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Toward a Militant Populism

Greens Gone Wild

by JOHN MURPHY

‘But I don’t want to go among mad people,’ Alice remarked.
‘Oh, you can’t help that,’ said the Cat, ‘We’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.’

‘How do you know I’m mad?’ said Alice.

‘You must be,’ said the Cat, ‘or you wouldn’t have come here.’

–Lewis Carroll

When Congress came into session with a Democrat Party majority, left leaners of every stripe and not a few conservatives hoped that, at the very least, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq would come to an end and the more egregious assaults on our civil liberties like the USA Patriot Act would be repealed.

After one year of a Democrat Congress we are still in Iraq and Afghanistan and the Democrat Party gives every indication that that our stay will be indefinite. Instead of repealing egregious pieces of legislation like the USA Patriot Act even more brutal attacks on our civil liberties have been passed by the Democrats through such legislation as the Military Commissions Act which actually undercut one of the cornerstones of Western democracy; habeas corpus.

With the Democrats showing themselves to be as bloodthirsty and as cavalier as the Republicans in destroying our civil liberties the American voter might want to begin looking for an alternative to the Democrats. The Green Party has maintained, on paper, that it has been opposed to the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan since those invasions began and that it is similarly opposed to any legislation which restricts our civil liberties. But what exactly is the Green Party doing to advance this agenda?

Instead of preparing to deal squarely with the problem of the Democrat Party through a fission strategy, tragically the Green Party is setting itself up to run a presidential campaign modeled on the mindless strategy of 2004. By any measurement, the Green Party’s 2004 strategy to run an unknown candidate, who had no funding, nor any way to raise significant funds, and to run him in only those states where he would not present a threat to the Democrat’s candidate was a disaster. The Green Party’s candidate, David Cobb got 100,000 votes (as opposed to their 2000 presidential candidate Ralph Nader who got 3,000,000 votes) lost its ballot status in nine states; it lost 50,000 members; its rate of growth has now become a rate of decline; its treasury is empty and it has gone from running 400 candidates a year down to running 100 candidates a year.

Any normal organization would have gotten rid of the officers responsible for such a devastating strategic failure. But the Green Party is not just any normal organization! Not by a long shot! Not only have they kept all of the failed officers in place but they have even promoted one of the leading demogreens, Phil Huckelberry, to its Steering Committee. In fact Jim Coplen, Budd Dickinson, Jason Nabewaniec, Jody Grage, and Holly Hart all worked hard to destroy the independence of the Green Party in the 2004 election and were rewarded by the members of the National Committee for this horror show by being elected to the Steering Committee and now remain in total control of which proposals the National Committee will consider and whether those proposals will require a simple majority threshold for passage or a supermajority threshold of 66.6%.

As if that weren’t sufficiently suicidal, the National Committee has put the entire electoral process of the Green Party into the hands of a man with the highest record of failure in the entire party; Greg Gerritt. Mr. Gerritt is in charge of what the Greens call their "CCC" Coordinated Campaign Committee and their "PCSC" Presidential Campaign Support Committee. The Green Party’s failure over the last four years can be laid at the feet of David Cobb, John Rensenbrink, Ted Glick, Ben Manski, Dean Meyerson, Jody Grage and Greg Gerritt. While Cobb may have been the only one who understood the entire mechanisms that segregated the party’s membership from its decision-making processes, we have Gerritt to thank for the continued decline of the party without any effort to bring this decline to a halt. He even mismanaged a major contribution which cost the Coordinated Campaign Committee $25,000.

The Demogreens

Every party has factions. The Green Party is no exception but the factions in every other party, especially the Democrat and Republican Parties manage to put their differences aside in favor of one key value "party unity". Neither the Democrat Party nor the Republican Party has a faction which actually wants to bring about the end of that party in favor of strengthening some other political party. Not so the Green Party.

One of the major factions in the Green Party is called the "demogreen faction". It is also referred to as the "lesser-evil-greens faction". A more lengthy but rather more descriptive title would be "Democrat Party Accommodationists". These are the people in the Green Party who believe that the function of the Green Party is to improve the Democrat Party and by all means to avoid hurting Democrat Party candidates. Phil Huckleberry, one of the leaders of this faction, made this demonstrably clear at the 2005 Green Party convention when he stood up and screamed while pounding the table: "I did not join an independent party, I joined the Green Party; I did not join the Green Party to fight the Democrat Party". Huckleberry continues to warn Green Party members not to criticize "progressive" Democrats.

The faction in opposition to the demogreens is usually called the Independent Greens. These are Greens who see the Green Party as independent from both of the corporate owned parties. They do not see the role of the Green Party as having anything to do with helping the Democrat Party. The Independent Greens also insist that the Green Party be democratically organized. They want each state to be proportionately represented with respect to the number of Greens in each state. The demogreens, which are the right wing of the party, reject the concept of "one person one vote" which is the very cornerstone of democracy. In essence they would favor a system whereby a Senate would be given legislative power instead of a House of Representatives. The logic of the demogreens emerged in the 18th century and gave rise to the Electoral College and the United States Senate.

The demogreens have actually taken this antidemocratic philosophy further than the landed aristocracy which gave us the United States Senate. The demogreens seek to bar democracy of any kind within the Green Party. They seek to keep the membership fully divorced from the decision-making process of the national party leadership. The disproportionate size in state delegations is the mechanism by which this system is created and perpetuated.

Green Party Corruption

One of the paid administrators in the Green Party is Brent McMillan whose history of failure as Political Director goes hand in hand with the failure of his supervisor Greg Gerritt. Simply being a failed Political Director however, is not the end of McMillan’s difficulties. Recently McMillan (a demogreen) insisted that Elizabeth Arnone, the only Independent Green who sits on the steering committee with eight demogreens, and JOHN MURPHY, delegate from Pennsylvania were heading up a "fifth column" effort to destroy the Green Party!

Continuing in this insane vein, McMillan then, in a state of prejudicial rage writes a letter to the Green Party’s steering committee slandering one of its presidential candidates, Elaine Brown, by writing that she "is paranoid delussional (sic) and is also a late stage alcoholic". Ms. Brown is a long time activist, a former leader of the Black Panther Party, a Green Party candidate for mayor of Brunswick, Georgia in 2005, an author and college lecturer, a community organizer and an incredible asset to the Green Party. This is how she is maligned by a Green Party hired gun!

Most normal organizations would have thrown McMillan out on his butt for making such a groundless, prejudicial statement before getting sued for libel, slander and defamation of character. But the Steering Committee, eight of whom are demogreens, has come to his aid and instead is calling for the resignation of Liz Arnone for blowing the whistle on McMillan.

Adding injury to insult, JOHN MURPHY who has been working for four years in the Pennsylvania Ballot Access Coalition to help rid Pennsylvania of the egregious ballot access laws which prevent minor party candidates like the Greens from running for election was, himself, actually denied the ability to run for election to a position on the Coordinated Campaign Committee in an effort to ride herd on Gerritt.

Murphy’s own state party chair, ignoring the rules, would not even permit him to run for election to obtain a seat on this committee. There was only one criterion for evaluation: did Murphy have campaign experience? But instead of simply writing a note to the party secretary, demogreen Holly Hart, informing her that Murphy indeed had the required experience, the Pennsylvania chair set up her own version of the Star Chamber and, after receiving a communication from Greg Gerritt begging her not to permit Murphy to run, Murphy was denied ballot access! Denied the very ability to run for office within his own party!

Preventing worthy candidates from running for office is as grievous a sin against democracy as preventing people from voting. But acting in an antidemocratic fashion has never bothered the leaders of the Green Party. It was precisely that kind of behavior which gave the Green Party the strategy failure of 2004.

The corruption continues with delegate Hugh Esco from Georgia. Georgia is the former home state of Cynthia McKinney. As it turns out Green Party National Delegate Esco was on the payroll of the Democrat Party. Apparently, this delegate from Georgia may not even reside in the United States! He appears to hold an administrative position in the Green Party of Canada. Curiouser and curiouser!

The Arrival of Cynthia McKinney

The best thing to happen to the demogreens since the safe state strategy is Cynthia McKinney. The former congresswoman from Georgia is a great asset to the Green Party and with a bit of luck could be our vice presidential candidate but not if the demogreens get their way. While Cynthia may have name recognition with many members of the Green Party and the Progressive Democrats of America (PDA) she is virtually unknown to 98% of the voting public. At a press conference earlier this month in Madison, Wisconsin which has over 600,000 voters, only 30 people turned out to hear her. She got almost no press coverage at all. Tragically, when she does get any press coverage she is smeared by the corporate media as a "cop slapper", "conspiracy theory nut" and has even been accused of anti-Semitism.

The demogreens plan to use Ms. McKinney as a surrogate for safe states. Unlike Ralph Nader, Cynthia McKinney has no national constituency; no ability to raise significant funds. This makes her virtually another David Cobb minus the devious intentions. The Green Party has only 19 ballot lines remaining. McKinney may be able to pick up another half dozen but after that, there is little she will be able to do with no name recognition, no money and no loyal following to build organizations in states where the Green Party has no ballot line.

The Paper States

To ensure that McKinney becomes the presidential candidate of the Green Party the demogreens under the leadership of Greg Gerritt engineered the failure of a recent proposal which would guarantee that the apportionment of delegates to the national convention would be at least a rough approximation of the concept of "one-person one-vote" or in this case "one green one-vote". It is very likely that we will go into the convention with states like Indiana which has a total of 47 Greens (yet Jim Coplen of Indiana managed to engineer himself a seat on our steering committee) getting eight delegate votes along with a group of 16 other states known as "paper states".

The "paper states" came about as an artifact of Nader’s presidential campaign of 2000. Several states across the country established Green Parties during the Nader campaign but they fell apart soon after the election. Those state Green Parties nevertheless remained "on the books" and were quickly taken over by the demogreen faction. This means that 16 states with less than a thousand Greens have 32 delegate votes in the Green Party’s National Committee enabling them to outvote states like Pennsylvania which has 15,000 Greens yet only eight delegate votes. Those 32 delegate votes also offset California’s 41 votes yet California has 150,000 Greens — 40% of the total Greens in the country. The delegate apportionment rule being favored by the demogreens will put a cap on California’s delegates at 20% meaning that 50% of California’s Greens will not be represented!

The Grassroots: Now or Never

It may be too late but unless the rank and file; the grassroots Greens, awaken and insist upon the resignation of every member of the steering committee with the exception of Liz Arnone, the book will close on the Green Party of the United States. Unless the rank and file Greens in Maine, Illinois and Wisconsin ousts every member of their national delegation the book will close on the Green Party of the United States. Unless the rank-and-file members of the Green Party of the United States insist upon a democratically organized political party which is completely independent of the Democrat Party, refusing to support Democrat candidates directly or indirectly, the book will close on the Green Party of the United States. The time for doing this is now measured in months, perhaps even weeks. It is likely however, that no matter how the time is measured it may have already expired.

The Unknown Factor: Ralph Nader

If the demogreens’ e-mail messages to the Green Party’s National Committee could be heard instead of read they would sound something like whining dogs, cackling hens or screeching cats. These are the same people who have been saying for the last four years "if only Nader had come to our convention, he would have gotten the nomination". They behave as if they had no idea what Manski and Meyerson did back then. Now their cackling, whining and screeching is taking the form of "well Nader hasn’t even bothered to tell us he’s a candidate".

Any 12-year-old with a modem could’ve told you why Nader didn’t announce a couple of months ago. It was clear that he was about to get a tremendous amount of publicity as a result of the movie "An Unreasonable Man" being broadcast all over the country by PBS from December 18-24. Clearly had Ralph announced before that time PBS would not have been able to show that movie since it might have been considered promoting a presidential candidate. If the whiners, cacklers and screechers had paid any attention, they would’ve heard that Ralph said publicly several times he would make his announcement around the end of December. No one would throw away the kind of publicity he received during that week in December coupled with the publicity he received as a result of his lawsuit against not only against the Democrat Party but the law firm which sued him in the first place.

If the leaders of the Green Party were thinking strategically they would be focused on one objective: obtaining 5% of the popular vote so that they could qualify for matching funds in 2012. Certainly there are other objectives to be achieved such as growth in membership, return of lost ballot lines and the resulting increase of funds in the Green Party treasury. Only Nader can get the votes required to return their lost ballot lines. Only Nader can get the necessary 5% they need for federal matching funds in 2012. Only Nader has the national constituency required to raise sufficient funds to run a presidential campaign. Only Nader as the infrastructure already in place to organize those states where the Green Party has no ballot line. While there are indeed many well intended Greens supporting Cynthia McKinney, the real support for McKinney is steeped in corruption and driven by the desire to do minimal damage to the Democrat candidate as in 2004.

The Horizon: Militant Populists

As the tidal waves of history come crashing down on the crumbling walls of the Green Party washing away even the stains of Cobb, Gerritt and Huckleberry, a new movement is already beginning to take shape. As the bearded, braided, crystal gazing, alternative dress, let’s-everyone-make-nice, politically-correct-language-obsessed Greens are reabsorbed into the political environment, a militant form of populism is beginning to make its voice heard. A zeitgeist, if you will, spreading slowly but inextricably from the south is taking hold of the angry, frustrated, politically and economically disenfranchised Americans who long to make their voices and their will heard in the United States. This spirit is beginning to embody not the doctrinaire Democrats of The Nation Magazine bellowing the trite catch phrases of a hollow liberalism but the tens of millions of Americans who know only intuitively that something has gone very wrong and that if there ever was an "American Dream" it could only come with the futile purchase of the next lottery ticket.

JOHN MURPHY was the 2006 independent candidate for House of Representatives in the 16th Congressional District of Pennsylvania. He was endorsed by Michael Berg, Peter Camejo, Noam Chomsky, Ralph Nader and Howard Zinn. He was endorsed by two county level Green Parties, two county level Libertarian Parties, the Pennsylvania Reform Party, the New American Independent Party of Pennsylvania and the GDI among others. He will be running again for House of Representatives in 2008. Currently he is a National Delegate from Pennsylvania to the Green National Committee (GNC). He is also one of the founding members of the Pennsylvania Ballot Access Coalition , working to change ballot access laws in Pennsylvania. He can be reached at: johnamurphy@comcast.net.