Wall St Journal Expose on San Francisco Greens

The Wall Street Journal has shined a flashlight at the San Francisco Green Party in this article, stating: “Declines in Membership, Donations Mirror National Organization’s Struggles; Headquarters Close but Meetings Remain”.

I highly recommend reading this article, it offers so many different angles to Green Party growth, stagnation, decline, purpose, mission, etc.

Matt Gonzalez:

Mr. Gonzalez, meanwhile, says he left the Green Party because he wanted to run for vice president as an independent, and hasn’t rejoined the local Greens in part because of their lack of organization. He says Greens have hurt themselves by placing ideology ahead of practicality, such as by imposing rules that limit how much in contributions a Green candidate could take. “Sometimes you can apply principles of political purity that aren’t very functional and you run into problems,” he says. “It’s part of the charm, but it’s also a liability if it’s taken too far.”

Ross Mirkarimi:

San Francisco Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, the only Green politician currently in elected city office, says the party didn’t adequately retain Green voters excited by Mr. Nader’s 2000 presidential bid, Mr. Gonzalez’s 2003 mayoral bid and Mr. Mirkarimi’s 2004 supervisor bid. “We didn’t harness in a way where we could rebuild our profile locally,” he says.

The supervisor says the Green Party, locally and nationally, can rebuild itself by focusing on winning elections and sharpening its message, which he says is too vague, to appeal to more voters. Building coalitions with Democrats can also help, he says.

Brent McMillan:

Brent McMillan, executive director of the Green Party of the U.S., estimates that the recession sent donations plummeting about 10% from a couple of years earlier. He adds that many Greens left the party to vote for Democratic President Barack Obama. “There was a tough time,” Mr. McMillan says.

Erika McDonald:

“It’s been an uphill battle,” says Green Party spokeswoman Erika McDonald. “It’s never been easy building an alternative.”

Read the article, please comment here!

Ronald Hardy


  1. Did you read the one in the San Francisco Bay Guardian? It was also published today, and it’s longer and has more party history. I linked to it on IPR.

  2. I haven’t read it yet Ross, but will tomorrow. Thanks for the “heads up”. For the rest who may want to read it, you can find the SFBG article here.

    I think that the Green Party is perhaps best described as a local political party with national linkages and aspirations. We don’t really have anyone except Cynthia McKinney with the prospects of getting elected to national office, barring something unexpected. Please don’t take that to mean that I am opposed to congressional campaigns. I am all for them. But our strength will be at the local level for some time.

    Unfortunately we have many members who want national level success right now. We have many members who refuse to donate cash to the party when they can afford to do so because they want to see immediate results.

    I also agree 100% that we have gotten away from the voter registration, door-to-door, and other outreach efforts that are fundamental to our success. Frankly, if everyone who is a Green would take even one day nationwide away from the interwebs and spend that time going door-to-door with copies of the Ten Key Values and an invitation to the next meeting of their local chapter, I wouldn’t be surprised if our numbers doubled.

  3. Here’s the article from the San Francisco Bay Guardian:


    Interesting that the SFBG and the WSJ, two very different publications, ran such similar articles at the same time.

    This one brings up the issue of a possible party switch by Ross Mirkarimi, one of the most successful and high-profile Greens in California.

    There’s a lot to discuss, but I’ll try to keep it short. This article highlights not only how we need to deal with the shortcomings of our own organization (internal issues), but also how we need to come up with a compelling response to the situation we find ourselves in (external issues). This includes:

    1. Crafting a clear message. Updating the platform from its 2004 version is a good start.

    2. Answering the questions “Why are we Green?” and “Why aren’t we Democrats/independents/something else?” Be able to explain why we are Green on all fronts, whether in terms of strategy or personal convictions.

  4. I would add a third thing: like Gregg said, everyone who cares should get off their butt and get to work! Otherwise, the party is doomed.

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