"Totally coup, yo."

Green Around The Edges




Green Party “Debate” Between Jill Stein and Roseanne Barr, Reviewed

I didn’t plan on watching the Green presidential debate on Saturday night but when I saw a link get tweeted to a stream of it, I figured it would at least be worth putting on in the background in case Roseanne Barr did something crazy.

This did not happen, sadly

I’ve been a Green since first registered to vote, and over the past 12 years, I’ve seen the progressive movement rack up its share of failures. From the anti-war movement being ignored for a solid decade to the health care system collapsing on itself to Murphy’s congressional campaign not managing to produce even one hilarious campaign T-shirt, it’s been tough to stay positive. [We had to make cheap hilarious things.-IM]

If you ask most people in the Green Party why they haven’t gained any traction over the years, the stock answer tends to be that the mainstream media ignores them and doesn’t give equal time. Candidates aren’t invited to debates. Green Party activists aren’t brought on news shows. No one on SNL does a Jill Stein impression. If people don’t know you exist, it’s tough to get them to vote for you.

Exactly why the media ignores the Greens is a bit more interesting and something the party tends to have a huge blind spot about. If you ask them why they’re ignored, they’ll tell you it’s because corporate media is afraid to cover an anti-corporate movement. To a degree, that’s probably true, but the way the party presents itself doesn’t do it any favors either.

Will we elect our first Pixelated-American President?

The production quality of the debate was reminiscent of Troll 2. I’m 85% sure it was shot with a built in laptop webcam.

The debate was suppose to be between Roseanne Barr, Kent Mesplay, and Jill Stein. Mesplay had a prior commitment and announced on his campaign site that he wasn’t going to be there. Apparently, no one bothered to tell anyone running the debate this and they included an empty chair with a microphone between Stein and Barr. No explanation from the moderator, no “Kent won’t be able to make it tonight,” just an empty chair. It may seem like a trivial thing to bitch about, but it’s a perfect example of why no one takes the party seriously. If you can’t handle putting out a remotely professional looking video production, how can you expect to compete with the major parties? Even if a major outlet did want to pick up some sound bytes from last night, do you really think they’re going to air footage grainer than a bin Laden video?

The debate was more of a pep rally than a debate.

Stein and Roseanne don’t actually differ on any issues, so Barr pretty much just clapped and cheered into her mic every time Stein made a point. It’s clear Stein knows her shit and she deserves the nomination which is pretty much inevitable at this point. It’s pretty obvious she’s the most qualified person running, but she isn’t exactly dripping with charisma. It’s tough to see her broadening the party at all, but the aging hippies who run it should be happy with her.

I didn’t really know what to expect out of Roseanne when it came to a presidential debate. On one hand, she’s got some liberal street cred. People forget now, but her show was light years ahead of its time, and she’s been calling corporate America on its shit since the ’90s.

On the other hand, I’ve read her Twitter feed before, so the smart money was on a train wreck of a performance.

Early on, it seemed like that was going to happen. She stumbled nervously though her opening statements and seemed to want to read prepared remarks in response to most questions. She was constantly worried about running out of her allotted time on questions despite the fact no one gave even the slightest hint it was an issue. For someone who built a career as a club comic, it was weird to see her struggle on mic so much.

It wasn’t until about halfway though the debate when she was asked about how she’d represent the poor that things turned. She responded by saying she’d be their president and represent where she came from and nearly started crying mid-sentence. It was an incredibly weird moment in that it seemed to be a genuine expression of human emotion during a debate, something I don’t think I’ve ever seen in a political speech before. From that point forward, she seemed to find her stage presence, bust out some one liners and finish strong.

I pretty much watched this thing specifically to make fun of how much of a circus I assumed she was going to make it. I have to admit, she exceeded my expectations, but not enough to forgive the last episode of her show where it turns out Dan is dead and everything was a dream all a long. That was a train wreck.

What drives me nuts about the Greens is that if they could just get their shit together, they’ve got a solid platform to push that could easily appeal to young voters who get consistently fucked over by the major parties. There’s a back-patting culture around American progressive politics where everyone seems to be happy they made the attempt at running a campaign at all and if it isn’t as polished and well run as the major parties, it isn’t their fault, it’s the system that screwed them.

While the system sucks, it isn’t changing until we change it and if you refuse to play the same game the other teams are playing, you can’t win. You can only make those excuses for so long.

Well produced online media doesn’t need the financial backing of a Koch brother to be successful. What the Greens lack in funds, they make up for in smart, creative people. If the media won’t cover you, build your own media and make it better than what they’re doing. No one under 30 is watching television news, they consume everything online. Focus on reaching and engaging them with issues like forgiving student loan debt, legalizing pot and offering single-payer health care. Republicans and Democrats flat out ignore this stuff but young voters have made it clear that that’s what they care about. Find a sleek way to package and sell those positions and you can build the party for the next 20 years. Keep campaigning like it’s still 1965, keep pretending that substance wins out over style, and you’ll end up with more of the same.

But, hey, at least the Green Party is still cool enough to hang out with Jello Biafra after the debate:

Photo credit: Jesse Townley
Photo credit: Jesse Townley

Jon Splett looks like a shaved Chewbacca. Follow him on Twitter.

  • Shitmiggins

    DSLR cameras that can record in 1080p quality cost as much as high-end laptops, and people have shot TV shows and movies like House and Social Network and other shit on them; it’s not like the equipment is that far out of reach, you don’t need 6 figures for a camera the size of a small tree. And as far as the skills needed to make something interesting, there’s unemployed production-monkeys and bored A/V undergrads by the assload who could string together a compelling broadcast without the nausea-inducing amount of bells & whistles that the majors inundate you with…shit, that would be a blessing, actually.

  • GreenGenes

    Shitmiggins, this was live streamed. Given the laptop involved, techs used a consumer DV camera and the recording you see was 400kbps recording from the server.

    To live stream from a DSLR you’d be taking the HDMI with all the problems DSLR shooters report with HDMI out. Plus the need to use and HDMI to either Thunderbolt convertor (New Mac Required) or HDMI to HDV convertor (much more expensive and a serious impact on the CPU for a live stream).

    I do streaming professionally and easily use $10k in gear for a single camera remote live stream.

  • GreenGenes

    Jon Splett, we appreciate your deep personal and public concern about the quality of our live streams. We did procure a 4G iPad to tether to our laptop to improve upon the poor internet connection at the location and took a direct feed from the sound board to improve upon the room acoustics. Our very good consumer DV camera had to be positioned some distance away in order to get the high quality audio feed. This was accomplished with volunteers who committed personal expenses to procure this equipment.

    Given your concern about the quality we graciously accept your inferred offer of $3000 for a base model professional ENG camera. Please fill out the form with your credit card number and contact information so we can expedite your generous donation. If you would like to become a sustaining member we can earmark the purchase of 4G hotspot and laptop. For your generosity you’ll have the ability to watch much better technical quality programming from as as long as we desire.


    Since we don’t have or accept corporate sponsorship we’re sure critically observant journalists like your self will donate to ensure your access to the best quality programming.

  • admin

    While I appreciate your snark, I shot this video of James Randi (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SMukj31qw1U) with a $65 Flip Cam, and it’s about 100% better than whatever setup y’all had going on Saturday night. However, you raise an important issue about Green Party funding. It’s a righteous obstacle to deal with. That said, using creativity and technical know-how to conquer that obstacle was Splett’s main point. With every passing day, this is more and more possible. Get a Flip Cam. Seriously. Use the money the Green Party raised last year by using my name in fundraising letters. They certainly never gave it to my campaign, or offered any kind of help at all, so it should still be in the credit union somewhere. – Murphy

  • Jon Splett

    I’ve actually done live webcasts of political events for WNYMedia.net for about 3 years so I’m well aware of the limitations of equipment and streaming.

    I get that bandwidth can be an issue at a venue but if you’re booking an event you plan on streaming, it seems like inquiring about what the internet situation walking in might have been a good idea. When we ran into a place that had an awful connection, we’d use one of those 3G USB sticks AT&T has. It gave us more than enough bandwidth for a decent stream. I don’t know what they cost in the California market, but I remember them costing roughly 50 bucks a month in Buffalo and that was about 6 years ago now. Hardly something that would destroy a budget.

    Beyond that, if you know the equipment you’re using is going to put out something that looks like crap, why go through with it? The stream peaked at something like 180 live viewers and the candidates weren’t taking any questions from the internet. Did that really need to be live? If the internet situation was that bad in the building that you’re resorting to tethering from an iPad (which I hope to the flying spaghetti monster wasn’t purchased with party funds as Apple is pretty much public enemy number one of the FOSS movement- something I’d like to think Greens support) why not just record the thing in HD and upload the video when the debate is over? How much value would really have been lost on a tape delay?

    I get that you tried and that we should all just be happy to accept a subpar effort because it’s better than nothing but that’s not going to get anyone to take the party seriously which is by far its biggest problem. You had a woman on stage who’s spent her professional life producing network television and you put out something that resembles security camera footage. The longtime Greens who’ve become accustomed to low expectations may not give a fuck how it looks but Roseanne has about 100,000 people who follow her on twitter, most of which know very little about the Green party and this was a chance to make an impression on them. When they click that link and see a web stream worse than a Romanian cam girl can manage to put out, they’re closing the window before they hear a single policy position.

  • RobThomas

    As humiliating as it would be for the left in general for Obama to lose to Romney, the one bright spot might be is that we could see the Green Party surge into the mainstream and start to influence the Democratic party the way the tea party has influenced the Republican party. The unapologetic left, be it the Greens or Occupy, is still on the fringes. But when you consider the attention and support Occupy has gained already, with a Democrat in the white house, who they don’t support by far and large, just imagine how ape shit things will be with a Republican in the white house. Tie that up with the known fact having sunk in that fence riding, moderate, Democrat campaigning will have fallen flat on its face, and all the ingredients could be there for a hard core leftist movement finally making the mainstream. What other choice would the left have? When you look at it this way, you almost want Romney to win. Because honestly, being a lifelong Democrat who voted for Obama and will probably puss out and vote for him again, I don’t think Obama would be any more effective in his second term than he was in his first. The Republican party with their tea party influence are not going to compromise the way Republicans did in the ’90s for Clinton, and of course even they were a pain in the ass, but at least they weren’t outright anarchist like today’s Republicans. It will be another 4 years of gridlock and basically the Republican candidate in ’16, probably an obnoxious asshole like Christie, will run on the results lack thereof of the opposition party in the white house. And of course like all Democrat presidents Obama will probably have been caught fucking a 25 year old chick by then. Christie will be promising to rid the white house of jungle fever, whatever. I just don’t see anything good coming out of it. Of course I’ll wake up tomorrow and still support Obama like the empty suited Democrat shill I am.

  • http://reedrambles.blogspot.com/ Reed

    Hear fucking hear.

  • http://www.buffalobeast.com/ Josh Bunting

    I heard if you stick needles through your camera, that will clear up its Qi and make ur livestream better.

  • admin

    Everyone knows that if you dilute your internet connection with water it becomes more powerful. Btw, the Greens have finally gotten around to voting the woo language out of their health care plank. I hear there’ll be a decision within the fortnight.

  • http://youtu.be/ALr09YehzP0 Joe Dixon

    You know, considering their natural voters are online & the cost isn’t that great (or shouldn’t be for a political party) why don’t the Greens have something like a Young Turks net show? Or at least a podcast network? Or Huffington Post type online news source? If they do, they need to work harder at getting those platforms out there because my Google didn’t find them.

    I’m not a Green so maybe this is dumb question but does the Green parties across the world work together with a goal of having say, 30%, of the elected officials on earth be Greens and constantly working until they capture a Prime Minister or Presidential office somewhere? If not, why not?

  • admin

    To answer your question, it’s because Greens are wildly unorganized. One of their principles is decentralized power, which means no one can tell anyone what to do. It results in chaos, and ineffectiveness. For instance, when I ran, not one Green outside of my county reached out to me. They basically have no internal mechanism for communication and organizing. And they seem to like it that way. I’m on the fence about whether to totally disregard the Greens, or get more heavily involved to try to remedy their massive problems.

  • Archives

  • Warning: require_once(all_images/config.php) [function.require-once]: failed to open stream: No such file or directory in /nfs/c09/h03/mnt/134940/domains/buffalobeast.com/html/wp-content/themes/Beast/footer.php on line 28

    Fatal error: require_once() [function.require]: Failed opening required 'all_images/config.php' (include_path='.:/usr/local/php-5.3.29/share/pear') in /nfs/c09/h03/mnt/134940/domains/buffalobeast.com/html/wp-content/themes/Beast/footer.php on line 28