In American politics, the Green Party is a third party which has been active in some areas since the 1980s, but first gained widespread public attention for Ralph Nader's presidential runs in 1996 and 2000. The FEC-recognized national committee of the party, organizationally analogous to the Republican or Democratic National Committees, is the Green Party of the United States (although there remains also a mostly-defunct separate Green national political organization, the Greens/Green Party USA).
Unlike Green parties in other nations, Greens in the United States have won elected office mostly at the local level only; most winners of public office in the United States who are considered Greens have won nonpartisan-ballot elections (that is, the winning Greens won offices in elections in which candidates were not identified on the ballot as affiliated with any political party). At the federal level, third parties generally poll poorly in the United States. This is largely due to the country's use of first-past-the-post voting and concerns of third party votes causing a spoiler effect, circumstances predicted by Duverger's law.
Greens emphasize decentralization and local autonomy, in keeping with the Green commitment to non-hierarchical participatory democracy, so it is perhaps not surprising that the strength of the Green Party does not derive from a central national organization.
The Ten Key Values of the Green Party were drafted by that party in 1984. They form the philosophical basis for the platforms of the present Green Party of the United States and Green Party of Canada, and most provincial and state parties.
The ten include and expand upon the Four Pillars of the Green Party originated in Europe and practiced by the worldwide green parties. The Global Greens Charter, signed by many of these parties in Australia in 2001, was based on the Ten Values and Four Pillars, reduced to Six Principles for brevity.
The ten values are still used by most of the state and provincial parties in North America.
Over 20 years of use, there are many different explanations of what the ten original terms mean, and many policies that represent examples of the principles in action, but the terms themselves are relatively constant:
- Community-based economics, e.g. LETS, local purchasing, co-housing
- Decentralisation, e.g. via Bioregional democracy, sustainable agriculture
- Ecological Wisdom, e.g. ending human-caused extinction, promoting ecological health
- Feminism, e.g. Health security especially for mothers and children, and thus a focus on environmental health
- Grassroots democracy, e.g. via electoral reform to improve deliberative democracy
- Non-violence, e.g. via de-escalation, peace processes
- Personal and global responsibility, e.g. moral purchasing, voluntary simplicity
- Respect for diversity, e.g. via fair trade, bioregional democracy
- Social justice, e.g. harm reduction rather than zero tolerance
- Future Focus/Sustainability, e.g. measuring well-being effect over seven generations, leading to what is called seven-generation sustainability
Requests are being made for permission to distribute existing explanations of what these values mean. Examples should be drawn from U.S. and Canadian Green Parties, as these are the ones who refer to the values in these terms.
Largely inspired by the success of the German Green Party, political activists in the United States formed the Committees of Correspondence in 1984, later to be known as the Green Committees of Correspondence (GCOC). The GCOC adopted the Ten Key Values as their philosophical basis, loosely based on the Four Pillars that most European Greens use. They organized themselves around bio-regional lines.
The GCOC held national gatherings of Green activists in 1987, then annually starting in 1989. At the 1991 national gathering, the GCOC was disbanded, and a new structure was put into place, named the Greens/Green Party USA (G/GPUSA), which was organized with delegates from local and regional green groups, in addition to individual members.
In 1990, Jim Sykes ran as a Green for governor in Alaska. He received 3.3% of the vote, enough to grant official ballot status to the Green Party of Alaska. The California Green Party would follow, attaining official ballot status in 1991. From 1992 to 1995, the number of candidates in local and state-wide elections identifying themselves grew, in addition to the number of organized local and state-wide Green groups. Hawaiian Greens, including the notable Keiko Bonk, have achieved repeated success in county-level elections.
At the 1995 national gathering of the GPUSA in Albuquerque, New Mexico, a measure to run a candidate for president was defeated. However, those who wished to run a candidate for president continued to pursue this possibility. They selected Ralph Nader as their presidential candidate and Winona LaDuke as their vice-presidential candidate. The pair were on the ballot in twenty-two states and received 685,128 votes, or 0.7% of all votes cast.  (http://www.fec.gov/pubrec/summ.htm)
In the aftermath of the 1996 election, representatives from eleven state Green Parties joined to form the Association of State Green Parties (ASGP). The focus of the ASGP, while still including issue activism and non-electoral politics, was more clearly on getting Greens elected. In the years from 1997 to 1999, more local, regional, and state-wide Green parties continued to form. Many of these parties affiliated themselves with both the ASGP and the G/GPUSA.
In the year 2000, the ASGP nominated Ralph Nader and Winona LaDuke for President and Vice-President again. This time, the pair were on 44 state ballots and received 2,882,897 votes, or 2.7% of all votes cast  (http://fecweb1.fec.gov/pubrec/2000presgeresults.htm).
In October of 2000 (during the campaign), a proposal was made to alter the structures of the ASGP and G/GPUSA to be complementary organizations with the ASGP focusing on electoral politics and the G/GPUSA focusing on issue advocacy. The Boston Proposal (so named because it was negotiated at Boston in the days before the first presidential debate) was passed by the ASGP at its next annual gathering, but did not pass at the G/GPUSA Congress. The ASGP then changed its name to the "Green Party of the United States" and was granted status as the official National Committee of the Green Party by the FEC in 2001. Today the G/GPUSA survives as a small membership organization, led by the few Greens who opposed the Boston Proposal. Though they often represent themselves to the contrary, they do not represent the vast majority of Greens, and only a handful of state parties are affiliated with them.
In 2002, John Eder's election to the Maine State House of Representatives marked the first Green Party state legislator in the United States elected in a regular election. (Audie Bock had won a special election as a state legislator in California, but left the party and eventually became a Democrat.) John Eder's party designation on the ballot in 2002 was "Green Independent." Eder was personally congratulated by Ralph Nader on election night. In 2004, despite redistricting in Maine that threatened to unseat John Eder, Eder nevertheless won re-election.
Late in 2003, Ralph Nader declared that he would not be the party's nominee for president in 2004. However, in February, 2004, Nader announced his intention to run as independent. A few months later, Nader stated that he would accept the "endorsement" rather than the "nomination" of the Green Party, as well as of other third parties. Several prominent Greens, including Peter Camejo and Lorna Salzman, endorsed this plan (Camejo would later accept a position as Nader's vice-presidential running-mate). The most notable opposition came from lawyer and activist David Cobb, who wanted to run a campaign focused on building the party. On June 26, the Green Party of the United States convention rejected the idea of an endorsement for Nader and chose Cobb as its presidential candidate, with Pat LaMarche of Maine as the candidate for Vice-President.
A vigorous debate continues within the Green Party regarding the place of the party in what many see as a dysfunctional electoral system.
The Green Party has shown its strongest popular support in the far-western and northeastern United States, as reflected in the geographical distribution of Green candidates elected  (http://www.greens.org/elections/). Californians have elected 67 of the 204 office-holding Greens nationwide as of January, 2004 (all of them in nonpartisan-ballot elections). In California in 2000, the Green Party's nominee for president (Ralph Nader) received 405,722 votes; In the 2002 Governor's race, the city of San Francisco gave more votes to the Green Party candidate, Peter Camejo, than to the Republican candidate. Matt Gonzalez, who has served as president of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and who came close to winning the San Francisco mayoral contest in 2003, is a Green Party member (although these city offices in California are elected by "nonpartisan" ballot). The Alaska Green Party has the highest per capita proportion of Greens, receiving 10% of the votes statewide in the 2000 presidential elections.
2004 national ticket
In the 2004 presidential election, the candidate of the Green Party of the United States for President was lawyer David Cobb of Texas, and its candidate for vice-president was labor activist Pat LaMarche of Maine.
In 2004, Ralph Nader, the Party's 2000 candidate for President, announced that he would run as an independent candidate. Mr. Nader explained that he was not seeking the Green Party's nomination. Mr. Nader's position was confusing to many Greens, because Nader's campaign also said that Nader was seeking to gain the Party's "endorsement," but Nader had seemed to say that he would not accept the party's nomination. One point that made this situation especially confusing was that an "endorsement," unlike "nomination," does not normally have a legal significance implying ballot access. After David Cobb received the Party's 2004 nomination at the Green Party nominating convention in Milwaukee, Nader's Vice Presidential running mate, Peter Camejo, said, "I'm going to walk out of here arm in arm with David Cobb."
The Cobb-LaMarche ticket in 2004 appeared on 28 of the 51 ballots around the country; the Nader-Camejo ticket in 2004 appeared on 35 ballots. In 2004, Cobb was on the ballot in California (and Nader was not), whereas Nader was on the ballot in New York (and Cobb was not). Democratic Party strategists in 2004 used aggressive tactics to remove Nader's name from several state ballots.
Although many Green Party members were upset and some expressed "embarrassment" that Nader was not the party's 2004 candidate, others pointed out that the presidential contest should not be the focus of a grassroots party that emphasizes organizing at the local level. According to this view, the party would benefit in the long run by concentrating on building the party at the local level, instead of focusing energy on the race for the presidency. Moreover, for some Greens, including many admirers and supporters of Ralph Nader who wished that Nader had decided to seek the Green Party's nomination in 2004, the party's nomination of a presidential candidate with a considerably lower profile than Ralph Nader meant that the Green Party might enjoy a much-needed respite in 2004 from the unrelenting and increasingly energy-draining concerted attacks against Nader orchestrated by Democratic Party operatives that had begun during the 2000 campaign. Some Greens further argued that Ralph Nader's decision not to seek the Green nomination in 2004 might help the Green Party overcome a widespread mistaken perception that the party was based on a "cult of personality" with Ralph Nader as its central cult figure.
The voting results from the 2004 presidential election were considerably less impressive than the results of the Green Party's Nader-LaDuke presidential ticket in 2000, which had garnered more than 2,882,000 votes. In 2004, running in most states as an independent (but with high-profile Green Party activist Peter Camejo as his running mate), Ralph Nader received approximately 464,000 votes; the Green Party's 2004 nominees, David Cobb and Patricia LaMarche, mustered only approximately 120,000 votes. Nevertheless, many Greens were not discouraged by the relatively low presidential vote yield in 2004 for Cobb and for Nader. They pointed out that the numbers were not alarming because the Green Party continued to grow in many parts of the country, increasing Green Party affiliation numbers and fielding Green candidates for congressional, state, and local offices.
List of presidential candidates
List of National Conventions/Conferences
- 2000 - Denver, CO
- 2001 - Santa Barbara, CA
- 2002 - Philadelphia, PA
- 2003 - Washington, DC
- 2004 - Milwaukee, WI