2000, told The Washington Post that he fears a rise of fascism under Trump and that in a Biden versus Trump calculation, defeating Trump is his overriding political mission.
The Green Party reached its high-water mark in the United States in 2000, winning 2.74% of the national vote in that year's presidential election.
The party won 97,488 votes in Florida, possibly siphoning enough votes from Democrat Al Gore to deliver the White House to Republican George Bush.
That was Biden's conclusion at the time. "Nader cost us the election," the then-U.S. senator from Delaware told The New York Times in 2000.
But while many view it as a spoiler in the United States, the international Green movement has played kingmaker in Europe, in systems where various political parties form majority coalitions to control the government.
In Germany, for instance, now-Chancellor Olaf Scholz of the Social Democrats Party formed a coalition government with the Greens and Free Democrats after 2021 national elections, relegating retiring Chancellor Angela Merkel's center-right Christian Democratic Union party to the opposition.
Kline said the Greens face "special hurdles" in United States politics but pointed to two instances in American history where third parties had played crucial roles in social change: the formation of Abraham Lincoln's anti-slavery Republican Party prior to the Civil War; he also said President Franklin Delano Roosevelt borrowed from the Socialist Party's early 20th century agenda in response to the Great Depression.
Voters "are sick of money in politics, they're sick of corruption, and they're looking for someone that's going to be public servants and someone that's going to redistribute wealth," he said.
"They don't see a difference between the Blue Team and the Red Team making any significant difference in their lives," Kline said, adding that voters aren't excited about deciding between presidents Biden and Trump again.