Wednesday, March 9, 2016

After Three Decades It's Time To Face The Fact That The Green Party Is Going Nowhere

Every once in a while, since I started posting pieces, I've gone to look at what the Green Party is doing in the United States.  I mean other than running presidential and other candidates who have absolutely no chance of winning, not infrequently risking being spoilers who split the opposition to the Republicans.

I remember the first time I looked at the actual results they've produced after decades of existence and activity I was stunned at how ridiculously tiny the number of offices they held has been.  I will start by saying that what I said ten years ago can still be said today, the two terms as a state legislator in Maine by John Eder is still the highest office won and held by a Green in the United States.  And he was voted out of that seat ten years ago.  I understand there are two or three others who had an association with Greens elected to state legislatures but - from the little I can find out, they didn't remain with the Greens, becoming either independents or, I believe, joining the Democrats.  All other of the less than a thousand offices ever held by Greens has been on a local level.  And the number of those has decreased significantly.   Ten years ago I was able to quote a document  the most recent figures available to me when I wrote the piece, from  the official Green website which said:

Greens Continue Growth in 2002.

The Green Party had a successful Nov 5 election day and elected more Greens in 2002 than any previous year. With some results still coming in, we have elected at least 71 people this year and have a new officeholder count of 170. We achieved our main goal of electing someone to a state house - John Eder in Maine. We elected our first people in Texas and North Carolina. Tuesday's election was a defeat for the Democratic Party, but not for the progressive values that they hide from. Nonetheless, our government has moved to the right and our challenges are greater than ever. This country needs a political party that confronts those challenges directly and the Green Party is ready to stand up to the challenge.

Which seemed like incredibly skimpy results for a party "ready to stand up to the challenge" after more than two decades into its existence. By that time in its existence, the one and only third party which succeeded in taking control of the government, the Republicans in 1860, had governed the country for two decades.

To see how they've done in the past decade,  here is its list of office holders as of now.

There are currently at least 100 Greens holding elected office in the United States.  While the list is always changing, the most recent information available is listed below:

Alvin Clay
Justice of the Peace
Mississippi County, District 6
Elected: 2012

Kade Holliday
County Clerk
Craighead County, Arkansas
Elected: 2012

Roger Watkins
Craighead County, District 5
Elected: 2012


County Supervisor (1)
Dan Hamburg, Board of Supervisors, District 5, Mendocino County

Mayor (1)
Bruce Delgado, Mayor, Marina (Monterey County)

City Council (7)
Larry Bragman, Town Council, Fairfax (Marin County)
Renée Goddard, Town Council, Fairfax (Marin County)
John Reed, Town Council, Fairfax (Marin County)
Gayle Mclaughlin, City Council, Richmond (Contra Costa)
Deborah Heathersone, Town Council, Point Arena (Mendocino County)
Paul Pitino, Town Council, Arcata (Humboldt County)
John Keener, City Council, Pacifica (San Mateo County)

Community College Districts (3)
Vahe Peroomian, Board of Trustees, Glendale Community College District, Glendale (Los Angeles County)
Amy Martenson
, Board of Trustees, District 2, Napa Valley College, Napa (Napa County)
April Clary, Board of Trustees, Student Representative, Napa Valley College, Napa (Napa County)

School Districts (20)
Heather Bass, Board of Directors, Gilroy Unified School District, Gilroy, Santa Clara County
Dave Clark, Board of Directors, Cardiff School District (San Diego County)
Phyllis Greenleaf, Board of Trustees, Live Oak Elementary School District (Santa Cruz County)
Adriana Griffin, Red Bluff Union School District, Red Bluff (Tehama County) 
Jim C. Keller, Board of Trustees, Bonny Doon Union Elementary School District, Santa Cruz County
Brigitte Kubacki, Governing Boardmember, Green Point School, Blue Lake (Humboldt County)
Jose Lara, Vice President and Governing Board Member, El Rancho Unified School District, Pico Rivera (Los Angeles)
Kimberly Ann Peterson, Board of Trustees, Geyserville Unified School District (Sonoma County)
Karen Pickett, Board Member, Canyon Canyon Elementary School District (Contra Costa County)
Kathy Rallings, Board of Trustees, Carlsbad Unified School District, Carlsbad, San Diego County
Sean Reagan, Governing Boardmember, Norwalk-La Mirada Unified School District, Norwalk (Los Angeles County)
Curtis Robinson, Board of Trustees, Area 6, Marin County Board of Education (Marin County)
Christopher Sabec, Governing Boardmember, Lagunitas School District (Marin County)
Katherine Salinas, Governing Boardmember, Arcata School District, Arcata (Humboldt County)
Jeffrey Dean Schwartz, Governing Boardmember, Arcata School District, Arcata (Humboldt County)
Alex Shantz, Board of Trustees, St. Helena Unified School District, Napa County
Dana Silvernale, Governing Boardmember, North Humboldt Union High School (Humboldt County) 
Jim Smith, President, Canyon School Board, Canyon Township (Contra Costa County)
Logan Blair Smith, Little Shasta Elementary School District, Montague (Shasta County) 
Rama Zarcufsky, Governing Boardmember, Maple Creek School District (Humboldt County) 

Rent Stabilization Boards (2)
John Selawsky, Rent Stabilization Board, Berkeley (Alameda County)
Jesse Townley, Rent Stabilization Board, Berkeley (Alameda County)

Transit Districts (1)
Jeff Davis, Board of Directors, Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District (Alameda and Contra Costa Counties)

Fire Districts (5)
Karen Anderson, Board of Directors, Coastside Fire Protection District (San Mateo County)
Robert L. Campbell, Scotts Valley Fire District (Santa Cruz County)
William Lemos, Fire Protection District, Mendocino (Mendocino County
Russell Pace, Board of Directors, Willow Creek Fire District (Humboldt County)
John Abraham Powell, Board of Directors, Montecito Fire District, Montecito (Santa Barbara County)

Water Districts (5)
Larry Bragman, Board of Directors, Division 3, Marin Municipal Water District Board (Marin County)
James Harvey, Board of Directors, Montara Water and Sanitary District (San Mateo County)
Randy Marx, Board of Directors, Fair Oaks Water District, Division 4 (Sacramento County)
Jan Shriner, Board of Directors, Marina Coast Water District (Monterey County)
Kaitlin Sopoci-Belknap, Board of Directors, Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District, Division 1 (Humboldt County)

Parks and Recreation Districts (2)
James Barone, Boardmember, Rollingwood-Wilart Recreation and Parks District (Contra Costa County)
William Hayes, Board of Directors, Mendocino Coast Park and Recreation District (Mendocino County)

Community Service Districts (5)
Illijana Asara, Board of Directors, Community Service District, Big Lagoon (Humboldt County)
Gerald Epperson, Board of Directors, Crocket Community Services Distrct, Contra Costa County
Joseph Gauder, Boardmember, Covelo Community Services District, Covelo (Mendocino County)
Crispin Littlehales, Boardmember, Covelo Community Services District, Covelo (Mendocino County)
George A. Wheeler, Board of Directors, Community Service District, McKinleyville (Humboldt County)

Other Districts (2)
Mathew Clark, Board of Directors, Granada Sanitary District (San Mateo County)
Nanette Corley, Director, Resort Improvement District, Whitehorn (Humboldt County)

Neighborhood Councils (7) Planning Groups (2) and Advisory Town Councils (1)
Sylvia Aroth, Outreach Officer, Venice Neighborhood Council, Los Angeles (Los Angeles County) 
Robin Doyno, At-Large Community Officer, Mar Vista Neighborhood Council, Los Angeles (Los Angeles County) 
Janine Jordan, District 4 Business Representative, Mid-Town North Hollywood Neighborhood Council, Los Angeles (Los Angeles County)
Jack Lindblad, At Large Community Stakeholder, North Hollywood Northeast Neighborhood Council, Los Angeles (Los Angeles County) 
Johanna A. Sanchez, Secretary, Historic Highland Park Neighborhood Council, Los Angeles (Los Angeles County) 
Johanna A. Sanchez, At-Large Director, Historic Highland Park Neighborhood Council, Los Angeles (Los Angeles County) 
Marisol Sanchez , Area 1 Seat, Boyle Heights Neighborhood Council, Los Angeles (Los Angeles County) 
William Bretz, Crest/Dehesa/Harrison Canyon/Granite Hill Plannning Group (San Diego County)
Claudia White, Member, Descanso Community Planning Group (San Diego County)
Annette Keenberg, Town Council, Lake Los Angeles (Los Angeles County) 
Rama Zarcufsky, Governing Boardmember, Maple Creek School District (Humboldt County) 

Despite the claim that there are "at least 100" Greens holding office, their list has fewer than 70.   And that's it, that's all there is, after three decades and getting lots of attention at the national level.

They used to have a cumulative figure of all the Greens ever elected posted on their website.  I doubt it was because I wrote about how pathetic it was that after two decades of existence they hadn't broken into four figures that led them to take those things down.    I don't know what the current total of Greens ever elected would be but I would guess they still haven't broken the thousand count thirty years after first organizing.   They do, though, run alleged presidential candidates, still.   I recall the idea was they could get publicity by running them which would help build support, which they got plenty of in the disaster of 2000  when they pinned their hopes to Ralph Nader, a man who was so arrogant he couldn't even be bothered to join the party that nominated him.

In my state they've run people for offices who could have acted as spoilers, at one time their official website touted the 4th place finish of Pat LaMarche in Maine as some kind of great step forward, the same strategy that Marco Rubio apparently is running on, now.   Only he's actually won two primaries.  I think he's probably gotten more votes from more voters than the Greens have in their entire existence, though that's based on a guess since the Greens don't like to publicize things like that.   He definitely got more votes than the Green ticket of 2004 on which Pat LaMarche ran as Vice President.  Can you remember their presidential candidates name?  No, I can't either.

I knew people involved in the early organizing of the Maine Greens (well, one of the two Green parties - I'm not sure they've ever been able to get together under one name even today) and when I found out they were insisting on making decisions by consensus I knew they would go nowhere. Consensus decision making doesn't work in politics which doesn't pause and hesitate and wait patiently, politics requires action in real time not in stop time.  But, given the emotional disposition of many of those involved, where hurt feelings and stubborn, ego-driven digging in over absolute positions were an important issue, they probably couldn't have taken any other course.  Those have been the bane of small parties and groups on the alleged left for their entire history.  You have to quickly build a very large group under mature leadership to minimize the problems things like that cause for the group as a whole and if those become a problem for your group, it's better to give up instead of wasting three decades on something that will not succeed.  Anyone who has any real interest in gaining political office in order to make real change will not stick around such a group for long, anyone with any experience won't get involved with them to start with.

A decade ago I encouraged the Greens to keep trying, building from the local level and state level before trying to run candidates for federal office.   Well, I'm done with that.  They should realize that they failed as a party and they should pack it in.  Outdoing just about every other total failure of alleged "third parties" doesn't signify a single thing in real life.  They are not even learning from their experience of what works and what fails, miserably.   That is a sure sign of a political group that will never succeed.

Update:  I should add that the Greens, today, would have to stand as a runner-up to the old Socialist Party which elected two people to congress and had far more success in state and local offices.  And they pretty much got wrecked almost a century ago, from the left, by the Communists.  See The Long Detour by James Weinstein for details on that.

Hate Update:  Oh, I don't know, I seem to remember Duncan Black was pretty hot and bothered when the Greens with the financial backing of Republicans were running Carl Romanelli as a spoiler to put Rick Santorum back in the Senate, as mentioned above.

I expect that if he loses the nomination that Bernie Sanders will endorse Hillary Clinton, just as I believe if she looses she will endorse him.   If they aren't willing to support the choice of Democratic voters for the nomination of the Democratic Party they have no business asking the voters for that nomination.   What I reported on were not Democratic voters but those who changed their party affiliation on the Bernie or nothing basis, my state doesn't allow people who aren't party members to participate in caucuses but you can change your affiliation on the day of the caucus and many independents and some few Greens did just that, some of them saying that they would not vote for Hillary Clinton if she got the nomination.

Anyone who isn't worried about a scenario in which people get suckered into voting for Trump or Cruz on the basis of Hillary hatred, a constant feature on Duncan's blog, putting someone as bad if not worse than George W. Bush in office is a pudding-headed idiot or someone who is too young to remember what things were like eight years ago, or too comfortable in their personal circumstances to really care about that.

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