words and photos by C. A. Matthews
Our first Green Party-US Annual Meeting has come and gone. As we made our way home, we contemplated what we've learned and experienced.The main impression we came away with as relative newbies to the national Green Party is how much of a "family" the party really is. And, like any family, it has its share of strengths and weaknesses.
Perhaps its greatest strength is its commonality of purpose of saving the Earth from the ravages of capitalism. Eco-socialism is order of the day and was frequently mentioned during the weekend along with the importance of ranked choice voting laws. From championing the health of our citizens, land and water, to protesting the military industrial complex and demanding an end to all wars of colonization and imperialism, Greens do not hesitate to speak out singularly or communally. No matter what corporate propaganda the mainstream media spouts and what smears are directed at them, Greens will not swerve from their commitment to promote "people, planet and peace over profits."
|Hilary Tore presents how Toledoans for Safe Water took on BP and passed The Lake Erie Bill of Rights to protect the drinking water of millions.|
It is this single-mindedness to save the world and all of its inhabitants and staying true to their principles that can also be construed as a weakness. Greens do not accept corporate money--which is a weakness when you read campaign finance reports and see how many millions of dollars the establishment parties have to advertise their candidates. It's amazing how well Green candidates actually do at the ballot box with so little money at their disposal. Ironically, this could be due to the fact that without huge campaign war chests Green candidates are forced to go door-to-door and talk to the voters in order to get their message out. Could real voter engagement be a more cost effective method than slick TV ads?
|Ballot access challenges were addressed by Brendan Phillips and Tony Ndege.|
Greens are egalitarians that will not allow one person or group of people to dictate terms to others without their consent; hence, there are many caucuses within the Green Party: Women's, Lavender (LGBTQ+), Youth, African-American, LatinX… If there is some way to categorize humanity, the Greens have a caucus for it--or are open to starting one. While this sounds great on paper and is truly something to be proud of, in the real world it can lead to "labels." Party members sometimes get into each other faces because of perceived or real slights by another who wears a different label. The temptation to produce a "learning moment" is often too good to miss, too.
Hard feelings don't exactly engender party unity or help create an atmosphere of trust. The family can become dysfunctional, and not happy or whole. Add to this the stress of stretched finances, and it's a miracle the "Green Family" has stuck together this long. It's a testimony to the awesome power of the Green Party's Four Pillars and Ten Key Values that Greens have weathered their storms. It's safe to say these guiding principles have prevented the party's members' weaknesses from overcoming its strengths.
|Margaret Kimberly, editor of Black Agenda Report, and former G.P. presidential candidate Jill Stein moderate the presidential forum.|
The countdown to the 2020 presidential campaign began in earnest with six presidential candidates at the forum table on Friday night. They answered questions about their platform positions and occasionally took a pot shot at the perceived front runner. These not-entirely-polite comments would seem tame in an establishment party debate, but at a Green Party candidate forum they come across about as pleasant as the sound of nails scratching across a blackboard.
|G.P. presidential candidates fielding questions. From left to right: Howie Hawkins, Dennis Lambert, Ian Schlakman, Sedinam Moyowasiza-Curry, Dario Hunter, David Rolde.|
"Hey, we're all family here, Greens!" you want to shout at the folks on stage. "Get along, please, for the sake of the people, planet and peace, will y'all?"
But it is exactly these outbursts of valued truths that demonstrate how well the Greens' unity in diversity strategy fares. There are no secrets or conspiracies kept hidden from other family members. Greens air their grievances and hopefully will work them out in time for the presidential election season with all hands on deck pulling together.
In the spirit of their four pillars of grassroots democracy, social justice, peace and environmental wisdom, the Green Party presses on. Ballot access fights and struggles in many states loom on the horizon, but the family members will not give up or give in. It is the planet we're talking about saving after all. We don't have the option to stop fighting for our future. Green Power shall prevail.
|We can't allow Japan to kill hundreds more whales this year. Sign the petition.|
It's whaling season again in Japan, but this year they've taken their annual massacre of whales to a new level. Rather than dodge the rules and exploit loopholes in the international ban on whaling, Japan simply left the International Whaling Commission altogether. Without this nominal oversight, their already legally dubious whaling operations will go unchecked.
Humans have already nearly hunted whales to extinction. That's why countries banded together 73 years ago to stop the industry before there were no whales left to kill. But Japan has lived on the edge. Each year, Japanese whaling vessels marked "RESEARCH" in all caps and English, have killed dozens of whales. This so-called "research" ends with whale meat being sold for profit, revealing itself for what it truly is: just another means of hunting.
Without the imprimatur of belonging to the International Whaling Commission, Japan has increased its commitment to kill whales. This year, they plan to kill 383 whales.
The international community can't allow Japan to put whales' survival at risk. Sign the petition to demand Japan end their annual whale hunts and recommit to a real ban on international whaling.
From Move to Amend:
As you may know, I have been in Washington, DC for the past few months, working to secure more support for the We the People Amendment.
On Monday last week a friend let me know that the following day a group of brave young activists would be shutting down Congress to protest climate collpase inaction and calling on Congress to join the UK and Canada in declaring a Climate Emergency.
But they were short one person because someone had a family emergency.
I decided to step up.
I am terrified and so sorrowful for the world we are leaving for my 7 and 3 year old nephews. I am beside myself with grief at the extinction of animals and human suffering that climate collapse is already causing.
And I am outraged that instead of protecting our future, Congress has spent the past 30 years doing the bidding of their corporate masters, at the expense of our planet.
So on Tuesday last week I joined 16 people affiliated with the climate action group Extinction Rebellion in supergluing ourselves to three underground tunnel entrances leading to the Capitol, blocking access to members of Congress who were heading to a regularly scheduled session.
It never occured to me that I should be more afraid of a member of Congress than the police!
During the action Congressman Bob Gibbs (OH) ripped my glued hand from the glass and pushed past me. I'm relieved to say that his action didn't rip my skin off, but it sure did sting!
Capitol Police encouraged me to file charges and after input from a number of people I have decided to do so.
Since 2009, Gibbs has received over $183,000 in campaign contributions from fossil fuel companies including American Electric Power, FirstEnergy Corporation, Marathon Petroleum, and Murray Energy.
Murray Energy is known for filing Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPP) lawsuits against critics when they speak out against their positions, including comedian John Oliver as well as several labor and environmental leaders who are also active local Move to Amend volunteers in Ohio.
Our Representatives are not serving the American people, they are serving multinational corporations. This assault is a physical representation of the assaults waged against communities and people across the country every day by Congress’s cold and irresponsible inaction. Our leaders refuse to act because they take orders from fossil fuel corporations and the billionaires that own them.
I don't want to let Congressman Gibbs get away with this, just like I don't want to let any member of Congress get away with their crimes of inaction in the face of this disaster that was entirely preventable but is now on fast forward.
What you can do:
- Share the video of Rep Gibb's assault so that no matter what happens with
my charges, the public knows what happened.
- Join me on Thursday via Facebook or Twitter Live and I'll tell you the full story, answer questions and talk about how the We the People Amendment is essential to stop climate collapse.
- Find ways to take bold action in the face of climate change. I was honored to be part of this action, you will feel better if you act too. September 20-27 is the Global Climate Strike, called by children and young people who are demanding we fight for their future. Find an action near you and be as bold as possible. You don't have to be arrested and spend 22 hours in police custody like I did, but it is a small price to pay given the urgency of the climate situation.
My civil disobedience was not official Move to Amend business, I was acting as a concerned civillian. But one of the most important reasons why we must pass the We the People Amendment is to reign in corporate power so that climate change can be addressed.
Yours for the planet,
National Director, Move to Amend
P.S. I again want to express my profound respect and admiration to the young people of Extinction Rebellion DC who organized this bold, strategic and critical action. We were covered in over 40 major media outlets and numerous Representatives have signed on to the Climate Emergency resolution since we told them to do so, face to face, as they passed us while we were glued to the walls.