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Pruning the Green Party

by JOSHUA FRANK

It may seem as if I have been unduly harsh to the Green Party in recent columns. However, my criticism is not with the majority of Green Party members but with their leaders who are preventing the party from developing into a truly progressive alternative to the corporate duopoly.
The Vilest of Enemies

The Greens have kept in place the same wrecking cabal that was responsible for the party’s self implosion in 2004. Instead of ditching folks like Phil Huckelberry, they have promoted them. A few Green delegates tell me that back in 2005 during their annual convention in Tulsa, Huckelberry screamed at his fellow delegates, “I didn’t join the Green Party to fight the Democrats!”

In a recent message that Huckelberry sent to the National Delegates he cautioned the Greens for spending too much of their time “fighting with self-identifying progressive Democrats, one of the groupings on the political spectrum which is closest to us.”

He went on to advise, “[W]e should drop the pretense that they are somehow our vilest enemies, or worse, that people within our party are our vilest enemies.”

With friends like Huckelberry the Greens don’t need enemies. Huckelberry is not only on the Green’s Steering Committee, their main governing body, he’s also in charge of the party’s ballot access committee. Here’s what is so ridiculous about Huckelberry’s call to unify with progressive Democrats: It is the Democratic Party that is removing Green Party candidates from the ballot, not the Republicans. It is the Democratic Party that wants to destroy the Green Party, not the Republican Party.

How can Democrats be seen as anything other than Green Party foes? How can those within the Green Party who continue suggesting that the Greens and the Democrats are ideologically aligned, not also be seen as the “vilest enemies” of the Greens?

Keep in mind that it was progressive Democrat Dennis Kucinich who helped sucker off 50,000 Greens supporters from their membership rolls in 2004. It is the Democratic Party, especially the progressives, who are the greatest threat to the Green Party.

Since Huckelberry does not realize that the progressive Democrats are their “vilest enemies” it is not surprising that he also does not recognize that an even more deadly enemy is the enemy within. The Greens like Huckelberry who refuse to recognize the danger the Democratic Party presents and the peril of not fiercely opposing their candidacies and policies every single election. Perhaps this was why Huckelberry, while running for election in Illinois, made certain he ran against a lone Republican with no Democratic opponent.
The Scourge of Mike Cavlan

Not all of the Green officers are unaware of the incompetence of some of their leaders. Members should salute Mike Cavlan, a delegate from Minnesota, who just published a letter detailing the history of someone he suggests is one of the most inept officers in the Green Party, Greg Gerritt.

It seems that Cavlan’s letter was initiated as a result of Gerritt’s losing a $25,000 donation for the Green’s Coordinated Campaign Committee (CCC). As it turns out, according to Mike Cavlan, there really is no CCC. There are only two members of the committee; Gerritt and a delegate from Georgia named Nan Garrett.

Gerritt counters Cavlan’s claim that the CCC is useless, “Saying that the CCC is small is less of a slap at me than it is at all of the state Green Parties that did not offer up a candidate for the CCC in 2006.”

Huckelberry should have realized that on the one hand the Democrats are indeed their “vilest enemy” but the enemy within may be even more monstrous. Certainly it is just as destructive.

As it turns out, according to Mike Cavlan, Gerritt, more than anyone else other than perhaps David Cobb, was responsible for the disaster of 2004 and that while serving as party secretary, personally disaffiliated the Utah Green Party which was recognized by the state of Utah. He had no power to do this, but his decision went unchallenged and consequently an artificial Green Party was set up — a paper party which would give Huckelberry and Gerritt two more votes.

Mind you Cavlin doesn’t have an axe to grind over the Green folly 2004, for he himself is a recovering Cobb supporter.
A Bad Moon Rising

It turns out that Greg Gerritt not only has a history of incompetence within the United States Green Party but he has virtually destroyed the Rhode Island Greens which cannot even put together a gender balanced eight person coordinating committee.

According to Mike Cavlan “one of the two co-chair seats is vacant. Nobody is running for anything in RI in 2007. Nobody ran in RI in 2005. Nobody ran in 2003. Nobody ran in 2001. For even numbered years, 6 people ran in 2002. 6 people ran in 2004. But only one in 2006, a guy who’s run every two years for the same seat.”

Mike goes on to report, “There have been a total of 26 candidates in GPRI [Green Party of Rhode Island] history. Only one of those has run since 2004. The Rhode Island Green Party no longer exists. Greg Gerritt therefore should not hold any position in the GPUS.”

Gerritt has an incredible history with the Green Party of the United States as the head of its Coordinated Campaign Committee (CCC) as well as its Presidential Candidate Support Committee (PCSC). In 2003, before Gerritt took over, the Green Party ran 400 candidates nationwide. With Gerritt at the helm that number dropped off to 200 in 2005 and will be around 100 in 2007. At this rate by 2011 there will be virtually no Green candidates running anywhere.

Cavlan concludes, “Here we see the starkest display of the squandering of political capital gained during the Nader 2000 effort … We’re just scraping at the 1999 level now, and still in steady decline.”

Here’s how it adds up with Gerritt heading up the Green Party’s CCC in the aftermath of the 2004 debacle they helped engineer and for which Greg Gerritt recently took personal responsibility: A 48% total decline in candidates being run during the odd number years and a 32% decline since 2004 in the even numbered years.

Gerritt has never so much as offered a hint of accountability in any of this, or any of his many and even more spectacular failures. Gerritt seems to have a reputation, according to Mike Cavlan, for being “always handy with a list of other people and outside circumstances that get his blame, and the majority of the NC rallies in his support in every instance, and elevates him to positions of ever-increasing authority over the future of GPUS.”

Gerritt’s co-conspirator in the Coordinated Campaign Committee (CCC), Nan Garrett, co-chair of the Green’s women’s caucus, is currently a delegate from Georgia. But it is more likely to snow in the land of peaches than for something related to the Green Party to happen. Their latest action was to run African-American activist Elaine Brown for office, but due to their ineptitude the Georgia Greens didn’t bother to check whether she met residency requirements. She didn’t and was consequently removed from the ballot.

Look at the situation in which the Green Party finds itself: It has a person in charge of its PCSC (Presidential Campaign Support Committee) and its CCC (Coordinated Campaign Committee) — which means everything electoral in the Green Party of the United States — who has a four year history of complete failure.

How long will it take for Green Party members, the grassroots not the leadership, to call for dramatic changes to their party’s structure? How much failure will it take? How much more humiliation can they tolerate? How long before they hold people like Greg Gerritt, Nan Garrett and Phil Huckelberry responsible?

Tragically as George Santayana reminds us, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

JOSHUA FRANK is the co-editor of DissidentVoice.org, and author of Left Out! How Liberals Helped Reelect George W. Bush, and along with Jeffrey St. Clair, the editor of the forthcoming Red State Rebels, to be published by AK Press in March 2008. He can be reached through his website, BrickBurner.org.

 

JOSHUA FRANK is managing editor of CounterPunch. His most recent book is Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, co-edited with Jeffrey St. Clair and published by AK Press. He can be reached at joshua@counterpunch.org. You can follow him on Twitter @joshua__frank

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