by Matt Saldaña
At first glance, the Green Party's agenda for its 2009 National Meeting in Durham is a bit, well, all over the map. Major topics include single-payer health care, mountaintop removal mining, a former presidential candidate's excursions into the Gaza Strip, and--in the words of steering committee member Holly Hart--"strategic messaging workshops and planning."
"We wanted to talk about strategy, and what messages are really resonating with the American people," Hart explained.
2009 is an off-year, so the Greens can afford to try out different strategies and see what's working--and what isn't.
On the national level, last year did not work so well. Presidential Candidate Cynthia McKinney finished sixth, behind Barack Obama, John McCain, Ralph Nader, Bob Barr and Chuck Baldwin, at roughly 153,000 votes (roughly one-tenth of one percent). By contrast Ralph Nader received more than 2.8 million votes (or, 2.7 percent) as a Green Party candidate in 2000.
Green Party candidates were elected to 22 local offices throughout the country in November 2008, though most of those elections were non-partisan, according to Phil Huckleberry, chair of the Illinois Green Party.
This year, Huckleberry said 132 Greens are running for office, including "What Would Jesus Buy?" author and comic preacher Rev. Billy Talen, who is running for mayor of New York City.
In Illinois, Huckleberry said no one had ever been elected to a partisan office as a Green but "we fully intend to do that in 2010."
"Just about anything can happen," he said.
Update (7/25/09): The spelling of Rev. Billy Talen's name has been corrected.