THE Green Party movement in the United States is becoming more politically organized than ever before, fielding 13 congressional candidates across the country under its banner, says Jonathan Carter, a Maine Green Party congressional candidate.
According to John Rensenbrink, national spokesman for the Green Party movement, 68 Green Party candidates nationwide are running as local, state, and federal candidates. Seventeen of them are in the state of Hawaii alone.
In past years, Green candidates have entered political races for only local office.
The Green Party embraces environmental preservation, energy conservation, and social justice. In the US, the parties do not have a centralized power structure and are organized through a more informal grass roots consensus.
The Green Party movement in the US is different from the Green Party of Western Europe, Mr. Rensenbrink says. "Feminism and the Native American tradition are pretty strong within the American Green formation. In that sense, it would be close to the earth and less ideological than Germany's Green Party."
Maine's Green Party has been active on community and environmental issues since it was founded in January 1984.
Maine was the first state to have a Green Party. The party now is organized in 41 states.
This year, Maine's Green Party launched its first major political campaign with Mr. Carter as its congressional candidate.
Carter, who is running in the state's second congressional district, faces incumbent Rep. Olympia Snowe (R) and Democratic challenger Patrick McGowan.
Before Carter entered the campaign, the party had only 200 to 300 active volunteers, and now it has well over 1,000, says Rensenbrink.
"We're very strong on conservation, not consumption," Carter says. "[Our society's] consumption is destroying our natural resource base, our economy, and our society."
Maine Green activists say the party has taken its time getting involved in electoral politics, focusing instead on community issues.
For example, it worked successfully to block the construction of a waste-to-energy plant in the Brunswick, Maine, area in 1987, and is currently campaigning against a proposed coal-fired power plant in Bucksport.