For those of us who worked to get Ralph Nader on state ballots in 2000, one persistent story was that North Carolina had some of the most prohibitive ballot access requirements in the United States. That remained the case right through last year's election, when the Stein/Baraka Green Party ticket won more than 12,000 write-in votes in the Tarheel State.
I am ecstatic to report, for those who have not yet heard, that North Carolina has relaxed its criteria! It didn't even require lengthy, tedious, expensive litigation: Last week the Republican-led Legislature overturned the Democratic governor's veto of Senate Bill 656. Maybe the Republicans in both chambers were thinking strategically, buying into the conventional wisdom that Greens on the ballot will steal votes from the Democrats and restore the governor's mansion to the Republicans—who, after all, own it by divine right.
I am less ecstatic to report that my native state of Oklahoma is still the biggest stick in the proverbial red-clay mud, making third-party ballot lines nigh unobtainable. I still don't know how the Libertarians managed it.
In other news, Texas's ballot access law still sux. (See Section 181.005, currently on page 621 of the 914-page Texas Election Code PDF.)
Kiwis Swing Left
Just after I gushed week before last over Nicola Sturgeon's address to the Scottish National Party Conference, now comes the news of New Zealand's new Labour PM. Jacinda Ardern
is the youngest PM there in 150 years, and one of the youngest heads of government in the world. By some generational reckonings, she's a Millennial, born in 1980. Digest that if you will.
Sorry, my Greenie friends, but the Aotearoa Greens did not win a plurality, and with their eight seats they're not even officially in the government. You can keep dreaming. However, the Greens have pledged to support the government, which Labour coalesced with the centrist New Zealand First Party in order to take control of the House. The center-right National Party switches to the opposition, controlling 56 seats while the governing coalition occupies 55.
There is some news of interest on the Green front, however. Among the Green candidates to be seated is newly-elected MP Golriz Ghahraman. She is touting herself as NZ's first refugee MP. whose family escaped from Iran during the Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s.
Ardern, elected Labour's leader mere months ago, appears to be more True Labour than New Labour. She has stated for the record that capitalism is not working for NZ's and the world's poorest, and that new economic approaches are required.
I'll confess, it was news to me that the nation of three million had any poverty, let alone an actual problem with homelessness. Turns out it's not all petit-bourgeois hobbits living there. Of course, it was also news to me that New Zealand has been making life hell for activists. (Suzie Dawson's Internet Party did not win any seats this time around.)
As recently as last Monday, Green co-leader James Shaw posted this blog entry, holding out hope that Labour would welcome the Greens aboard. Shaw also used that same p-word:
There is a very real possibility that the Green Party will be part of a new Government. We can assure you that no matter what the outcome is, we will continue to fight for action on climate change, clean rivers and poverty.
Based on my interactions with US Greens over the years, I'm convinced that a fair number of us have a fear of electoral success. We worry that, if elected, we might evolve into everything we've railed against all these years. But that doesn't hold us back any more than the lack of campaign funds or virtually zero media coverage in this nation ruled by the One Corporate Party with Two Heads.
Even if I don't live to see the Greens become a viable, competitive political force here, I hope the evolution to multi-party democracy at least begins while I'm still breathing...and while we still have air to breathe. That...and the knowledge spreading among the populace that capitalism is killing us.