Green Horizons on the relative merits of McKinney and Nader

John Rensenbrink explores the relative merits of Nader and McKinney. The article is also relevant to other ideological perspectives in the past and future which see one candidate running as an independent, and another as part of a political party whose views are similar at the same time.

There is this notion that progressive-minded people, who can’t see voting for Obama, have a choice between two outstanding candidates, Cynthia McKinney and Ralph Nader. I agree that they are both outstanding candidates. But I firmly disagree that a vote for one or the other is of equal value.

Allow yourself to think beyond the present power structure. Envision a different situation in which the present power structure has been dismantled. Surely, no power structure is permanent. The present one is dominated by megacorporate predatory giants and their Democrat and Republican minions. It will not last. It is not permanent. Please savor that thought.

With that firmly in your mind, ask yourself what is needed to reach beyond the present power structure. Ask yourself whether what McKinney brings and what Nader brings are the same or different. No, I am not talking about “the issues”, that favorite of liberals and progressives. On “the issues” the two are pretty similar.

Where they are not similar at all is on the question of power to change the power structure. Here we must confess that Nader’s campaign begins and falls with him, begins and falls with just this current campaign, good for this day and train only. On the day after the election in November, that’s all done. Nor is there any reason to believe that there will be any impact of any kind on the existing power structure.

Now take another look at McKinney’s campaign. She is running not as an Independent like Nader. She is running as the candidate of a proven political party. The Green Party has been in existence since 1984 and is well established in almost all parts of the country. It has a courageous past and a promising future. It is dedicated to contesting for power.That means—given the Green Party’s values and principles—that it is dedicated to altering fundamentally the existing power structure—ending the stranglehold on public policy by the megacorporate giants and their Republican and Democratic minions.

Cynthia is running full tilt as a Green. For the Green Party. She has stated that her goal is to get at least 5% in November. This will qualify the Green Party candidate for President in 2012 for millions of dollars in public funding. It will make the national Green party a substantial force and lay the basis for greater victories in the future. Now, that’s really thinking! Even if she does not get the 5%, her campaign will strengthen the Green Party and give it greater internal fiber and exposure to the public. This will help all future Green campaigns for all offices, including for president.

Hooray for Cynthia! She really gets it. She knows that the powers-that-be are a power structure – and a bad one to boot. And that it must be dismantled if the issues people hold dear are to get a chance at being resolved. She puts first things first. Cynthia will not win the White House in November, but she is helping to lay the groundwork for “painting the White House Green” in the future. Thus a vote for her is a vote for our future. It carries far more value than a vote for Nader, however fine a candidate he is.

16 thoughts on “Green Horizons on the relative merits of McKinney and Nader

  1. Sivarticus

    McKinney doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell at 5%. It isn’t even looking good for Barr or Nader to manage that, and they’re the only ones with a shot at it. This was the same funny argument the Greens used to try to compete with Nader last time, only to come dragging in sixth place, behind the Constitution Party too.

    I guess from the lefty perspective, it’s all they have to throw at him. There are little to no differences between Nader and McKinney, if not for the party issue (which is pointless for reasons stated–McKinney will NOT, under any circumstances, come close to 1%, let alone 5%). Except maybe reparations. I’ve never heard Nader endorse the black nationalist theft McKinney wants, so I have to give him credit there, even though I disagree with him on nearly everything but the war.

  2. Mike Gillis

    If you’re a Constitutionalist, you have more in common with Nader than just his stance on the war.

    There’s also NAFTA/WTO, corporate welfare, the PATRIOT Act, domestic spying and opposition to Real ID. Opposition to the Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac/Bear Stearns bailouts.

    But you’re in that McKinney hasn’t a shot in hell of getting 5% or even 1%, which is a feat for only Barr or Nader.

    And since Ralph has made it a goal to build the Peace and Freedom Party outside of CA after the election, the “party building” argument just falls apart.

    Her open appeals to Truthers completely turn me off too. Not to mention that her VP was clueless enough to say that she’s ready to debate Dick Cheney.

    Rensenbrink’s statement that the GP is “well established” around the country is just false. It has maybe 5-6 strong state parties and whole lot of parties that exist only on paper and in internal battles over the internet.

    It’s shown this year that even with a candidate with some name recognition and achievement, that it’s pretty inept at campaign and organization. I can understand a no-name like David Cobb not qualifying for matching funds, but a former member of Congress? Especially since she’s been running for several months longer than Nader and has run a terrible campaign so far.

    Barr came from about the same level of name recognition as McKinney and has taken far more advantage of the opportunities given to him to run a real campaign. And it shows in his fundraising, ballot access efforts and media exposure – which third party candidates always have to fight for and never have handed to them.

    Meanwhile McKinney seems to only campaign to people already in the party and to media sources outside of the mainstream. She mostly seems to avoid or hang up on the MSM.

    5% of people won’t vote for you if 5% of people don’t know you’re running.

    I’m voting for Ralph. The GP’s hollow arguments just don’t work after 2004.

  3. Sivarticus

    Yes, I do respect Nader as the reasonable alternative for those on the left. McKinney is just an inept kook whose failure will probably finish off what’s left of the Greens after this election. I wouldn’t be surprised if many registered Greens break with her and vote for Nader instead.

    It will be interesting to see if she performs just as badly or worse than David Cobb in California, since Nader is on the ballot there this time as well. I believe even Cobb only got as many votes as he did there in 2004 because not everyone knew how to write Nader in.

  4. green in brooklyn

    I agree that 5% is not realistic for any of the candidates this year, but that number doesn’t have to be reached for McCkinney to help the greens. There will be hundreds of Greens downticket across the country this year that will be helped by McKinney, either thru direct campaigning or sharing a ticket. She will also bring in volunteers, donors and party members that will end up getting involved on a local level, just as Nader did in 2000. We’re already seeing the Hip Hop activist community here in Brooklyn rally around Rosa Clemente, giving us fresh volunteers for signature gathering – people who would never have considered supporting the Greens in the past, let alone a Nader candidacy.

    Ballot access on a number of states depends on 1 or 2% in a statewide or presidential race, and this is very doable for the Greens to get a few more ballot lines.

    Nader may talk a good game about the Peace and Freedom Party, but he did almost nothing to build the Green Party or support local candidates after 2000, which is one of the primary reasons he did not get the endorsement in 2004.

    My prediction is that McKinney will end up close to or surpassing the Nader vote this year, and that both will get at least 1%.

  5. paulie cannoli Post author

    I agree with Green in Brooklyn, except that I think it is unlikely that any of the alternative candidates – Barr, McKinney, Baldwin, Nader – will get above 1%.

    However, I think any of them still can get that, or even 5%. The conditions for a breakout exist – it just hasn’t happened yet.

  6. blackcatsoda

    Ralph Nader and Matt Gonzalez are already at over 5%…This is Ralphs year..With the selected empty suit running for the Democrats, Nader/Gonzalez is correct to expect to have at least 30% come election time…

  7. green in brooklyn


    Let me guess – you are new to this third party thing, aren’t you? Ralph got less than 0.5% in 2004, what makes you think he’s get more than 60x that this year, especially with a well-known viable Green candidate splitting the indy/3rd party progressive vote?

    Nader is polling less now than he was at this point in 2000, when he ended up at 2.7%.

  8. Sivarticus

    Well-known viable Green candidate? She’s less known than Barr, is nuts, and supports things like reparations which 90% of non-blacks will never vote for. And meanwhile, 99% of blacks are going for Obama. McKinney will go down in flames and drag the Greens with her.

  9. darolew

    I have respect for Nader. If he were the only third-party/independent choice available, I’d vote for him. I don’t have any such respect for McKinney, I’d rather write-in “None of the Above”.

  10. Sivarticus

    I feel the same way, Darolew. If it were just McCain, Obama, and McKinney, I wouldn’t even vote. I would hold my nose and vote for Nader if he were the ONLY choice besides McCain and Obama.

    McKinney lost the ability to gain any respect from anyone but black nationalists and ultra-lefties in 2006. Hitting a police officer at the capitol and praising dictator Chavez in as she left office was just embarrassing. I am only glad that she’s running such a low key campaign and ignoring the mainstream media so that our country will be spared further embarrassment from this sideshow politician.

  11. G.E.

    Silvarticus’s brand of “libertarianism” is truly fascinating.

    Oh no! McKinney struck a police officer. Send her to Gitmo.

  12. Mike Gillis

    “Nader may talk a good game about the Peace and Freedom Party, but he did almost nothing to build the Green Party or support local candidates after 2000, which is one of the primary reasons he did not get the endorsement in 2004.”

    This simply isn’t true. He helped raise thousands of dollars for the party, attended dozens of fundraisers and campaigned for many Green candidates. His candidacies in 1996 and 2000 are the reason that most state Green parties even EXIST.

    I’m speaking as a former safe stater that voted for David Cobb in 2004. His non-campaign crippled the Greens and I daresay they’ll never recover. The aftermath of Cobb killed Green membership, vote totals and scared off alot of our hardest working members.

    In my state alone, we went from over 1,000 dues paying members in late 2004 to less than 300 a year later. Most of our best activist walked out on the party and even pro-third party folks open to the Green message didn’t take us seriously.

    All that’s left of the Greens right now is perhaps three strong state parties and a bunch of parties that exist mostly on paper and in internal internet battles.

    That’s why I walked out.

  13. Mike Gillis


    Let me guess – you are new to this third party thing, aren’t you? Ralph got less than 0.5% in 2004, what makes you think he’s get more than 60x that this year, especially with a well-known viable Green candidate splitting the indy/3rd party progressive vote?”

    How well did the Green Party do in 2004, brooklyn? And are you honestly making the “vote splitting” arguments that Democrats lob at third parties?

    The Greens don’t own those votes any more than the Dems do. Blaming Ralph seems to be a popular pasttime these days.

    Had Nader not run in 2004, the Greens would have still polls under 150,000 votes. And Ralph pulled 0.5% without a CA ballot line (which he has this time) and with millions of dollars in legal challenges tossed his way (the Greens werent challenged once and STILL couldn’t get on in TN where they only needed 275 sigs)

    “Nader is polling less now than he was at this point in 2000, when he ended up at 2.7%.”

    Actually he’s polling about even with 2000. Probably because he’s actually CAMPAIGNING.

    He seeks out press rather than shuns it or hangs up on it.

    And Cynthia McKinney’s been running since October. She had about 5 months as the most prominent lefty third party candidate and he didn’t do anything with it. She didn’t announce at a press conference, but on a YouTube video. She hung up on the MSM and hired inept people to run her non-campaign.

    Bob Barr came from about the same level of name recognition and he made far more use of the time and opportunities given to him and is running a real campaign. Enough so that the MSM polls him and the major parties talk about him.

    I never claimed that Ralph would pull in 5%. I’m just aiming at 1%, which I think he could do. It’s something that I don’t think Cynthia could do.

    Hell, she couldn’t even win the popular vote of the Green primaries (she got 28% of the vote).

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