Nominating conventions for political parties usually include a certain level of regional silliness; delegates wear outrageous outfits and cover themselves with buttons, shirts, and hats that represent their home state as much as their favored candidate. Delegate counts usually are coupled with sloganeering such as, “The great state of Texas, home of the Alamo and the world’s largest spitoon, casts its 78 votes for John Doe!” It’s all in fun, and the relentlessly upbeat messages contribute to the carnival atmosphere in which everyone wants to participate.
Given all of that, the Greens certainly know how to take the party out of the Party:
Major-party convention halls usually ring with unabashed pride and self-promotion as vote announcers remind everyone that “the great state of [fill-in-the-blank]” is home to this sainted man or that unparalleled mountain range.
At the Greens’ convention, though, the spin was a little different. Delegates were told, for example, that “the great state of Indiana” extends “from the shores of polluted Lake Michigan in the north to the clear-cut banks of the Ohio River in the south, with many other sins in between.”
Before casting its votes, New York trumpeted itself as “home of Wall Street and unbridled corporate greed.”
No wonder these people can’t win an election. Who goes running out to the polls to vote for the buzz-killer? And if you think that’s bad, you haven’t heard about the crowd-pleasing announcement from the great state of Minnesota at the convention:
And the great state of Minnesota? It is, delegate Kellie Burriss of Minneapolis intoned, “the land of 10,000 lakes and the Boundary Waters — as well as the home of the Prairie Island nuclear power plant.”
The reference to nuclear power drew a chorus of boos from the Greens, but that changed to loud, sustained cheers when Burriss read out the state’s votes, which included “one vote for Eugene Debs,” cast by delegate Wade Hannon of Moorhead, a teacher and counselor.
The Debs vote received a second ovation when the chairman repeated the vote for the record. Why haven’t you seen Debs on the stump? He’s been dead for 78 years, that’s why. Debs ran for President five times as a Socialist between 1908 and his death in 1926, including once from federal prison on espionage charges. In his first foray, the Strib notes, he toured the country from a train he dubbed the “Red Special”.
So the Greens, who continually chafe at the lack of respect they get, give ovations when casting votes for long-dead Socialists. I’d say the two-party system appears safe for the near future.