Essays by Brent McMillanback
Briefing for OSCE PA US Elections Seminar
October 30th, 2010
OSCE Parliamentary Assembly - U.S. Elections
Presentation by Brent McMillan
Good afternoon Ladies and Gentleman. I would like to thank Chairman Senator Cardin and Co-Chairman Representative Hastings for the opportunity to address this body.
2006 was the second strongest mid-term for independents and third-parties in the U.S. since 1934. In 2008 the Green Party got more votes for our U.S. House candidates than ever before. We set individual records both for U.S. Senate and U.S. House. I believe that this mid-term could be even bigger for independents and third-parties. Greens are most successful at getting elected at the local level, mayor, city council, school boards, etc. That is where we have a foothold. We won nearly 40 % of our municipal elections last year.
1) The 2010 Campaign
According to Zogby polling the two largest voting blocks this year are the angry voter and the disappointed voter. I believe that we will see evidence of that on Election Day.
We are finding that unions and environmental groups have come away from this last election cycle very disappointed. Leaders of these organizations are reaching out to us as a result. Therefore a door is opening for the Green Party of the United States.
Green candidates won key endorsements from unions and labor organizations. For example our candidate for U.S. Senate in South Carolina, Tom Clements (who is not only outpolling the Democrat in the race among voters overall but also among Democrats) was endorsed by the Greater Columbia Labor Council of the South Carolina AFL-CIO. Ben Manski, our candidate for Wisconsin State Assembly District 77, was endorsed by an organization representing Madison Teachers. Lynn Williams, our candidate for Maine State Senate in Hancock County, was endorsed by the 25,000-member Maine Education Association, an affiliate of the National Education Association.
We continue to struggle to be included in candidate debates. Polling is often skewed toward the Democrats and Republicans that debate inclusion is based on. For example our candidate for State Comptroller in New York, Julia Willebrand, was told that she would not be included in the debate due to results from a specific poll that when investigated did not include her as an option.
One of the more egregious examples of debate exclusion in this campaign cycle was our California candidate for Governor, Laura Wells. After being excluded from a Gubernatorial Debate she was arrested while attempting to legally enter, with a ticket, the Governors Debate on Oct. 12 at Dominican University. Private security arrested her, handcuffed her, and held her against her will until San Rafael Police intervened. To add insult to injury she must now appear in court on Election Day, Nov. 2 to face a charge of trespassing as a result.
We face ballot access laws which are different for each state. There are different classes, it's much tougher for parties that aren't either Republican or Democrat. It uses up a large amount of our energy, leaving less energy to actually run for office. We currently have 27 ballot lines for this election cycle.
We face a lot of shenanigans from election officials in the treatment of our candidates on the ballot.
For example our candidate for Governor in Illinois Rich Whitney found that in 23 wards in Chicago (largely communities of color), the touch-screen vote-counting machines show his name misspelled as "Rich Whitey".
In Arizona there are 14 sham candidates on the ballot running as green party candidates that greens there knew nothing about prior to their filing to run. Upon investigation it was found that they were either recently registered as Republican or still are! Even though we have informed the media of this they still refer to them as if they were legitimate green candidates. Which leads one to ask the question, "What Fourth Estate?"
In Wayne County Michigan two legitimate Green candidates were left off the absentee ballots. The Chief Deputy Wayne County Clerk said an employee in the clerk's office, who has since been moved to another office, made a mistake processing the candidate list because the candidates didn't run in the primary and the Green Party is "a minor party." Some 27,000 new ballots were to be printed and sent to every absentee voter in those districts, including those who've already voted.
We have noticed that under the Obama Administration domestic spying has expanded and not contracted to pre-Bush era levels. We are witnessing a growing effort to label political dissent as terrorism. As evidence of this homes of antiwar activists' in Minneapolis and Chicago were raided by the FBI on Sept. 24. The activists whose homes were raided had criticized US actions in the Middle East and Colombia. The FBI has also attempted to intimidate activists in California, Iowa and North Carolina.
Other examples are the Georgia Green Party being listed as a terrorist organization by the FBI and the Maryland Green Party and DC Statehood Green Party being listed as "Terrorism - White Supremacy/Hate Groups" by their respective Police Departments.
On Sept. 21 our U.S. Senate Candidate in Maryland, Natasha Pettigrew, a promising young African/American law student, died from injuries sustained in a hit and run accident while riding her bicycle. Her mother, Kennis Henry, is now running in her place bringing attention to this injustice. In most cases this would have been investigated as possible manslaughter. No charges have been filed and the investigation has been suspect at best.
The Supreme Court's 5-4 ruling in the Citizens United vs FEC defined corporate campaign spending as constitutionally protected free speech in what is widely acknowledged as a radical departure from precedent. The Jan. 21 ruling earlier this year has opened the floodgates for corporations, unions, and non-profit front groups wishing to keep their funders anonymous and to spend unlimited funds on political ads.
2) What are the Green Party positions on Major Issues?
Green Party candidates nationwide are calling for a "Green New Deal." Greens added a new plank to our platform in August of this year on curbing corporate power. In it we call for an end to Corporate Personhood, the extension of constitutional rights to this legal fiction. In contrast, neither the Democrat nor Republican parties support the ending of corporate personhood. We also call for the revoking of corporate charters of lawless corporations. The founders of this country knew how dangerous corporations can be: in the first 75 years of our history corporations had to be re-chartered every 2 years and if they couldn't prove that they were still in the interest of the community to operate than they were disbanded and the assets redistributed to the community.
For example in a recent report published by the Climate Action Network it was discovered that leading European polluters are giving donations to members of the U.S. Senate who deny the reality of climate change. According to the report, Republican Senator DeMint from South Carolina received $13,000 this year alone from European companies known to oppose climate legislation in the European Union. Among others, DeMint received $1,000 from BP.
Greens support Universal Health Care. It's a shame that such a wealthy country refuses to take care of its own citizens. I'll be attending a leadership conference in Philadelphia in Nov. where we will begin the process of targeting key congressional races in 2012.
Green Party Candidates Pledge to Protect Social Security and Medicare. The National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform was set up by the Democrats to make a series of proposals to Congress on how to reduce the growing federal budget deficit. Its proposals will be voted upon by a lame duck session of Congress after the November election, where retiring and defeated Congress members will likely cast the deciding votes. Many progressives refer to this as the "Catfood Commission" because it's goal appears to be cutting benefits so drastically that retirees will only be able to afford to eat cat food. We propose cuts in the military and no more tax cuts for the rich as the best ways to resolve federal deficits.
Greens call for a new kind of national defense: defense against catastrophic climate change. We demand that Congress cut military spending drastically and transfer the money to efforts to stem the impending climate change catastrophe. Democrats and Republicans can not be trusted to take even the minimal steps to curb global warming. America's only hope for concrete action is a new kind of politics.
We are also working on a saner Immigration policy. The U.S. is a nation largely of Immigrants. Each new generation faces its challenges. We should be working with the government of the state of Chiapas Mexico, the southern most and poorest of the 31 states in Mexico with some 400,000 people a year flowing north across its 640 km border as the human migration from Climate change increases. The Green Party calls for permanent border passes to all citizens of Mexico and Canada whose identity can be traced and verified. Work permits for citizens of Mexico and Canada must be easily obtainable, thereby decriminalizing the act of gainful employment.
Once again, thank you for this opportunity.
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