As I looked at the field of candidates, there are some obvious differentiations that can be made. The ones that I believe to be most important are these two.
- Does the candidate have the ability to construct a nationwide organization, bringing together the best local Green Leaders in a movement that will help build, rather than limit, this part?
- Does the candidate have a grasp of issues and policies such that they could acquit themselves well in comparison with the choices of other parties. be that Clinton or Obama, Huckabee or Romney or McCain?
There are only three candidates who, in my opinion, can provide positive responses to both. They are Nader, McKinney and Mesplay. Jared Ball and Kat Swift both provide good reasons that one might vote for them and Ball has an energetic group of volunteers. Neither of them have expressed enough understanding of or willingness to act on the major environmental issues that we are facing now starting with Global Warming. Jesse Johnson and Elaine Brown have not built enough of a campaign to be visible and neither says anything about the key environmental issues on their web sites.
Another way to look at these candidates is to look at the character and capabilities of their supporters. Those who externalize all failings rather than accepting any personal responsibility are not good advocates for a candidate. I am sure that, if some are not chosen, it will be called a plot rather than the fact that their volunteer supporters failed them.
Kent Mesplay is the one candidate who has consistently, from the beginning, has not played identity politics. He is the one candidate who has addressed a range of issues, from peace to the environment and will not be a single issue candidate. He is the one candidate who has published his position on energy policy at a time when the Democrats are playing with our heads and failing in their leadership after being given an opportunity.
I have no idea what Nader will finally do. His name is currently listed as a draft candidate on the national Green Party web site. I tend, however to favor a candidate from within the party rather than once again telling the world that we need a savior from outside.
I find that my judgement of Cynthia McKinney is biased by the fact that too many of her supporters are angry people too quick to blame others for "gaming" the system. I also find that those who speak for her are, in fact, rank amateurs whose presence in a campaign can only hurt the party. My association with Pete McCloskey and the team that he was able to assemble in 2006 makes this a very high bar as far as anyone achieving it. It give me reason, though, to question McKinney's judgment.
By the same logic, I find much positive about Jard Ball and little positive about Elaine Brown. Her most vocal supporters are the ones who do the most damage to her candidacy.
When working with McCloskey in 2006, I was amazed to find that there those who had supported him in the 1970's who were willing to take leaves of absence from work and come back to work for him again. It was all about his honesty in the way that he treated people, direct and not without leveling honest criticism when required. I sense the same honesty in Mesplay.
My absentee ballot will be in the mail by January 7. When it arrives, I will be voting for Kent.