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Synthesis/Regeneration 26   (Fall 2001)

Delegate Report on the 2001 Green Congress

by Jason Murphy, Co-coordinator,
Gateway Green Alliance

There have been some harsh words about the 2001 Green Gathering just held near Carbondale, IL. Some denunciations have come from those Green Congress delegates who left town right after a majority voted against the “Syracuse Proposal,” which would have implemented the “Boston Proposal” (BP). The harshest have come from folks that were not there. There were indeed many harsh “shame-on-yous” made by delegates and observers on the first day of the Congress. If I may, I would like to (a) give a report on the Gathering and Congress as I saw them and (b) explain why the Gathering should evoke more hope than despair for Greens all over the country.

Many said that we had gone the whole day without ever even voting. That is only technically true. We should say that those attending voted on the Boston/Syracuse Proposal many, many, times. The day before, after a lot of hard work, the majority of the credentials committee recommended dividing up California’s votes between three delegates, one a skeptic of BP, one a supporter, and one who sought renegotiation. The delegate who supported BP would have had zero votes if the majority had not compromised. Then came the most contentious moment—a proposal to acknowledge the credential committee’s recommendation except in voting on the Syracuse Proposal, in which the delegates would have been apportioned based on a survey made by the California delegate who supported Syracuse. The survey only posed two options (sound familiar, Nader supporters?)—that of support or opposition to the Boston Proposal. The option of seeking another round was not mentioned. The organizer of the survey, Walt Sheasby, said that this was because renegotiation was not an option because the ASGP simply would not do it. In states where renegotiation was presented by an advocate and not dismissed, there was much support, like in Missouri and also in New York, where the vote was divided.

Now we can begin to co-operate and work together in a way that will ultimately lead to unity.

Why would the Congress ever dictate a delegate’s vote based on a stack of shrink-wrapped, two-option, ballots from Goddess-knows-where? Without rearranging the count in California, the Boston/Syracuse Proposal would never have gotten the two-thirds majority. The credentials committee had deliberated for eleven hours to reach the compromise they reached. We would have saved a lot of time if we had gone with that committee’s compromise, endorsed by the majority.

There was a move to “divide” the proposal—vote on accepting California as the committee recommended and then evaluate the next half, which would fix Calif.’s votes according to the survey. Leaders of the pro-Boston faction would not accept that division, which cost us over an hour, after many hours of dealing with their push for delegates. Many delegates who supported the Boston Proposal believed that a local or state could mandate a vote but that the Congress itself surely should not. (What if our state legislators said that, on this crucial issue, senators from Missouri must…?) The undivided proposal lost and then there was a motion to adjourn. Those who wanted renegotiations fought adjournment because we would have left without forming a negotiating committee. Supporters of Boston were of two minds. Half felt that, once Boston failed, renegotiation was the second choice. The other half thought that a move to renegotiate would make the ASGP look bad if they didn’t take us up. Adjournment failed.

The next day proved that the first day did not have to be so bad. Once it was clear that the Boston Proposal could not carry a two–thirds vote, supporters of the BP held a caucus and most of them agreed to accept the recommendation of the majority decision of the credentials committee so that we could proceed. The second day should have been the first day. I am happy we did not adjourn because delegates got to know each other and see that both sides were seeking what they saw as best for the Green movement. We were able to form an Iraqi Green Action Network, to be headed by Windy Cooler. She got unanimous support after having expressed support for BP. We were working together.

The “Missouri Proposal” (we didn’t think to call it the “Missouri Compromise”) called for renegotiation and forming a committee. Discussed Monday morning, it won handily, with the support of those who had voted on both sides of BP. Well-known critics of BP were nominated by supporters of BP to be on this new negotiating committee. The idea here is that if this committee signs an agreement, it will surely get the backing of two–thirds or more of the GPUSA. There had been workshops on nuclear power, electoral action, architecture and city planning, as well as some time (next time there will be more) kibbitzing in order to see how we can help each other out. The literature table was the best I’ve ever seen. The contrast in spirit between the first and next two days was so great that I deeply wish that the Boston negotiations had been understood to be the first of more than one round. Now we can begin to co-operate and work together in a way that will ultimately lead to unity.

I urge anyone who has read this far to let their fellow Greens know that (a) the GPUSA means it when they say they want to negotiate (b) the unity ball is in the ASGP’s court and (c), in the words of Joseph Mosley (New Jersey delegate, ASGP diversity committee chair, and supporter of both BP and renegotiations) “I found out that Don Fitz doesn’t have horns on his head!”

Let me end by thanking the Gateway Green Alliance for electing me one of their delegates. The next Gathering will be even better (with more workshops and events for non-delegates, alternates, and delegates with alternates) and we should send more people. I count my time in Carbondale as one of the highest honors I’ve received.

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