[Marxism] Green Party leadership again resorts to undemocratic and unrepresentative means

Mark Lause markalause at gmail.com
Sun Jun 22 22:33:42 MDT 2008


June 18, 2008

Presidential Politics:

By Chuck Giese

The Green Party faces a problem – democracy. More specifically, how do you
treat each person's vote equally in a country where the two parties do
their\ best to undermine participation of new parties?

Efforts to craft democracy in the Green Party's presidential preference
process have failed in large part because some states allow third parties to
participate in tax-payer\ funded primary elections (as long as they meet
reasonable requirements), while many other states put very high hurdles in
front of\ third parties, effectively blocking their participation. Without
being on the ballot, third parties are largely invisible. Another factor
affecting party visibility is whether a state lists recognized political
parties on their voter registration forms, allowing the voter to affiliate
with a party -- and how high the hurdles are before a party can be listed.

As a result, state Green parties use a variety of methods: government-run
presidential primaries, caucuses, state party conventions, party-run
balloting by mail, or some combination. With so many ways to count who is a
voter, it is challenging to ensure one-person, one-vote. This confusion has
allowed prevention of a truly democratic system by those who want small
state parties to have more power than large state parties.

As a result, the Green Party does not have anything close to a one-person,
one-vote process. Table 1 below shows the number of Greens voting in their
state presidential preference contest, and the number of delegates each
state gets at the coming national Green Party presidential convention in
July (see Note 1 below for data source). The resulting ratio of Green voters
per delegate measures how much weight each Green's vote will carry at the
national convention. (These data are for the first 21 states for which the
vote count data is available.)

Table 1 – Green Voters and Delegates by State (First 21 States)

State Greens_ Convention Green_voters
_____ voting_ Delegates_ per_delegate

CA___ 35,844_ ____168___ __213
IL___ _2,672_ _____44___ ____61
AR___ _838_ ______8___ ____105
MA___ 1,941_ _____32___ ____60
DC___ _530_ _____16___ _____33
MN___ 187_ _____12___ _____15
WI___ __97_ _____24___ _____4.0
NJ___ __70_ _____12___ _____5.8
RI___ __36_ ______8___ _____4.5
OH___ _31_ _____12___ _____2.6
MI___ __47_ _____19___ _____2.5
WA___ 103_ _____12___ _____8.6
NC___ _31_ ______8___ _____3.9
CT___ __48_ _____20___ _____2.4
CO___ __27_ _____12___ _____2.3
TN___ __21_ ______8___ _____2.6
MD___ __70_ _____16___ _____4.4
VA___ ____88_ ______8___ ___11
DE___ ____12_ ______8___ ____1.5
NE___ ____67_ ______8___ ____8.4
PA___ ___134_ _____32___ ____4.2

If you group the 5 states each having a popular vote count of over 500 Green
voters, and you group the other 16 states each having less than 500 Green
voters, the average Greens voting per delegate at the nominating convention
is shocking (see Note 2 below):

  5 states with >500 Greens voting: 156 voters/deleg
  16 states with <500 Greens voting: 5 voters/deleg

An even more shocking way to look at it is that among these first 21 state
parties, the GPUS National Committee has given more convention delegates to
6% of the voters than it has to the disenfranchised 94% !!!

(CA+IL+MA together accounted for 40,457 of the 42,894 votes of these first
21 states, or 94.3%. These 3 states have 244 delegates between them. The
other 18
of these first 21 states accounted for 2,437 of the 42,894 votes, or 5.7%.
Together, these 18 states have 251 delegates.)


The rejection of one-person, one-vote by the GPUS National Committee has
guaranteed that Ralph Nader had the deck stacked against him very, very
heavily. Nader probably realized this early in the nomination process and
thus decided not to seek the Green nomination.

Before Nader dropped out of the Green nomination process on Feb. 29,
however, his name was included in some primaries, where he gained a large
popular vote lead. This early boost has kept him in the popular vote lead —
even to this day. The leader in delegates in those same 20 states, however,
is Cynthia McKinney. Here are the standings in those first 20 states, in
order of popular vote (see Note 3 below for data source):

TABLE 2 — Green Voters and Delegates by Candidate

(First 21 States, except NE & NJ*)

Candidate____ Popular Votes_ Delegates Delegates
_____________ _Votes_ (Pct)_ ___Won___ (Percent)

Ralph Nader** 23,069_ _37.9% ___143___ __30.5%
or Blank***__    18,977_ _31.2% ____35__ ___7.5%
C. McKinney__  12,478_ _20.5% ___213__ __45.6%
Elaine Brown_ _   1,640_ __2.7% _____9__ ___1.9%
Kent Mesplay_ _  1,303_ __2.1% ____22__ ___4.7%
Kat Swift____ _   1,272_ __2.1% ____17__ ___3.7%
Jared Ball___ _     1,009_ __1.7% ____11__ ___2.4%
Jesse Johnson ___   711_ __1.2% ____17__ ___3.6%
Other________ ___427_ __0.7% _____1__ ___0.2%
TOTAL________ 60,886_ 100%__ __468__ __100%

* NE & NJ haven't reported delegate allocations yet (nor NJ its vote
breakdown by candidate).

** Nader's totals include the 498 votes and 8 delegates won by Howie
Hawkins, who stood in for Nader in a few early primaries, and who had
pledged to urge his delegates to vote for Nader.

*** These categories each appeared on the ballot in one or more states. The
categories have some overlap, and are thus counted together here: "NOTA"="None
Of The Above"; "NOC"="No Candidate"; "Uncommitted" means the resulting
delegate will not be pledged to any candidate; "Blank" means the voter did
not mark any of the listed presidential candidates, though many\ of these
voters may have voted for a write-in candidate (which many state governments
do not fully tabulate).

Table 2 shows that Nader, despite having 38% of the popular vote in these
first 20 states, has only 32% of the delegates from those states. The
disparity is even greater for McKinney, but in the opposite direction. She
has only 21% of the popular vote, but more than twice that percentage of
delegates so far: 44%. The rejection of one person, one vote is having the
same effect in 2008 as it did in 2004 when David Cobb won the GPUS
nomination — thwarting the choice of the majority of rank-and-file voting

Cynthia McKinney will almost certainly be the Green Party nominee in the
current four-way race, as she already has an outright majority of the
delegates allocated so far. And with Nader out of the race, he is not
gaining new delegates.

The former Georgia congresswoman is certainly much stronger than the 2004
nominee, as she has actually\ served in Congress, where she took strong
positions on foreign and domestic policy. She has probably been unaware of
how undemocratic the Green process has been because the tabulation of Green
popular vote was not published until June 5. No such tabulation was
published for the 2004 nomination race. (The tabulation this year has not
been compiled and published by the GPUS, either — but by individual,
concerned Greens.)


What is the solution to the lack of democracy in the Green Party? One
approach is to count the votes in the primaries, caucuses and state party
conventions, and give each vote equal weight in delegate representation.
Rather than states gaining delegates according to a complex formula of
measurements having nothing to do with actual Green participation in the
presidential preference process, delegates could be apportioned by counting
the actual votes of Greens in that process.

Many people in the Green Party, who have seen their reform efforts come to
little over the last four years, have now given up on reforming the GPUS.
Two successive presidential cycles have now seen a massive rejection of
one-person, one-vote by the GPUS National Committee. Some of these Greens
have decided that a new party is needed, though concrete\ work towards that
goal is on hold during the current campaign cycle. However, the
Nader-Gonzalez Campaign is creating some new state-level parties in those
states where a party can gain ballot access easier than an independent can.

If a new party is created, it would not be surprising to see some state
Green parties take stock of the extreme disenfranchisement created by the
Green Party National Committee in the presidential selection process, and
disaffiliate from the Green Party to help build the new, democratic,
progressive party. These state Green parties, along with the new state
parties created for Nader-Gonzalez ballot access, would provide the basis
for a new party founded on the principle of one-person, one-vote.

On the other hand, Cynthia McKinney is in a unique position. She has the
admiration of most Greens, including most Nader supporters. Once McKinney is
nominated, she should bring her 'Power to the People' campaign inside the
Green Party itself and insist that the National Committee enact a
one-person, one-vote method of selecting presidential delegates in the
future. If she does so, she may save the party's unity. At this point, she
is the only one who can.


1. Source for Table 1, "Green Voters and Delegates by State":

The number of Greens voting and delegate counts come from Table 2 in "Green
Party of the U.S. 2008 Presidential Nomination Race So Far: Popular Vote &
Delegates Won", June 7, 2008. The number of Greens voting in New Jersey,
however, comes from item #17 in Appendix 4 in the same document. #

2. The following calculations were made from the data in Table 1:

CA+IL+MA+AR+DC:  (41,825 voters/268 delegates)=156 voters/delegate
Other 16 states:  (1,069 voters/227 delegates)=5 voters/delegate #

3. Source for Table 2, "Green Voters and Delegates by Candidate"

Popular vote and percent come from Table 1, delegates and percent come from
Table 2, in "Green Party of the U.S. 2008 Presidential Nomination Race So
Far: Popular
Vote & Delegates Won", June 7, 2008. #

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