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Joe Schriner (aka “average Joe” Schriner)


Outreach and exploratory questionnaire for the 2012 GPUS presidential nomination


Joe Schriner answers:

1. Are you interested in seeking the Green Party 2012 presidential nomination? Are you considering seeking the nomination, but have not yet made up your mind? What factors are you taking into consideration?


I’m considering it, but haven’t made up my mind yet. However, we did go to the GP Conference in Alfred (as we did in Reading during Campaign 2008) with an open mind, participated in the presidential debate in Alfred with an open mind (see the footage of that, if you haven’t), and we met with people there over the weekend with an open mind.


I’m currently running as an independent. I have traveled some 15,000 miles campaigning for Election 2012, to date. And I am at approximately the $15,000 mark for campaign contributions, according to FEC records. (This is my fourth election cycle for president.)


What motivates me to seek the Green Party nomination for U.S. President is that I line up, in a tremendously deep way, with most of the Green Party’s “Ten Key Values.” The following is what Bluffton University Professor Perry Bush wrote after a presentation my wife Liz and I gave to a Senior Class there:

“The Schriners were engaging and provocative, and did much to stimulate this group of college students to think deeply about issues of environmental, racial and gender justice in America, and the corporate-dominated milieu of contemporary American politics.”


And as we are on board with the Green Party on these latter issues, I told Fox News in Cleveland that we propose a Cabinet-level U.S. Department of Peace. Likewise, I told the Brattleboro, Vermont, newspaper that our administration would reorient the society back to a much more “decentralized” local interdependency. And I told the Bellevue (OH) Gazette that we would work stridently to bring the world closer together with a “globalization” paradigm predominately based, not on commercial trade, but rather on the Green Party ethos of “social harmony and ecological balance.” And during a talk at the University of Dayton in Campaign 2004, I said we must always keep both eyes leveled on a sustainable future for our children. After all, Liz and I are running as your “typical concerned Midwestern parents.”



We have spent the past 22 years doing extensive cross-country research on all the issues of the day. This traveling has spanned a phenomenal 200,000 miles.


I have run in four successive election cycles, logging some 125,000 miles campaigning. We have been featured in some 2,000 newspapers, about 175 regional network TV news spots, been on hundreds of radio shows…


I’ve talked to student groups at such colleges as: Notre Dame University, Xavier, University of Dayton, Northern Arizona State University, Mississippi State University, Toledo University…


We’ve done street corner stumping in hundreds and hundreds of towns as we’ve traveled. We’ve been featured in several documentaries…


I have written five campaign related books in the past 12 years.


Back Road to the White House and Back Road to the White House 2 chronicle our campaign travels. (Excerpts from the first Back Road book were featured in Ohio Magazine.)


America’s Best Urban Neighborhood (Ohio City 44113). This is a book about our family’s intentional move into a hardscrabble area of Cleveland to make a difference. We volunteered at an outreach to the poor, took homeless people into our place, coached latch key kids at a local Rec. Center, worked at an urban farm, bicycled and walked practically everywhere, and my wife Liz turned our backyard into a perma-culture.


*Our “sustainable city lifestyle,” was featured in the Ashtabula Star Beacon’s magazine supplement Frugal Green (Save Money. Save the Planet).


The other two books are: America’s Best Town and America’s Best Town 2. Both of these books are about Bluffton, Ohio (pop. 3,875). This town is an excellent example of “decentralism” at its finest, combined with a good deal of non-violent peace building (part of the community is Mennonite), social justice and environmental stewardship. We spent the better part of four years researching the town for this book series. (I’m a former journalist.)


For more on these books, see Books.


Also, our position paper on Reparations to Native Americans was published as an essay in the college text book: Social Justice (Opposing Viewpoints) [Gale, Cengage Learning Press]

2. What do you believe the goals should be of the 2012 GPUS presidential campaign? If you were the GPUS presidential nominee, how would your campaign work to achieve them? (Will your campaign succeed?)




During the presidential debate in Alfred, I said it is time for a “GREEN EXPLOSION!” That is, a “9/11” with the environment is in pronounced motion. Expansive “heat domes,” massive arctic ice melting, super-charged hurricanes, typhoons, tornadoes… These seem to be increasing exponentially. And it is a bellwether moment for the Green Party.


What I also said in the debate is that your mainstream American, say “Harry Schwarz” in Cleveland, Ohio, will not understand the concepts of decentralism, multi-cultural justice, corporate dominated paradigms… But with climate chaos swirling all around him, he will understand the word “green.” And when he finds out there is a “Green” Party, well…


And what better way to bring this to him, than with the mouthpiece of “average guy’s voice” from the Midwest. An average guy who, like himself, is concerned about whether there will be a world left for his children.

To win, you’re going to need Harry’s vote. That simple.


However if you stay insular and continue to, basically, talk complex societal concepts between yourselves, you won’t win. That simple, too.


And it is the Green Party, I believe, that has the best platform for environmentally saving the world, I just told a reporter in Hornell, New York. During the interview, I also said that the environmental policies coming from, say, the Democrats at this point, are like: rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic!


As for: Will our campaign succeed?




As the “stats” (above) indicate, we’ve paid our dues. And we feel strongly that the campaign is just about to become a national story. And because of all the time and effort my family has put in (which is chronicled on our website and will be apparent to reporters, the general public, including “Harry Schwarz”…), it won’t be a “15-minutes of fame” thing. It will be a national story with a lot of staying power.


What’s more, because of all the dysfunctional partisan politics going on in D.C. of late, we are going to look like a tremendously refreshing alternative to it all. Think: Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.


Granted, running for president is a great way to get a message out as well. And as I’ve indicated, in the past 12 years we’ve been tremendously savvy at generating a whole lot of press and other speaking opportunities (See above as well.) This will continue. And we will continue to talk about various aspects of the Green Party’s “10 Key Values” in these venues.


An example, in regard to environmental consciousness:


“The Schriners and the Green Party meet eye-to-eye on global warming. With increased droughts, hurricanes and rising sea levels in the Arctic, he and his wife are concerned that the world is “on the verge of some pretty catastrophic environmental problems.” -- Allied News, Grove City, PA.

The day after the Conference in Alfred, NY, ended, I was interviewed by the Evening Tribune newspaper in Hornell, NY. Part of the article the next day noted I had attended the Green Party Conference in nearby Alfred and that I believed “…the Green Party had the best platform at handling global warming dangers.”


3. Please list five issue areas that you feel are most important and what would you do about them. (Who are you?)


Issue 1: Consistent Life Crisis


We hold to what is called a: Consistent Life Ethic. That is, we’re against pollution, poverty, abortion, nuclear proliferation, the death penalty, euthanasia, toxic farm chemicals… and anything else that can end life prematurely.


These things are rampant in society at this time. And our administration would work exhaustively to change the precipitating factors that lead to each.


During the Green Party 2009 Convention in Durahm, a college professor who was attending the conference (and is a Green Party member), approached me after reading some of our literature, and said that he, too, held to a “Consistent Life Ethic,” and it was “refreshing” coming across someone running for office who was trying to take a stand for it.


Others at the GP conventions we attended said that the Consistent Life Ethic was a new concept for them. And while they might not be on board with all of it, it was a lot different than the “one issue” Life stance they were used to hearing.


In addition, Consistent Life Organization President Bill Samuel ran an op/ed piece in the organization newsletter lamenting how I was treated by the Green Party in Campaign 2008.


After Seattle’s Joseph Drake, “a Green (Party) voter,” read this, he wrote to me: “I just read about your withdrawal from the race (vying for the GP presidential candidate nomination in Campaign 2008). We need a Consistent Life Caucus in the Green Party. Don’t get discouraged.”


Incidentally, I’m not discouraged.


Now, our website outlines in-depth what we’d do to work on the precipitating factors leading to each of these “life issues,” based on a tremendous amount of cross country research. For this questionnaire, I’ll provide a brief example per: one of the issues:


Global Warming


For one, and it’s a big one: global warming. And it’s the issue that will put the Green Party front and center on the national radar screen.


Gwynne Dyer, author of Climate Wars writes: “Each year in which we don’t reach an adequate climate deal is probably costing on the order of 50 million extra premature deaths between now end of the century. By 2015, this figure will start to jump even more dramatically.”


It’s my belief these climate change catastrophic events will ratchet up markedly and have a huge influence on the next election.


Time Magazine columnist Joe Klein wrote: “And very occasionally there comes an election where the ability to be courageous, to tell the public things it may not want to hear, is the most important quality we need in a leader. The public has come to understand what market-tested political blather sounds like, and it may be ready to reward a politician who tells some ‘inconvenient truths, to coin a phrase, who asks for the sort of sacrifices…” While Klein thought that might happen during the last presidential election, it could well be this one.


And if it is, I would be the guy. Read: Your “typical concerned parent” exhorting other “typical concerned parents” to save the planet for our kids.


All the evidence is in, as far as I’m concerned. Global warming is real and an imminent threat. We talk about it continually in the media, during talks, and so on.


On a radio show in Ohio, I said reversing global warming would be a major thrust of our administration. (We currently emit some 25% of the world’s carbon dioxide.)


We need to spark an “Energy Reduction Movement” and become, no longer the leading Society of Consumers, but rather the leading Society of Conservers. (“Leading” plays well to the American ethos, so why not ‘lead’ in the right way?)


Our administration would “declare war” on global warming and start an Energy Rationing Program (similar to the spirit of sacrifice evoked during World War II) to help people move into a conservation paradigm. (How’s that for ‘courage’ and non-market tested political blather?)


As an example, “Water Rationing Laws” in California during the five-year drought there in the early ‘90s (I lived there part of this time), forced people to learn to sacrifice and develop creative strategies (rain barrels, GI showers, alternative landscaping…)


Our administration would also push for tax breaks and other subsidies to inspire way more solar, wind and geothermal applications. (We’ve researched these all over the country.) What’s more, on a campaign stop in Old Orchard Beach, Maine, we learned of a pilot project to harness energy from ocean wave action. And our administration would get behind similar projects.


We also need to think much more locally and decentralized. To that end, we went to High Springs, Florida, to meet with Dan Burden to hear about his “Walkable Community Model.” (Time Magazine called burden one of the top environmentalists in the country.) His model is about making towns tremendously more walking and bicycle friendly to, well, encourage more walking and bicycling.


Our administration would also look to many forms of alternative transportation (solar, electric, geothermal…) to run, a lot slower, on these Walkable Community roads. For instance, I met with a professor at Bowling Green State University’s Alternative Vehicle Department. The university has developed a shuttle bus for campus – which is already in service – and generates electrical charging power from braking and start-ups.


What’s more, we have developed a plan that proposes levying high tolls on highway intra-state and inter-state travel to discourage a lot of unnecessary long-distance traveling. In addition, these tolls would be earmarked for carbon offset projects. And we would propose a gasoline tax to discourage yet more driving and fund yet more carbon offset projects, Transition Towns, Walkable Community cities, etc. (Once again, somewhat, oh, antithetical to market tested political blather.)


What’s more, I have often said to the media that as president, I would use a Cessna instead of Air Force One, bicycle or walk places regularly (whether it’s a headache for the Secret Service, or not) and turn the White House into a “Kyoto Protocol Home Zone.” No air-conditioning, less heat and more sweaters, a small wind turbine to go with the solar cells on the roof, a perma-culture on the White House front lawn…


Actually, a lot of this we already do at home.


“He (Schriner) practices what he preaches.” The Findlay (OH) Courier newspaper).


“Schriner is a green talking environmentalist…” The Salina (KS) Journal newspaper.


Issue 2: The (New) Economy.


America’s economy should be tremendously jacked down, simplified and ideologically revamped. David Korten, author of the book The New Economy, writes that we must replace a defective operating system that values only money, seeks to monetize every relationship and pits each person in a competition with every other for dominance.


That last statement speaks volumes about our current economy, our current American culture in general. This orientation has led to a U.S. mindset that values material wealth above social health, my wife Liz told the Bangor (ME) Daily News during a campaign swing through the New England states.


In a broad brush overview, Korten also writes that for the last century, or more, or more, corporate interests have driven a governmental policy agenda that, for instance, gave tax preference to income from financial speculation over income for productive work.


And what is productive work?


Yorba Linda, California author Steve Gerdsmier sees productive work as things that provide “life support.” That is, the basics around: food, medical, energy, education, transportation, clothing, communication… During an interview with Gerdsmier, he told me that many jobs, at their roots, are nothing more than contrived paper shuffling and don’t contribute much to the necessary stuff of life.


According to Gerdsmier, there should be less financial analysts and more teachers, less public relations people and more local mechanics. And we need more good local mechanics.


What author Mathew Crawford believes is that the quality of craftsmanship has declined considerably in our society. And what’s more, the impetus to be good at our work has commensurately declined as well. Crawford, author of the book From Shop Class to Soul Craft, uses the example of an assembly line. Workers on the line are often responsible for only one small, repetitive job. And not only don’t they see the finished product, but they don’t see who the finished product goes to either.


In the old days, for instance, there was a bicycle shop in every town that manufactured, sold and repaired bicycles. The community was dependent on the bicycle merchant’s craftsmanship. And the merchant was motivated to make the best product possible because he/she was selling to one’s neighbors.


In South Bend, Indiana, I interviewed Daniel Baker, who was in the formative stages of starting a small auto-mechanic shop based on the principles of Crawford’s book. Baker said the interdependency between craftsman and local community is key. And, unlike the relative anonymity of the assembly line worker, his work will be open for criticism and critique. This, ultimately, will make him a better craftsman.


I told the Brattleboro News in Vermont that The New Economy will revolve around the revitalization of downtowns (again, like in the old days). Mom & Pop shops will make a big comeback as the monopolies of Wal Mart, Kmart, Home Depot… will be broken up under stronger anti-trust laws.


During a campaign stop in Yellow Springs, Ohio, we learned this town rose up against the proposal of big box stores going in on the outskirts of town because of what it would do to the integrity of the downtown. Protestors flooded the local newspapers with letters-to-the-editor. NO SPRAWL! signs went up in many front yards around town. And a referendum petition was circulated. The strip mall developer backed off.


One of the best examples of this downtown revitalization is in Platteville, Wisconsin (pop. 9,000). Their Main Street Project follows a four-point approach. Regular downtown events are planned. There’s a newsletter. Forums are conducted to educate consumers on why it is important to shop downtown. And there is regular recruitment of downtown businesses.


On a stop in Platteville, Main Street’s president Bob Metzger told me that as these new businesses locate downtown, another dynamic is starting to unfold as well. That is, a number of business owners are moving into apartments above their stores.


“Main Street becomes our front yard,” he said.


David Korten believes we must reboot the economy with a new, values based operating system designed to support social and environmental balance. This, again, is very much in line with what we propose. The new system must be locally rooted in strong communities with an eye toward the common good of all.


In Mt. Vernon, Ohio, we met with Kelly Schermerhorn, who oversees a Credit Union in Mt. Vernon and lectures nationally about issues relating to credit unions. He explained that credit unions are primarily democratically governed financial co-ops that are, basically, owned by the customers. He said this symbiotic relationship lends itself to heightened levels of camaraderie and more of a focus on supporting the local community.


Korten also believes we should let Wall Street go and rebuild a Main Street Economy. We believe that, too. Korten believes financial speculation doesn’t create real wealth, serves no public interest and should be strongly discouraged. And he proposes that there be a steep tax on the purchase or sale of financial instruments and impose a tax surcharge on short-term capital gain.


This would eventually shut down Wall Street.


What’s more, the money that has been used for financial speculation must be redirected to productive, local, socially responsible investment.


A big component of The New Economy would also be a shift back to a much more decentralized, organic, agrarian-based society. Our administration, for one, would push to classify mega-corporate farms as monopolies, and break them up.


In turn, we would provide a multitude of incentives for re-invigorating the establishment of the small family farm, en masse. This was once the backbone of our country. And we believe it should be again, with local production for local consumption.


In Athens, Ohio, organic farmer Art Gish told me the conversations he has with town people at the Farmers Market each week is as important to him (if not more important) as the actual sales.


Because, he said, that he truly values “community building.”




For transparency’s sake [behind the GP scenes]


To the Green Party rank and file across America…  Grassroots Democracy, really?


I vied, briefly, for the Green Party presidential nomination for Campaign 2008.  The reason it 

was only “briefly” was because I was basically “black balled” by some of the Green Party leadership. I 

had spent three long days responding, in a quite thoughtful and lengthy manner to the GP Presidential Candidate Questionnaire.  I gave a well-received talk at the General Assembly during the 2007 National Convention in Reading, PA, and Green party National Media Coordinator Scott McLarty said to me that never had he heard a candidate hit more “home runs” than I did during any of these types of GP Presidential Candidate Press Conferences.  


And after a Third Party Presidential Candidate Debate at the National press Club in D.C. the week before, former Green Party VP candidate Pat LaMarche approached me and said she had been tremendously impressed.  She said the Party needed to broaden its base, and our family would help tremendously with that. 


Yet when we contacted the GP in California shortly after this to find out about participation in their Primary, Warner S. Bloomberg III, coordinator for the Green party of California Campaigns and candidates Working Group told me in an email that my candidacy was in the “not recommended list” to participate because of my pro-life stance.  (I have a “Consistent Life Ethic” that sets me against abortion, poverty, pollution, nuclear proliferation, the death penalty… and anything else that can end life prematurely.  And I work exhaustively to try to eliminate all the precipitating societal factors that lead to each.  [This is explained more in-depth in the questionnaire below.] 


“Personally, I don’t understand how you made it to the podium at the July (2007 National Convention) meeting,” Mr. Bloomberg III wrote. 


I tried to reason with him, arguing that Rudy Gulliana – who is pro-choice – was being allowed to participate in the Republican Primaries to the fullest extent, even though the Republican platform 

includes the pro-life stance.  What’s more, it’s not uncommon that a candidate’s positions don’t match up perfectly with an entire Party platform. 


I also argued that the first “key value” for the Green Party is “grassroots democracy.”  And shunning me would fly in the face of that, and make the Republicans look more open to “grassroots democracy” than the Green Party seemed to be. 


But all this was to no avail, and I was summarily closed out of the GP California Primary, the Party’s biggest.  In turn, I went back to running as an independent. 


Subsequently however, I attended the Green Party National Conventions in 2009 and 2011 and 

decided, once again, to at least explore the possibility of vying for the GP Presidential candidate 

nomination again. 


The first step in this exploratory process was to fill out the GP Presidential Candidate Questionnaire for Campaign 2012.  I did, at length.  After spending several days working on it, I sent it to PCSC co-chairs AF Segneri and Tom Yager. 


And, wouldn’t you know, I was stone-walled again.  No, the committee voted I wasn’t to be considered whatsoever.  And no, my answers to the questionnaire wouldn’t even be posted on the GPUS website in “a public section reserved for such responses” by other people considering vying for the GP presidential nomination. 


Once again, “grassroots democracy” didn’t seem to be served all too well in this – to put it mildly. Anyway, since the committee wouldn’t post my answers on the GPUS site, they are “posted” here.  I urge you to take the time to read through them.  You may, in fact, find the answer the Green Party is looking for to tremendously raise the profile of the Party, and you just might find, also, the tangible hope of actually aligning the country with the spirit of much of your 10 Key Values – once I’m elected, president.      





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