A Diverse Field of Green Party Presidential Candidates for 2012
by Pat LaMarche
Comedic innovator, proud grandma and self-proclaimed domestic goddess Roseanne Barr has announced her candidacy for President of the United States as well as for Prime Minister of Israel. Although some have argued that the former is so dictated to by the latter that holding both offices is unnecessarily redundant.
Many of the articles — like the one that appeared in the Christian Science Monitor — question Barr’s sincerity as she throws her hat into the ring.
And the wild fire of speculation on whether this was just another of Barr’s shenanigans or a true bid for the nomination representing the nation’s hundreds of thousands of Green Party members isn’t unique to the media outlets across the land, but in the discussion topic of rank and file greens as well.
The Green Party has several declared candidates for president. Dr. Kent Mesplay and Dr. Jill Stein have both tossed their lesser-known hats in the ring. And while neither the PhD nor the MD are U.S. household names the way Barr is, they have both dedicated the lion share of their adult lives to enlarging the reach of the green agenda and effectively assuring that across the nation Roseanne — and others — might join.
Mesplay, the PhD, has his doctoral degree in Biomedical Engineering from North Western University and works as an air quality specialist in California. He’s also part Blackfoot Indian, multi-lingual and has lived with aboriginals outside the U.S. Mesplay grew up in the aftermath of WW II and spent much of his career perfecting prosthetics for amputees before shifting his talents to educating businesses on how to pollute less. Or — if they don’t listen to him — as an examiner, he gets to mete out their punishments.
Stein, the MD, got both her undergraduate and graduate degrees at Harvard University. She’s an author, lecturer, practitioner and nationally recognized authority on toxics and how they affect children. While she, like Barr, is also a mom, she has more in common with Mesplay when it comes to politics. She has long championed the cause of the Green Party — known as the Green Rainbow Party in her home state of Massachusetts. In votes earned, she ranks at the top of the pack of hundreds of past state wide candidates who have challenged the major two party system. Her popularity has secured ballot status for the greens in a state considered in lock-step with the Democratic Party.
And Roseanne Barr is a celebrity because she’s a critically acclaimed actress and comedienne. A less than exhaustive search of her biographies yielded nothing in the way of educational background. But her life’s experience as a person who rose from humble beginnings is apparent. Barr didn’t become rich and famous by forgetting her origins but by elevating them and celebrating them while millions of American TV viewers tuned in.
Barr’s long running sit-com highlighted the working poor — proving what the average American already knew — that folks who decorate the back of their couch with granny square afghans and who think pizza night is a big deal are the heart and soul of the country. And that these everyday heroes have a sense of humor: they can laugh at each other and they can laugh at themselves.
Now in the interest of full disclosure I must admit that this triumvirate of Green Party candidates is very important to me because the Green Party is very important to me. I have twice run for Governor of Maine — the first time as an independent whose success in the polls re-established ballot access for the party — and I was our 2004 Vice Presidential Candidate.
As a woman who has dedicated the last fifteen years of my political identity to building the Green Party, I enthusiastically welcome Roseanne to the Green Party and I hope that the increased exposure her participation brings will allow us all to show why I — and hundreds of thousands of others — have so long toiled for this party. We greens believe in humanity. We long to end corporate control of our elections and consequently our lives. We believe infectious disease, famine and war can be eradicated as our world’s leading killers and we believe that a sustainable economy comes from valuing the worker as well as the product they provide. We believe in personal liberty and that it applies to all humans regardless of gender, race, religion, or sexual orientation. We believe in love and that love can be the basis of our governing units which would assure that all are treated equally. In the Green Party we believe in ourselves — so we aren’t afraid to govern cooperatively — and that means we believe in you.
Pat LaMarche is the Vice President of Community Affairs at Safe Harbour, Inc. In 2004, she was the U.S. Vice Presidential nominee for the Green Party. During the campaign, she traveled the nation living in homeless shelters and on the streets; the book she wrote about those experiences is Left Out in America: The State of Homelessness in the United States (Upala Press, 2006). LaMarche writes a regular political column for The Bangor Daily News and contributes to the Huffington Post; hosts The Pulse Morning Show that broadcasts from Maine; and is a Contributing Author for New Clear Vision.