Stein
Society & Culture

Green Balance of Power

A subplot of the 2016 presidential campaign was the Green Party’s ability, for the second time in the 21st century, to achieve balance of power in a close race won by a Republican.  Physician Jill Stein, 66, earned 1.4 million votes, or one percent—a miniscule amount, but more than the difference between Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton in the states of New Hampshire, Michigan, and Wisconsin.  The latter two were part of Clinton’s so-called Blue Wall, and Trump won both of them.  He increased his Electoral College victory by also winning Ohio and Pennsylvania, taking the Industrial North for a Republican ticket for the first time since 1984.

Stein’s achievement was a reminder that Democrats have learned little and forgotten much about their party’s historical role co-opting third-party ideas and votes.  In 2000, Green candidate Ralph Nader achieved balance of power in the popular vote and in seven states, including two (Florida and New Hampshire) won by Republican George W. Bush.  The vote was enough for Bush to win the Electoral College by a narrow margin (271-266), though Gore won the popular vote by 543,895 ballots.  Democrats vowed the Greens would not influence the outcome of another presidential race.  One widely publicized app this year even allowed Clinton voters in Blue States to vote-trade with swing-state Stein supporters.  But the...

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