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Synthesis/Regeneration 16   (Summer 1998)

The Internal Combustion of the Maine Green Party

by Nancy Oden, Maine Green Council

The Maine Green Party (MGP) lost its official status this past March because Ralph Nader got only 2.4% of the vote for President (the MGP needed 5% to keep official status). To many Greens, being an "official" party meant little since we can run candidates by getting signatures and do our activist work, too.

However, some care very much about being an "official" party. To become an official party again, the Maine Greens need to get 5% of the vote in this year's gubernatorial election.

The possibility of being able to initiate a genuine activist party, which runs candidates to build support for important issues, is truly exciting.

John Rensenbrink and others enamored of "official" status looked around for a candidate who might bring home the 5%, whether or not s/he supported or even knew about green values. They convinced Pat LaMarche, a registered Democrat (until she disenrolled to run), who has never been a registered Green or a Green Party activist, to run for Governor of Maine. She had been a Portland-area "media personality," which may have led them to think she could appeal to enough Maine people.

Unfortunately, they announced her as the MGP candidate for Governor without the approval of the Maine Green Party State Council, a convention, or any other Green body. This action has split the Maine Greens and caused many to drop out in disgust.

If the Maine Green Council had thought Pat LaMarche a suitable candidate and had endorsed her, all would have been well. Despite her pleadings, though, the Council refused to endorse her. She was obviously inappropriate as a Green Party candidate. (She is only involved in mainstream liberal activities rather than advocating fundamental social change and, when she did jail time for drunk driving, she embarrassed the Greens with her announcement on TV she wouldn't drink again until after the election.)

The Rensenbrink faction announced her candidacy as a Green Party candidate, making it a fait accompli. This is how they did it:

Whither the Maine Greens? Who knows? A lot depends upon what happens in November. If either of us gets the magic 5% of the vote, then either of us can start an official party. The possibility of being able to initiate a genuine activist party, which runs candidates to build support for important issues, is truly exciting.

There's been so much do-nothing-ism and wrangling in the Greens for so long that a chance to work with people who actually take stands on issues and do something would be wonderful.

For your information, I've initiated a Citizens Referendum to ban aerial pesticide spraying and keep pesticides out of Maine's waters, with affected people getting to vote on any exemptions. We need about 56,000 signatures to get it on the ballot, and we're hoping to use the campaign to organize the Referendum signature-gathering. The Referendum's wording is on the campaign website (below) along with our fact sheets.

Cliche though it sounds, we all know we need to build a massive, independent movement capable of getting thousands, then millions onto the streets so we can end the poisoning and destruction of Earth. I hope we can expend our energies doing what's effective, or we'll never make it in time.

This usurpation of the Maine Green Party name and the patriarchal, autocratic disdain for grassroots democracy in the Maine Greens shows us that destructive and dishonest manipulations cannot be allowed to stand. They must be challenged and exposed to the light of day. Cries for "unity" around undemocratic decisions must be called the demagoguery they are. This would help deter others who might think they could do the same with impunity.

I'm hoping the Biodevastation Gathering in St. Louis in July will call for actions not only around genetically-engineered life forms, but around the destruction and poisoning of Earth as a whole. We need to come up with actions which will enhance everyone's environmental work, and I believe we can.

Nancy Oden can be reached at P.O. Box 186, Jonesboro ME 04648, by e-mail at nancyoden@cleanmaine.org or by phone at 207-622-0094, web site: http://www.cleanmaine.org/

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