Taking a long view of Green Party prospects on Trump vs. Clinton Day

On campus at CU, Green Party campaigner Fitzgerald Scott was an hour or so into his Election Day, shaking hands and reminding the students who would listen to him that, whether they know it or not, the policies they support are most likely Green Party policies.

Scott said one out of every 50 or 60 students he talks to offers support, even though not all of them promise to vote for this year’s Green Party top-of-the-ticket candidates, physician Jill Stein for president and her running mate, human rights activist Ajamu Baraka.

“Trump supporters don’t say anything to me. But they haven’t thrown me any real shade, either,” Scott said. “They just walk by, you know.”

Clinton supporters have a little more fun with him.

A woman in a golf cart drove by as we talked, pointing her finger at Scott as she intentionally very slowly passed, a “Hillary” sticker taped to the end of her digit so he could read it clearly.

“See what I’m saying,” Scott shrugged, smiling. “A lot of young people are voting for Hillary — it’s understandable. I don’t think they’re voting for her as an endorsement of her war plans, though. They’re voting for her out of fear of the alternative, and I get that. The way society is today. I get it.”

Pundits in Colorado and across the country have been speculating for months on the role third-party candidates might play in deciding this year’s presidential election, especially given that Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have consistently notched historic unfavorable ratings among likely voters. In the days leading up to the election, polls suggested combined support for Stein and Libertarian Party presidential candidate Gary Johnson was holding steady at a marginal 7 percent. On campus Tuesday, the Clinton campaign was the only one with a significant presence. There was a Clinton tent set up outside the union that was buzzing with volunteers and attracting crowds.

“The Green Party is not about the political shenanigans,” Scott said. “That whole, ‘Our candidate is better than your candidate,’ and all that. We’re more about getting people on board with a movement. We’re about tackling student debt, supporting renewable power, keeping our communities safe — all of us getting out our cameras and watching out for each other. You know? You’re coming out of bar at night, you don’t want any violence. That’s why the Green Party wants engagement, not political shenanigans.”

A voter is told he has to change his electioneering Trump T-shirt in order to legally enter the Colorado University-Boulder student union polling place, Election Day, 2016. (Photo by John Tomasic)
A voter is told he has to change his electioneering Trump T-shirt in order to legally enter the Colorado University-Boulder student union polling place, Election Day, 2016. (Photo by John Tomasic)

Scott said he’s been campaigning for 45 days in the Denver-Boulder area and that Monday was the first day he saw any Trump campaigners out in the community.

“I saw three of them right here on campus,” he said, shrugging.

Then a student walked by in aviator sunglasses, a pair of American flag shorts and a “Make America Great Again” ball cap.

“Want a flier?” Scott called out to him. The student shook his head and kept walking. Scott laughed.

“In a democracy, you have choices. You see the Trump kids with their shirts and hats on campus. You know, I like that. I think it’s a good sign.”

Photos by John Tomasic

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