The Green Implosion Continues

Just when you thought there was nothing more to say about the Green’s self-destructive behavior. In the last few days I’ve taken a gander at what the Greens have been talking about on their discussion list. Nope, they are not talking about how they are going to end the war. Nor how they are going to organize to fight the Democrats. They are instead preparing to cyberlynch John Murphy, the delegate from Pennsylvania that I wrote about in a column earlier this week.

Greg Gerritt, a Green Party leader, violated his party’s rule #186, which forbids members to post personal correspondences from another member to the group’s online discussion group.

Murphy replied off the list to a message he had received from Gerritt in a personal email. Murphy allegedly wrote to Gerritt: “Good! Now Greg, carefully wake up that dozing, peg-legged hamster operating your wheel-powered brain and for once in your life do the decent thing; tie a large rock around your ankle and go swimming in some white water rapids”.

Another way of saying “go jump in a lake”.

Keep in mind that was an off list comment, not something posted to the group. Gerritt apparently cut and pasted this message to the Green delegates who then accused Murphy of posting violent messages and being an all around sour grape.

It looks as if the Green delegates are not only having trouble prioritizing their goals and writing proposals, but they are also committing the worst sin of all: No sense of humor.

Here’s what David Strand representing the Green Party’s “Lavender Caucus” had to say: ” I must say that I have never been part of any organization … that would tolerate this type of threatening communication”.

Then Nan Garrett himed in: “Thanks for speaking up, David. I agree”.

What a swell bunch of folks these Green delegates truly are. I guess we can forget all about they ever abolishing capital punishment or doing away with the three strikes law. These guys have no mercy and no understanding of justice and fair play. Makes you wonder how their membership drive is going.

So what we have here are the “safe staters” trying to hang Murphy because he called for their resignation, when the person who should actually be disciplined is instead Greg Gerritt. He violated the rules under resolution #186 by posting Murphy’s private, off-line e-mail message to the Green party’s discussion group. I wonder how these guys feel about the government being able to look into our private affairs.

I’m trying to imagine how the Greens in Pennsylvania would deal with the loss of John Murphy, whose forthcoming congressional campaign will bring in 10,000 signatures or more for the Green Party’s presidential candidate in 2008. The Pennsylvania Greens are going to need about 60,000 signatures in order to get their candidate on the ballot. But throwing away 10,000 signatures just doesn’t seem to matter to these lesser-evil progressives. One has to wonder what their goal really is.

From a clinical perspective this is the very essence of passive-aggressive behavior and seems to demonstrate that many of these Green leaders are terrified of criticism, incapable of accepting responsibility, and behave like a bunch of humorless narcissists who have the opportunity to pick on Mr. Murphy because they have removed him from the listserve. Presumed guilty with no trial or representation.

I guess the Green delegates have learned a lesson from Alberto Gonzales and are constructing their own virtual online Guantánamo. At least that’s how John Murphy must feel.

Joshua Frank is co-editor of Dissident Voice and author of Left Out! How Liberals Helped Reelect George W. Bush (Common Courage Press, 2005), and along with Jeffrey St. Clair, the editor of Red State Rebels: Tales of Grassroots Resistance in the Heartland, published by AK Press in June 2008. Check out the Red State Rebels site. Read other articles by Joshua.

16 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. Brandy Baker said on September 7th, 2007 at 6:38am #

    “He violated the rules under resolution #186 by posting Murphy’s private, off-line e-mail message to the Green party’s discussion group.”

    Josh, who cares? I am sorry, I am not trying to be nasty, but this is insignificant bullshit. I stand by my original post: Greens spend too much time behind their computers and not enough time in the streets, organizing, working on campaigns, fundraising. They equate blogging to party-building. Also, you are right, they wrap themselves up in process and focus on individual personalities (how ‘nice, ‘not nice’ someone is instead of the argument that the person is making) to keep form talking about heavy political issues. This leads to a very shallow level of political consciousness.

    But I think that you are guilty of being as frivoulous as you accuse them of being by writing this latest post. Do you think that what you worte about is rare? there is always something ridiculous with the Green lists; they are tools used to distract themselves. I would expect better of you.

    I am not going to read anymore of this stuff.

  2. Brandy Baker said on September 7th, 2007 at 6:41am #

    “they are tools used *by the Greens* to distract themselves from grassroots political work.

    Now please, let’s get down to work. 2008 is around the corner.

  3. Rob Savidge said on September 7th, 2007 at 6:44am #

    Perhaps you should title it “The Frank Implosion Continues?” Why do you continue to create this false polemic where there is an epic battle being waged in the Green Party between left Greens and Demogreens? I’ve tried to show you how you’ve been creating a straw man argument in your efforts to decry the Green Party as going down the tubes, but you have failed to aknowledge your errors. Why? You lied when you said we opperate by consensus, and I corrected you. You lied when you said we believe in minority rule and I corrected you. You misrepresented our position when you said the GP was debating about limiting people to one post per day. You distorted our position when you said the “moving money from wall street to main street” was a done deal. You continue to lie when you chastize Huckleberry as being a Demogreen when many have shown he’s anything but—however, since he doesn’t live in your black and white world, the false polemics you’ve constructed where there are only GDI Greens and DemoGreens, you group him in with the DemoGreens, just because he supported Cobb (it’s not logical to assume anyone who supported Cobb is a DemoGreen, nor anyone who opposes Murphy is a DemoGreen). You lied when you said the GP kicked Murphy off the list simply because he was challenging leadership. Why do you insist on making these errors? Joshua, you’ve done some great reporting in the past, but I’m afraid you’ve lost your objectivity and accuracy with your latest Green-related columns.

    I’d also like to know why are you insisting on defending Murphy so much? First, let me make it clear that I have not worked with him personally in a face-to-face manner, but I have been on listservs with him, since he joined the Maryland GP listserv (even though he’s from PA) and was trolling around there for a couple months steady around 2004. From what interaction I’ve had with him over these listservs, he has not been helpful to building a stronger Green Party. I’m sick of some people building Murphy into this golden boy, when I think he’s been a large reason for perpetuating the infantile disorder and political immaturity of the Green Party, that I and many other Greens have been trying to fight against. And you, someone who seems to be critisizing the party for being just that, is now suddenly propping up someone who in my view and my experience has not been striving to build a stronger green party. To my knowledge, he couldn’t even get an endorsement for his Congressional bid from his own local green party chapter, which is why he ran as an independent. That speaks volumes to me, since these people probably have the most contact with him.

    You continue to build your straw man argument when you state: “So what we have here are the “safe staters” trying to hang Murphy because he called for their resignation.” What’s your rationale for making this claim? What’s your path of logic? Because from what I’ve seen, Murphy wasn’t “hung” because of him challening people, he was hung because of his infantile disorder, and because he refuses to have a rationale political debate without engaging in his sophmoric banter or calling someone stupid. Again, for your readers, here’s a clip from one of his past postings, which may be funny, but isn’t helpful or political (how are you supposed to have a political argument with somone who spews this crap?):

    “You are just incredibly stupid. Stupid as a stone that the other stones make fun of. So stupid that you have traveled far beyond stupid as we know it and into a new dimension of stupid. Meta-stupid. Stupid cubed. Trans-stupid stupid. Stupid collapsed to a singularity where even the stupons have collapsed into stuponium. Stupid so dense that no intelligence can escape. Singularity stupid. Blazing hot summer day on Mercury stupid. You emit more stupid in one minute than our entire galaxy emits in a year. Quasar stupid. It cannot be possible that anything in our universe can really be this stupid. You are a primordial fragment from the original big stupid bang. A pure extract of stupid with absolute stupid purity. Stupid beyond the laws of nature……..”

    So please, if you are going to join the fight for improving the Green Party (or for pushing Nader 2008), and for getting it to move away from the erroneous safe states strategy, stop with your false polemics and staw man arguments, since you are not helping us! Instead, why not make concrete political arguments that are based in fact and experience, rather than your lies, exaggerations, and misrepresentations.

    -Rob Savidge
    Maryland Green Party

  4. John Halle said on September 7th, 2007 at 7:18am #

    I must say, on one level, I don’t really understand Josh’s obsession with the Greens. The dysfunctionality of the Greens on a national level is a well known dog bites man story. Everyone knows about it-so why talk about it unless you have some solution as to what to do about it? Josh has nothing to offer, so why does he bother?

    Furthermore, it is entirely predictable that the kind of petty bickering which Josh describes will tend to dominate the national organization of the Greens. Political parties exist for the purpose of electing candidates. When they field purely symbolic-i.e. losing-candidates, those who will participate will tend to reflect the nature of the candidacy. In other words, they will tend to be losers themselves with no sense of how to operate in an organization and little capacity to think strategically as to how to develop the kinds of coalitions necessary to win.

    That brings me to the real explanation for Josh’s obsession. As he has stated on numerous occasions, his main-indeed exclusive-interest in the Greens is in their capacity to “fuck up the system.” (This is a direct quote, by the way.) He has a principled objection to developing the institutions necessary to compete for and achieve political power through the existing electoral mechanisms. For him therefore elections are not about winning elections about building up an alternative institution necessary for these to be achieved; they purely about spoiling-undermining the existing party structure with little interest or concern as to what, if anything, will take their place.

    Now, to be clear, while I think he’s wrong, he may be right in his analysis that this is they way political change has to occur given present realities. Fortunately, it does not apply everywhere; most notably Hugo Chavez, Morales and Correa, have all demonstrated that a radical transformation can occur making use of the defective mechanisms which bourgeois, neo-liberal democracies have made available. That is a broader topic than what is being discussed here, though we should discuss it and if Josh wants to, I’d be willing to work to set up a public forum where he and others might engage it.

    In the meantime, readers need to be aware of the perspective from which his reporting derives-call it, for lack of a better term, vulgar Chomsyanism.

    As a practical matter, what this means is that even if the Greens were a model of organization functionality, he would be finding fault, and all steps which the organization takes in order to become functional will be attacked by him as capitulatory gambits of the contemptible “middle class Greens” whoever these are in someone’s fevered imagination.

  5. Michael Kenny said on September 7th, 2007 at 10:28am #

    However saddening the situation of the American Greens may be and whatever may the cause of the problem, the Green ideology is firmly taking root as the progressive ideology of the 21st century.

    Here in Europe, Green parties are well established in all countries, although less influential in the former communist dictatorships than elsewhere. The mess the communists left behind them is so enormous that the environment (of which the communists made an almighty mess, probably for reasons related to their materialist ideology) has had to take second place to more basic needs. In western Europe, however, Green parties are represented in practically all parliaments and have been in government in several countires.

    The best news of all is the ecology is the preferred dieology of the young and when we are all dead, today’s youth will rule the world!

  6. Joshua Frank said on September 7th, 2007 at 6:55pm #

    John, I don’t know if I ever said I wanted to “fuck up the system”. But I guess I wouldn’t mind seeing that happen. I sure as hell don’t think “reforming” it will do much good given our current system of economic and environmental exploitation.

    Rob, I addressed all your repeated points in the previous post. Which you can read here.

    Brandy, I don’t think that this is a trivial issue regarding John Murphy on the GP list. In fact it goes to the heart of the problem: a lack of democratic accountability. Leadership gone wild. However, I am certainly with you when you say, “Greens spend too much time behind their computers and not enough time in the streets, organizing, working on campaigns, fundraising. They equate blogging to party-building … they wrap themselves up in process and focus on individual personalities (how ‘nice, ‘not nice’ someone is instead of the argument that the person is making) to keep form talking about heavy political issues. This leads to a very shallow level of political consciousness.”

    Nicely put.

  7. Tom Yager said on September 7th, 2007 at 9:40pm #

    “So what we have here are the “safe staters” trying to hang Murphy because he called for their resignation, when the person who should actually be disciplined is instead Greg Gerritt.”

    Once again, you only tell one side of the story in the Green Party, and you show no interest in even hearing the other side. Could you at least try to raise your standards of reporting on the Greens above those of Eric Alterman?

    The truth is, Josh, most Greens on the National Committee have moved beyond all of the Cobb-Nader crap. There are only a few who are interested in re-fighting the battles of 2004, when Cobb and Nader combined ended up with only 0.5% of the vote anyway.

    What do those who spend so much time trashing our leadership think that we should do? An upraised middle finger toward the Democratic Party is an attitude, not a strategy. “Run Ralph Nader every four years” is not a long-term strategy, and it is incomplete even as a short-term strategy.

  8. Joshua Frank said on September 7th, 2007 at 10:05pm #

    Tom, I wish the GP had a long term strategy. But they don’t. And that is part of the larger criticism. What can the Greens do AFTER 2008? Especially if they make gains via Nader or another candidate? Frankly, the other side of the Green debate, at least those who’ve I’ve talked to, has no real strategy that would ever amount to tangible political power or electoral leverage. If they did, they’d get noticed, and not only by me.

  9. MartinZehr said on September 8th, 2007 at 9:44am #

    At last some substantive criticism from Mr. Frank that is NOT tied hand-and-foot to Mr. Murphy. Indeed, one issue is strategy for political power that the Green Party refuses to develop as a national party with its state parties playing an active role in developing and implementing. The issue of consensus that you seem so focused on is really one of a real lack of organizational cohesion and defined structure. The problem regarding Nader is coming down to an issue that flows from both lack of an agreed upon strategy and lack of consistent organizational principles.

    The fact is that the last twenty to thirty years have seen political domination by the Republican Party and opposition defined by advocacy groups. This has impacted on policy proposals, election strategies, organizational principles, and work around antiwar issues being focused on direct action demonstrations. It is, in one picture, everything that is wrong with the phony “progressive left”. It has NO base, no politics, no organization and wants to act before it thinks out why or where or what for. As far as I am concerned, it has circled the wagons before it has even been attacked, so it is going nowhere and is fighting its own battle in its own imagination. Figure it out, why 70% of the American people are opposed to the war and yet nothing can get through Congress and none of the visible opponents to the war have been able to present a credible campaign.

    These are hardly the fault of the Green Party, and have NOTHING whatever to do with John Murphy. This is a cultural shortcoming of folks who fail to establish a real base before they presume to speak for others. Advocacy groups do this, social workers do this but political parties do not have the luxury of doing this.

  10. Deadbeat said on September 8th, 2007 at 7:48pm #

    The Green Party woes reflect the sheer bankruptcy and hypocritical nature of Liberalism.

  11. Myles Hoenig said on September 9th, 2007 at 8:49am #

    Josh, and all.
    We need to get away from internal bickering and publicly airing dirty laundry. That happens in every organization but the ‘smart’ organizations have systems of control, and control is not a dirty word! Another word would be ‘party discipline.’ We should also not shy away from exposing hypocrisy, even from within.

    As I read the above quotes of Mr. Murphy I would say that any party leadership that allows such belligerent crap is not worthy of respect from its members nor others on the outside. It is a Party’s responsibility to discipline such a person, regardless of whether there is a coherent political statement or not hidden inside such rants.

    I, too, am from Maryland and have seen how a state GP in the past has failed to discipline rants from lunatics, bigots and racists, Party insiders who support opposing candidates, and useless bloggerheads. It doesn’t help when the moderator himself was part of that crowd. It hurt us severely in the last election.

    As the campaign manager for Ed Boyd, GP candidate for Governor, it tore at my heart that most in the State GP leadership, with one major exception- Tim Willard – gave so little support for this candidate in time, money, exposure, etc. Mr. Boyd is black, working class and a veteran and some in leadership felt he just didn’t speak well enough to the NPR crowd. Too many put their time and energy into another State-wide Maryland Green candidate who most would never know he was even registered Green because building the GP was not only missing from his agenda but propping up an opposing candidate for Governor from another political party was a much higher priority for him. That candidate failed miserably in the election but did succeed in sabotaging Boyd’s chance for the 1% needed for an extended ballot access.

    Our next big campaign comes with the 2008 election. Brandy, above, said we have to
    consider 2008 and that’s exactly right and just the beginning. Hopefully, the GP will nominate a real credible candidate who won’t take any shit from Democrats, Republicans, or Democrat-leaning Greens. This candidate should succeed in doing what Ralph did in 2000- that’s to encourage new membership, and more importantly, new candidates for future elections. Each state should have the discipline to nominate real committed Greens to run for all branches of government and not just who they like on a personal level and oppose others because they have rough edges, a necessary requirement for a candidate, and especially for a challenger. Running for office is far too serious than running for
    President of the Glee Club or Class President. Additionally, an on-going campaign should be for all Greens to be vocally opposing the Democratic candidates that are pushing for war with Iran and maintaining the illegal occupation of Iraq.

    We should not be shy about any concerns of spoiling, as the Democratic Party has spoiled the cause of peace, freedom, labor rights and social justice a long time ago.

    There is a sense of hope and vitality coming into 2008. If nothing comes from it, then that it is the time to be penning the Green Party’s epitaph.

  12. Max Shields said on September 9th, 2007 at 1:47pm #

    The Greens (and I am one) need to do much more work on cultivating a pipeline of leaders. The Greens need a clear message that differentiates on key value points (fleshing out the 10 standard ones is a must). Applying those value points to issues is the platform building side.

    Not going through a primary vetting process has its up and down side. On the one hand, GP can step back from the meaningless fray and save their energies for the real deal. But sidelines have their down side. There’s no leader, no real media attention, no particular message, no audience. In other words, Greens don’t exist in the minds of the public and the time to sharpen the message is lost on bickering like the kind witnessed here.

    I’m all for good confrontation. It sharpens campaign message and strengthens the candidates. But undermining the Greens is inevitable unless they can get out front with a message and with leadership.

    Greens are nationally supportive of impeachment and a strategy to immediately withdraw US troops from Iraq. But who knows that. Nader brings a holistic message and it needs to reflect much of what the US GP stands for as well as the whole play of local economics and sustainable communities. These are big and important short and long term solutions to healthcare, economic disparity, security, eduction. As I said, this is the framework that platforms can and should be built around. It requires re-framing the business-as-usual Dem/Rep messages.

    That’s the GP sweet spot. Nows the time to go for the win at every level of government.

  13. Jeremy Wells said on September 9th, 2007 at 6:52pm #

    The POTENTIAL of a national GREEN party to replace the corporate controlled Democratic party is immense. Anti-war activists (like Cindy Sheehan) who have (literally if not mentally) left the Democratic Party are looking for a national political party to join and support their cause. The support for Dennis Kucinich is weakened by his unwavering attachment to the Democratic Party, a party decidedly opposed to his ideas now as in 2004.

    There are MILLIONS of other people, organized into small “single issue” causes, that naturally belong into a reinvigorated national Green party. There issues should become planks of national state and local platforms. The national green leaders and strategists should make a list of these groups and causes.

    A proposal should be made to each group (or collectively to several groups organized on a special issue). These groups are presumed to be experts on their single issue, and have resources (people,time, energy, money,mailing lists, etc.).
    All the individuals and groups would perhaps form a “caucus” to a national Green convention where they would submit their proposed “planks” (of a platform) for consideration. The representative(s) of their group would most probably become candidates for elected office (at every level of government) of be available to become appointees to a new green administrations.

    Who would naturally become Green party registered members, activists, and office seekers?
    Anti-war protesters. Global warming activists and scientists. Envirnonmental activists. Human rights activists. Immigration activists. Prison reform activists.
    Health care advocates. Teachers unions and education activists. Housing activists . “Living Wage” activists. Labor unions. Working people. Seniors. Social Security activists.

    The list goes on and on. It involves just about everyone in America who is not in the top 5% who own 90% of everything.

    The Greens must consider thinking beyond it’s Ten Points program to consider this question: The greens must confront corporate capitalism and oppose the privatization of the federal government.

  14. Jeremy Wells said on September 9th, 2007 at 8:27pm #

    One last point: the national Green party should change it’s name to:

    The Green Commonwealth Party

    to reflect that this new invigorated Green party shall rule “of, by, and for”
    the economic interests of all the people, and not just in the interest of profit
    maximization for the corporations or the “military-industrial complex”.

  15. Max Shields said on September 10th, 2007 at 7:28am #

    The GP has an opportunity to self-organize at the grass-roots through movement alliance. What we need is a viable party that reflects a powerful shift in consiousness rather than using the models of the existing parties as examples of “how to”. The GOP and Dems are bankrupt (as is the US economy) but they are on life support through the auspicies of inertia.

    A “party” establishing core attactors and a process of self-selection is both in line with the essence of Green and is “built to last” around sustainability.

    The ideas and movements around the nation (and internationally) are vast. War is a symptom of the pathology of empire as is our social justice system, heath care, education, energy use, economic/production/consumption concentration of wealth. These are all integrated problems requiring an integrated solution. The Green Party needs to sharpen that message, stay true to its values and establish a living grass-roots community of cultural, economic, and polity transformation.

    Make no mistake about it, there will be resistence and that must be met though the power of people. South America is a living example of how you undo oligarchies when they are deeply rooted in every aspect of life. Our struggle is less obvious, because the US citizen has benefited over the years from American empire. But the transformation is underway and it will take a positive alternative to off-set the inevitability of fascism.

    So, let’s be mindful when we start shooting a party which has the potential of a true enriching alternative.

  16. Chris Driscoll said on September 19th, 2007 at 4:21pm #

    Max Shields,

    You remind me of everything that is wrong-headed about the Green Party U. S. (GPUS). You end with a blatant attack on the American working class, placing the benefits (and hence, the blame) for imperialism at our class’s doorstep. What nonsense! Anyone with half a brain could tell you that Americans, living under a truly democratic economic system in which the current crop of Democrat and Republican Plutocrats had been thrown out of office, even one that was totally isolated from trade with the rest of the world, would yield a much higher standard of living and quality of life for the workers — without imperialism! Where in the fuck have you been for the last four decades as the working class has been shoved into the gutter, and as the our standard of living and quality of life has been consistently attacked and lowered? Where have you been 0ver those decades as the rich grew significantly richer on the gains in productivity that we the workers created and should have benefited from? Where have you been as the entire working class was shoved into a nosedive to the bottom, while even the middle class’s salaries stagnated, and only the rich gained?

    Your anti-working class attitude is typical of the fake-progressive demogreens who claim to be on our side, but in fact are often as not shills for the Democrats!

    Why do the Greens seem to be pushing Ralph Nader away? Many are obviously afraid of a genuine challenge to the Plutocrats running the Democrat and Republican parties. I know not all Greens are as anti-working class as Mr. Shields, but unfortunately, it is just his type that has a stranglehold on that dysfunctional party’s leadership apparatus, one they apparently are unwilling to release! While there are many good Greens out there, their “leaders” seem to consistently attack Ralph Nader, Nader supporters and any other forces who favor a genuine challenge to the sick Plutocratic two-party system.

    Why am I not surprised?

    Chris Driscoll