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Integrating the Green Political Spectrum within a Party Organization
by Allen Butcher, Denver Green Party
All political organizations are comprised of an internal political spectrum, and the success of a particular party has much to do with how this diversity within a political party is managed. The issue of how to integrate left, center and right Greens is an opportunity for at least our local and state Green Party organizations to develop in a way that builds upon the strength of our diversity. If not addressed these different Green perspectives could cause problems, as we’ve seen with regard to the G/GPUSA vs. ASGP.
So the question is how to use to our advantage this natural dynamic of a political spectrum within the Green Party.
A suggestion is to create committees within at least the local and state Party organizations representing each of these three primary Green perspectives, and give them the autonomy to create projects and programs respecting their missions. At the same time, affirm that the Party organization as a whole, through its bylaws and regular meetings, has oversight and overrule authority, based on the right of any member to appeal any committee decision. In this way, people with different Green perspectives can work on issues of importance to them, and collaborate as a whole when desired, welcoming people from other committees to work on a particular committee”s project.
The issue of how to integrate left, center and right Greens is an opportunity for at least our local and state Green Party organizations…
In the Denver Green Party (DGP) we’ve created three committees called “managerships,” which are areas of responsibility created by the DGP through its standard meeting process, with the work of the managerships overseen by the co-presidents. Managerships may be managed by a single person or by co-managers, with any member of the DGP having the power to appeal any managerial decision to the co-presidents. If any member is not satisfied with the decision of the co-presidents, they may then appeal the decision at a scheduled DGP meeting using standard meeting process. These managerships are:
1. Coalition/Diversity Committee (Left Greens, Radical Politics)—which will tend to hold onto radical interpretations of Green values, with a more left/feminist/deep ecology/socialist/anarchist leaning activist orientation 2. Campaign Committee (Centrist Greens, Electoral/Realistic Politics)—as it races to the political center for mass appeal 3. Green Economy Committee or GECo (Right Greens, Conservative Politics)—as it involves businesses, government regulation of the economy and taxation.
Here are their job descriptions or committee mandates:
1. Coalition/Diversity Committee:
- Plan and maintain outreach programs including statements of support for minority and ethnic communities, intentional communities, neighborhood initiatives, and issues and causes consistent with the Greens 10 Key Values and the goals of the DGP;
- Contact other organizations and solicit their support for candidates, initiatives and other campaigns endorsed by the DGP;
- Provide networking services to nonprofit organizations affirming Green values, and for individuals looking for the resources provided by these nonprofits.
- Build a bio-regional awareness, identifying as closely as possible to local environmental quality.
2. Campaign Committee:
- Collect and make available to DGP members information on local and state electoral, initiative and other campaigns;
- Recommend that the DGP support specific individuals for office, initiatives and other campaigns, according to criteria to be determined;
- Coordinate support for candidates and those active on initiatives formally endorsed by the DGP via standard meeting process;
- Recommend that the DGP make statements of support for issues and campaigns other than those in the electoral or initiative process.
3. Green Economy Committee:
- Identify businesses that are willing to affirm support for the Greens” 10 Key Values, and network those as a Green chamber of commerce, perhaps evolving into a 501(c)(6) business association providing advertising, marketing, recruitment, finance, planning, training or other services;
- Support and sponsor consumer and worker cooperatives, worker-owned businesses and “open book management” involving employee stock ownership, financial literacy and full disclosure;
- Provide information on governmental agencies and programs serving individuals’ and businesses’ needs, and provide information on grassroots lobbying and legislative activism supporting Green Values;
- Advocate Green Tax Policy creating a system of public finance which maximizes incentives for the fair distribution of wealth, environmental protection, basic needs production, provision of adequate government services and peaceful resolution of territorial conflicts.
A way is needed to express a participatory form of self-governance, a concern for the general well-being, and a respect and appreciation for cultural diversity. The term that seems to do this best is “commonwealth.” Not only does the term commonwealth refer to the public good or a general prosperity through self-governance, it is also scalable, referring to either a local community, a regional association of communities such as a state, a national organization, or a network of independent nations, on each level respecting a diversity of cultural traditions.
The idea of the Green Commonwealth is to affirm that all of these interests work together in a coherent framework, through a committee structure…
Different people are motivated by different things. Some of us get excited about electoral campaigns, others of us get excited about Native American solidarity, union solidarity, gay rights, controlled substances and industrial hemp, guns, worker-owned businesses and co-ops, environmental issues, appropriate technology, nukes, Middle East peace, anti-globalism, and on and on. The idea of the Green Commonwealth is to affirm that all of these interests work together in a coherent framework, through a committee structure providing ways for people who want to do different things to focus upon what energizes them. A diversity of opportunities for involvement brings more energy to the Green Party, and the more we are doing in general the more all of our committees, campaigns and projects will benefit.
Think of it as a dynamic synergy. The more energy we bring in for a variety of projects the more energy will be available for all of our projects, because most of us have more than one interest. As we see respect and involvement on the part of others in the things that are of interest to us individually, the more we individually will be willing to help with other people”s concerns and projects, and the result will be a cultural awareness that we may call a Green Commonwealth.
The Statement Writing Process
The process within a Green local requiring the three committees, to work together is that anyone may propose a statement on any issue and submit it to these three committees. With the Coali-tion/Diversity Committee preferring a radical left orientation, the Campaign Committee preferring a politically centrist orientation, and of course the Green Economy Committee being the most conservative, the three work out a compromise statement that all can support, and propose that to the general monthly Greens meeting for official action. If a particular committee fails to respond in a reasonable amount of time (like before the next meeting), the issue may be taken directly to the general meeting. Using email may aid the group writing process.
This structure serves to facilitate work getting done in committees before issues are presented at a full meeting, and helps to ensure that each wing of the Green Party has a fair opportunity to see that their agendas are represented and discussed with regard to particular issues. At the same time, the process provides experience in working toward a compromise of disparate views.
If local and state organizations (at least) can develop a process for honoring and expressing radical, centrist and conservative Green views, and gain practice in reconciling these, we will have a strong organization that will be better able to carry us through future issues and challenges. Such a process provides an official avenue for encouraging and facilitating the open expression and discussion of different opinions from the three wings of our party. Giving each faction a recognized method of working together within the larger organization may serve to ensure that people feel free to express and are supported in expressing their views, and to ensure that people respect and work with those having fundamentally different Green orientations.
An example of the utility of this suggestion is how it would facilitate progress on the issue presented at the Green Party of Colorado meeting, spring 2001, having to do with whether we would be willing to negotiate issues with the local Democratic Party, making agreements to support some of their initiatives if they would support some of ours (as I understand it). The meeting was split between standing fast to our values of not making such political deals, versus being willing to negotiate deals in the way that politics is generally practiced. Issues such as this could be developed and reconciled by people representing the radical and the centrist positions before going for final decision by the Coordinating Committee or the general Green Party of Colorado meeting.
Community Control of Cultural, Political and Economic Initiatives
For a local Green organization to adopt the Green Commonwealth designation it would therefore implicitly be accepting, and hopefully explicitly affirming, two qualities. First, the ideology of “community control,” via an organizational structure respecting a balance of autonomy and responsibility through delegation of authority and appeal processes, perhaps similar to those used in the Denver Green Party. And second, work to create and integrate the activities of cultural, electoral and economic committees, perhaps using the model of the Denver Green Party’s Coalition/Diversity, Campaign and Green Economy Committees. This may indeed be what Green Parties have always sought to do; yet there is a need to express a model for affirming and perpetuating the original ideals of a Green movement.
Change and growth on the local level may require a basic organizational paradigm that does not represent an agenda of a national organization, instead that provides a local Party design that can be made relevant to and replicated by any local Green organization. Such a relational paradigm integrating action in cultural, political and economic spheres, while preserving a focus on the full range of Green values through integrating them in one coherent concept, results in what we may call the Green Commonwealth.