Friday, March 13, 2020

Race for the White House Update: It Ain't Any Easier Being Green Than It Was in 2016

Carl Petersen at OpEd News.  (Coulda been me here in Houston.)

My current disillusion with the Democratic party began as the establishment did everything possible to undermine the 2016 Bernie Sanders campaign for president. My confidence in the party was further eroded when instead of trying to keep Bernie's supporters in the fold by addressing their concerns, the Democrats told them to get in line and blindly back Clinton. Unsurprisingly, the strategy did not work and enough of an unenthused electorate stayed home on election day to allow Donald Trump to occupy the White House. At this time Berniecrats were forced with a choice - either leave the Democratic party that had abandoned them or stay and fight against the party's slide towards the right.

Petersen goes on to relate his personal experience in east LA: ignoring his inner voice about the Dems, becoming a local Democratic candidate, facing the corruption of and disgust with the establishment Donks, and quitting the party to become a Green.  Read there, pick up back here.

After the (March 2017 school board) election, my integration with the Greens did not go as well as I had hoped. Some long-term members of the party are distrustful of newcomers and are less than welcoming to the Berniecrats who could fuel growth in their movement. Ignoring the fact that the Greens do not have any representation at the federal level, many of these diehards are hostile at any discussion of politics that does not equally condemn the Republican and Democratic parties. Instead of reaching out to Democrats that they share many beliefs with they would rather treat all of them as the enemy.

I can't say I had the same experience with the Harris County Greens, from 2011 through early 2017.  What I can say is that the club -- that's really all the county party has enough members to call itself; and barely that -- is riven with intrafactional strife, with too many silverbacks and soreheads, in spite of George Reiter having gone on to his great reward.  Dishrag bless him; he may have been a whiz in the U of H classroom for all that I know, but his personal skills were severely lacking and his leadership qualities non-existent (if you click on those two links you might conclude that mine is a minority opinion).  He chased more people away from the Green Party than my calculator has spaces for.  And that is very nearly not an exaggeration.

At the very first meeting I attended he bum-rushed me to run for elected office, specifically the 7th Congressional District.  I believe this was in late 2011, close to the filing deadline for 2012.  Maybe that's why we got off on the wrong foot, and stayed off, until the day he passed away last year.  I wanted to write press releases and do social media and advise candidates running for office how to do so more effectively, but Reiter and others did not seem to see the value in that effort, or in my advice.  I made some contributions in those areas, to be sure, but the OGs (which is to say Reiter and a handful of greybeards) just weren't serious about growing the party, or organizing the base they had, or ... much of anything, really.

[One example: George and his wife Deb Shafto would, at the conclusion of the spring semester, return to New York state for the summer.  Even during election cycles.  Even when Shafto was on the statewide ballot.  I found this to be, in a word, ridiculous.  Now if you have the means, and want to take a three-month vacation up north, good on ya.  But do not have the audacity to serve as the chair of a county political party with no functional organization if you do.  That's not just unprofessional; it's childishly irresponsible.]

At the state convention in Austin in 2014, attended by perhaps 60, one fellow stood up and spoke about the party's missing gubernatorial candidate, Brandon Parmer.  "If this guy doesn't surface, how about we just endorse Wendy Davis so we all don't get the blame if she loses a close one?"

Or words to that effect.  Maybe nasty-ass Gadfly has a better recollection; he was there.

Unfortunately Kat Swift katja gruene, who has long run the Texas Greens from Bexar County, is pretty much the same as the late Reiter in organizational and leadership ability, but sadly somewhat worse in people skills.  Since her back injury from an auto accident in 2014, she's gotten more incorrigible, short-tempered, impatient, etc.  Basically another person who thinks that everything will fall apart if she's not running it.  Clueless to the fact that it's already broken, in pieces, at her feet.

In 2016 the GPUS held its national convention here, on the campus of UH.  The ticket of Stein-Baraka carried the day, and nearly tripled its national tally from 2012, from about 0.6% of the popular vote to 1.4% (I'm blogging this without Googling, so feel free to correct my numbers in the comments).  That was, as we all should be able to remember, the year of Russiagate, #DemExit, Bernie Sanders getting the shaft during the primaries, etc.  Good times.

In 2017 the locals elected Bernadine Williams as co-chair of the county party, and almost instantly took a serious dislike to what David Collins has referred to as her 'abrasive management style'.  I've barely been able to watch or hear what's happened over the course of the past couple of years due to declining health, but my take is that the Old Guard has ganged up on the black woman for reasons beyond style.  It's had the impression of making them look like a bunch of hidebound racists, another thing they are seemingly oblivious to.  That's despite having recruited some African American members to their fold.

Let's return to Petersen.

As the California primary approached, I carefully eyed the candidacies of Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, especially as the Greens neglected to put anyone forward that I viewed as capable to assume the presidency. On Super Tuesday I waited in line for almost two hours to change my registration back to Democrat and to vote for Bernie. My intention at the time was to immediately switch back to the Green party, but now I find myself pausing. I still do not trust the Democrats and to this point, Bernie and Warren have been the only candidates to call out the problems with the charter school industry. At the same time, after my election was over, I never really felt that I found a home with the Greens. However, at this time they most closely align with my values. I am sure that I am not the only Berniecrat facing this dilemma as the establishment continues to attempt to push our candidate aside.

The Green Party aligns with my values.  The people in the Green Party need some work.

Despite all that, Collins will be the US Senate candidate for the Greens in November -- and I will vote for him -- unless the lawsuit filed by them (and the Libertarians) fails to eliminate the filing fee requirement for the 2020 general elections.  David blogs about that here, along with the latest on the county party's goings-on, the other Green candidates who will, won't, and might or might not be on the fall ballot, and touches on some of the background I've referenced.  He and the Harris Greens also stan Dario Hunter, who is raising his profile for the presidential nom to a significant degree.  Hunter is starting to look like a stronger choice than Howie Hawkins.  No neo-McCarthyism and not another old white guy, for starters.  I'll sift, sort, and see.

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