Greenline: The Green Party Build it NOW or Shut It Down!!!
From Darryl! Moch, Green Party Black Caucus Co-Chair:
This year at the Annual National Meeting (ANM) in Newark, New Jersey, the Green Party of the United States experienced a tremendous boost in energy and in opportunity – and at the same time was faced with challenges that will lead to greater political maturation and inclusion. This ANM's attendance may have been the largest gathering of Greens (old, new, young, people of color, women, activists, political novices, political powerhouses, analysts, thinkers, movers and shakers, grassroots workers, and expert "rabble-rousers and troublemakers") – OUR people!!!! With all this energy and synergy going on you could expect some things to get stirred up. And a lot of good stuff was stirred up, for sure.
And, as is par for the course, we had some issues that came up that over time have continued to plague the Green Party and counters its activities and political efforts to be the change and the imperative that the US and the world needs right now. To be frank, the internal politics and structures of the Green Party need both expansion and re-configuring. The relationships that were built or solidified at the ANM demonstrated that we can come together and get what we need done. However, the stressors and challenges show us exactly what we are up against internally and externally.
Ongoing issues with privilege, patriarchy, and white supremacy continue to cast shadows on the Green Party in ways that threaten our very existence. If we do not take decisive action to address these mounting concerns we will cause more fractioning and splintering to the point that we will neuter the political potency of the Green Party.
These issues are not new, members of the party have made these claims for decades, in fact the party created the caucuses as one of a few efforts to address such concerns. And despite those efforts there are those who would eliminate the caucuses stating that because the Green Party is an inclusive, grassroots based, eco-wisdom, liberation party that they really are not needed. Some argue that people of color, specifically, are not only wanted but necessary and they would point to a few people who have gained some forms of support in the party.
Others, on the other hand, have noted that the efforts for diversity often do not include the people for whom the diversity activities are designed to attract. They argue that the structures of the party push marginalized people further away instead of drawing them closer. They argue that the liberal white ally often remains clueless of the real struggles of those who are marginalized and that the struggles continue to be fought in silos instead of hand and hand together. It is assumed that women's issues remain women's issues, and even with women of color present, often the issues relate mostly to struggles of white women regardless of the intersectionality of racism and patriarchy. Likewise, issues of people of color are often relegated to the proposals and discussions and demands for deeper analysis, rather than accepting that people of color deserve the support and access to resources to determine a path forward that will include white support even when white supporters are not fully entrenched in the issues of those people.
So, this ANM, July 2017, marks a turning point in how the Green Party chooses to engage with the rest of its membership. While the Green Party may not be "a white party" the perception begs to differ and the experience of people in the party would say that the lived experience in the Green Party is that whiteness remains the most salient and influential factor in the work of the party, how resources are distributed, who is elected, and how we organize (or don't) in communities around the nation. To be honest, this was a powder keg waiting to explode. And for some of us we expected the explosion to happen in the general public and may have been ill prepared for the eruption within the Green Party. So, after a very nasty SC election (where so many shenanigans went on behind the scenes), members of the Black Caucus were joined by members of all the other caucuses, including the forming indigenous caucus and anger, pain, and the sheer sense of disrespect was palpable in the room during the discussion. Officially the Latinx, Womens, Youth, and the forming Indigenous caucuses' leaderships declared solidarity with the Black Caucus and members of the lavender caucuses represented their support as well . What seemed like an obvious slight to Black leadership and Black members of the Green Party led to the staging of an action during the annual fundraiser.
For the first time, possibly, old and new members of the Green Party, led by those from marginalized communities, expressed shame and dismay at the election results but this was only a symptom of the problem and not the point of why people demonstrated. The people gathered to demonstrate anger at the fact that the infrastructure of the Green Party could lead to such a display of disenfranchisement of an entire group of people. Challenges to this argument have said that it was just about "out organizing" some candidates, others state "it's just the luck of the draw". But others have stated that the "voting system can be gamed" and this was used for a specific outcome. The issue is that that outcome had a very "unintended" side effect. Herein is the true problem; the systems the Green Party has in place that makes it possible for whole groups or specific people to be excluded. But the Green Party is the party of diversity and inclusion, no? No one would ever believe that there would be a day that coordinated election campaigns would "unintentionally" unseat or prevent the seating of women (or young people) to the Green Party Steering Committee but this could actually happen using the system we have (as it did with the Black candidates this year).
An outpouring of solidarity resulted in serious discussions on how the Green Party needs to focus some time internally to get our house in order AND ways to expand the platform that becomes a demonstrated lived experience for Greens and not just nice rhetoric and political pontificating. So, the Black Caucus is thrust into the lead of what can be dubbed as The Great Green Party Reboot. The Black Caucus and our allies intend to be vigilant in ensuring that the party lives up to its 10 key values and stands on our four pillars solidly.
This "reboot" comes at a critical time for our Party, our communities, and our country. We face an historic crisis regarding racial justice, equitable access to power structures and leadership, as well as oppression threatening the lives and security of people across the nation and the world. People looking for a home in the Green Party need to be assured that we can begin to build trust in a system and a political party that will represent and empower us. These proposed actions are an effort to reassure the national body and the constituents we seek to serve.
To do so, a strong contingent of the 2017 Annual National Meeting resolved to engage the party in a process to shift the power and paradigm that guides the party. Having witnessed what appear to be a series of inequities and injustices that threatened to split the Party and undermine the assurances needed to provide infrastructure and stability in the management of the party, we seek here to remedy the results of those inequities and injustices and to rectify the flawed process in this election.
While the anomalies of the voting may or may not have been enough to change any particular outcome, our goal, now, is to restore faith in the Green Party and in the National Committees commitment to inclusion and diversity as key foundational elements of the Green Party's 10 key Values, 4 Pillars, and Platform. The Black Caucus will:
- Seek and/or support efforts to review and reconstruct our voting mechanism and process to ensure that we can have clean elections. Reestablishing the principles on which the Green Party stands and affirm to those who would abuse the system that this level of political manipulation is neither wanted nor sanctioned in the Green Party. Those shenanigans are part and parcel of other political parties but will not be commonplace in the Green Party.
- Seek to identify a process whereby recent or long-standing wedges in our relationships internally in the Green Party can be addressed and remedied in ways that bring us together rather than tear us apart
- Work to restore confidences of our grassroots leadership that the Green Party in indeed the place for their work, activism, and constituents to find a political home
- Work to eliminate vestiges of privilege, patriarchy, supremacy, and other forms of disenfranchisement that interrupt or challenge authentic engagement across all spectrums of people
- Work to develop processes where tolerance means inclusion not acceptance of bullying, abuses, or power mongering that threatens the safety, security, or engagement of marginalized people.
The Black Caucus will engage in or support these efforts in these ways:
- Resolve to work with the existing Steering Committee and not seek, at this time, new elections
- The development of a truth and reconciliation commission or program to address new and longstanding concerns
- Development of a committee or working group to address voting system and long-term changes - with recommendations for the replacing ranked choice voting with a more equitable system that simply means a system that is easy to understand without complicated algorithms where each vote is counted and no votes are weighted more than others.
- Support the creation of a program for Anti- Oppression/supremacist/etc., within the Green Party (made available to the states and officers of the national party - including the SC and NC).
- Proposal to establish a working group to review bylaws, procedures, etc., to address systemic issues that may lead to further oppression or supremacist impacts
The Black Caucus is still reviewing ideas pertaining to the following but has not yet agreed on the nature or importance of these measures:
- Consideration of the size of the SC and potential expansion
- Proposal regarding permanent placement of caucus representation on the SC
- Proposal regarding voting status of Officers of the SC versus the Co-chairs and expansion of the SC
Now the Green Party has the opportunity to build the party we say we are. Failing to do so will result in both internal and external leeching that ultimately will lead to the shutdown of the Green Party. We remain hopeful.
Darryl! Moch, Green Party Black Caucus Co-Chair