Enviro Giants Warn on Green Party

September 15, 2020

Remember when Michael Moore told us there wasn’t a dime’s worth of difference between Al Gore and George W. Bush?
Turns out there was.

From an Open letter to progressive voters from a group of 170 leading environmentalists:

Twenty years ago, the green Party snatched the White House from a climate-change leader and handed it to George W. Bush. In Florida, no less than 97,488 progressive voters snubbed Al Gore for Ralph Nader, letting Bush win the state, and therefore the presidency, by 537 votes, or so the Supreme Court ruled. The result was no moral victory for Green voters. The result was the Iraq War, hundreds of thousands of violent deaths and environmental devastation in the Middle East, two conservative Supreme Court justices, including the chief justice and a right wing reactionary, and eight unrecoverable years of accelerated climate change.

Daily Beast:

A group of some of the most revered and longest-active environmentalists issued a dire warning to the next generation of activists on Monday: Don’t vote for the Green Party this year. And don’t sit out the election either. 

The warning, coming in the form of a letter signed by more than 170 top environmental leaders, is an explicit recognition that third-party voting—including from within their own community—has tipped presidential elections in the past. It’s also a plea to those who remain on the fence about Joe Biden, or who believe that they should cast a protest vote for someone else, that the stakes are simply too high. 

“Angry right-wing voters and liberal absentees put Trump in the White House in 2016,” the letter reads. “In 2020 the same unholy team could keep him there. Progressives who vote for the Green Party candidate, or write in Henry David Thoreau, or refuse to vote at all for lack of an ideal choice will give Donald Trump precisely what he wants, and enough such pious gestures will produce catastrophic results.”

Warnings like these have become fixtures of election cycles ever since 2000, when Ralph Nader’s presence on the ballot likely cost Al Gore critical votes in Florida. In 2016, NextGen Climate, an environmental group that backed Hillary Clinton’s election, ran ads pleading with voters who cared about climate change to not take teh Libertarian candidate, former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, seriously. President Barack Obama bluntly declared in one radio interview: “If you vote for a third-party candidate who’s got no chance to win, that’s a vote for Trump.” 

What’s different in 2020 is the fresh proof of Obama’s argument. The margins by which Trump won the three critical Midwest states—Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania—were all smaller than the total vote counts for Green Party candidate Jill Stein. And for those who have been in the trenches of environmental battles over the past five decades, the risk of it happening again are petrifying. 

“If you don’t get somebody in office that you can work with, then protests and demonstrations don’t make a difference,” said Earth Day founder Denis Hayes, a letter signatory. “I’d much rather have somebody I can work with than a symbolic vote.”

“There is a strong motivation among disillusioned radical young people to vote third party now or sit out the election,” added Peter Harnik, the coordinator of Environmental Action, a pioneer activist environmental organization. “We felt like we’ve been there and done this in the past. This is not the election to make a purity statement.”


18 Responses to “Enviro Giants Warn on Green Party”

  1. Brent Jensen-Schmidt Says:

    Darn Right!
    Gods save us from holier than thou self righteous IDIOTS.

  2. Ron Benenati Says:

    MY GOD. Still trying to blame this on Nader when Gore could not close the deal (even though it turned out he won) on an idiot like George Bush.

    Don’t mention how many votes were lost due to the humiliation of Clinton’s sexual escapades in and out of the white house.
    Don’t mention how many votes were lost because of Clinton’s radical turn to the right alienating his base who were actually aware of disastrous turn from traditions democratic values and resultant horrendous policies.
    Don’t mention Gores mealy-mouthed VP on the ticket, ultra democratic right-wing corporate Joe Lieberman who later endorsed McCain over Obama and was Donald Trump’s first pick for FBI Director.
    Don’t mention the – what seems to be traditional – Democratic pathetic, last luster campaign.

    Blame Ralph Nader who, in spite of never having held elected office, has had a major influence on some of the best environment, consumer, and corporate responsibility policy in the History of the US….more accomplished than most elected officials over their individual careers.

    • Brent Jensen-Schmidt Says:

      This rationalization is the point of the post. So Nader is a great person, woopti doo. Being on the ballot, and getting votes from holier than thous, directly led to 8 years of dubbya bush. Congratulations on the view from the high horse.

      • jimbills Says:

        Brent – Gore lost in 2000 for the reasons Ron spelled out, and because he lost his home state of Tennessee:

        “Tennessee was won by Governor George W. Bush by a 3.87% margin of victory, despite having voted for Clinton in 1992 & 1996 and being the home state of Vice President Al Gore. If Vice President Gore had carried his home state, he, instead of Bush, would have been elected President.”

        Everyone points to Florida, of course, and if Gore hadn’t been a massive wuss and fought as hard as the Bush team, he would have won the state:

        “The two major conclusions here are that Gore likely would have won a hand recount of the statewide overvotes and undervotes — which he never requested”

        The blame game is really, really easy, though.

        Gore-Bush in 2000 was entirely different than this year’s election. Bush was running as a ‘compassionate conservative’, a seemingly center-right candidate, while Gore had the Clinton legacy of constant compromise to the right as well as his scandals. Gore ran a poor campaign, and he has the charisma of Ben Stein in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Plus, Americans get tired of the party in charge with predictable regularity. The country was sick of Clinton – and Gore never really stepped out of that shadow.

        No one could have predicted the Iraq War, and plenty of Democrats in Congress voted for that thing as well – conveniently forgotten, of course. Even Gore sabre-rattled at the time. But it’s all Nader’s fault, even though Nader wrote to the Bush family in 2003, appealing to them to not go to war. (Two links below.)

        This year’s election features an anthropomorphized pile of feces, a virtual Jabba the Hutt holding Melania on a chain, as the incumbent, with a clear record of being the absolute worst at practically everything I care about. I’d personally vote for a zombie over the incumbent, and think even ‘idiots’ can figure out this election.

        But, someone’s vote belongs to that person, and that person only. It rankles me to no end when someone else gets on their high horse and tells a person how they should vote. Somehow, it’s always the people that already supported a chosen candidate that know best, while the people that don’t feel that the two-party choices match their particular politics are left cold and dry election after election after election, and get treated perennially as social lepers by the majority. It’s their choice. They get one vote. Most don’t vote at all because they feel they aren’t being represented by either party.

        These people might indeed be stupid, but calling them such (or using terms like ‘unholy alliance’, as the ‘Enviro Giants’ letter did) isn’t likely to change their mind. It’ll more likely do the opposite.

        • Brent Jensen-Schmidt Says:

          Indeed James William and no worries. The POINT of the post is that voting from heart instead of strategically can have very bad consequences. All the screw ups detailed above do not alter the fact that votes for Nader gave you 8 years of Bush. Feel free to fix all the other reasons for that ‘catastrophe’. How should you vote? When the choice is between 2 evils, have a social conscience and vote for the lesser.
          Confession. I always vote ‘progressive’ or failing that ‘joke’ candidate first. As with John the Spoon below, live in Oz and can get away with it. Dose not help thee of course.

          • jimbills Says:

            Yes, we’re doomed forever and ever to have corporate-compromised centrists on the Democratic side vs. insane in the brain Republicans. And we wonder why things don’t improve in this country. But remember – in America, you’re a horrible, horrible person if you ever dare to vote for a third party.

            There is a real difference in this election, however. The mug in office is beyond bad – and not just because of his political positions. I’m hopeful most can see that, despite Biden being pretty close to that zombie I was talking about.

          • funslinger62 Says:

            LOL Votes for Bush also gave us Bush.

            A two-party system is doomed to fail in the end because it allows one party to get control of houses of Congress.

            When there are three or more main parties it becomes much more difficult for a single party to control the voting. And, it allows coalitions of the minority parties in Congress to force the plurality party to compromise.

            Having said that, I understand that this election is not the time to vote third party. We must get the worst president in the history of the country out of office.

            As a result, I will be voting for the Democratic candidate in a POTUS election for the first time ever.

  3. Ron Benenati Says:

    And, for the record, I’ve never voted Green or had much belief in the party has having the capability of becoming influential.
    I do have tremendous respect for the accomplishments of Ralph Nader throughout his career. CDCW should only have such a record of tangible success.
    Keep Trying!
    (said with respect)

  4. The USA really, really needs ranked choice voting, like we have in Australia.

    Even though the Greens in Oz get just 10% of the vote, I know that my vote for them isn’t wasted, nor is the progressive vote split, because if they don’t get more than 50% of the vote in my electorate, then my vote transfers to my second choice, which is the Australian Labor Party. You can only split the vote in a ‘first-past-the-post’ electoral system.

    Ranked choice voting is still not as good as proportional representation, but we do have something approaching PR in Senate elections, where each state is a single electorate.

    • doldrom Says:


      The US needs voting reforms (a lot of them), but ranked voting is absolutely the only way that the political culture can be opened up to more diversity of opinion and debate, and move away from the corporate power duopoly that keeps itself in place with ever more drastic measures to divide people about gays, guns, god, and tribal identitarian issues which always completely skip how power/money is brokered and distributed. The US needs to break out of their two-party jailhouse.

      Ranked choice voting would also be a blessing for many countries with proportional representation, because there too many people vote strategically (vote for parties they hate to influence coalition forming instead of a vote for a party that will not be among the power brokers).

      The much vaunted Athenian democracy selected people from various provinces by random choice (google Kleroterion), basically roulette, convinced as they were that elections would yield the worst people, namely, those who seek power. They called a system based on electing the ‘best’ candidate ‘aristocracy’, rule by the ‘best’. Democracy was originally a term of derision for the ‘demos’, rule by ‘country hicks’. Being elected was considered a burden and an imposition.

  5. neilrieck Says:

    Go back an read “The Republican Brain” by Chris Mooney. People on the right seeing everything as “black and white” then play politics like a team sport (they vote for “their party” even if the candidate is not liked). People on the left see things in shades of gray so are more willing to vote for alternative parties. The rub here is that most western elections employ first-past-the-post so winner takes all.

    • jimbills Says:

      It may be the case that progressives see more shades of gray, but in both 2012 and 2016, the Libertarian and former Republican Gary Johnson won about 3 times the amount of votes that Green Party candidate Jill Stein did.

      I’d suggest that third party candidates are often the only choice for those that vote for them. Some people, right or wrong, just don’t feel either the Democrats or the Republicans, in general or in any particular election, represent their politics or interests.

      Because of this, the United States, with its two party system, doesn’t actually have a truly representative democracy. No two parties can ever account for the vast differences in political beliefs in a population. But no Green Party candidate in the United States has ever won an election at any position in the federal government, and yet there are plenty of Green Party representatives all over Europe and down under.

      Multiple parties in other democracies force coalitions that trade with each other for political power, thus ensuring that each party gets some concessions. In that way, each citizen is actually represented. Here, we get a never-ending cycle of just two choices, and it often is difficult to tell a solid difference between those two parties.

      And we here in the States who have politics outside the majority have to grin and take it, election after election, and we’re ‘idiots’ (who should read more) for ever considering otherwise.

      The Green Party candidate this year is on 31 state ballots. The Libertarian is on 45 or so. They’ll both get a handful of votes this year, but it will be way down in percentage from previous elections, because this election is different. Trump is a great danger, especially environmentally. But telling people what they should do, especially in condescending or intellectually superior terms, isn’t likely to sway them.

    • doldrom Says:

      I think it’s quite the opposite. It’s the left that always sticks to their talking points and sweeps everything under the carpet in their bid to hold on to power.

      Right-wing people tend to be deontological/rules-based.
      Left-wing people tend to be utilitarian/ends justify the means.

  6. Keith Omelvena Says:

    I wonder when the US will discover democracy and voters can vote for whom they chose?

  7. J4Zonian Says:


    Yes, remember when Al Gore lost us the election and the country by being yet another right wing Democrat when poll after poll after poll after poll after poll after poll said that large majorities of the US are progressives who favor progressive policies like universal health care, strong climate action like a comprehensive Green New Deal, affordable education, living wages, the right to vote etc.? And thus millions of voters were denied the vote by Republicans in the face of complete silence by the Democratic leadership, and millions of others were so disgusted and discouraged they just gave up and didn’t even try to vote?

    Yes, it’s not time to choose a president who won’t destroy the Earth because we have a choice between a president who will destroy the Earth and a president who will, um… destroy the Earth. But slower. Of course people had the same choice last time, and the time before, and the time before that, and the time before that, and the 2 times before that, and each time they knew how dire it was and so chose the slower sure route to destruction rather than the more radical way out of the problem. So here we are, on the sure route to destruction. Still. But almost there now.

    There’s no good answer here, but if either of the current 2 major party candidates or VPs serves 4 more years, civilization is probably going to end this century.

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