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A Green Party National Membership Proposal

Summary:

The Green Party of the United States (GPUS) is in a tough position financially. It is in debt, and struggling to meet its monthly expenses. Below I present a case for implementing a National Membership program for GPUS, attempting to make a case that a National Membership plan for GPUS could rescue it from its financial problems, help in state party and local chapter growth, and bring new voters into the Green Party. By tying Delegate Apportionment to National Membership GPUS could regain its financial footing and grow as a political force in America. Doing nothing will result in no significant change to GPUS Financial Policy and budgeting and lead the party further down the path to indebtedness and financial ruin.

Prelude: A Financial Crisis

The Green Party of the United States (GPUS) is in trouble financially. It still owes money for the 2008 Presidential Nominating convention, and is going deeper into debt with each month that donations don’t add up to monthly expenses for “keeping the lights on”.

GPUS is donor driven, that is the source of its income. There is no membership dues, no corporate donations, no federal or state assistence, nothing. Fund raising and donations is it.

GPUS is technically an association of state Green Parties, thus all membership with the Green Party is at the state level, assuming there is an accredited state party in a given state. No one knows how many “members” the Green Party has due to the differences state by state in membership dues, and what you count as a “green” (dues-paying member, registered Green, green voter, etc.). Some state Green Parties give monthly to GPUS, some don’t.

Setting: There is NO membership with the Green Party of the United States.


Late last week, Independent Political Report posted a “membership table” for the Libertarian Party. It indicated that as of October 2008 there were around 17,000 dues paying members of the Libertarian Party, including annual memberships and lifetime memberships. Annual dues are supposedly $25 per year per individual. Lifetime membership at one point was a one time donation of $1,000. Doing simple math, that amounts to approximately $400,000 annual income based on annual membership dues.

Furthermore, the membership table broke down membership by state, and indicated that the active dues paying membership numbers were what were used by the Libertarian Party to determine delegate allocation for the Libertarian Party – not a Frankenstein system of weights and measures comparing registered voters in some states, elected Greens in other states, votes cast for the Green Party candidate for President in certain states and votes cast for Ralph Nader in 2004 in others.

Problem: The Green Party of the United States is broke and in debt.

Possible Solution: Enacting a dues paying membership system with GPUS.

De-Centralization: Since GPUS is in essence an Association of State Green Parties, “authority” in the GPUS is technically in the hands of state parties, which vary greatly in terms of maturity, numbers, activism, etc. A “national membership” could divert energy and money away from state parties to GPUS. It would also threaten the “sovreignty” of state parties to manage their own membership numbers, and challenge the key value of de-centralization.

Response: There is already in place a “state sharing” function within GPUS that initiates financial sharing of donations between GPUS and state parties. This “state sharing” could be formalized through a National Membership Plan, whereby half of all membership dues with GPUS would be shared with the accredited state chapter of the Green Party. Furthermore, State Green Parties would not be bound to accept GPUS “Members” unless they were willing to also accept half of those membership dues. Delegates to the GPUS National Committee would still be appointed/elected by state Green Parties. All rights and responsibilities that state Green Parties enjoy now would continue.

Economic Justice: One concern about a dues paying membership system is that it bases membership and participation in party decision making on “ability to pay”. Isn’t this just putting into place a “pay to play” structure that locks out the poor or financially strapped portions of America?

Response: Many state Green Parties already have a “low income”, “fixed income” or “student” membership rate that is lower than the standard membership rate. In Wisconsin, we have $25 annual memberhip dues, or $40 for a couple, or $10 for low income or students. Is $10 per year asking too much for membership? My local chapter once passed the hat to collect the $10 for membership dues for a cash strapped student, we felt it was important since he was an elected Green to our County Board! Local chapters and State chapters of the Green Party should be given latitude in “covering” the membership dues of low-income members. It amounts to 3 cents per day to be considered a member of the Green Party – is that too much to ask?

“One Green = One Vote”: much has been made about where our Greens are and who is considered a Green. Is voter registration sufficient? Is voting Green more accurate? Would delegate apportionment among the National Committee or the Presidential Nominating Convention be based on National membership, and wouldn’t that be denying the “One Green One Vote” manifesto?

Response: First, neither the National Committee nor the Presidential Nominating Delegates have to be based on National Membership, although if they were it would give some “teeth” to a National Membership plan and hopefully lead to a robust participation in National Membership. Basing proportional representation with GPUS on a National Membership with GPUS would be one of the purist forms of putting “One Green One Vote” into action. If 25% of the National Membership was from one state, that state would have 25% of the Presidential Delegates, and 25% of the National Committee Delegates. There would be no contention – “dues paying membership” would be the only determinant for delegate apportionment – no matter how state laws vary in terms of ballot access, party status, voter registration, etc.

Financial Situation:
finally, the most important short term issue at hand is an increasing debt load by GPUS and a shortage in income that has no end in sight. A National Membership Structure for GPUS has the potential to releave that debt and provide GPUS with the month to month income to “keep the lights on”. If 10,000 Greens across the nation became annual dues paying members of GPUS it would generate $250,000 in income, half of which ($125,000) would be distributed to the various state parties, with the other half paying the bills and paying off the debt. If twice that became members, double the numbers and do the math.

Response: Establishing a National Membership program would provide GPUS with a national membership and donor list that it can use for fund raising, outreach, leadership development and candidate recruitment. Working with state parties GPUS could be in a better position to support state and local campaigns based on a national membership list. GPUS would be able to pay existing staff and monthly expenses and maybe even have enough money left over to work on issus such as ballot access and media outreach. GPUS could pay off its debts and be in a better position to support issues and support candidates that could make a big difference. Members could even have the option of a portion of their membership dues going to one of the several caucuses or committees affiliated with GPUS with simple check boxes. GPUS could even help struggling state parties by helping to connect “National Members” from struggling states to help kick start new state chapters. The possibilities are endless.

Conclusions

There is a lot of history behind the lack of National Memberhip for GPUS that involves de-centralization, grassroots democracy, and more. These concerns are real and need to be acknowledged. However, given the extreme financial dire straights that the National Green Party of the US is in right now, I believe that we are at a critical juncture where things have to change or the Green Party will dissipate nationally as a political force. The simple step of Membership with GPUS has the potential to rescue GPUS from the financial mess it is in and provide it with the necessary funding to both “keep the lights on” and fund the issues we all desire: ballot access, outreach, candidate recruitment, and issue oriented activities. It has the potential to help grow state and local chapters, not take from them, and bring Greens together for collective action.

I would very much like to hear your opinion on this subject, whether you are a (dues paying, registered, voting) Green or not.

Ronald Hardy

49 Comments

  1. RONALD: The Green Party of the United States (GPUS) is in a tough position financially. It is in debt, and struggling to meet its monthly expenses.

    PAUL: I should point out that the LPUS (pronounced Help Us or El Pus by some) is having financial difficulties too, although it has more assets than the Green Party.

    When I attended the Green national convention, at least one person mentioned this discrepancy could be on account that the LP accepts corporate money and the GP does not.

    I should point out however that the LP does not get any “real” corporate money in the way that the Democrats and Republicans do, or in the way the LP did before 1983 when it was receiving Koch family millions. It does get some money from s-corps (basically, small businesses and individuals who incorporate as a tax shield). Kochs and other big corporations do fund some other entities in the libertarian movement, but not the LP.

    I agree with your overall point that it seems to me to make sense to base convention delegates on dues paying membership and to promote the Green Party membership program

    http://www.gp.org/greenpartycard.shtml

    However – it is not as clear to me that the Libertarian Party makes money on membership per se. It often spends more money mailing stuff to new members than the dues, and hopes that it will make the money back through additional contributions and multi-year memberships. At the same time, a large portion of members (possibly majority) do not keep paying dues for more than a couple of years. But back on the plus side for the LP, a dues paying member contributes an average well above their dues within the time they are members.

    Contrary to the impression some Greens may have, many Libertarians are “povertarians” – people of limited economic means. In my view the LP has done a poor job of asking its members for specific volunteer project help, of databasing its members talents, etc. I would love to see a program where a volunteer hour or specific volunteer accomplishment equals a money donations.

    I don’t know as much about how the GP does it,
    but at least on the Rahim campaign I saw what seemed to be pretty good volunteer mobilization structure. But then that did not come from the DC office – as far as I can tell it was grass roots organized.

    I haven’t finished reading this – may have more thoughts.

    -p

  2. Hi Ron,

    I favor a dues-based single-membership, single-standard structure. It need to happen for all the reason you state. And it needs to happen because it is the only structure which would truly provide a basis for one-person, one-vote. Estimating party strength based on candidate performance or party registration is fraught with inequities — differences between party registration states and non-party registration states — differences between low-ballot qualification states and high-difficulty ballot qualification states — and more.

    The fairest, most sustainable way to build the party is through an individual dues structure. I think you should advance your proposal.

  3. p.s. — either I’m really tired, or the “s” key on my keyboard is starting to fade.

  4. One other lesson from the LP: if you create a strong central organization, it can become a magnet for unscrupulous powermongers and a tempting target for hostile takeover by outside forces.

    There are many people who believe that the LP is under such an attack already, or is already captured. Not everyone agrees with this assessment, but enough people do that there is a large and semi-disloyal (at least among many of its rank and file) LP Radical Caucus as well as a couple of new spinoff parties (Boston Tea Party, Objectivist Party and Liberty for America – ‘not yet quite a party’).

    Can the Greens travel the same path and avoid the same peril? How does it balance against the existing peril of institutional poverty and disorganization?

  5. In answer to Paulie. The way you prevent an authoritarian organization is to have clear and fair recall rules and open communication rights among all members.

    A membership organization as Ron proposes can be more grassroots democratic than the current GPUS structure.

    I support the general direction of ron’s proposal and i expect my state party would as well.

    How about Ron putting a resoltion before his state party which can then be introduced to the GPUS National Committee.

    I am a delegate to the NC from Louisiana – and the national Malik effort was initiated by me from the grassroots.

  6. As it stands this is not really much of a membership. It is membership in name only. It would be more accurate to call those contributing under this fund raising program “donors”.

    i have put forth the idea that such membership actually mean something, and this is what Ron seems to be asking for as well.

    While i would rather poll such members as an informal advisory to the NC, Ron proposes it as a basis for apportionment, which i also find to be the sanist answer to the apportionment problem. In either case it seems like a good question to ask how we can give such donors the value, or ownership, that usually is attached, to at least some degree, to the concept of “member” of a political party.

    Making the membership a better value proposition, or having it convey some form of involvement, or “ownership”, beyond that of donor, would presumably bring in more such donors.

    Also, i believe that the membership card program is part of the state revenue sharing program (someone please correct me if i’m wrong), which means that one is automatically joining the IL state party if one is residing in IL and one becomes a card carrying member of GPUS.

    In WI, at least, this does convey some actual membership, and voting rights in our primary and tri-annual gatherings, and since we have a sharing program with the locals, one is also automatically a member of any local whose area one may reside within.

    It may be a good start to promote this fact more widely, and to encourage other states to have such agreements with locals, however while in WI joining at any level pretty much makes you a member at all three levels, the GPUS “membership” still basically conveys only the status of donor.

    While if i give my money to the state it is eventually shared with GPUS as well, but it immediately registers me as eligible to vote on party matters here in WI.

    Unlike most of my peers here in WI, i am concerned with requiring donations of members, and i feel that in kind donations of barter or labor should also qualify and be sought out. i know in many states there is a reluctance to require dues paying of members even in states that do not have voter registration by party, but motivating people to volunteer can be a powerful boon to our party. Such people are more likely to become party activists and feel a connection to what we do (i know, informally i was one such, even if only in my own mind, and i did a lot more work than i would have had i been able to pay my dues, otherwise i probably would not have ended up on the GPUS NC today – in WI we are not actually very rigorous in enforcing our requirement that you pay dues before you can vote ;-))

    My proposal in this regard is to give some value in return for card carrying GPUS members, but also to offer such membership in exchange for recruiting 2 or 3 members, volunteering for 2 or 3 hours, or some such equivalence in effort or exchange.

    In my opinion we need the perception of ownership through participation that volunteering brings as much as we need the money, but i have no doubt that we will continue to find ourselves quite strapped for cash until we can see our way to giving a better value in exchange for donations (and i don’t think merchandise sales will count very much in this regard to the many of our potential supporters who see things somewhat the same way i do).

    I am willing to do whatever i can in support of any strengthening of the value returned to GPUS membership card owners, even if we do not poll them, or allocate accordingly, we could at least put them in closer contact with their NC representative(s) so they could register their opinions and concerns. Until we do something along these lines, not only is the concept of “card carrying member” a joke, so is the concept that we have representative grassroots democracy. As it stands there is in many cases absolutely no connection between our actual human members and those of us who pretend to represent them, and, as a result, no way at all to ensure that we are even repping our member states either.

    I’m quite sure if Ron, or another one of us, writes this up properly we will find WIGP supports it overwhelmingly, the question remains, can get a wider level of support?

    I think it can, and if it cannot pass now, it is time to start lobbying for such anyway.
    Let’s do this thing!

  7. I concur with Ron’s proposal wholeheartedly. Yes there are concerns about the issues raised, but we need to answer the question, Are we or aren’t we a national political party? We need to develop a national membership that is based on a fair sliding-scale so that Greens may give accordinbg to their means, with dues set for low-income people, retirees, and students.
    Everyone is strapped for cash but the GPUS won’t survive long if it sticks to the current state-by-state membership.

  8. Ron has the courage to put forward a proposal that addresses the issue of survival as a political party. I support this idea.

  9. These are my personal opinions:

    One thing I like about having a paid membership option, is that it would force the staff and leadership at GP-US to take complaints and have accountability to all green members. Right now, if a person feels they are treated unfairly or kicked off a committee, etc., they are shuffled around and told that only states–and not people- are members. So, I like the unintended consequence of empowering individuals.

    Why I do not like the idea, and think it could be problematically legally or with campaign finance:

    In New York State (and a few other states) I am a Green Party member by virtue of signing up for free at my Board of Elections. I am a Green Party enrollee, with certain rights which sometimes include voting in Green primaries.

    The Green Party of NY State is affiliated with national, and has agreements to support the presidential candidate at national, etc.

    So, if someone requires me to pay money to belong to national, but I don’t want to pay, are they disenfranchising me?

    If someone is a green in a state where registration is free, isn’t the requirement of membership a kind of poll tax on internal votes and/or primary votes?

    That is a concern that I am not sure anyone has ever answered with detail, such as with laws, case laws and/or examples of how other parties have handled it.

    I must also say that the money crisis could be because people do not want to give money to national because it is not serving them. At some point, the whole team of leaders at national – the staff, the Steering Committee, people who take charge – need to see the lack of funds as a feedback mechanism that they must respond to.

    Donella Meadows has a really good article on authentic systems that might be useful to try to make national run more smoothly and with more authenticity.

  10. I agree wholeheartedly with Ron’s proposal. The survival of GPUS is on the line. Due to the increasing severity of the economic conditions in this country, we can no longer assume that a few generous people will lend or donate the money necessary to pull our financial ass out of the fire yet again. However, that is the only plan on the table at the moment.

    More importantly, the economic situation means this country needs the kind of alternative analysis and solutions that the Green Party offers more than ever.

  11. The heart of the problem is the lack of financial support both within state parties and in the GPUS national organization. I am not confident that membership dues for a national membership will address this, but I agree with the idea of reviewing what can be done to improve the situation.

    In going forward, I would suggest that there is a need for a model that can demonstrate its effectiveness and will be implemented on a consistent basis. To do this I think that it might help to get some framework to current work and potential models. Projected goals, implementation scenarios and incentives that will impact on the efforts of state parties and individuals are components that are integral to a successful plan.

    The main purpose of your project is to raise funds and not just have members. At the same time, there is also a need to increase the engagement of local Greens and state parties and expand communication internally and increase the party’s public outreach.

    Membership would most likely be facilitated with some sort of journal or magazine, such as promoting Green Horizon Quarterly, in order to promote the idea and create engagement, internal discussions and a small benny attached to being a member. Projections would need to be made regarding such a project and staffing issues addressed. I do NOT speak for GHQ but see it as a model at the least for the kind of publication that I am referring to. .

  12. Many (if not most) organizations have some kind of dues-based membership. Membership dues help fund the operations of the organization, and also represent a commitment from the individual to support that organization. Without a doubt there should be a sliding scale for low-income, fixed income seniors, students, etc.

    Paulie – you mentioned that the LP uses membership dues to send stuff to new members, etc. That sure beats NOT sending stuff to new members, but if the LP really has 17,000 active dues paying members that is about $400,000. That’s a LOT of mailings!

    Kim – nothing about a dues-based GPUS would affect the ability or privileges that come with registering Green in states that permit that. Not joining GPUS would mean that you weren’t a “dues paying member” of GPUS. Would you still be a member of the NY Green Party? I guess that depends on what your state party’s membership rules are. If being a registered Green Party member in NY is considered membership in NY then there you are.

    However, if delegate apportionment is tied to the proportions of dues paying members in each state, then you may want to consider joining. I would like to see a reciprocal membership, so that one could pay their $10 or $25 dollar dues to their state party for membership, which would then forward half that and your contact info to GPUS.

    But if one dislikes GPUS to the point that they don’t ever want any of their money to go to GPUS, then I don’t think “disenfranchisement” is the right word. How can you be disenfranchised by an organization that you don’t want to be a part of?

    The “poll tax” is an important issue that nags at me, because it feels like you have to pay in order to participate. Our elections are free, and in many states one can register with a political party for free. But the Democratic Party and the GOP are essentially government subsidized (and tax-payer subsidized) political parties nationally. The Green Party and the Libertarian Party don’t receive that welfare check. We are a “member supported” organization but with inconsistent and declining donations. Membership dues would hopefully lead to a consistent and predictable source of income so GPUS could prepare a budget that it can expect to pay for.

    If 10% of those who voted for Cynthia McKinney became dues paying members of the Green Party, we would not only have between $150,000 and $375,000 income to work with nationally to support ballot access, launch a media campaign, etc., but we would also (finally) have a list of 15,000 Greens around the nation who we know care enough about the Green Party to actually send us a few bucks every year.

    If everyone who voted Green gave us a few bucks a year we would have a financially stable National Party that can do what we want it to do – impact the political landscape in America.

    Imagine – if we can run a Presidential Campaign for $100,000, just think what the national party could do with $250,000!

  13. To be taken seriously, we have to build our party at the national level. At the same time, we also have to make sure all fifty states have an accredited chapter. Making half of the GPUS membership go towards the members state chapter would help both sides. If the state has a non-paying membership plan set up, that half of the fee could be divided between the states that need assistance setting up an accredited chapter. Having accredited chapters in every state and be decently funded at the national level, we can be taken seriously.

  14. When you have individual based memberships you no longer have a political party. The party itself would still need to be run as a federation of state parties, and that ought to be reflected in how the membership is viewed. Anything other than a federation of state parties will have troubles that are not anticipated.

  15. Ron,

    Thank you for responding to my concerns.

    I think you have not resolved the idea that it is unfair and a poll tax, if a green enrollee in NY must join national in order to be a member at national.

    The reason is, that GPNYS gives up its right to choose a presidential candidate, by agreeing to support the candidate picked by the national party. But, if I am an enrollee of GPNYS, and I do not pay dues to national under your scheme, then I get no say or vote in who the presidential candidate on the ballot in NY is. I don’t think you resolved that issue.

    Also, all this talk about you pay the local and it gets split or forwarded to national…every organization I have ever seen do that, the national gets too much power. Locally, I have seen the national organization require dues, and smother or make less effective: NOW, NAACP, Gray Panthers (to some extent).

    If we value local control and grassroots organizing, then are national organization should get money by virtue of voluntary support, and/or by providing direct services to locals. For instance, if the Green Pages was to truly serve the states, then selling Green Pages might have (and perhaps still might) make a profit for national.

    But, forced dues from a dysfunctional national, imposed on a state, is not going to work.

  16. Ron, thanks for posting this and for giving it so much thought. I strongly agree that this is a great way to build a sustainable income, and address GNC apportionment. However, this will only work if we can figure out a way to
    address two important issues:
    1. Safeguarding revenue – If State parties are not assured that they will
    actually receive their share of the funds, then they will not participate
    and will not promote the program. Nor should they. In 2006 Illinois made
    a huge push to get members to sign up for GP cards rather than join the
    state party – and we got burned. At one point GPUS was a year and a half
    behind in sharing revenue payments and we lost a huge source of revenue
    from those who got GP cards instead of joining the state party. Other
    states were put in a similar pinch. So, unless we can assure states that
    they will receive prompt payment, and reporting, each quarter – this has
    no hope of getting the support it needs. Passing the currently proposed
    fiscal policy will be a good first step in that regard.
    2. Local sharing – Success of a national membership will depend on locals
    promoting the program and doing all the street work. Unfortunately most
    states do not share with locals, and those that do only give a meager
    amount from their half of the GP card and sustaining donation money. If
    locals cannot use this program as a core of their revenue, they will seek
    other ways to recruit members and get donations, that cuts out the state
    and national party.
    If done, I would like to turn the GP card program on its head, so that
    locals promote the membership, collect the money, then send on the
    appropriate share to the state, which in turn sends the money onto GPUS.
    But there is a lot of resistance to that at the national level.

    Anyway, those are my thoughts. I like the proposal, but those issues
    would need to be worked out first.

  17. Greg,

    How is it that a political party can not be based on individual memberships? I ask from a desire for more information, not to argue. Is it that the definition of “political party” necessitates not having individual memberships?

    Or put another way, can we have this existing federation of state parties – but ALSO have membership dues with the national party?

    If we have a reciprocal membership then what we have is membership with both the state party and the national party. An individual member has a stake in their state party *as well as* the national party. In fact, is it possible to be a member of one without being also a member of the other? Can one be a member of the Wisconsin Green Party and NOT be a member of GPUS? Isn’t one a member of GPUS automatically by being a member of a state party?

    On the other hand, if GPUS only recognizes state parties and caucuses as “members”, then individuals can’t be members of GPUS. But GPUS is funded entirely through donations from individuals and a handful of state parties (like Wisconsin) that give money periodically to GPUS.

    Any organization that does anything needs operating funds, and in the case of GPUS those funds come from donors. But those donors have no impact on the direction of GPUS, because the membership of GPUS is made up of state parties, a membership that does *not* fund the organization.

    I understand that a while back a proposal was made for state parties to do just that – pay “dues” to the national organization they were members of. It was rejected.

    Now it can be argued that individual donors *do* have a say in the direction of GPUS through their state parties. But they are significantly out-voted by the vast number of Greens that likely do *not* donate to GPUS, depending on the state. In fact some states may not even have membership dues, but base membership on party registration.

    If we could do away with membership dues altogether that would be ideal, but then there would be no funding for operations for GPUS, the state parties, and the local chapters, except for the charity of individuals. If the Green Party received money from the Government for operations like in some other countries that would be one thing, but we don’t.

    So is GPUS a “political party” or not?

  18. Kim,

    The “poll tax” issue is one of the biggest concerns, I acknowledge that myself in the post and in the comments.

    A “poll tax” is a charge to vote. The only vote we are talking about is the vote for whom our Presidential Candidate will be. Each state party has its own rules for determining who can vote and how. 6 states have state run primaries. Other states have mailed ballots or regional caucuses. Your ability to vote for whom our Presidential Candidate shall be depends on your state. If you are lucky and New York doesn’t base this on “membership dues” but on being registered as a Green, then you don’t have a poll tax.

    In other states (Wisconsin among them) we *do* have to pay in order to vote for whom our Prez should be because all we have is membership dues. Is that fair that I have to pay to vote and you don’t?

    But lets say that we did open up participation in the selection of the Green Prez to anyone regardless of membership – thus no poll tax. Does that also give those folks a say in the direction of GPUS beyond the Prez and the Platform? Or should there be some qualification that can be applied nationally as to who has a say in the internal operations and direction of GPUS?

    The concern about the potential increase in power of GPUS over State Parties has been brought up several times. However GPUS is governed by the National Committee, which is made up of Delegates appointed by State Parties and Caucuses. State Parties control GPUS through the selection or election of Delegates to the NC. How can GPUS become too powerful?

    In fact I would argue that GPUS is extremely weak, and just about comatose. The patient is on her death bed but we are afraid that if we give her some medicine she might over power us. We’ve gone too far in letting GPUS wither to this extent, unless we would prefer to let GPUS die and we retreat into our state parties or allow a new “association”, “federation”, or other organization take its place.

    GPUS is incapable of providing support to state chapters or local chapters or ballot access because it has no money. But it seems like we don’t want to give it any money for fear that it will be too powerful. This sounds very familiar to the anti-tax argument I hear from the Republicans that want to repeal all taxes but expect the roads to be plowed, the trash picked up, clean tap water and police to protect us. If we expect GPUS to do anything, it has to be funded.

    Maybe the follow up question is whether or not GPUS is needed at all?

  19. I think the question should be broken up:

    Is it useful to have a national Green Party?

    Is the current GP-US (ie: the specific entity and structure) useful?

    (The above are two very different questions.)

    Is it needed to have a national Green Party?

    Do we need/should we keep the GP-US?

  20. Glad to see you’ve given this so much thought, Ron. I like Monte’s idea about asking low-income members to volunteer or recruit in lieu of a contribution. Sweat equity probably confers a greater sense of responsibility than does financial contribution.
    Speaking of volunteerism and recruitment, it would be great to see volunteers handing out Green Pages at anti-war/environmental/labor demonstrations. Why is it that at an anti-war rally, you’ll get offered five different revolutionary Communist newspapers, yet not a single piece of Green literature (which is, in my humble opinion, more appealing and relevant)? Greens need to become an outward-focused movement.

    Kimberley, I don’t quite understand your objection. If a locally-minded registered Green in NYS chose not to pay dues to the national GP, why would this person care that they were not involved in the process of selecting a national candidate?

    Starting with Richard Winger’s thought exercise – how would we gauge national membership if no state had membership by registration – the idea of membership dues (including non-monetary dues) makes sense. For too long Greens have dealt with questions that are too subjective to answer, like how we can compare California and Oklahoma Green membership. Basing the calculation on hard numbers – how many folks are willing to give a small amount or spend a few hours for the Green Party – should resolve that ambiguity.

  21. While I personally decrie this privatization of the national party by giving members a sense of ‘ownership’ through membership dues, I do acknowledge that our treasurer here in MI has mentioned numerous times that our biggest source of party funds is those dues. Even given that I think it is a mistake to conflate our financial situation with our membership rules. Basing participation in the party on the paying of dues will not turn this party around.

  22. Thinking about your question, Green Ferret. If someone is “enrolled Green” in NY, but has not subscribed or paid dues to the national party, then why should they have the right to affect the presidential candidate on the Green Party line for a national office?

    Some thoughts:

    It is a fact, that political parties are organized by state. Being an enrolled Green through NY state is how I automatically belong to my local. And, it is how I am supposed to automatically belong/participate at national. The Green Party of NY State has the right/authority/responsibility to put a presidential candidate on the ballot in NY State. And, since I am a member of GPNYS, I want input into who it picks to put on our ballot line for President.

    Hmmmm…perhaps I can see a logic in national dues in this way…thinking of the affiliation agreement as more flexible…if in registering with GPNYS I do not get membership in national, then I would want a direct vote in GPNYS every year saying, “Should we endorse the candidate put forward by GP-US” or something. And, I suppose that it is true that GPNYS itself chooses the delegates to the presidential convention for national, so in that way there is representation.

    That in some way resolves the question of “Am I completely disenfranchised from something enrollment is already supposed to get me, if I have to also pay dues to national.”

    But, it is still saying that you have to “pay to play” at national. It is still a poll tax for votes related to the Steering Committee and National Committee.

    As I said, though, I might like it better. Right now, the states themselves belong, and there is no accountability to individuals, and no grievance process for individuals. The staff and leadership do as they like, and use their power to control the states, so no one can touch them. Having a new class of members — individuals who paid their dues, individuals who could claim standing in lawsuits when they are treated badly – that might be a healthy dose of reality for national.

    I also like that if due are required at national, it would feel like something a person could decide to be in of or out of. So, if a person totally disliked Presidential Politics, they could feel like they could and should stay out of the whole realm of national. Instead of what often happens, people who want no presidential candidate, out of guilt to slow us down, or sabotage to stop us, undermining our presidential campaigns.

  23. Lou – that’s why it’s essential that we allow dues to be “paid” in volunteer hours. Asking people to work a couple of hours for the party could give them more of a stake in what it does than asking for money would. On the other hand, GPUS needs money, and paying dues is not an unreasonable expectation for a political party. The Populist Party also had dues.

    Terms like “poll tax” or “privatization” do not, I think, describe the reality of this proposal. Both terms refer to something fundamentally unfair, something that confers a privilege upon some by denying it to others. Ron’s proposal (coupled with Monte’s suggestion of volunteer dues) provides a simple framework for people who consider themselves active Greens to participate in the national party on an equal footing, no matter where they live.

    I recently read a quote from a Green Member of European Parliament that could apply to this situation. She said that the Green Party is a bridge between the world we have now and the world we want to have.

    The world we want to have: no money in politics, equal rights for all political parties, free and open debates; real democracy
    The world we have now: no voice in politics without money, subsidies for Republicrats and suppression for everyone else, no debate, managed democracy, different ballot access and registration laws everywhere that make it impossible to design a formula based on registration or vote totals that can satisfy everyone.
    If we continue to let unequal ballot access laws – drafted specifically to keep people like us out of our system of governance – prevent Greens from effectively working together, we will be playing right into the hands of the powermongers who wrote such laws. A single, national standard is the best we can do right now.
    At the same time, the Green Party needs money badly, and it’s hard up for volunteer participation too. If we don’t solve the money problem, then all this debate amounts to little more than rearranging the chairs on a sinking ship. And it would be a damn shame if the Green Party went under now, when it is more relevant and more necessary than ever.
    I would go so far as to say that in a world after Bush, Greens are poised to make some breakthroughs, if we all give our time and money to growing the party and running viable campaigns.

  24. Kimberley – I think you’re right that Ron’s proposal would allow people to opt in or out of national Green politics, without creating counterproductive internecine warfare between “national” and “local” Greens. Some Greens want to focus on local races and don’t want to spend time on national ones, which is their prerogative. If choosing the Green presidential candidate is not a priority for them, they don’t have to opt in.
    For those who do care about national politics, this proposal would allow all Greens, from California to Michigan to New York to Oklahoma, to opt in on an equal footing. That seems like the best option right now.

  25. Although, I just realized something else…

    If the GP-US clears the deck as it were, and only claims members as people who pay dues, then they are instantly shrinking the pool of who they represent.

    The fact of having people identified as “green” due to free voter registration in states, is really a gift, a resource that that state government gives, acknowledging that if they create voter lists and roles for other parties, they must also for greens. And, so there is this huge voter list, and “bragging rights” to claim those people as like-minded and the pool of people you represent.

    If the national Green Party cuts that out, then they are taking away perhaps a hundred thousand people they get bragging rights about now automatically and free. And, they are going to have to start from scratch with those people, get their attention, and try to get them to pay dues.

    Have you ever gone to a public hearing, like a hearing against a hate crime or for windmills, and someone will get to the mic and say, “I am with the NYCLU and I represent two thousand people in this county who want xxxxx” The reason people say that is because that is what politicians care about. That is the heart of organizing, collecting people together with one voice.

    Because we want an easy fundraising approach, or because one state is jealous of another state’s numbers and/or delegation size, should we cut loose tens of thousands – maybe even a hundred thousand – voters who we can now claim are in solidarity with our positions?

  26. Kimberley – Ron’s proposal wouldn’t cut loose people who don’t pay dues, it would simply create a uniform national standard to determine delegate apportionment and raise some money and volunteer time in the process.
    Greens who don’t pay national dues would still be registered Green in their states, and the national count (which is flawed anyway, otherwise delegate apportionment wouldn’t be such a problem) won’t shrink because some Greens don’t participate on the national level.

    Even people who are registered Green, for whatever reason, may work and vote for other parties. On the other hand, people who cannot legally register Green may do a lot and give a lot for the Green Party. Establishing a single national standard could fix that; it’s at least worth trying, since it doesn’t seem that the fighting over the current system will ever die down and let us focus on external issues, like winning elections for example.

  27. Can’t we have both? Or All? Voter Registration plus contributing members of locals, of states, and of GPUS? Can’t we have both state parties and a national party and local chapters?

    Or maybe it would be better off to eliminate the national party and stay organized in state or regional parties. All national does is put up a presidential candidate every four years, let the states pick whoever they want since we won’t win anyway what is the difference? Maybe too much energy goes into supporting a bloated national committee that is bogged down in bureacracy.

    I say “shit or get off the pot” with GPUS. Either fund it or get rid of it.

  28. Kim,

    I’ve been to plenty of public hearings where the opponents of some measure out numbered the proponents a hundred to one and the proposal still passed. Ultimately the only thing that really gets a politican’s attention is votes. Whether the GPUS is a membership organization and whether someone votes for a Green candidate are not connected except in that if there is no Green Party to work for ballot access and provide services and support for candidates, there is less of a chance that voting Green will remain an option.

    A National Membership structure would provide the necessary base funding for the GPUS budget to help stabilize this organization and its most essential programs and facilities. How can we build a National Party if we don’t even know from year to year whether we can afford to keep our doors open, pay the phone bill, or print Green Pages?

  29. step aside,

    I would agree that it seems that “All national does is put up a presidential candidate every four years.” There is far too much emphasis on this one function. In 1996, we had not figured out how to be a National Party when Ralph Nader catapulted us into that role. But we’ve remain fixated on running someone every four years inspite of diminishing returns and the drain on our resouces.

    We have lost sight of the fact that there is more than one way to be a “National Party.” The last successful example of this was the Populist Party of the late nineteenth century. No, they never elected anyone to the Whitehouse, but they did elect 45 members to Congress including 6 senators. That made them a “National Party” because they actually had a voice in the National Government. They also elected 10 state governors and enough state representatives to put laws on the books that are still in effect 100 years later.

    We can continue to run someone for President every four years but no one will take any Green presidential candidate seriously if there are no Greens in Congress to promote their programs. This should become the new focus of GPUS. If our purpose was to build a party that provides services and support first and foremost to get Greens into Congress it is less likely we would appear to expend “too much energy … supporting a bloated national committee that is bogged down in bureacracy.” But to provide the necessary services and support to get people elected to Congress, we need a basic funding mechanism for these programs that could be provided by a National Membership.

  30. I am enjoying the conversation here at Green Party Watch. It is easy to post, and a lot of people have come together based on affinity, a welcome feeling, and somebody’s hard work.

    I guess, besides here, the main conversation about the GP-US should really be on official lists of the GP-US. That is where there are people elected through states, and people representing various greens to create space, moderate and make decisions.

    One reason that I fear GP-US becomes weak, is that everyone tries to make splinter groups and factions that do not become self-sustaining, they kind of feed off and recruit from GP-US, but have no genuine accountability. It’s okay to start up another group, but let’s not pretend that they are connected to, or the best place to go, related to GP-US.

    When someone starts a new group, I check out the board and “who are we” first. Is it new people or the same old people? Is it people who should really be helping at the mother ship? Why are they starting what they are starting?

    When I checked out Green Party Watch, I found some fresh new blood. And, even though there are little blurbs and connections to our various “think tanks” and other outside funding schemes, overall, Green Party Watch has been an interesting and safe space.

  31. This won’t be popular, but if the GP_US truly sees itself as a collection of state parties, it should require funding from the State Green Parties, not individuals. While “pay to play” is not an ethical way to fund yourselves when relying on individuals – when dealing with statewide organizations it’s both proper and necessary.

    Historically, the situation is that the GP_US is “sharing” what few donations it receives with the State Party where the doaner lives. If GP_US were ovreflowing with money, this might be understandable – but it isn’t. Essentially this is a “bribe” to keep the State Parties paying attention to national. It doesn’t work that well.

    All the Best,
    David Pollard

  32. I always understood “poll tax” to mean that the taxpayer must pay the government, in order to vote in public elections. It isn’t analytically useful to use that term in reference to private organizations. I pay annual dues to the ACLU and therefore I am permitted to vote for members of the board of directors of my local ACLU. No one would think that the dues are a “poll tax”.

    The Socialist Party in the 1900’s and 1910’s was a very successful organization, and it depended on national dues for revenue. In 1916 the party was afraid to have a national convention (because of government repression), so it chose its presidential candidate by a postal mail ballot, and the voters were the dues-paying members.

  33. Even though the construct of “poll tax” usually refers to a voter and the government, I think it is still relevant. One reason is that I believe that one aspect of being Green is to try to make our organizations into models of how things should be.

    So, we should take the warning that “it is not fair to pay to vote” and think about it anytime we set up votes. Even if, technically, it is not a poll tax.

    Also, part of the problem is that in New York State, I am given “the right” by the government to enroll in the Green Party. So, it is really wrong to make me pay extra to be an enrolled member of the Green Party of New York. (Or, make me think I must pay.)

    And, still, being an enrolled Green in NY, if someone is going to put a presidential candidate on the ballot line that has my party’s name on it, I should probably have say in it without doing anything else.

    I also see just how silly it is for national to go backwards and make a new criteria for membership. Creating an extra hurdle to membership, in states where people can already register, is like “releasing” tens of thousands of voters who right now are already connected and identified with us.

    I can’t help but think that if people want to have a membership organization, with four pillars including a commitment to the environment, they can probably find some non-profit that already does that.

    The point of being an electoral party, is to gather people to you as voters, using whatever power and resources you can muster from the existing electoral system.

    (Also, I guess under this scheme, someone could not be a National Rep to GP-US without paying dues? Some states have trouble filling their delegations out now.)

  34. Separate Point: Money

    Also, this conversation has come up before. But, now it is being proposed as a way to make money.

    Do people realize that this would not make money fast at all. First it has to pass the National Committee – two weeks at least. Then, someone has to print up an announcement, and decide who to send it to (because we could not send to all enrollees.) Then, we have to pay to mail it out. Then we have to wait for money to come back.

    This will probably be a huge financial burden in the beginning. And, we may not have the finances to invest in the possibility that it might pay off in the future.

  35. Kim – the Green Party is a bridge between the world we have and the world we want. In the world we want, we won’t need money to create change; in the world we have, we cannot change anything without money. As Richard pointed out, even the Socialist(!) Party required dues, at a time when “poll tax” was not a rhetorical device but an institution maintained by the Democratic Party to keep African-Americans from voting in the South.
    This plan would not erect any barriers to registering Green in New York State, or make you have to pay to register Green. It would, on the other hand, provide resources for the NY GP that are sorely needed to gain ballot access, regain ballot status, and actually register new people as Greens (in spite of current trends). You could argue that NYS ‘subsidizes’ the GP by theoretically allowing people to register Green, but I would argue that since there is no ‘Green’ checkbox on voter registration forms and we have to fund our own primary, and since the Board of Elections tried to dissolve the NYSGP in 2006 after we lost ballot status, the state is doing us no favors. If the NYSGP continues to rely on NY state government, especially now that it’s firmly under Democratic control, expect to get burned.
    It’s clear after this year that there are some people who are registered Green but who ain’t voting Green. Asking for national membership dues is not going to cancel those peoples’ registrations. It will, however, allow the state and national GPs to identify those Greens who actually care about growing the party, and who can be asked to grow the party without wasting resources sending junk mail to registered Greens who don’t care about helping the party.
    Don’t kid yourself – the existing electoral system is working against us, and to a certain extent is designed to work against us. If we start from the assumption that we live in the world we want to live in, then we’ve already lost. If we start by recognizing current realities and ask ‘how do we get to the world we want?’, I think we’ll come to the same realization that the Populist and Socialist parties came to: membership dues are the best available option.

    Regarding money: of course it would require some initial investment, but what’s the alternative? It would be healthier for GPUS to depend on thousands of small donations rather than a handful of big donors. And frankly, if someone is unwilling to give $25/$10 or 2 hours of volunteer labor to the GP, I’m not sure I want that person sitting on the national committee.
    If things were working fine, resistance to change would be understandable, but here’s the reality: GPUS is deep in the red, registered membership is declining, and despite growing vote totals, we have yet to win a single federal office. We might just have to do things we’ve never done before in order to have things we’ve never had before.

  36. Thanks for your commentary which addressed some previous concerns raised. I still disagree. I still believe that a progressive political party, who genuinely cares about the poor, should be reluctant to have dues.

    Though, you kind of ignored my last point which was EVEN IF this national dues solution is a good solution to build a financial foundation in the long term, it is not a quick way to fix our desperate finances. It is a slow way to maybe get money flowing.

    Also, I think it is naive to believe that an organization at the top will then fund and funnel to the local/state. That “trickle down” theory rarely works. Note that national is behind in its “state sharing”. The states didn’t really get the money. And, when the powerful entity has the money, it often gets doled out to locals not based on equality or merit, but based on favoritism or favors among national and state leaders. (Not even saying this has happened in our party, but it is a fact of organizational structure.)

    When a person or group are in dire financial straights, there are several ways to fix it:

    Plan on getting more money.
    Plan on spending less money (Cut expenses.)
    Sell things off.

    I think that national should start shrinking, as other people have suggested. And, maybe start growing again when they are in the correct flow that people want to fund them (whether it be donations or dues.)

    I think national should consider closing the national office, getting a smaller/cheaper national office, and maybe some staff cuts, as other people have suggested.

  37. I’ve read the debate here (what bits and pieces I’ve had time for) with great interest. Since becoming more active w/ the GP at the state and local levels in the past few years, and attending the convention in Chicago, I’ve become more and more aware of a rift of cynicism/mistrust/disdain between the state and national levels (largely flowing towards national) that is hardly providing us with a good place to start here. Whatever the reason(s) this rift exists, it needs to be squarely addressed before there can be much more talk of states, locals or individuals ponying up more to keep GPUS afloat. Kimberly’s suggestion of a leaner/meaner national office might be a good place to start, until such a time that greater overhead can be afforded; this might temper some of the cynicism “lower down”.

    A lot of this sense I have stems from a perception, fair or not, that national is “out of touch” with some things at the ground level. I don’t want to add fuel to the fire, but I had a brief brush with this recently. On the day of the election in New Orleans (Dec. 6), I was making GOTV phone calls to as many people down there as I could through the excellent phone database that was available to us. And then, I got a fundraising call from someone at national as I was in the midst of doing this.

    Two large problems with this. First, I thought the call was badly executed; the individual (not his fault obviously) was reading from a rambling, endless script that paid no heed to whether the person being called was an active member or not. Thus, he went through a long dog and pony show that told me a lot of what I already knew and was sold on. Secondly, and more importantly, on a day when every Green in the country should have been making as many calls as possible to New Orleans, we have national wasting its time doing this. If national wants to be taken seriously then, for a start, it could perhaps do a better job of mobilizing Greens, yes, _nationally, to carry out important ground level work (such as making calls for Malik) that can help us become a more viable political force in the years to come.

    I think we need to go back to the drawing board and ask ourselves, as broadly as possible, just what it is we want/expect with a national, what we’re trying to do with it, and then maybe we can build on that foundation. And if national would make more effort to come across in a way to understand/appreciate the heroic efforts that states and locals make year-round to even allow the Greens to exist in the first place, they may well be taken more seriously, so much so as to ensure their healthy existence way into the future.

    P.S. I’m still processing the ideas of membership dues and substitute “volunteer” work; the latter seems a stretch, since how in the world could one ever verify with reasonable certainty that someone has put in x amount of hours for an unsupervised activity ?

  38. Michael,

    I’m just fascinated with your extreme hatred of the Green Party. You must have been burned bad. I’d love to know what happened, I can only guess that you must have been on the National Committee since that is where firecrackers are thrown out like tootsie rolls at a Fourth of July parade.

    Send me an email, gpw at greenpartywatch.org

  39. I always thought the Green Party should switch to becoming a nationally organized dues paying organization. That would definitely help turn the party into a national force, rather than a weak ‘confederation’.

  40. Great idea! and others,

    Now that I’ve thought more, I think that would be fine if they got more of their house in order first. The attitude I sense now is that national expects and feels entitled to more dues-paying or donations from states/locals/individuals.

    I didn’t mention that in Chicago I felt it somewhat crass that donations were requested in the middle of a reception (through various creative, but obnoxious, means), and this was somewhat insulting to the hundreds of delegates who not only worked very hard all weekend to make it a spirited convention, but who went to and stayed in Chicago at tremendous personal expense. It’s an insult to shake the tin cup when everyone has already contributed so much “sweat equity” – this can be relevant on so many levels, and I wish national would more fully understand that “sweat equity” is all that many people can contribute a lot of the time.

    These are not good signs to me. Further, the entire issue of delegate apportionment is far from resolved, and many Greens are still rather upset at the status quo. If there was a sense that national was grabbing this _very important by the reins, and clearly communicating its progress to Greens on a regular basis, then maybe more Greens would get back the warm fuzzies vis a vis national in spades.

    I could go on… the expense of getting to and staying in Chicago astonishingly ensured that many states could not get their full slate of delegate votes in (even with proxies considered), meaning that all the hard work and sweat poured into caucuses, etc., effectively left some delegations, or portions thereof, disenfranchised !! (You call that “democracy” ?! Especially when we fall all over ourselves to promote the virtues of fair and inclusive elections to others ??)

    Also – to my mind, worst of all – there was absolutely no structured mechanism post-Chicago via which delegates could submit constructive feedback on the convention by way of assisting national in its planning for the next one. This may have been more by accident than by design, but I’ve seen that it’s a given at state conventions to _openly solicit such feedback. The lack of that mechanism here only added more to the (fair or unfair) perception that national is out of touch w/ anything “lower down” and doesn’t want anything to do w/ constructive criticism or feedback.

    I’m relatively new to a lot of this so I’ll hold out that I might be missing something here. But I’ve talked to enough people who’ve interfaced w/ or participated in national and the sense I get is oft discomforting. (Michael’s tootsie roll comment about the infighting does confirm some suspicions I had…!) Who knows, maybe the “marriage” of the two big Green organizations in 2001 is still in need of some kinks to be worked out, some growing pains to be endured. But I think it would be a much easier and worthwhile process if the message of inclusiveness and transparency we Greens keep preaching to others would be more in evidence in national’s dealings with states and locals, so that at any given time we not only fully understand just what the heck is going on there, but that we can _all feel part of “national” – through open communication and feedback – even if we’re not on any national committee.

    Communication, transparency, inclusiveness, openness to constructive feedback… all this can only help national in the long run, to get us all to the point where we’d give our left arm for the national organization (as most of us already do for their states and locals !), never mind membership dues !

  41. John,

    Yeah, the conventions and annual meetings are really a problem. The same people run it year after year. They never learn anything and never change. They always make everything too expensive.

    If you know any ambitious green who likes a struggle, they could try to get onto the Annual National Meeting Committee and help. But, first you usually have to fight in your state to get on (if they think you want change, they will start bad-mouthing you in your state.) Then, you have to try to get something done as they spew sub-committees to keep the work secret.

    I am not clear, but I believe that the ANMC may have given up on an annual meeting for 2009. Which might be a good thing.

    You are also correct that a simple survey is needed for delegates to evaluate the convention.

    Here are some problems from this year:

    -The action, guidance, vote totaling, happened on a big stage, with the delegates in theater seats below, so the delegates were even more passive and distant than usual.

    -Half the time, there was no mic for the floor where the delegates spoke, or one person with a mic that could not really get it around. When people debated the platform, almost everyone (especially women) could not be heard by the whole room.

    -No one even had those poles with the state signs on them. So, it was hard to know which state was which. Hard in the morning for delegates to find their seats.

    -The honorary chair of the convention was also someone who was needed as part of a committee (I think the credentialing committee or something?) and a Steering Committee member. So, sometimes he was doing two jobs, or having to walk off stage. No one should have even considered an honorary Co-Chair who was an officer of the party. It was ridiculous.

    -The ANMC and Steering Committee and the leaders like to blame the National Committee. This time they blamed the National Committee for picking Chicago, because there was a vote. But, crafty leaders can always frame votes the way they want. There were two venues proposed in California, and someone decided to separate them out in the voting. So, California –and people who liked that location — was voting against itself, instead of having the will expressed that people wanted somewhere in California.

    The powers-that-be will only fix those things when they want to. And, they won’t want to. They like centralized power.

    Some of them like to continue getting paid, or have the people that flatter and agree with them to stay on as staff.

  42. Kimberly,

    Very much appreciate your response, especially from someone who has all that “inside” insight. Your other comments on the convention are very well founded. The thing about California is kinda sickening; what, we preach to others all day about ranked preference voting (or IRV) and don’t bother to use that for our own complex decisions ??

    I feel that conventions/meetings, and their locations, should reflect our values. If we’re a “grassroots” party that eschews (supposedly) ostentation and glitz, and we beat our chests about how close we are to “the street”, why not choose somewhere less glitzy and ostentatious (let alone less expensive), let alone someplace that could “make a statement” ?

    How about a no-nonsense city like Detroit or St. Louis? A university community (that itself has a strong social change movement) ? An Indian reservation or community ? Or how about New Orleans or some other troubled city, and include a community service project as part of the agenda…?

    We have never been, nor should be, the type of party that puts on a Hollywood production like the Republicrats. We should know better, and do better.

  43. I agree, John. I think Chicago was a great location, but holding the convention at a Hilton hotel was a poor choice. Too many people couldn’t attend because they couldn’t afford to stay there.

    On the topic of the national membership proposal – I don’t really have much experience with the national committee, but I have heard complaints about national from different sources. I figure that some of the complaining is legitimate, and that the national GP needs a serious overhaul with more accountability, more transparency, and a less divisive method of delegate apportionment (like Ron Hardy’s membership proposal, for example…)
    That being said, I don’t think we should let the Green Party go extinct, because we need a national GP right now to take advantage of Green opportunities in a post-Bush world where the Democratic president-elect is already showing himself to be a full-out corporatist. Yes, the GP is not yet as democratic as we want, but don’t forget that we voted down our proposed platform at this summer’s convention – if that isn’t democratic enough for you, try to find another national party where that would be possible.
    I suggest that we try to revitalize GPUS and reform it at the same time, keep everything that we need, keep everything that works, cut loose things that don’t work, and make the whole thing more transparent.
    We don’t live in an ideal world, and it would be a mistake to run the Green Party as if we already had the world we want. To paraphrase Thomas Jefferson, if we lived in a better world, no political parties would be necessary. We have to turn the Green Party into the bridge to the world we want, and not ignore the pressing need for Greens to have a national presence now.

  44. David,

    You’re suggestion that “if the GP_US truly sees itself as a collection of state parties, it should require funding from the State Green Parties, not individuals ” is unworkable without a way to determine how much each state owes.

    You could charge a flat rate, so much per state, but small states or those where the Green Party is underdeveloped would never agree to that. That would leave you with the need to develop some kind of “formula” like the one cobbled together to determine the current representation on the National Committee. That would be opening a whole new can of worms and rekindle tensions and animosities that still simmer just below the surface of the NC. We don’t need that right now and I doubt if there is any energy for it.

    One of the main advantages of the Membership Proposal is its simplicity. There would be start up costs, but it would still be relatively simple to initiate and maintain. No, it won’t solve our immediate fiscal crisis but it will provide a base level of funding to allow us to create budgets and lay the foundation upon which to build for the future. And inspite of all the assertions that it is a “pay to play” system, it’s simplicity makes it an inherently more equitable way to decide who should have a voice in determining policies, goals and objectives of the GPUS.

    Finally, as others have noted; it works for the Libertarians and it has worked for the Populists, Socialist and many other parties and organizations in the past and present. That gives it one more advantage: it’s what most people already know. We need to stop trying to re-invent the wheel for everything that we do and be willing to sometimes just go back to what works. A party based on membership works.

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