Dear Mr. Anderson,
I was both encouraged and concerned when I learned that you were planning to run for President of the United States. Your voice in our national discussion has been indispensible, both during the Bush administration decrying the myriad abuses of power and both before and during the Obama administration when you admonished the Democrats for either actively or passively allowing those same abuses to continue. You’ve proved yourself to be a man of profound integrity, bravery and competence and know you would make a fine president.
However, I was dismayed to learn that you will be seeking the presidency under a newly created party. I humbly ask that you reconsider and run as the nominee of the Green party. Creating a new party is a terrible, counterproductive and downright dangerous idea.
At best, it is needlessly challenging. The Green Party lines up with your views on virtually every issue. The Green Party not only agrees with the stances you have taken but would be uniquely privileged to have a candidate who has actively fought for progressive values. You have not merely passively and tepidly supported but, as a lawyer and mayor, boldly fought for citizens’ privacy, safety from police brutality, strong ethics laws, a healthy and livable planet, equal rights for the LGBT community and a livable wage. While the Greens do languish in relative obscurity due to limited media attention and the absence of corporate bribery, we have managed to establish a small but devoted network of volunteers and elected officials and hold ballot access in states that equal 243 electoral votes. Not running as a Green would mean forgoing existing support and stand as a slight to fellow citizens who are obviously your ideological allies.
At worst, however, running with new party would divide the left when we most need unity. 2012 could be a great opportunity for us. Obama has proved himself to be spineless, unprincipled and deeply ineffective, while the Republicans drift further and further into total madness. Those of us who desperately wish to see an America that protects its most vulnerable, works towards a clean environment and doesn’t engage in global imperialism have been forced to work outside the two party system. In 2012 we need a single leader, backed by a single party to articulate this dream and the frustration of those who share it to the country. In 2000, Nader had a positive impact on our democracy by finally challenging the corruption and hypocrisy of the Republicans and Democrats. However, in the later election cycles he created needless acrimony, redundancy and confusion by running as an independent against a Green with essentially the same platform. By not running as a Green you risk creating the exact same scenario: Two candidates with Green values, but only one formally representing the Greens, running for the same job.
Moreover, running outside the Green Party overlooks a key failing that 3rd party candidates for president too frequently make. The presidency is one elected job among thousands in America. The bids of both Nader and Perot overlooked this fact. They worked singularly to get themselves elected but neglected to put any energy into growing the parties they represented. Despite generating support and enthusiasm they were little more then flashes in a pan because they failed to build a movement beyond themselves. For political change to occur it needs to come from movements, not a messiah. An effective movement needs more than just one charismatic leader but a legion of like-minded candidates, organizers, advocates and volunteers all working towards the same goal. It needs cohesion and patience that extends beyond 1 or 2 election cycles. Awareness and support needs to slowly be cultivated amongst voters. State parties need to build an experienced base of volunteers (or if funds allow, employees). Races need to be won at the local and state level, proving to the public and media that the party is viable and can effectively govern once elected. The Green Party has abided by this “tortoise” instead of hare strategy for years.
Having a national presidential campaign is essential because it can uniquely broadcast the party’s message to the whole country and attract media visibility. However, it is equally essential that presidential campaigns work in tandem it’s party’s other campaigns for lower offices. All the support a presidential campaign gets is irrelevant if it loses without representing a party. The struggle to positively change America is a marathon. I’m afraid that starting a new party to facilitate you bid would be tantamount to sprinting, leaving you and your supporters exhausted and stranded.
I humbly and deeply ask you to reconsider.