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Green Party of the United States

Table of contents:
1. Outline
2. The Green Party of the US ‘s background
3. The Green Party of the US’s political development
4. The Green Party of the US’s political contribution
5. The US Green Party of the US’s political achievements
6. Conclusion
7. References

• The development of the Green Party of the US as the result of the emergence of environmental concerns in the 1970s-1980s (Bookchin, 1987)
• The Green Party of the US was created on the basis of state green parties. The formation of the Green Party of the US included several stages: 1989- the creation of the National Green Committees of Correspondence, which were associated with Committees of Correspondence of the epoch of the Revolutionary War; 1992 – Green Politics Network; 1996 the Association of the State Green Parties; 2001 – the Green Party of the United States (Nader. 2006)
• The key values of the Green Party of the United States – Four Pillars: ecological wisdom, social justice, grass roots democracy, and non-violence (Field, 2008).
• Discussions within the party: the choice between socialism and capitalism, revolution or evolution (
• The development of the Green Party of the US was influenced by the development of environmental movements in the US as well as worldwide. Hence, the Green Party of the US is influenced by two major forces: internal and external. External influences: basic environmental values, concern on environmental protection, humanistic values (Feinstein, 1992). Internal influences: liberalism, the development of a party as an alternative to major political forces, i.e. the Democratic and Republican Parties of the US, a huge significance of local and state political organizations within the party, especially state parties (Field, 2008).
• The key political contribution of the party and its political program:
Environmental policies: focus on ecology and environmental protection; elimination or limitation of dangerous productions and emissions, introduction of the long-run environmental strategy, organic food, water conservation, use of solar power (Broder, 1998)
Socio-economic policies: community renewal, racial and social justice, and democracy, finance reform to implement the concept of social justice, fair trade instead of free trade ideology of globalization, the protection of the rights of women and children worldwide, the elimination and prevention of racial polarization and discrimination, a living wage, the development of small business, a single-player health insurance system
Political issues: an anti-imperial, multilateral foreign policy, free access to media, reform of the electoral system, the global peace policy and defense of civil liberties worldwide, the opposition to the war on terrorism (Broder, 1998)
• Political achievements of the Green Party of the US:
The participation of the party’s candidates in Presidential campaigns in: 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008, though without considerable success because of the domination of the Democratic Party and the Republican Party (Field, 2008)
At the moment, the Green Party has few successes on the national level
Instead, successful development on the state level
The gradual increase in the number of candidates for political office and in the number of victories gained. In 1990, 20 Green candidates stood for office with 8 victories (Broder, 1998), while the party’s officeholder count, as of January 1, 2003, stands at 171 (Field, 2008).
• Conclusion
The Green Party of the US progresses, but faces numerous challenges, especially from the part of the dominant political forces and low attention from the part of the media. The major pitfalls, possibilities and prospects of the party are:
The leadership of Ralph Nader who managed to lead the Party from an unknown political force to a national party
The lack of media attention and insufficient promotion
The problem of the US electoral system winner-take-all and the money crucible
The internal problem: decentralization vs. centralization; slide towards bureaucracy; need of diversity
The global connection of the party
The need of support of the electorate nationwide

The Green Party of the US’s background
The creation of the Green Party of the US was, to a significant extent, determined by socio-political trends and growing environmental concerns of Americans (Naess, 1973). In this respect, the roots of the Green movement in the US can be traced in the 1960s – 1970s when the pollution of environment and irrevocable environmental changes made many Americans aware of the negative impact of human activities on nature (Carson, 1972). As a result, by the 1980s the Green movement grew in power and gradually became a significant public movement which attempted to establish the public control over the functioning of corporations and other organizations which could pollute air, water and produce a negative impact on the environment at large.
At the same time, Green movements abroad had started to evolve into political parties and the US Greens followed their example. Initially, they organized political parties on the local, state level. By 1989, over 400 local groups has sprung up in most parts of the country and they established communication between them that eventually resulted in the formation of the movement known as the National Committees of Correspondence (Nader, 2006). This was the first attempt of the unification of Greens nationwide. Gradually, the movement evolved and it was reorganized in the Green Politics Organizing Committee, which existed from 1989 to 1991 (Broder, 1998). In fact, it was the political organization which protected fundamental values of the Green movement in the US. In 1992, the organization was changed to the Green Politics Network in 1992, which, in its turn, “led to the creation of the Association of State Green Parties in 1996” (Field, 2008). In 2001, the Association of State Green parties changed its name to the Green Party of the United States.
The Green Party of the US’s development
In the course of its development, the Green Party had to cope with numerous challenges and was influenced by external and internal forces. What is meant here is the fact that the Green Party of the US was created on the basis of the national Green movement. On the other hand, the ideology and some fundamental concepts of the Green Party of the US as well as the idea of the creation of such a political force were similar or borrowed from Green movements functioning in other countries of the world, such as New Zealand, for instance (Bookchin, 1987). In this respect, the external influence laid the foundation of the Green Party of the US’s environmental ideology and concept, such as the protection of the environment and universal humanistic values. In fact, the focus of the Green Party of the US on the environmental protection was similar to Green parties worldwide. In addition, the Green Party of the US shared common humanistic values of other Green parties worldwide, such as anti-war ideology, social equality, elimination of discrimination, etc (Feinstein, 1992).
As for internal influences on the development of the Green Party of the US, they were determined by the local specificities and peculiarities of the American political, socio-economic and cultural life. To put it more precisely, the ideology of the Green Party of the US was consistently more liberal than ideology in more conservative countries, such as European countries, for instance (Broder, 1998). As a result, the American Greens stand on the ground of the introduction of considerable changes in the existing social and political order. In fact, discussions within the party were often antagonistic. In the process of the development of the party, the views on its ideology and further development often opposed to each other. For instance, the party chose between socialism and capitalism as the economic system the party would like to support (Patterson, 2008). Moreover, some representatives of the party insisted on the revolutionary way of the introduction of Green principles and values (Broder, 1998). However, radicalism was not supported by the majority of the Green Party of the US, though the party tended to support ideas of social equality, which made it rather close to left movements.
Nevertheless, today, it is possible to speak about four fundamental principles of the Green Party of the US, or Four Pillars as they call it: ecological wisdom, social justice, grass roots democracy, and non-violence (Field, 2008).
The Green Party of the US’s political contribution
In spite of a relatively short history of the existence of the Green Party of the US, it has already managed to make a considerable contribution in the development of American socio-political thought. In fact, the party is one of the major political inspirers of the formation of a totally new attitude to the development of the country, society and its impact on the environment. The Green Party of the US attempts to preserve fundamental American values and introduce environmentally friendly policy as the backbone of both domestic and foreign policy of the US.
On analyzing environmental concerns and policies of the party, it should be said that it is primarily concerned with a more effective environmental protection and minimization of a negative impact of humans on the environment not only in the US but also worldwide (Reeves, 2000). Furthermore, the party aims at the minimization of the emission of dangerous gases and elements, such as CO2, which contribute to the green-house effect and other negative environmental effects (Nader, 2006). Along with such strategic goals, the party supports concrete environmental policies, which can lead to the achievement of strategic goals defined above, including the wide use of solar power, the production of organic food, with minimal use of chemical and other artificial elements in farming, and water conservation (Broder, 1998).
On the political level, the party insists on the development of anti-imperial, multilateral foreign policy, which means that the US should not play the role of the only world power controlling other countries and defining their national politics. Instead, the party offers the development of democratic world where all countries are equal. Also the party opposes to the war on terror, which the Greens believe is unjust and they insist on the protection of civil rights worldwide (Broder, 1998).
In the socioeconomic field, the Green Party of the US stands on the ground of racial equality and social justice. The party insists on the community renewal and increasing role of local communities in the national politics. Also the party opposes to any form of discrimination and insists on the protection of rights of women and children. On the economic level, the party opposes to the free trade and globalization because it is unfair. Instead, the party offers the development of fair trade, which allows all countries to benefit from international trade (Nader, 2006). In addition, the party offers the financial reform to redistribute the national wealth more rationally and fairly and establishment of living wages.
The Green Party of the US’s political achievements
In fact, the party has failed to make a revolutionary breakthrough in the American politics and it failed to become the third political party along with the Democratic Party and the Republican Party. Nevertheless, since the foundation of the party, its representatives, including the leader of the party Ralph Nader, participated in the Presidential campaigns, though, the party’s candidates have failed to succeed, in 1996, 2000, 2004 and 2008 (Field, 2008). The same trend can be traced on the national legislative level, where the party still remains underrepresented. On the other hand, the party was quite successful on the local and state levels. In fact, in 1990, the Green Party of the US had only8 victories while only 20 Green candidates stood for office. Within a little bit more than a decade the party’s officeholder count was 171 in 2003 (Nader, 2006). In such a way, the company made a considerable progress on the state level.
Thus, it is possible to conclude that the Green Party of the US emerged under the impact of the growing environmental concerns in the American society. Its ideology aims at the environmental protection, development of democracy and social justice. However, the dominance of the winner-takes-all principles in the US electoral system deprives the party of the opportunity to take a leading position on the national level or, at least, enter national political elite. In addition, media do not pay much attention to the Green Party of the US, focusing on principal players – Democrats and Republicans. In such a situation, to draw the public attention, the party needs to capture the attention of media. The latter means that the party needs to raise funds and this is another problem the party is currently facing because there are really few supporters who are ready to spend their money on the party, which cannot bring considerable financial feedback since it is oriented on environmental and social issues, instead of economic ones. Finally, the party has certain internal problems, such as the struggle between decentralization of the party because the company was created by state green parties and its efforts to centralize the party to make its organization more solid that can bring positive results to the Greens as a united political force. On the other hand, the centralization can lead to the bureaucratization of the party. In addition, the party lacks diversity, because ethnic minorities are underrepresented in the party (Nader, 2006). Nevertheless, the party has a prospective ideology, because willing or not Americans will have to pay more attention to their environment and its protection. Moreover, the party has international support of Greens worldwide (Feinstein, 1992).

Bookchin, M. The Modern Crisis. Philadelphia: New Society Publishers, 1986.
Broder, D. (April 5, 1998). “A National Debate Requires Personal Leadership at the Top”, Maine Sunday Telegram.
Carson, R. (1972). Silent Spring, Cambridge. MA: Riverside Press.
Feinstein, M. (1992). Sixteen Weeks with the European Greens. San Pedro, CA: R & E Miles.
Field, M. (2008). California Government and Politics Today (12th ed.). New York: Longman Publishing Group.
Nader, R. (2006). Crashing the Party:, How to Tell the Truth and Still Run for President. New York: Random House.
Naess, A. (1973). “The Shallow and the Deep, Long Range Ecology Movements,” Inquiry 16, 95-100.
Patterson, T. E. (2008). We the People: A Concise Introduction to American Politics (7th ed.). Boston: McGraw-Hill.
Reeves, T.C. (2000). Twentieth-Century America: A Brief History. New York: Oxford University Press.


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