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The Crisis in the Green Party

The Magic Number 39 and My Meetings with Cobb, Kucinich and the Steering Committee
Many Green members want to know when the infighting is going to end. When will people recognize there is nothing wrong when Greens have differences? Why can't we respect each other and figure out how to work together? This sentiment is wide spread in the Green Party, especially since many members do not have a hard opinion about some of the differences within the party. They are still listening to both points of view. They want peace, understanding, tolerance and unity in action where there is agreement.

rest of the article at
Th underlying problem 09.Apr.2005 05:38

Mike Novack stepbystepfarm <a> mtdata.com

The fundamental underlying problem for the US Green Party is that unlike the corresponding situation in Canada, the US does not have a "left", but not particularly environmental party in play. That means it becomes very hard to formulate a proper balance for a left-green coalition because "progressives" (who may hinestly feel the environmental crisis is simply an artifcat of the ecopnomic system) have no vehicle of their own.

Do you understand what I am saying? In Canbada, "progressives" who are much more "red" than "green" can simply go NDP and this should allow the Canadian Green Party to formulate its proper mix of concern for social and environmental issues without interference from people who consider the "green" concern irrelvant. But here in the US, that's not possible, and however well meaning the presence of too many non-green "reds" will prevent this. It is hard to see what could be done about this. Either eventually the non-green "reds" will go their own way, disgusted by the insistence of some Green Party people to keep wotrrying about "irrelvant" issues or more likely the "greens" will give up tired by not being treated as full partners and the Green Party will be green in name only.

So, you are saying, Mike, 09.Apr.2005 10:42


US leftists and US progressives don't know how to form alliances.

And perhaps there are those who exploit this failure by magnifying differences of opinion which ought to be insignificant or resolvable.

From way outside, it looks like US Green Party has been hijacked by a cabal more interested in being "leaders" than in being Greens. Similarly to the way the Canadian Progressive Conservative Party was hijacked by the corporatist conspiracy under Mulroney.

It is hard to judge from here; however, the perception and vocal similar allegations exist. So, at the very least, those people who claim to speak for the Party, or for the Grass-Roots, or whatever other Factions, ought to take some interest in the impression they might be making.

I don't disagree with you, Mike. I say you have fallen into another typical USian habit. You have identified one issue, then wrung your hands. There are solutions to that one problem : kindergarden stuff, like respect, tolerance and sharing. Also, why should the Green Party be different, there are more, a never ending supply of issues.

I see Aristotles sitting out at the end of this limb and I'm going to go out and join him. The fun part is solving those issues -- not them being solved by some magic spell in a spray can. It is called politics. Most of us think politics is a drag bacause we don't know what it is and we don't know how to do. We have been taught to negotiate by stomping and shouting (preferably with cruise missles and abrams tanks) and by submitting. We have been taught to vote once every four years then go back to obeying. Choose an oppressor then submit.

Don't wait for Moses to come along and part the sea. Start gossiping with your neighbours about boats.

oh, yeah... 09.Apr.2005 10:54


I mean row-boats and rafts.

If you start designing yachts, pharoah's armies are going to pull up and trade wagers on you brawling over the best location for a swimming pool, before dragging the survivors back to the pits.

Who speaks for the American left? 09.Apr.2005 13:23

George Bender

The Greens seem intent on the Green party as an end in itself. Institution building. The Nader campaign was intent on impact. Nader got a lot more votes than Cobb, so I think it's clear who speaks for the American left.

But neither candidate did well. Dividing the troops was a bad idea, and the Greens did it, which is why the Naderites are still unhappy with them. We felt betrayed. Numbers-wise, however, the desertion of the progressive Democrats was much more significant. As long as they're determined to vote Democrat I don't see much hope for progressive third party or independent candidates, at least on the national level.

I work on both environmental and economic issues, but in terms of priorities I'm more red than green. These are also the priorities of most American voters. It's human nature to take care of personal survival first. I don't know any leftist, however, who thinks environmental issues are irrelevant. We should combine the two in our political campaigns, but make economics the top issue. That would give the third of American workers whom Nader describes as "poor" a reason to support us.

we should start a "Red Party"! 09.Apr.2005 14:51

except we already have several

The fact that there doesn't seem to be "room" in the system for two far-left parties, one "green" and one "red," is just the next iteration out of the obvious problem that there isn't room for ONE either. Anybody who wants to do parliamentary politics should probably just support any and every group that wants multiparty electoral reform. Until that happens, the rest of this is bullshit.

Green voter registration 09.Apr.2005 16:29

George Bender

Oregon voter registration by party is available at

June 2004 -- 13,229
Sept. 2004 -- 13,977
Feb. 2005 -- 13,548

They're in 4th place after the Libertarians, who as of Feb. had 16,236.

Oregon results for the Nov. 2004 election are available at

Cobb got 5,315 votes in Oregon.

My feeling is, until the Greens do something politically useful they've lost their reason for being.

Peter Camejo is a Liar. Period. 09.Apr.2005 17:21

Scotty B.

I would really love to spend another half hour of my life refuting yet *another* attack on the Green Party from Counterpunch and Peter Camejo, but, let me just be brief.

Peter Camejo is currently about as Green as John Kerry. He stopped being a Green in July 2004 after he lost his bid for our ENDORSEMENT and launched himself into endless triades about how the convention process was somehow rigged. It wasn't. I'm on the national committee - I reviewed and voted on the process. States didn't stack delegates towards Cobb - at least, not in my state - and the number of votes Cobb received WAS proportional to the amount of votes he recieved in state primaries.

Yes, Cobb attended some state conventions where Green Party members voted on thier choice for President, and he did gain some votes this way. If Nader wanted votes (which he didn't, as he said in Dec. 2003), he could have done this too.

But really - not of this is the point. The 2004 election is OVER. Green Party members around the country moved on long ago. 99% of us realize that we need to look towards the future and not dwell on what happened in the past.

There is no crisis within the Green Party. The "crisis" that's being publicized is one that Camejo and his followers are trying to create by these very articles. Is there still disagreement over what we did in 2004? Of course. But are we on the verge of destruction? Hardly.

The Green Party is still around, and it's still the only progressive party in the United States with the ability to effectively challenge the duopoly. I don't see a crisis within my local chapter - in fact, we've gained a lot of new people since before the 2004 elections.

Look, I realize a lot of people on here are very critical of the Green Party because of the anti-Green propaganda that's been spewed by both the Democratic Party and anti-Green "leftist" publications such as CounterPunch. I also realize that some people on here don't believe that electoral politics is an effective option at all - and I can respect that. But I just wish there was some way to make those of you who SHOULD be Greens join us and see how we're actually doing. I'm going to be moving to Portland in only 4 months - and if the Portland leftist community as a whole is this cynical and anti-Green, then, well, I don't know how I'm going to work with you all.

- Matthew D.
(Idaho Green Party)

Scotty B. or Matthew D. (which is it?) 09.Apr.2005 23:54

George Bender

"I'm going to be moving to Portland in only 4 months - and if the Portland leftist community as a whole is this cynical and anti-Green, then, well, I don't know how I'm going to work with you all."

And if you plan to keep nominating candidates like David Cobb I don't see how we're going to work with you. I'd say we're at an impasse. We want candidates who could cause serious pain to the Democratic party; are you willing to do that? Do you support the apparent policy of some of the leaders of your party not to oppose Democrats?

In 2002 Ted Kulongoski was elected Oregon governor by a narrow margin over arch conservative Kevin Mannix. Kulongoski has exercised little leadership since elected. Seems to be a Kerry/Clinton type. No new taxes, and willing to cut safety net programs. I wouldn't vote for him again. The 2006 election may be a rerun, Kulongoski against Mannix. So will the Greens be willing to run a strong leftist candidate, if you can find one, against Kulongoski, pointing out his failures? Or will the Greens back off because they're afraid of Mannix?

And what about that one-Green-one-vote policy for national conventions? As I understand it, at the last convention, the one that nominated Cobb, delegates were alloted according to state populations rather than registered Greens. Apparently this was supposed to protect small states like Oregon against big states like California. I don't want to be protected. I was a registered Green when the 2004 election was held, and I didn't have anything to say about the presidential nominee. For that I would have had to go to a state convention in Portland, and I live in Eugene.

I know you would like the recent past to go away, but it isn't going to. It's the best guide we have to what you people are going to do in the future, and we don't like it. If you want to get past your past, you're going to have to tell us what you're willing to do different in the future. Just calling your opponents liars isn't going to do it.

This is why I can't join the Greens 10.Apr.2005 10:11


I would like to be a Green. I admire much of what the party has done, particularly prior to the 2000 election. I particularly admire the stance the Green Party took in Ohio last year, when Nader was bally-hooing about vote fraud in that big swing state of Vermont (I'm still not convinced he isn't an agent provacatuer of the GOP. However, Green meetings are just a confusing mess of quasi-anarchists, environmentalists, neo-libertarians, and the legal-marijuana-will-solve-everything crowd. With the exception of some good petition drives at the local level, the party has been neutralized as any kind of concerted voice in national politics.

Here here! 10.Apr.2005 12:17

C M schaefer

"But neither candidate did well. Dividing the troops was a bad idea, and the Greens did it, which is why the Naderites are still unhappy with them. We felt betrayed. Numbers-wise, however, the desertion of the progressive Democrats was much more significant. As long as they're determined to vote Democrat I don't see much hope for progressive third party or independent candidates, at least on the national level. "- George Bender

I agree here. Rather than choosing to redouble their efforts with Nader, the Greens blew it and became very whiny. The Dems showed particular arrogance in claiming that "Nader would be stealing our votes" both in 2000 and 2004- to say nothing of their increasing push to the right and use of such phrases as "anybody but bush". What the heck kind of campaign is that? The DNC seems to believe and unfortunately seems to have convinced a lot of people that the lesser of two evils is all right and as much as we deserve.

The Greens have not really shown themselves to be cohesive (cohesive-ness does not preclude differences of opinion) in a national sense. Their image is very much as a 'single issue' party. Now I will grant that the environment is, as single issues go, very important, but there are a lot of other things which also need to be addressed.

They have only served to increase that perception (single issue-ness) of late. It is too bad that they cannot see their way clear to join with other groups to form some kind of coalition for progressive change. (As it is, they seem unable to see their way clear to joining up with themselves!)

Green through and through, not a watermelon 10.Apr.2005 15:46


Yes, there are some problems. Well, what did you think will happen? You think they haven't tried to manipulate the a people's political party, but they will manipulate the entire American public with their media? We just have to resist those in power in the Green Party too. If you have hope for political change through the political process, this seems about it. It's this or nothing.

Environmental issues are the issues. I hear some people saying that people care more about their own self-interest than the environment, but where are they? Living wage and issues like that can fall into the same agenda as the Democrats and also lead to an even bigger government.

Greenness is about decentralization. Environmental problems are caused by the same forces as other problems like war, only they affect the future habitability of the planet. They can always lure people back to the Democrats with a slight raise in minimum wage there and a defense of social security there. Or slightly less warmongering rhetoric. The problem with progressives is they don't seem to have a grasp of the enormity of environmental issues and its potential to make a real movement to have a more fair and just society. These issues are interconnected with everything.

The planet is where you should start. Everything else looks artificial and fits right into the establishment's frame of reference. Do you think you can just change part of someone's mind about the world and have an enlightened result? Well, it seems a lot of people's minds are only partly changed. Raising the minimum wage doesn't challenge anyone's thinking. Nor does other workers' issues like outsourcing the way its framed now. With Green issues, they go to the core of problems. And then you get better results with social issues as well than just focusing on them isolated from environmental issues.

Progressives can be found in organic food stores. So, that seems to be the logical place to start. Food issues. Food, that which sustains us all. Not with unorganizable workers.

Check it out:  http://www.gp.org/platform.html

There is something to this, BUT ... 10.Apr.2005 15:47

Progressive Democrat

Well, there are exceptions to the Alexander Cockburn rule that CounterPunch is a load of bullshit promulgated by pompous asses. And this article by Camejo is one of those exceptions.

Having said that, I want to express some differences and some exceptions that I take with Camejo, speaking as just one progressive Democrat:

Camejo: "When will people recognize there is nothing wrong when Greens have differences?" I respectfully suggest that such should also be applied to the Democratic Party. MORE THAN THAT, I object to Camejo's impugning support for the war to progressive Democrats or to the PDA or to Dennis Kucinich! Suppose that I would ascribe the safe/swing state strategy to Camejo based on its adoption by the leadership of the Green Party? Yet, Mr. Camejo continues to talk as a Green!

So, Mr. Camejo, STOP YOUR RIDICULOUS IMPUGNING OF PRO-WAR VIEWS TO PROGRESSIVE DEMOCRATS! And don't say you don't make such accusations: "To the PDA the condition for political collaboration is that you are willing to vote for war, for the Patriot Act, for pro-corporate candidates like Kerry or you are not welcome." Where is your justification for that statement? I submit that when you go that far, you're full of shit.

Voting for a lesser evil is just that -- voting for a lesser evil when confronted with a choice that is effectively reduced to two evils where one is clearly much more evil than the other. It doesn't mean that you have no idea of what good might be or should be! I guess in San Francisco Mr. Camejo actually has sufficient affluence to go through life preserving his purity by only choosing "good" -- but I live a lot closer to the ground, and I find that it isn't just in politics, it's in everything I do, that I can only choose the least evil thing that I can get. For example, Mr. Camejo is travelling around from Chicago to San Francisco and back -- does he fly or drive? Because, I submit, THAT IS A CHOICE BETWEEN TWO EVILS. When Mr. Camejo starts WALKING FROM CHICAGO TO SAN FRANCISCO, then he can start lecturing me on "lesser-evilism"!

Mr. Camejo, I urge you to apply your own words to the progressive Democrats as well as to Greens --

"We must learn to allow the differing points of view the freedom to try and convince all of us through example that what they propose will really work."



Camejo: "Medea Benjamin has taken a step further and is raising money for the Democrats, specifically the PDA. In the fund appeal for the PDA she says the PDA is not the Democratic Party. It is like saying the Panama Canal is not Panama. I'd have to say it's still in Panama."

What about you, Mr. Camejo, are you the Green Party? No, but you're IN the Green Party -- therefore, according to your "logic", YOU are guilty of "lesser-evilism," no? Or are you even in the Green Party? Scotty B. says no. So why are you talking as though you are a Green about a difference that is splitting the Greens, according to you?

Camejo: "In fact they [progressive Democrats] are the front line fighting to prevent an independent force from developing against the two parties and clearly in competition with the Green Party."

THAT IS BLATANT BULLSHIT! Far from trying to prevent any third parties from forming, I am working within the Democratic Party to advance the idea of making the structural reforms necessary such that third parties will have a chance. I (and many other progressives) say to the Democrats that the neo-con Republicans HAVE DESTROYED THE TWO-PARTY SYSTEM -- so it's time for the Democratic Party to look toward the future and work to make structural changes to allow a multi-party system to emerge.

Camejo: "Part of their [progressive Democrats'] goal is to co-opt the Green Party back into the Democratic Party."

NO, Mr. Camejo, the goal is to work with the Greens and the Libertarians to advance the cause of election reform, without which all your talk about democracy and one-person-one-vote is just that -- talk. NOTE PLEASE that Kerry-Edwards 2004 have joined Cobb and Badnarik as co-plaintiffs in the Ohio election 2004 case.

Camejo: "They [progressive Democrats] make this perfectly clear themselves. Kevin Spidel, National Field Director for Kucinich for President and now Deputy National Director for Progressive Democrats of America said, 'The most important thing we do is that inside-outside strategy: Pulling together members of the Green Party, the Independent Progressive Politics Network, the hip hop community, the civil rights community, our allies in congress, the anti-war community.' "

Mr. Camejo, what is it that you don't understand about "inside-outside strategy"? It means working inside the Democratic Party and also working outside it, not in order to aggrandize the Democratic Party, but in order to further anti-war, environmental and democracy issues in common with our allies both within and without the Democratic Party! After all, what is the Democratic Party but a loose alliance for the purpose of electing Democrats to public office? Do you seriously believe that we progressive Democrats live and breathe some kinda "party loyalty"? What we live and breathe is reality, down here on the ground. And what we believe in is realism, tempered with our aspirations and dreams.

Camejo: "In fact the Democrats electoral failure is in good part due to their inability to mobilize their base."

Mr. Camejo, if you are talking about the close-up of 2004 and the defeat of Kerry, do you dispute that Kerry should have won if the votes had been counted and the election had not been rigged? If you are talking about the overall failure of the Democrats to support the people, then let's point directly at the source of the problem -- the support of "free trade" by Clinton and the DLC Democrats. But, don't forget, most of the opposition to GATT was by Democrats in the Congress! (Republicans supported Clinton in that proportionately more than Democrats!) It's been downhill for the Democrats since then, because the PEOPLE were never consulted on either NAFTA or GATT. But you might ask yourself -- why was Ross Perot so much more successful on any standard than the Greens or Nader have been? Could it be that the people don't believe in you even more than they don't believe anymore in the Democrats? Mr. Camejo's "base" ? -- yeah, right, with all due respect, that "base" doesn't exist outside of San Francisco.

Camejo: "Making Howard Dean the head of the Democratic Party is one step."

So why do you still talk about the Democrats from the point of view of corporate media -- as though Hillary Clinton was the leadership? That's what the election of Howard Dean to chair of the DNC was all about -- overthrowing the supposed leadership of the DLC gang. Wake up and smell the coffee.

Camejo: "He [Kucinich] is willing to support any one with any policy the Democrats may present as a candidate."

NO. And not based on any supporting argument by you! I believe that Dennis is willing to support a lesser evil when it IS a lesser evil and when there is no other real choice but the two evils. Look at it this way: the ship is big and you can't turn it on a dime, it has to be brought around a bit at a time or you'll just snap the rudder. But that doesn't mean that we will support any mad egomaniac for dictator! (Some would say that is what YOU did in 2000 and in 2004?)


There's no enmity between Greens and progressive Democrats! I don't think I have ever heard any progressive Democrat talk about getting Greens to join the DP, although many Greens did TEMPORARILY register Democrat to vote for Dennis in the Oregon 2004 primary. The idea that we are sneaking around and trying to drain the GP for the sake of building up the DP -- that's ridiculous!

I think that it is as likely that someday the progressive wing of the Democratic Party will exit en masse to join the Green Party as it is that Greens will all register Democrat and elect enough more progressives Democrats to the House to tip the balance against the neo-con Republicans. My dream is that the Greens will find the right congressional district to throw a Republican out of office and elect a Green to the House of Representatives. And then that one (or more?) Greens could join the House Progressive Caucus -- which isn't a Democratic Party caucus! And how about this? The Greens would be exactly what the Democrats needed to gain a majority for control of the House! Okay, so that's a dream. But my point is that progressive Democrats, at least rank-and-file, are anything but out to get the Green Party!


"To state your political difference is not disrespect. We must return to the days before Stalinism destroyed open dialogue among progressives. There was a time when progressives could argue in sharp terms about policies and maintain our ability to work together, especially given our large areas of agreement. We must return to that culture."

"We should continue to work with Kucinich on the many issues we agree with him on. We should be respectful to him and his supporters[.]"

I'll leave it at that.

? 10.Apr.2005 17:31


"The Greens would be exactly what the Democrats needed to gain a majority for control of the House! Okay, so that's a dream. But my point is that progressive Democrats, at least rank-and-file, are anything but out to get the Green Party!"

Out to get. Out to use. What is the difference?

For all their earnest sympathy, Democrats never fail to reveal their true motives, by saying something like, "The Greens would be exactly what the Democrats needed to gain a majority ..."

People go to the enormous trouble of setting up a third party because they are sick and tired of being used, because they repudiate the notion that the "progressive wing" of the Democratic Republican Party is in any way progressive. People join the Green Party to escape being statistics in some opportunists wet-dream. Want to be citizens.

nobody 10.Apr.2005 17:56

has the Only Answer

> With Green issues, they go to the core of problems.

Driving a smaller, more environmentally-friendly car from your suburban quarter-acre pseudo-aristocratic estate to your corporate slime job a little farther in is not going to the core of anything. Green issues are about what power does. Red issues are about where power is. Neither kind is going to get solved by itself.