This was the first Presidential Candidate Debate the Green Party has organized, and I was grateful. With half a dozen names on the ballot, I wanted to see them in action to help me figure out which one(s) I wanted to support.


Jared Ball, Kat Swift, and Kent Mesplay were tabling in the lobby long before the crowds of people got thick.


Soon after that Cynthia McKinney showed up and stole the show.


After I'd found a seat a postman told me that Nader was out in the lobby. I went out and got this picture. As usual, there were lots of people that wanted Nader to sign something or hear something, or accept something. He handled it all gracefully, although he did seem to have a back ache or something like that.


Most of the people that asked the Green Party to put their names on the ballot as Presidential Candidates were vetted. One of the ones that was rejected because he didn't have enough support from his County Green Party was Paul Kangas. However, he is still running as a write in Candidate. Before the debate he was passing out his flier and talking about the medicinal qualities of Penny Royal tea. He assured me that he has qualified as a write in Candidate for President in California. Based on that I would say if you want to "protest vote", write in Paul Kangas.

Aimee Allison, the morning show host on KPFA was the moderator for the event. She kicked things off by introducing Ross Mirkarimi, one of the highest elected officials who is a registered Green.


After Ross thanked us all for being part of this historic occasion Aimee introduced Gail McLaughlin, who is still the Mayor of Richmond. Gail asked everybody who is living in Richmond to sign her ballot measure to lower the boom on the oil companies that are still trying to run roughshod over her city. Then it was on to the Candidates opening statements.


Jared Ball said he is running to bring the Hip Hop Community into the political system. He wants better media democracy and the American Troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan. He feels that it is necessary for all of us to stop voting for evil PERIOD!

Kent Mesplay opened by leading us in some "Yes we can!" chants. Then he said we need a more sustainable political system, and that registering Green and voting Green is part of that.


Cynthia McKinney reminded us about her six terms in Congress. She mentioned that during her Congressional career she had introduced articles of impeachment against Bush, Cheney, and Rice. Cynthia talked about the inspiring things she had seen in the 25 States she has already visited as part of this Campaign. She promised to visit the rest by the end of the Campaign. She asked us to vote for Cynthia McKinney for a more inclusive Green Party that is moving forward together.

Kat Swift began by saying "I really believe in personal responsibility." She explained that she has done a lot of work with the alternative medicine community in San Antonio, TX.

Jesse Johnson is the Mountain Party of West Virginia's representative. He explained that he isn't quite an announced Candidate yet because of some fine point of West Virginia ballot law. Then he said he was running because "we need to put the 'zen' in 'citizen'. He also wanted us to know that every day a mountain of coal is burned to make electricity in the USA. His people in West Virginia (a mountain State) are feeling the pain from this, because mountaintop removal to get at the coal is causing huge environmental problems in his world. He asked all of us to find ways to make our lives more energy efficient and sustainable.


This was followed by a long series of questions from journalists and political leaders like Cindy Sheehan and Mark Sanchez (I regret not getting good pictures of the rest of them). The impression I walked away from it all with was that Kat Swift is the most pro-hemp Candidate, all of them are opposed to Bush's wars, and Cynthia McKinney is by far the most likely to lead the Green Party into the mainstream.

Larry Bensky used some of his time on the stage to ask everybody to support Cindy Sheehan's run for Nancy Pelosi's seat. He said that electing her would do more to fix our problems than anything else we could do.

Then the Green Incumbents in the room were honored with a moment on the stage while we clapped for them.

During closing statements, Jared Ball told people to vote for Cynthia McKinney. He said he is going to ask people to do that during the rest of his campaign. The rest of them said things more like what I was expecting to hear.


Melanie Mullen is Deputy Leader of the Green Party of Ontario (Canada). She spoke to let us know that the world is watching, and that they wanted to honor the occasion.

I think Ross then introduced Ralph Nader, who couldn't appear on the stage at the same time as the other candidates because he didn't want the FEC to get the idea he is running for President.

Ralph railed against corporate power and said that a vigorous campaign needs to have paid staff on the ground all over the USA. After listening for a while I decided that I wanted to get the vote out for Cynthia McKinney. Symbolic campaigns are more appropriate to the Congressional level now. We need to remember that before Ralph let us use his name to get ballot lines the Green Party was only an idea shared by a tiny group of activists though.


To see the CrackBerryChronicles version of the story click here.

To see Mike Feinstein's videos of the event click here.

To visit the web page of the official organizers of the event click here.