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The Problem With Green Party Leadership


I agree with the main thrust of William Kaufman’s essay in CounterPunch, “Pwog Fantasies of Power“. My one caveat is that there is nothing wrong with listing what amounts to a “Speakers Bureau” for the Green Party per se, as it may give people an idea as to where a Presidential campaign could go, so long as it views “electoral campaigns as an adjunct to political organizing, not a substitute for it.”

The problem is, that is exactly what the Green Party is doing. Instead of throwing resources into non-electoral regional direct action campaigns on critical issues of the day and then linking those campaigns via coordinated regional councils (which is what the Green Party should be doing), the Green Party leadership is doing exactly as William Kaufman criticizes. (Most rank-and-file Greens, on the other hand, are deeply involved in all sorts of great organizing efforts; but those receive no organized expression within the Party on the national level, which has long been a “flaw” with the Party and was one of the key criticisms leveled at it by the no longer existent Green Party USA.)

Additionally, any project of the sort should involve the rank-and-file of the Green Parties and not appointments imposed on us from on-high. There are tons of people and groups doing good work that are not reflected in the Green Party’s “Shadow Cabinet”, and that is emblematic of a top-down, non-participatory “honcho” approach to doing things.

We are a supposedly transparent and democratic (small “d”) party; it would be good to solicit nominations from Green Party enrollees for each position and have all members of the GP vote for the ones they want. In other words, INCLUDE Green Party members rather than dictate to us who a few have chosen on our behalf.

No diss at Mark Dunlea, for example, but it would be good to have real farmers in the position of agricultural secretary. Percy Schmeisser comes to mind, or lots of others involved in the farm groups. (Black Farmers Association, e.g.)

Where’s Glen Ford, e.g. as Minister of information. There’s a lot more wealth in terms of ideas and people rooted in different community organizations that we should include.

I see that Ben Manski is self-appointing to the role of Halderman and Ehrlichman rolled into one! Yikes!

As NY State Green activist Craig Seeman writes:

“It seems to be more or less a speakers bureau (or writers bureau in some cases). It’s simply something some larger entity can go to or refer to for information on a given issue. They don’t (can’t) supplant anything happening on the community level where local relationships are paramount.

“If the purpose of the ‘cabinet’ was to create buzz, draw attention to issues (and those who have written/spoken/acted on them) then I think an opportunity was lost by not taking advantage of the many Greens who might have started talking or submitting names and the resultant discussions. The cabinet would be a pinnacle rather than a starting point. Basically there was no build-up that might have happened if there was more involvement in Green circles.”


The Green Party “leadership” is missing another opportunity to involve the rank-and-file greens in participating in this process, and in so doing is once again snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

Mitchel Cohen is an organizer with the Brooklyn Greens/Green Party.

Mitchel Cohen is Coordinator of the No Spray Coalition in New York City.

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