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Synthesis/Regeneration 16   (Summer 1998)

Who's Paying the Piper?

by Don Fitz, Gateway Green Alliance

The expansion of right wing influence within the daily life of America is truly frightening. Corporations increasingly rewrite laws in their favor and influence information dispersed through the mass media. One of the greatest challenges to confront us in the 21st century will be: Are we, as a society, able to stand up to hidden attempts to control and manipulate us?

The right wing is not content with dominating government and media. They are seeking to influence the environmental movement. The willingness of some who call themselves environmentalists to succumb to corporate control of Earth Day celebrations has been a scandal for years.

1998 will go down in history as the year of the racist attempt to take over the Sierra Club and blame population growth on its victims. Though the anti-immigrant ballot lost, it is more than disturbing that it could receive 40% of the vote of the largest US environmental organization.

Many Greens are concerned that the 1996 Presidential campaign was used to expand an existing division and split the US Greens by a group that raised money and operated outside the existing national Green organizational framework. This group advocates setting up state Green Parties on the model of the Democratic and Republican Parties where registrants nominate candidates and, in some states, elect party leadership in primaries open to anyone, regardless of their politics. Such a Demopublican structure opens the door to domination by money and media elites and closes the door to grassroots accountability. This corporate party model is a far cry from the Green value of grassroots democracy.

Greens are also concerned about the loss of grassroots democracy in Maine. Reports continue to surface that, in that state, a person has been presented as the "Green Party" candidate for Governor without being nominated by members.

A natural question is: What is the source of funding of those who seem to be pushing the environmental movement to the right? Ever since Earth Day of 1990, progressives have challenged corporate funding of environmental events. At a time when campaign finance reform and open disclosure of funding are major political issues, it is shocking that Greens are still unable to obtain a financial report for the 1996 Gathering and Nominating Convention. If Greens want to be taken seriously when they challenge hidden financial deals of larger parties, then it seems that, as a minimum, they should be able to account for the finances of their own campaigns and national meetings.

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