Jill Stein has been courting Bernie Sanders' followers since Hillary Clinton's endorsement at the Democratic National Convention (DNC). Despite strong traction among the recently defected, Stein and the Green Party still have an extremely long road ahead.
Last Saturday, during Stein's nomination speech, she told Green Party attendees that it is “such an honor to be running in alliance with the Bernie Sanders movement.”
As Stein continues to gain airtime and social buzz, her obstacles are great. Below are five of the biggest obstacles Stein and her party must overcome in order to be taken seriously.
1. She Needs Money
“We are ‘Bern-ing Green’ together!” the former Massachusetts gubernatorial candidate shouted to cheers — a play on Sanders’ popular “Feel the Bern” mantra but Stein needs to be counting green as well.
Since July of this year, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) has reported that Stein has raised $860,000.
That's just around half the amount raised by Gary Johnson (another third party candidate). Just to provide a proper scale on how much is needed just to be competitive, Bernie Sanders has raised over $200 million to be competitive during the Democratic Primary.
In the 2012 Presidential Election, Obama raised over $700 million along with additional funding from the Democratic Party to make it a grand total of $1.1 Billion. His opponent, Mitt Romney, along with and the Republican Party, spent a total of $1.2 Billion. Both had Super PACs.
Raising money is the lifeblood of a campaign. It shows signs of a committed vote. The cost of a national campaign adds up when you have to provide for your campaign staff, your air travel, office rentals, ad buys, data analytics and the important ground game.
2. She Needs A Track Record
Stein needs to start somewhere. To date, out of all 44 US Presidents, only four had never been elected to public office before becoming President. And when you look closely at the four, one was a commanding general who helped achieve victory in the Civil War (Grant), one was supreme commander of the Allied Forces (Eisenhower), another was the Secretary of Commerce (Hoover) and the fourth was a national hero (Taylor).
This is not to diminish her own accomplishments in leading several organizations but having ties to the government or in the military helps as evidenced by previous election cycles. While those factors won't prepare her for things like getting classified daily briefings from a national security advisor, the experience would allow her name to be at least mentioned in the circles of military or government.
3. You Can't Vote Green In All StatesWhile the Republicans and Democrats continue to take for granted the general ballot access of all states, The Green Party's Ballot Access Committee (BAC) is still working to get the Green Party on the ballot in as many states as possible. Again, she needs donations to allow this to happen (see Reason #1).
From Jill Stein's website:
"As of August 9, 2016, we are on the ballot in 27 states and the District of Columbia, reaching over 60% of the population. Another 30% of the population is in states where we have active ballot access campaigns. Expect to see more states turning green soon. And in states where the remaining 10% of the population lives, we are working to have the courts overturn their draconian ballot access requirements."
4. The Green Party Barely Has Anyone In Office
And that's an understatement.
Aside from not having a presidential candidate ever reach more than 3% of the vote, the Green Party has not had a single candidate elected in either the Senate and the House of Representatives since it started in 2001.
Interesting note: The Green Party as we know today is a branch from the Greens/Green Party USA which started in 1990 which is a branch from the Green Committees of Correspondence which started in 1984.That 3% is awarded to Ralph Nader who was incidentally part of the spoiler controversy of the 2000 presidential election between Bush and Gore.
At the State level, the party has not produced a governor for any state. Additionally, there are over 7000 seats which total Upper and Lower House Seats for all states that work under the governor. Nationally, the Green Party has had, at its most, five winning candidates.
Of the five, John Eder, who won a seat at the Maine House of Representatives in 2004 stayed with the Green Party. The remaining four members switched to either Independent or Democrat during their tenure in office. One of the four, Ben Chipman, a former Green Party leader, ran for Maine House of Representatives as an unenrolled candidate and was elected. Chipman was re-elected in 2012 and 2014.
At the local level, the party claims that there are "over 100" candidates who became elected officials such as mayor or city council through the U.S.
Despite the message, values and philosophies that have resonated and aligned with many voters who may have felt marginalized from the larger political parties, why aren't the Greens getting traction?
5. The Green Party and Stein Is Disorganized And Not Well Thought Out
When the DNC crowned Hillary Clinton as the nominee, Stein went full court press to court as many of Bernie Sanders supporters as possible.
“It will be no surprise to you that we are skeptical that Clinton, the candidate of war, Wall Street, and Walmart, will be open to the agenda that Sanders is promoting, " Stein shouted.
“You have choices.”
But it's also about the policies. The Green Party is too focused on who they can recruit rather than why the Bernie followers should come. And while they've landed some star power from the Bernie Camp like Cornel West, there was very little discussion of how its proposals—to abolish student debt, vastly cut military spending and guarantee living wages for every American.
In one particular section of Stein's website, she proposes jobs as a right by replacing "unemployment offices with employment offices" but also proposes that "government would be the employer of last resort, and the unemployed would have an enforceable right to make government provide work."
How? Does the unemployed have the skill set for the proposed job? And, assuming the unemployed meets requirements, what if there are not enough slots available from the government to provide employment?
Overall, members of the Green Party need to reconcile themselves with reality. Next to the technical difficulties to Skype big names and the irony of its convention attendees being forced to eat at McDonalds, the Green Party is still unprepared to wage a national campaign. These problems compound where it becomes difficult and almost impossible to craft a coherent and resonant message.
Stein’s media-driven candidacy covers the fact that the Green Party has no ground game (See #1). If the Green Party wants to be a true reformist party and be sincere about its mission, it needs to start at the local level which, to its credit, has a few notables.
Ultimately, the Green Party still has a long road ahead.