Although they number only 1,000 registered and dues-paying members, no longer have the heft of Ralph Nader in their midst, and can’t and won’t raise money to compete with the mainstream parties, the New Jersey Green Party insists it’s still relevant.
Nick Mellis of Lawrence Township, who in March succeeded George DeCarlo as the party’s state chairman, returned from Chicago ten days ago, where the Greens nominated former U.S. Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-Decatur) for president.
"We had a very successful convention," says Mellis, though he notes that in New Jersey the party "is experiencing growing pains," and unfortunately not fielding a U.S. Senate candidate this year.
Now in the midst of gathering the 800 required signatures to get McKinney on the ballot, Mellis also acknowledges that even if they succeed, his party can’t get their candidate good ballot position.
A former Democrat who was disillusioned by President Bill Clinton, Mellis helped found the New Jersey Greens in 1995, before the party enjoyed a boost from consumer advocate Nader, a graduate of Princeton University, who earned the party’s presidential nomination.
Running for president again this year, but not as a Green, "Ralph Nader has chosen to stick to his true colors and be independent," said a resigned Mellis.
Although Obama beat Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) in the Democratic presidential primary in part by relying on grassroots organizers and progressives, Mellis denies that the candidate has contributed to a weakening of his organization.
"Obama is a moderate in sheep’s clothing," Mellis says. "He takes money from state lobbyists. He doesn’t take federal PAC money, but he’s still getting corporate money. You see now how he’s backing away from his prior stances by advocating the faith-based initiative and his ‘yes’ vote on reauthorization of FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act)
"This is a Constitutional lawyer who thinks it’s ok to wiretap people, who apparently believes it’s all right to violate the law in order to prevent the law from being violated," Mellis added.
Moments later, Mellis added, "Look, I’m not going to be an idiot and say there’s no difference between Obama and (Sen. John) McCain, but it’s a pro-choice corporate candidate versus a pro-life corporate candidate," and he’s still voting for McKinney in November.