In the United States, the Green Party is a national political party formed in 1991 from previous state organizations. It does not have the same clout as groups like the Democrats or Republicans, but it does have influence in elections. For instance, many Democrats credit Al Gore’s failure in the Presidential election of 2000 to the popularity of Ralph Nader, a Green Party candidate. Nader was thought to have stripped Gore of some of his votes, as he received votes from not only members of his own party but also from more liberal Democrats.
The Green Party derives its name from its stance on environmental responsibility. Members advocate sustainable methods of agriculture, business, and transportation. They support the use of alternative fuels and laws providing greater environmental protection. In this way, they stand opposed to “big business” consumption of fossil fuels, deforestation to build houses, destruction or plundering of natural habitats to create products, and any other practices that cause damage to the already fragile environment of Earth.
Moreover, the party is committed to developing universal healthcare. Members are quick to note that many workers cannot obtain affordable health insurance and that this is a right, not a privilege, that should belong to all. They have criticized both Democratic and Republican candidates for being less than responsible with respect to addressing the health care needs of the US population.
Tied in importance with making health care available to all is the Green Party’s insistence that all workers should be given a realistic living wage. In most states, the minimum wage is not actually a living wage, producing extreme poverty even for those who work full time. This concept of a living wage is not only found in the philosophy of this party, but also among some liberal Democrats who have advocated for a realistic living wage for many years. The Green Party also aligns itself with workers in the sense that it believes that most workers bear the brunt of taxes, while those with deeper pockets avoid taxes through a variety of loopholes. Members support higher taxes for wealthy individuals and businesses to pay for a variety of programs that would promote social equality and justice.
The Green Party has also been strongly opposed to US involvement in Iraq. In almost all cases, members feel that solutions to friction between different countries should be addressed through nonviolent means. They also value freedom of choice, along with broad respect for cultural, social, and religious differences. Members typically support a woman’s right to choose, the rights of homosexuals to marry, and the right of any person in the US to practice or not to practice religion.
As for crime, Green politicians focus on crime prevention by investing in social programs to help elevate and educate those most likely to commit crimes, such as minority populations in great poverty. The party stands strongly opposed to the death penalty because of members' inherent respect for human life after birth.
Many dismiss the Green Party as “bleeding heart liberals.” Even among Democrats, the leftist stance of the party's politics often causes discomfort. There are those who fear the party wants nothing less than socialism or communism. It is true that the Green Party advocates for government involvement, placing higher value on people than on corporations. Where their politics tend toward socialism, however, members are still supporters of the political framework of the US, particularly as it relates to the rights and freedoms defined in the Bill of Rights and the Constitution.