"We see the need to build on institutions; to reform them, not transform them," says Sascha Müller-Kraenner, director of the Heinrich Böll Foundation, which represents the German Greens in America. To that end, the Euro Greens eventually teamed up with Social Democrats in an arrangement that allowed them to run unopposed by other left candidates in certain districts. The result was power: In Germany, for example, the foreign minister is a Green.
Such an accommodation is easier to achieve in Europe, where the system favors the proliferation of parties. But one reason the Euro Greens won a place at the table is that they arrived ready to eat. The American Greens are far from that point. "They cannot form a stable political base, because they aren't a homogeneous force," notes Müller-Kraenner. "The only leader they have speaks only for himself."
To Müller-Kraenner, Nader looks "far more American than Green." His platform is a patchwork of positions with no systematic relationship to actual policies. "It's not enough to take a few positions," says Müller-Kraenner. "Then you are an NGO, not a political party." To him, the American Greens are the eco-equivalent of the Christian Coalition. Except that Pat Robertson's minions are savvy enough to stick with the Republican Party.
If Nader makes his move for the mainstream, the Greens will have to decide whether to follow him. The alternative is to find a new leader who can rebuild the bridges he has burned. This is the choice Nader has thrust upon the Greens: Either they outgrow him or they may lose their party to a politics not their own.