by Barry Hermanson
As a long-time member of the Green Party, I’m pleased that Dr. West has chosen to seek the Green Party nomination for president on the November 2024 ballot. Over the years, I’ve been a candidate for various offices in San Francisco. I believe that if the Green Party doesn’t have candidates, voters will never hear about us. In his campaign for president, voters all across the country will hear about the Green Party.
“West is an outspoken voice in left-wing politics in the United States. During his career, he has held professorships and fellowships at Harvard University, Yale University, Union Theological Seminary, Princeton University, Dartmouth College, Pepperdine University, and the University of Paris. He is a frequent commentator on politics and social questions in many media outlets,” according to Wikipedia.
“Philosopher and activist Cornel West has a question: Why do so many Americans languish in prison, put up with indecent housing, or cope with decrepit schools and without proper healthcare when they live in the richest empire in the history of the world?” he asked in a July 5 campaign press release.
“We can end poverty, endless war, cop cities, mass incarceration and ecological collapse, and provide housing, health care, reproductive rights, reparations, education and thriving wages for all,” he declared. “People have had enough of organized greed, institutionalized hatred, and normalized indifference to the lives of poor and working people of all colors. Yet the bipartisan consensus is siphoning trillions of dollars into wars that bring us to the verge of nuclear holocaust and tax giveaways to billionaires already drenched in obscene profits at the expense of struggling workers.”
“Meanwhile the parties of war and Wall Street are throwing millions of children back into poverty by allowing the child tax credit expansion to expire; they are stripping 15 million Americans of health care in their failure to extend Covid Medicaid coverage; and they are denying food stamps to untold numbers of the vulnerable unemployed in their use of a debt ceiling crisis, that could have been avoided, to impose austerity on everyday people. And this comes as two thirds of Americans are already living paycheck to paycheck, 40% of renters are economically stressed, young people are mired in hopelessness, and diseases of despair – including addiction, overdoses and depression – are surging, contributing, along with the Covid debacle, to the shocking decline in lifespan in recent years.”
The first time I was able to vote for president was in 1972. Unfortunately, the candidates offered by Democrats and Republicans have meant I voted against the Republican and not for the Democrat. After the Bill Clinton presidency, I had had enough. In 2001, I joined the Green Party. In every election since, my vote has been cast for a candidate whose message I supported. If Dr. West is chosen by Green Party voters to be their representative on the November 2024 ballot, I will proudly cast my vote for him.
Some Democrats are very concerned about Dr. West’s campaign. Their biggest fear is West might take away votes from President Joe Biden and hand the election to Donald Trump. They are quick to blame Green Party presidential candidates for election losses to George Bush in 2000 and Donald Trump in 2016. What they don’t talk about is the number of people who stayed home and didn’t vote.
“Approximately 240 million people were eligible to vote in the 2020 presidential election and roughly 66.1% of them submitted ballots, totaling about 158 million,” Wikipedia reports. Eighty-two million eligible voters did not vote! Instead of blaming Green Party candidates for narrow losses, why not work to convince more people to vote?
On Dec. 17, 2020, Gallup polling found that 31% of Americans identified as Democrats, 25% identified as Republicans, and 41% as Independent. As of June 2023: 27% D, 25% R, 44% I.”
Voters do not appear to be happy with the choices offered by the two major parties. More voices are needed to challenge the limited choices offered by Democrats and Republicans. Wages for middle and lower income Americans have been stagnant for decades. Eliminating federal funding for affordable housing and relying on the for-profit commercial real estate industry has resulted in massive numbers of people who have no home.
Throughout my lifetime, spending on war has been prioritized over all other needs. The fossil fuel industry is making the planet uninhabitable but continues to receive bipartisan support. Public education and public transportation are under attack. The United States is the only developed nation that does not provide universal health care to its citizens.
In Alaska, “In the 2020 General Election, voters approved an initiative to establish a Nonpartisan Pick One Primary Election system and a Ranked Choice Voting General Election system. … The bill includes president and vice president, U.S. senator, U.S. representative, governor and lieutenant governor, and all state representatives and state senators.”
Ranked choice voting allows voters to vote for candidates they support instead of candidates that supposedly have a greater chance of winning. If voters rank a second choice, their vote will be transferred to that candidate if their first choice doesn’t receive enough votes.
As of today, the Green Party is qualified to be on the ballot in fewer than 20 states. The system is set up to favor the Democratic and Republican parties and to stifle other voices. Every four years, an enormous amount of work must be done to get ballot access for Green Party candidates all across the country. More information is available here: https://www.gp.org/ballot_access.
If the Green Party qualifies for the ballot in Alaska for the November 2024 election, voters will be able to rank Dr. Cornel West for president. President Joe Biden and whoever is the Republican nominee can also be ranked. Democrats will not be able to claim that a vote for Dr. West is taking a vote away from President Biden. All states should have this option for voters.
Barry Hermanson is a member of the San Francisco Green Party and a former small business owner. Contact him at Barry@Hermansons.com or 415-255-9494.