Depending on your partisan bent, Nathaniel Lane, Chair for the Green Party of Ohio, bears many descriptions. To Republicans, he's a socialist, Antifa sympathizing tree-hugger hell bent on destroying the economy with a radical green agenda.
To Democrats, he's an embittered idealist hell bent on spoiling the next election for more electable, moderate candidates with realistic policy proposals.
To himself, he' a father, electrician, and someone who'd like to see Ohio's economy work harder for the majority of those who work in it.
I spoke with him for this week's edition of YDHTY and discussed the Green Party's vision for the future of Ohio and America, the anachronism of America's military budget, and the challenges ballot access laws have played in simply having a voice in the political process.
Minority Party. Majority Opinion.
As in last week's episode with Constitution Party candidate, Jeff Gregory, Lane left the ideological safety of the two major parties after seeing the role both played in enacting policies that eroded the industrial economic base of his home state. Whereas Gregory's reaction was to reverse course to the way things were, Lane was attracted to the Green Party's vision to transform the economy to one that was more equitable and forward looking in terms of the environment.
While the Green Party's platform seemed radical when he joined in the early 2000's, much of their platform - such as the decriminalization of marijuana, universal healthcare, and free college education - is part of the mainstream political dialogue today.
What's more, the positions of today's Green Party aren't all that far from those endorsed by some in the Democratic Party - such as the Green New Deal.
What makes the Green Party unique from the more liberal wing of the Democratic Party is its willingness to swallow potentially bitter political pills, such as diverting funding and labor from America's antiquated military-industrial complex towards making homes more energy efficient. While these jobs pay far less than the factory jobs provided by the defense industry, they also employ more people and provide a livable wage.
When asking where our tax dollars are best spent, it's hard to imagine Americans would choose having one person employed and two on public assistance, as opposed to all three making a steady income.
What Makes a candidate Viable? Being on the Ballot
For the Green Party of Ohio, as with all minor parties in America, the problem isn't a platform that's unappealing to voters, but an electoral system designed to shut them out. Without a pandemic, ballot access laws remain a moving target where signature requirements are increased arbitrarily or parties are required to run state-wide candidates in order to receive placement on the ballot for more local positions - effectively forcing them to act as spoilers in an election.
In the age of COVID, these requirements render them invisible.
Without other voices in the conversation, America's two major parties need only to destroy the other in order to gain power. If we continue down the path of denying a political voice to the millions of Americans who vote Green, Libertarian, and for other minor parties, they might just take us down with them.