[Marxism] whither the Green Party US
Dbachmozart at aol.com
Dbachmozart at aol.com
Wed Aug 3 11:39:12 MDT 2005
Democracy and independence at stake
Showdown in the Green Party
By Ashley Smith | August 5, 2005 | Page 2
THE GREEN Party’s national committee meeting in Tulsa, Okla., on July 21-24
was a heated struggle over internal organization and political strategy.
This was the first national meeting of the Green Party since the 2004
Milwaukee convention that nominated David Cobb as the party’s presidential candidate
over Ralph Nader. With Cobb running a “safe states” campaign that didn’t
challenge both Kerry and Bush in battleground states, the Green ticket managed
only 100,000 votes, leading to the loss of ballot lines in some places.
Cobb won the nomination despite the fact that a majority of Greens--led by
the party’s largest affiliates in California and New York--wanted to endorse
Nader and advocated a campaign that challenged both corporate parties in all
states. But nominating rules that skewed the voting strength of smaller state
parties allowed a minority to impose Cobb.
Since the Milwaukee convention, the Green Party has been approaching a fork
in the road.
The Cobb wing of the party, which controls the national leadership based on
the current undemocratic system, has developed a close partnership with
liberals who created the Progressive Democrats of America (PDA) in an attempt to
corral third-party advocates back into the Democratic Party.
The other wing of the party, led by Nader’s vice presidential candidate Peter
Camejo, initiated Greens for Democracy and Independence (GDI) to address the
organizational and political problems that compromised the Greens’ challenge
in 2004. Over the last several months, the GDI developed proposals submitted to
the national committee to require proportional representation, delegates
accountable to the will of the membership, and independence from the two corporate
The Tulsa meeting was essentially a contest between these two wings. The
conflict first erupted over the seating of delegates from Utah, where two Green
Parties claim affiliation, one that supported Nader and another that supported
Cobb. The Cobb wing rallied its forces to vote down the Florida delegates’
proposal to allow each party one vote, and resolve the disputed affiliation later.
Speeches by Camejo and Cobb on the 2004 election and the future of the Green
Party laid out the different strategies clearly.
Camejo stressed the significance of building the Green Party as the political
expression of mass social movements and argued for the importance of
encouraging debate and allowing many tendencies to exist in the party. He called Green
Party’s project of an independent challenge to the two party system “the
spirit of the future.”
Cobb’s speech repeated many of Camejo’s points, but with significant
differences. For example, he went out of his way to condemn what he called
sectarianism--his label for anyone who opposed his “safe-states” strategy.
Thus, in an answer to a question after his speech, Cobb denounced CounterPunch
’s Alexander Cockburn, saying that he “represents why the sectarian left has
failed.” The not-so-subtle message was that the Green Party should exclude
the left and continue cooperation with liberal Democrats.
At a couple of points, Cobb supporters let their real position slip out. “I’
m not willing to define us as a party independent of the corporate parties,”
Illinois delegate Phil Huckleberry declared. “We are more than an independent
party; we are a Green Party.” An Oklahoma Green said that she had been tabling
for the PDA.
The real conflict broke out when the GDI presented its proposals. The Cobb
forces didn’t argue against them, but fell back on objections about bylaws,
other procedural concerns and an attempt to offer an alternative proposal that had
not gone through the Green Party’s consensus procedure. The GDI stood its
ground and rejected the “compromise.”
After a long period of confusion--during which the party’s pro-Cobb steering
committee left the room without explanation to caucus and Cobb supporters lead
delegates in doing “The Wave” and singing “Oklahoma” and “Take Me Out to
the Ball Game”--the Cobb forces defeated the three proposals with about
two-thirds of the votes.
While the Cobb wing defeated the GDI proposals, its position is a minority in
the Green Party--the California and New York state parties, which have a
majority of party members, voted for the GDI resolutions. The test for the Green
Party will be how effectively the GDI can rally the majority of the party to
its project of a democratic challenge to the corporate duopoly.
As Maryland Green Party member and Nader campaign organizer Kevin Zeese
wrote, “The overwhelming majority of Greens support real democracy--one person, one
vote, delegates voting for who they are elected to vote for--and they want to
see a Green Party that stands for something different than the Democrats or
Republicans. The Tulsa decisions will be reversed. Greens across the country
will realize their Party has made a mistake, and there will be an uprising to
correct it--an uprising that will reinvigorate the Green Party.”
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