Episode 404: Talking Ballot Access & The Green Party


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Nothing in the US Constitution mandates or guarantees a two-party political system. Yet Americans are accustomed to understanding the political landscape as a binary of Democrats and Republicans; third parties are rarely taken seriously, particularly on the national scale.

Members and candidates of political third parties, like the Green Party, argue that this is bad for democracy. With an increasing share of the electorate -- particularly young people -- growing disenchanted with the existing parties, third parties represent an opportunity to re-engage independent voters in civic life by better representing their worldviews and preferences. That’s why the typical Green Party platform reads like that of a very progressive Democrat, calling for deep investment in transformative climate policy, an end to all wars, and major social safety net expansion, plus electrical reforms that make third party candidates more visible and viable choices in the voting booth.

In this episode, which was written and recorded before the November 3 election, Talk Policy To Me reporter Reem Rayef spoke with Jake Tonkel, a biomedical engineer who ran for San Jose City Council as a member of the Green Party. Jake shared his perspective on the positionality of local and national Green Party candidates in the political sphere, the damaging narrative around spoiler candidates, and the Green Party’s theory of change. Jake also charted a course for elevating the profile of the Green Party, and other non-major parties, through targeted electoral and ballot access reforms.

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