The Green Party’s Internal Democracy Problem: Presidential Politics

The Green Party faces a problem — democracy. More specifically, how do you treat each person’s vote equally in a country where the two parties do their best to undermine participation of new parties?

Efforts to craft democracy in the Green Party’s presidential preference process have failed in large part because some states allow third parties to participate in tax-payer funded primary elections (as long as they meet reasonable requirements), while many other states put very high hurdles in front of third parties, effectively blocking their participation. Without being on the ballot, third parties are largely invisible. Another factor affecting party visibility is whether a state lists recognized political parties on their voter registration forms, allowing the voter to affiliate with a party — and how high the hurdles are before a party can be listed.

As a result, state Green parties use a variety of methods: government-run presidential primaries, caucuses, state party conventions, party-run balloting by mail, or some combination. With so many ways to count who is a voter, it is challenging to ensure one-person, one-vote. This confusion has allowed prevention of a truly democratic system by those who want small state parties to have more power than large state parties.

As a result, the Green Party does not have anything close to a one-person, one-vote process. Table 1 below shows the number of Greens voting in their state presidential preference contest, and the number of delegates each state gets at the coming national Green Party presidential convention in July.1 The resulting ratio of Green voters per delegate measures how much weight each Green’s vote will carry at the national convention. (These data are for the first 21 states for which the vote count data is available.)

TABLE 1 — Green Voters and Delegates by State

(First 21 States)

State Greens

voting

Convention

Delegates

Green voters

per delegate

CA 35,844 168 213

IL 2,672 44 61

AR 838 8 105

MA 1,941 32 60

DC 530 16 33

MN 187 12 15

WI 97 24 4.0
NJ 70 12 5.8
RI 36 8 4.5
OH 31 12 2.6
MI 47 19 2.5
WA 103 12 8.6
NC 31 8 3.9
CT 48 20 2.4
CO 27 12 2.3
TN 21 8 2.6
MD 70 16 4.4
VA 88 8 11

DE 12 8 1.5
NE 67 8 8.4
PA 134 32 4.2

If you group the 5 states each having a popular vote count of over 500 Green voters, and you group the other 16 states each having less than 500 Green voters, the average Greens voting per delegate at the nominating convention is shocking:2

    5 states with >500 Greens voting: 156 voters per delegate
    16 states with <500 Greens voting: 5 voters per delegate

An even more shocking way to look at it is that among these first 21 state parties, the GPUS National Committee has given more convention delegates to 6% of the voters than it has to the disenfranchised 94% !!!

(CA+IL+MA together accounted for 40,457 of the 42,894 votes of these first 21 states, or 94.3%. These 3 states have 244 delegates between them. The other 18 of these first 21 states accounted for 2,437 of the 42,894 votes, or 5.7%. Together, these 18 states have 251 delegates.)

THE RESULT OF UNDEMOCRATIC STRUCTURE

The rejection of one-person, one-vote by the GPUS National Committee has guaranteed that Ralph Nader had the deck stacked against him very, very heavily. Nader probably realized this early in the nomination process and thus decided not to seek the Green nomination.

Before Nader dropped out of the Green nomination process on Feb. 29, however, his name was included in some primaries, where he gained a large popular vote lead. This early boost has kept him in the popular vote lead — even to this day. The leader in delegates in those same 20 states, however, is Cynthia McKinney. Here are the standings in those first 20 states, in order of popular vote:3

TABLE 2 — Green Voters and Delegates by Candidate

(First 21 States, except NE & NJ*)

Candidate

Popular

Votes

Votes

(Percent)

Delegates

Won

Delegates

(Percent)

Ralph Nader**

23,069

37.9%

143

30.5%

NOTA, NOC,

Uncommitted,

or Blank***

18,977

31.2%

35

7.5%

Cynthia McKinney

12,478

20.5%

213

45.6%

Elaine Brown

1,640

2.7%

9

1.9%

Kent Mesplay

1,303

2.1%

22

4.7%

Kat Swift

1,272

2.1%

17

3.7%

Jared Ball

1,009

1.7%

11

2.4%

Jesse Johnson

711

1.2%

17

3.6%

Other

427

0.7%

1

0.2%

TOTAL

60,886

100%

468

100%

* NE & NJ haven’t reported delegate allocations yet (nor NJ its vote breakdown by candidate).
** Nader’s totals include the 498 votes and 8 delegates won by Howie Hawkins, who stood in for Nader in a few early primaries, and who had pledged to urge his delegates to vote for Nader.
*** These categories each appeared on the ballot in one or more states. The categories have some overlap, and are thus counted together here: “NOTA”=”None Of The Above”; “NOC”=”No Candidate”; “Uncommitted” means the resulting delegate will not be pledged to any candidate; “Blank” means the voter did not mark any of the listed presidential candidates, though many of these voters may have voted for a write-in candidate (which many state governments do not fully tabulate).

Table 2 shows that Nader, despite having 38% of the popular vote in these first 20 states, has only 32% of the delegates from those states. The disparity is even greater for McKinney, but in the opposite direction. She has only 21% of the popular vote, but more than twice that percentage of delegates so far: 44%. The rejection of one person, one vote is having the same effect in 2008 as it did in 2004 when David Cobb won the GPUS nomination — thwarting the choice of the majority of rank-and-file voting Greens.

Cynthia McKinney will almost certainly be the Green Party nominee in the current four-way race, as she already has an outright majority of the delegates allocated so far. And with Nader out of the race, he is not gaining new delegates.

The former Georgia congresswoman is certainly much stronger than the 2004 nominee, as she has actually served in Congress, where she took strong progressive positions on foreign and domestic policy. She has probably been unaware of how undemocratic the Green process has been because the tabulation of Green popular vote was not published until June 5. No such tabulation was published for the 2004 nomination race. (The tabulation this year has not been compiled and published by the GPUS, either — but by individual, concerned Greens.)

CONCLUSION: A NEW PARTY IS NEEDED (GREEN OR OTHERWISE)

What is the solution to the lack of democracy in the Green Party? One approach is to count the votes in the primaries, caucuses and state party conventions, and give each vote equal weight in delegate representation. Rather than states gaining delegates according to a complex formula of measurements having nothing to do with actual Green participation in the presidential preference process, delegates could be apportioned by counting the actual votes of Greens in that process.

Many people in the Green Party, who have seen their reform efforts come to little over the last four years, have now given up on reforming the GPUS. Two successive presidential cycles have now seen a massive rejection of one-person, one-vote by the GPUS National Committee. Some of these Greens have decided that a new party is needed, though concrete work towards that goal is on hold during the current campaign cycle. However, the Nader-Gonzalez Campaign is creating some new state-level parties in those states where a party can gain ballot access easier than an independent can.

If a new party is created, it would not be surprising to see some state Green parties take stock of the extreme disenfranchisement created by the Green Party National Committee in the presidential selection process, and disaffiliate from the Green Party to help build the new, democratic, progressive party. These state Green parties, along with the new state parties created for Nader-Gonzalez ballot access, would provide the basis for a new party founded on the principle of one-person, one-vote.

On the other hand, Cynthia McKinney is in a unique position. She has the admiration of most Greens, including most Nader supporters. Once McKinney is nominated, she should bring her ‘Power to the People’ campaign inside the Green Party itself and insist that the National Committee enact a one-person, one-vote method of selecting presidential delegates in the future. If she does so, she may save the party’s unity. At this point, she is the only one who can.

  1. Source for Table 1, “Green Voters and Delegates by State”:

    The number of Greens voting and delegate counts come from Table 2 in “Green Party of the U.S. 2008 Presidential Nomination Race So Far: Popular Vote & Delegates Won”, June 7, 2008. The number of Greens voting in New Jersey, however, comes from item #17 in Appendix 4 in the same document. []

  2. The following calculations were made from the data in Table 1:

    CA+IL+MA+AR+DC: (41,825 voters/268 delegates)=156 voters/delegate
    Other 16 states: (1,069 voters/227 delegates)=5 voters/delegate []

  3. Source for Table 2, “Green Presidential Popular Vote & Delegates Won”:

    Popular vote and percent come from Table 1, delegates and percent come from Table 2, in “Green Party of the U.S. 2008 Presidential Nomination Race So Far: Popular Vote & Delegates Won”, June 7, 2008. []

Chuck Giese has voted Green for many years, and finally registered as a Green voter in California in 2004. He resides in Fremont, California. He may be contacted at: chuckgiese_cal@yahoo.com. Read other articles by Chuck, or visit Chuck's website.

32 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. Brandy Baker said on June 20th, 2008 at 7:51am #

    Thanks for the great article.

    The state of this situation is due to the fact that there is no accountability. Decentralization. Wanting to sweep important matters (like democracy) under the rug for the sake of “getting long”. Focusing on individuals, personalities, which are relevant if you are forming a social club, but should not even measure into the equation if you are building a political party.

    My husband and I are no longer Green, and some of our friends left as well. Too much bad faith at the national and state levels. Add the anti-democratic, tyranny of the minority “consensus voting” to the mix and you have a mess: this mess. Consensus voting is a failed strategy of the American Left and as long as it is employed, groups using it will continue to fail.

    On the state level, we have seen by-laws violated, unethical CC voting practices (“let’s vote to take a vote”) and if you don’t get a super-majority, they kill the measure.

    I’m supporting McKinney, but I think that Mr. Giese is naive if he thinks that
    anything will come of the Nader 08 campaign in the way of lasting third parties. This happened in MD in 2004; a new Party was formed to get Nader on the ballot. Those who went on to be in that Party mostly stayed registered Green, they did not leave the internal culture of the Green Party. They would sit on the board of this new party and vote in Green primaries, have a say in the direction of the Party and run for office as Greens while on the Coordinating Committee of this new Party. Greens would defend these people and their “right” to have a say in the Green Party; battered spouse syndrome, I suppose. Pretty sick.

    New state parties need to be formed, but by people who are committed SOLELY to societal change and not internal power plays. These organizations become too inward-looking and their existence serves no purpose.

  2. Eric Prindle said on June 20th, 2008 at 7:53am #

    I’m happy to see someone finally implicitly advocate for an actual “one-person, one-vote” system, in which the delegation is based on the number of people who voted. I do believe, though, that there should be different ratios for state parties that get a taxpayer-funded primary and those that do not.

    In any case, neither of these proposals is the system most Nader supporters have been advocating since 2004.

    The 2008 allocation is actually heavily influenced by the advocacy of many Nader supporters for a misnamed “one person, one vote” system that is actually not based on people who voted but rather on voter registration, in states where that is an option.

    The biggest beneficiaries of this system are not the “small” states but rather states like Pennsylvania and New York that have significant Green voter registration but do not have taxpayer-funded primaries.

    Both Minnesota and Pennsylvania had Green caucuses on the local level and seem to have made an honest effort to get people out to vote in those caucuses, but my vote in Minnesota counts for less than 30% of the vote of a Pennsylvanian, solely because they have a lot of “registered Greens” and we only have a private membership list.

    This is the direct consequence of the aspects of the system that most Nader supporters wanted, as opposed to the aspects they dislike.

  3. Babette Hogan said on June 20th, 2008 at 8:29am #

    McKinney is likely to take the nomination; but whomever the candidate, make her proud of the party. This will provide the service of supporting the local and state candidacies, as was one of the original goals. Don’t hand the sister a towel. Give her a beautiful Green flag.

  4. Eric Patton said on June 20th, 2008 at 12:35pm #

    > What is the solution to the lack of democracy in the Green Party?

    Pareconish organizational structure.

  5. Deadbeat said on June 20th, 2008 at 1:38pm #

    Excellent article. Sorry about the Green but it does illustrate the sorry state of the “left”.

  6. Dick Kaiser said on June 20th, 2008 at 2:04pm #

    Wow, does this explain a lot. I’m a long-time Naderite and this article gives a crystal clear picture of the problem facing independents and 3rd parties. Nader is using the only real strategy available in order to have the biggest impact. Until I read this piece, I was not convinced of it. Thank you!

    The data above certainly make a great case for stronger state parties that concentrate on state and local races and party-building in general. It’s too bad so many rabid Greens feel the party’s future is at the national level. One person, one vote is the goal and at the state level, there are more opportunities to try out various schemes to achieve it. Good luck to the Greens.

  7. Mato Ska said on June 20th, 2008 at 2:36pm #

    Internal representation is a critical element of any organization to make decisions that are reflective of their supporters. But, it is not about democracy. It is about establishing an effective means of defining organizational priorities and establishing a consistent and coherent agenda for political work.

    The Green Party is not some social experiment for pseudo-activists to play with and tweak and refine and find Nirvana in the process. It is a political party established to project a new agenda, elect public officials and work with legislators and activists in winning victories that empower people and win concessions that are needed by the environment and the general public.

    But, once again the stage is being set by those who look for the lost city of Shangra-la within the Green Party. Now, they advocate yet a new party. The “left” has disposed of its base in the working clss, lost any semblance of organizational coherence and has been commandeered by a core of armchair revolutionaries determined to preserve the cult of purity and the sanctity of ideology for its own sake. Now some are ready to hop to another party like a frog to a lily pad- from Democratic to PDA to Green to (what will it be called?) Progressive, Populist. Who knows!

    My hope is that not too many Greens will be schmoozed into going down yet another dead-end that ends in organizational oblivion. I am supporting Cynthia McKinney because she presents a sound agenda and a new focus for expanding the Green Party and addressing the social needs of millions of people in the US. Too much time is wasted on email and E-zines by some people who have nothing better to do.

    Oranize! Don’t whine so much.

  8. Mato Ska said on June 20th, 2008 at 2:36pm #

    Internal representation is a critical element of any organization to make decisions that are reflective of their supporters. But, it is not about democracy. It is about establishing an effective means of defining organizational priorities and establishing a consistent and coherent agenda for political work.

    The Green Party is not some social experiment for pseudo-activists to play with and tweak and refine and find Nirvana in the process. It is a political party established to project a new agenda, elect public officials and work with legislators and activists in winning victories that empower people and win concessions that are needed by the environment and the general public.

    But, once again the stage is being set by those who look for the lost city of Shangra-la within the Green Party. Now, they advocate yet a new party. The “left” has disposed of its base in the working clss, lost any semblance of organizational coherence and has been commandeered by a core of armchair revolutionaries determined to preserve the cult of purity and the sanctity of ideology for its own sake. Now some are ready to hop to another party like a frog to a lily pad- from Democratic to PDA to Green to (what will it be called?) Progressive, Populist. Who knows!

    My hope is that not too many Greens will be schmoozed into going down yet another dead-end that ends in organizational oblivion. I am supporting Cynthia McKinney because she presents a sound agenda and a new focus for expanding the Green Party and addressing the social needs of millions of people in the US. Too much time is wasted on email and E-zines by some people who have nothing better to do.

    Organize! Don’t whine so much.

  9. dan e said on June 20th, 2008 at 4:17pm #

    Yes, I too am grateful to Chuck Giese for this article, with all its enlightening factual data, and also to Brandy B for her insightful comments, and for disclosing some of her political history which helps put her thoughts in context.

    I myself see the real problem with the Greens, Nader, Reformies, Libertarians & most other “3rd Pty” enthusiasts as one of PREMISES.

    If you accept the premises on which the Capitalist narrative is based, you wind up operating within the maze, within the RatRace they’ve created to keep idealistic members of the Intermediate Strata occupied doing stuff they enjoy, like making speeches, going to Conferences, talking knowledgeably about Electoral Nuts&Bolts, & trolling Comments onto articles posted on hip websites.

    None of the current crop of non-Duopoly pres. candidates, incl. Cynthia who I still support but not blindly, none of them really reject the Capitalist/Imperialist/ManifestDestiny premises on which the “American Revolution” was founded.

    It comes down to a conception of Property, of Property Rights, which is enshrined in both the US Constitution and the Common Law. Stare Decisis says This is how we’ve always thought of Property since we emerged from Feudal Tyranny. So Nader, Cynthia, Ronpaul, others, may have problems with how these premises are working out in practice, but none of them question the First Assumptions of “Western Civ”. They’re all basically Working Within The System, accepting the groundrules laid out by the Ruling Class.

    Well, yes, to challenge the System you have to have somewhere to stand. No leverage sans a fulcrum. So if you’re povertystruck as I am, v. little you can do about anything.

    I did manage to promote or help promote cpl McKinney events in the “local” area (hello max;). Hohum, slight ripple on the duckpond for cpl hrs, all is now bk to abnormal. Meanwhile, My Hero Cynthia has an article by David (expletive deleted) Cobb right on the front page. When it comes to Obummer, Nader has more to say.

    Meanwhile, I got all enthusiastic about this “Reconstruction Party” idea — but now I realize it seems to entirely come out of a Trotsky bag, which always carries an undertone of Soft On Zionism.

    I’m afraid that from here it looks like it will take another two/three election cycles for an Electoral Alternative to emerge that isn’t rooted in the same assumptions as the existing statutes of the status quo. One thing for sure: nothing of significance will happen until serious activists start holding these “now here, now there” types accountable. Stop kidding selves that such as Obama “blundered”.

    Stop letting The Nation & Amy Goodman make suckers out of us. Demand CONSISTENCY, and acknowledgement of errors. Like if somebody supported Kerry/Edwards/ABB, & helped derail the once burgeoning movement vs the invasion of Iraq, let them issue a public apology, before you publish any more of their words. Apply same rule to other “blunders”. We all make mistakes, & yrs truly has made more than my share, but I never tried to con anybody that David Cobb was anything but a bunco artist. “Anybody But Bush”, my ass.

  10. hp said on June 20th, 2008 at 4:43pm #

    Here’s the past, present and future, right in our faces.
    The question is, what are we going to do about it?
    The answer is, absolutely nothing.

    http://www.rense.com/1.imagesH/show_dees.jpg

  11. Deadbeat said on June 20th, 2008 at 5:57pm #

    Great illustration, hp, and it sums up why the “left” is in a sorry state. As “dan e” makes clear re: ABB.

    Like “War for Oil” the ABB strategy was a desperate hope by the “left” to get out of Iraq without the public becoming aware that the War in Iraq was more for the extension of Zionist interest than it was for oil. Any reader of James Petras and even the right-wing “The Economist” magazine would have known that the oil companies were on record AGAINST the invasion of Iraq. There reasons were not “moral” but were for 1) business reason and 2) they knew full well that a war in Iraq would spike oil prices due to speculation and RISKS brought on by such a conflict. Which we are seeing now and 3) they would take the blame — not the Zionists.

    The “left” deliberated diffused the anti-war movement because the public was asking questions about the role of Israel in the Middle East and started to question Israel treatment of the Palestinians which was highlighted especially by the death of Rachel Corrie. Thus the people who were involved in the anti-war movement back in 2003-2004 was beginning to ask why the U.S. maintains such a “close” and one-sided relationship with a FOREIGN country. Such questions and speculation had to be suppressed and ergo Anybody Body But Bush and the end of the anti-war movement by the “left”.

    With Nader running in 2004 the “left” didn’t want to take a chance by supporting his campaign. They made sure of this by offering David Cobb and by tacitly supporting John Kerry who deliberately ran to the RIGHT of GWB by stressing his militarism.

    Medea Benjamin, the darling of the “Democracy Now” crowd was largely involved in making sure that Nader was prevented from running as a Green.

    The actions by the “left” is what created the vacuum that allow Barack Obama to fill that void this year and it is tearing up the “left” as they pine for Nader in 2008.

    It is extremely IRONIC that the “left” this year is doing backflips regarding Obama’s genuflection before AIPAC. Well what about 2004 when the “left” did the same by neutering the anti-war movement.

    The “left” had their BEST OPPORTUNITY to really engage people who were in motion in 2004. The “left” is in NO POSITION to judge folks who this year decided to throw in with the Democrats when the “left” betrayed that energy and interest in order to protect Zionism.

  12. hp said on June 20th, 2008 at 8:54pm #

    These are the guys Mukasey the so-called dual citizen Israeli let go.
    Along with about a hundred more of the dirty rats.
    http://www.rense.com/general67/intel.htm

    Here are the dirty rats on day one of the peace treaty.
    http://windowintopalestine.blogspot.com/2008/06/hamas-israel-violated-ceasefire-three.html

  13. Samson said on June 21st, 2008 at 11:19am #

    Well, I’d have to say this article has a rather shaky premise.

    Lets compare say CA to GA. In CA, the Greens are on the ballot in the state-wide primary. So, its relatively easy to request a Green ballot and participate in the Green Primary.

    In GA, there is no statewide primary. As the article says, officially the Green Party is nearly invisible. To participate, first you have to know that there is a Green Party State Convention that’s going to occur, and when and where it is. Then you have to travel perhaps all the way across the state to be there.

    Given this, is it fair to compare “green voters per delegate” between the two states?

    In fact, I notice GA is so invisible that it doesn’t even make the list in the article. I don’t live there anymore, but I’d be surprised if there wasn’t still a state convention sending delegates to the national.

  14. Samson said on June 21st, 2008 at 11:26am #

    Note on ‘3rd parties’.

    At this point, its probably more accurate to refer to a 12th party or a 13th party we’ve got so many of the things.

    We work in a winner-take-all system. And its going to stay that way until someone knocks one of the two monopoly parties out. So, we have to be smart and work effectively in that system.

    In that respect, its absolutely suicidally stupid to have three major ‘opposition’ candidates running in this election. By those three I’m referring to McKinney(Green), Nader (Independent), and Barr (Libertarian).

    The day we get serious is the day we combine all of these into one opposition campaign to corporate rule in America.

    I like both Ms. McKinney and Mr. Nader. But its incredibly useless and stupid to have both campaigns going at the same time. They have to unify.

    And, I know few on the left will agree, but we need to extend that unity to Libertarians and others on the right who oppose seeing the nation go into foreign wars and the massive expansion of government power. Believe it or not, there’s a lot of common ground there. Certainly enough to combine in a movement that has the narrow goal of fixing our democracy and getting us back to free and fair elections that really represent the people.

    We need numbers of support so big they can’t keep us out of the debates. You can’t do that split three ways or more in an election.

    We need numbers of support that we can win a three way winner take all election. You can’t do that split three ways or more in an election.

  15. Eric Prindle said on June 21st, 2008 at 3:02pm #

    By the way, the numbers in the article for California are wrong. 53,906 people voted in the Green presidential primary. Of those, one-third either cast a write-in vote or did not choose to vote for a Green presidential candidate.

    http://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/sov/2008_primary/05_voter_stats_by_party_feb08.pdf

  16. dan e said on June 21st, 2008 at 3:42pm #

    hp, I fwdd your “illustration” to both my own list and Joe Anderson’s. Props to you for it!

    DB, thanks for upgrading/sharpening my point, esp. re Demock Now.

    I myself don’t know what to do. Is there a way Home Sapiens Sapiens can get out of the predicament they’ve created for themselves and the rest of Organic Life On Earth?

    Is there a Leadership with a completely sound take on The Totality, which of course must include deep understanding of unique/special features of USian racist ideology & practices, esp. vis a vis Slavery/Jim Crow/Incarceration, Manifest Destiny, & Zionist Power Config?

    Petras: used to regard him as My Teacher, “you teacher-me pupil”, till I read his casual dismissal of the possibility that workingclass/peonclass Tibetans might have a beef about all the Han Chinese flooding into the country, taking over everything. Doesn’t the UN Charter & the Decl. of Human Rts say sthg about a conquering power moving its own citizens into territory occupied by force?

    But Teacher don’t allow no dumb questions into his TRASHBUCKET, he said in ALL CAPS. So guess I’m on my own…?

    Sincerely,

    PERFECT NOBODY;)

  17. hp said on June 21st, 2008 at 4:22pm #

    dan e, read the article directly below this. It is the best I’ve seen here.
    It is the answer to the question.
    Which leads to the next question.
    Can we pull it off as elegantly as these people who live at a poverty level which we can only imagine? These people who have, in their abject poverty, a spirit and joy in life which can’t be bought with diamonds?
    I doubt it very much.
    City of joy, indeed!

  18. hp said on June 21st, 2008 at 4:23pm #

    I still wonder why no comments are possible…

  19. Chuck Giese said on June 21st, 2008 at 6:03pm #

    Eric (Prindle), you point out in your June 20 comment that the delegate allocation method I suggest, and a modification you suggest, are not the “system most Nader supporters have been advocating since 2004.” This is true. After David Cobb got the 2004 GPUS nomination despite getting a small percentage of the vote in large state primaries, a group called “Greens for Democracy and Independence” (GDI) was formed. I joined that group when it was formed. In the beginning, GDI (in my opinion) was dominated by advocates of starting from Green voter registration numbers in those states with Green registration. They wanted to then develop some way to estimate how many delegates other state parties should get. Later, that approach was abandoned in favor of a “menu” of metrics. Several metrics were offered (registered Greens being one), and state parties had some latitude in choosing which metric was most favorable to them. The number of Greens participating in the Green presidential process was NOT one of those offered metrics. Though I was in GDI, I never favored the delegate allocation proposals it made. They were an improvement over the 2004 formula, but I felt they were too small an improvement, and not well designed.

    Your suggestion of establishing different ratios for representation, based on whether a state has Green registration, is interesting.

    In your June 21 comment, you point out that California’s presidential primary had 53,906 Greens voting, not 35,844 as I reported in my Table 1. Yes, you are correct. My footnote 1 (giving the source of Table 1 data) refers to a more detailed compilation of Green popular votes and delegates. If you follow the URL to that compilation, it does discuss the different Calif. Green voter numbers (35,844 vs. 53,906). The 18,062 vote difference represents Green primary ballots cast which marked other election choices (like ballot initiatives), but marked none of the Green presidential candidates. My Table 1 only used the 35,844 Green voters who marked one of the listed Green candidates for president. (Our primary was held Feb. 5, before Nader dropped out. I contained Nader, McKinney, Brown, Johnson, Mesplay, Swift, and Ball).

    Even though those 18,062 voters did not mark any of the listed candidates, the GP of Calif. allocated all of its delegates to the listed candidates. I disagree with that policy. Since fully 1/3 of our Green primary voters did NOT mark a listed candidate, I think GP of Calif. should have only assigned 2/3 of our allotted 168 delegates to the listed candidates. Since GP of Calif. did not give representation to those 18,062 voters in our delegation to the nominating convention, I did not include those 18,062 voters in Table 1 because that would have skewed the voters per delegate figure. I did include those 18,062 voters in Table 2, under the “NOTA/NOC/Uncommitted/Blank” category — they make up the bulk of that category.

    I appreciate that you took the time to double-check the numbers, and that you pointed out the 53,906 total Green primary ballots cast.

  20. Jim Dorenkott said on June 21st, 2008 at 10:25pm #

    The Green Party is floundering. We need a strong, disciplined anti-war, anti-empire party. Unfortunately, the preoccupation with consensus, especially in California has led to a lot of hyper-feeling meetings in which little gets done. Parecon is great. Consensus is great for worker controlled and owned businesses, coops etc and for affinity groups taking risks in direct action. It has no place in a comprehensive political party which should be mobilizing in many different arenas.

    For the time being lesser-evilisim will slow any new party’s growth as much as it has the Green Party. However, do we have a choice? This country is the engine of mass murder, torture and pain in the world. Our responsibility is to say not in our name, build a popular movement and electoral party which makes that happen.

    We have to build a 3rd party movement which is broad. The Greens hyper-critical criticism of the “left” has led to a narrow support base because they are so terrified of people who can out organize them. Instead of learning how to organize they purge anyone whose leftism or history is too scary.

    This is truly sad. Anyone older than 40 knows that todays advances are on the back of the left’s actions during the last 100 years. Those purist attitudes are one of the key reasons the Green Party has not grown.

    There may not be a whole new national party coming out of the Nader campaign. I do expect, however, to see some of the folks frustrated with the weakness of the Green Party to put together some formation to mobilize resistance to empire.

    This article shows the delegates are not being awarded on the basis of participation but on the basis of wish-full thinking. Something to keep in mind when the next party goes national.

  21. steve conn said on June 22nd, 2008 at 9:55am #

    The Greens were manipulated in 2004 by anti-Nader Democrats who made sure Nader was forced to run as an independent, an easy target for the big money drive by Democrats to keep his anti-war vote off of the ballot. (Google Ralph Nader Steve Conn for relevant studies). You are looking at the results in 2008.

  22. Caleb said on June 22nd, 2008 at 10:07am #

    Good and enlightening article. As a new voter I was naive enough to think that the Green party was a real alternative. I remember being a kid and hearing about third parties getting votes–not a lot, but enough to show that there was a growing movement of dissent. But now it turns out the greens can’t get on the ballot, can’t raise money, can’t even get on the news. I would love to cast a ballot for Cynthia Mckinney, but as a resident of Missouri I don’t think I have a chance. Now I’m seriously considering voting libertarian, even though I have some serious questions about Bob Barr, because then at least my vote has the potential to mean something.

  23. dan e said on June 22nd, 2008 at 10:52am #

    “For an extreme analogy, think of Nazi or Communist death camps. The ones spared were usually smiths, tailors and shoemakers!”

    Nothing said by people who equate Soviet prison conditions — which were admittedly harsh to the level of Andersonville for similar reasons — to Nazi death camps set up to implement a policy of extermination, will ever make any impression on me.

    I am a student of Marx & Engels who rejects Lenin’s interpretation of same, but all this equation of the early Soviets with the Nazis is just stupid mouthing of Imperialist propaganda. The Zionists crack me up, always screaming about Soviet Anti-Semitism! When for decades the CPUSA was mainly populated by persons of Jewish nationality. When the Red Army in 1941 gave first priority access to Space Available on trains going east to Jews, leaving non-Jewish Poles/Belarussians/Ukranians to cope with German occupation best they could, on the basis they’d have a better chance to survive than Jews did under Nazis.
    When without Stalin’s stupidity re Res 181 & Skoda Works firearms there’d be no “Israel”.

    Is Dissident Voice a significant arena of Class Struggle? I think I detect some divergence of class outlook within the DV Editorial Bd itself. Same deal on Counterpunch, other “alternative media”: now aligned with Global Peon/gotta work to live class, now aligned with viewpt of privileged Usian Salaried Professionals/Digital Startuppers.

    Question for me is whether time spent commenting onto DV is totally wasted, or just mostly wasted. Talking to members of another Class: any future in it? You tell me:)

  24. Liz Arnone said on June 22nd, 2008 at 7:59pm #

    I think Chuck’s article is an accurate assessment of the one Green one Vote picture of the Green Party.

    As a former Co-Chair who was Gitmo’d (Disappeared) by their undemocratic list moderators, who are accountable to no one, for voicing my dissent on some of the things Chuck talks about, I can honestly say I agree, as long as the old dead wood is still in command and minority rules, there will not be a grassroots movement in the GP. There are a core group of individuals who seem to feel they know what’s best for the party who have no intention of relinquishing their influence, and most candidates who are out busting their chops running for office, have no clue about the internal gyrations of the mis-leadership in the organization.

    In essence, the 10 kvs. have become a selling feature and no more, looks good on paper and makes a great website, but that’s as far as it goes. People can talk about a perfect world but living it is a different story, and the GP has not yet evolved in that direction. If you were privy to the discussion lists or the hundreds of meaningless resolutions that have been written to quash dissent, you would certainly look for higher ground elsewhere.

    I came into the organization because I believed in Ralph Nader, and I left because of him. He is the only leader I know of who truly walks his talk, and has done so for many decades. If there’s any hope at all, he is it. And the Greens were too stupid to recognize their 2nd, after 2004, and probably last, missed opportunity. Can’t keep making the same mistakes and expect a different outcome.

    I wish Cynthia McKinney the best of luck in building her own organization!

    Liz Arnone

  25. Gregg Jocoy said on June 22nd, 2008 at 10:48pm #

    Liz Arnone wrote above:

    I wish Cynthia McKinney the best of luck in building her own organization!

    Can you expand on this a bit please?

  26. Tom Yager said on June 23rd, 2008 at 6:35am #

    Liz,

    The reason why you were “disappeared” had nothing to do with “voicing your dissent”. Plenty of delegates have expressed disagreement on our listservs without being penalized. You made all sorts of personal attacks on other delegates, often in the form of outlandish and thoroughly discredited conspiracy theories. Personal attacks on other delegates are not allowed under Proposal 186, which was passed by the National Committee in 2005. You knew the rules, you chose to break them, and then you turned around and whined about being held accountable. Comparing your treatment to prisoners at Guantanamo is appalling.

  27. Tom Yager said on June 23rd, 2008 at 7:10am #

    Chuck Giese admits that there are factors such as not having state-funded primaries or registration by party in many states that makes direct state-by-state comparisons very difficult. However, he discards these factors as irrelevant and basically says “screw the 45 Green parties without state funded primaries!” His proposal for delegate apportionment at our convention directly compares apples to oranges.

    As for Nader, the deck was not stacked against him. He could have been on the ballot in Wisconsin and Maine if he had declared his candidacy in late January or early February. He could have been on the ballot in most of the other state nominating processes if he were seeking our nomination. He chose not to. I’m tired of Greens being blamed for Nader’s decisions.

    The National Committee did not reject what Chuck calls “One Green, One Vote”. Chuck’s proposal to effectively make us into a one-state party at the convention (California would have received about 86% of the delegates!) was never made into a formal proposal, not even by his own Green Party of California.

  28. Martha said on June 23rd, 2008 at 7:48am #

    For what it’s worth, I believe Liz and Chuck. Tom Yager’s manner of writing in these comments just grates on me. Fascinating article and complete news to me.

  29. Jeff said on June 23rd, 2008 at 1:27pm #

    The Ten Key Values of the Greens
    Social Justice
    Community-Based Economics
    Nonviolence
    Decentralisation
    Future Focus/Sustainability
    Feminism
    Personal and Global Responsibility
    Respect for Diversity
    Grassroots Democracy
    Ecological Wisdom

    As Greens, we need to stay true to our core values. Decentralisation and Grassroots Democracy demand that we embrace “One Green, One Vote” and go from there.

    Some attention needs to be paid to getting ballot access status to state Green parties. Ideally, this would be done at a grassroots level, not from a national level. Just because some states perform this calculus based on the results of Presidential elections does not mean we should hijack the Presidential nomination process to choose one star candidate over another. The past elections have given this appearance to many rank and files Greens, including myself, who pay attention to all the e-mail flame wars around the country.

    It makes sense to me that the states who have organized and viable Green parties should represent the party at the national level. Then they can bring their expertise to other states to help them properly organize and overcome bureaucratic hurdles having gone through the experience themselves.

  30. Brandy Baker said on June 23rd, 2008 at 3:04pm #

    There are 304,796 registered Greens nationwide.

    157,565 registered Greens in California.

    This means that California is entitled to have 52% say over the direction of the national Party. As of now, they have roughly 15%. This is not democracy.

    When I was a Green I heard all kinds of asinine rebuttals to this fact such as: not all states have partisan registration (too miniscule of an amount to keep CA disenfranchised), we don’t want CA to tell the rest of us what to do (too bad, 52% of the voters should have 52% of the say regardless of geography).

    I have also seen people who bring this up (and bring up the compliance of those in the 2004 election highjacking) dismissed as “rhetorical” “polemical” and “not nice”.

  31. Lucy Grider-Bradley said on June 23rd, 2008 at 3:51pm #

    “If you call yourself a leader and no one is following, then you’re just taking a walk.”
    Author unknown

    This sadly describes my experience with many GP “leaders.” Most have great academic ideas and ideologies. Some write great! issue papers, but they/we, (I’m a new GP member) only talk to each other.

    It is impossible to grow a real political party this way.

  32. Chuck Giese said on June 24th, 2008 at 11:24pm #

    Tom,

    Let me address the points you raised in your comment above (Tom Yager said on June 23rd, 2008 at 7:10 am #):

    TOM:
    Chuck Giese admits that there are factors such as not having state-funded primaries or registration by party in many states that makes direct state-by-state comparisons very difficult.

    ME (CHUCK):
    What I admit is that “Efforts to craft democracy in the Green Party’s presidential preference process have failed in large part because” of these differences, and that “With so many ways to count who is a voter, it is challenging to ensure one-person, one-vote.”
    It is a complex issue, which has led to many different ideas for solutions. But I heard a very good idea from David Best of D.C. way back on April 26, 2005 (3 yrs. ago), which solves the problems. I’ve supported it ever since, and that is what I suggested in the article. Each Green participating in their state’s presidential preference process gets the same weight assigned to their vote (i.e., in terms of delegate representation at the presidential nominating convention). The differences in election law between states affect the visibility and size of a state Green Party. But with the method suggested by David, the complex problem is solved and each Green voting in the presidential preference process gets the same share in the overall decision, regardless of which state they live in.

    TOM:
    … However, he discards these factors as irrelevant …

    ME (CHUCK):
    Tom, these factors are not irrelevant. I explained how they affect the visibility and size of a state party. But David Best’s method resolves the differences between states, giving each participating Green a vote with the same weight as that of any other participating Green, in any state. His method is elegantly simple, and with it, the election law differences cease to be a problem.

    TOM:
    … and basically says “screw the 45 Green parties without state funded primaries!”

    ME (CHUCK):
    The solution I’m advocating treats every participating Green equally, in every participating state. Each gets a vote having the same weight. Nobody is getting screwed in this scenario.
    On the other hand, the current system gives Green presidential preference voters in the 5 bigger state parties (out of the first 21 parties with vote count data) only one convention delegate for 156 Green voters, while in the 16 smaller parties (of the first 21), the Green voters get one delegate for every five voters. So the Green voters in the 16 small states each get a vote with 31 times more delegate representation than the vote of each Green in the 5 larger parties.
    So it seems to me that the Greens in the larger parties are getting screwed under the current system, being counted only as 1/31 of a small-state Green. But under the true one-person, one-vote system I’m advocating, each participating Green gets a vote with the same weight.
    You have to do a better job explaining why my suggestion screws anybody.

    TOM:
    … His proposal for delegate apportionment at our convention directly compares apples to oranges.

    ME (CHUCK):
    Tom, the apples vs. oranges argument no longer applies. It has been used for years to support the assertion that a one-person, one-vote system was impossible due to the election law differences from state to state. The differing laws were the apples and oranges.
    But now we have a solution: a true one-person, one-vote method that gives each Green an equal voice in the decision process, regardless of which state they live in.
    If you want to continue to use the apples vs. oranges analogy to attack one-person, one-vote, you have to explain why a Green in one state should have a more powerful vote than a Green in another state.

    TOM:
    As for Nader, the deck was not stacked against him. He could have been on the ballot in Wisconsin and Maine if he had declared his candidacy in late January or early February. He could have been on the ballot in most of the other state nominating processes if he were seeking our nomination. He chose not to. I’m tired of Greens being blamed for Nader’s decisions.

    ME (CHUCK):
    Tom, you overlooked something here. My data had nothing to do with the fact that some states kept him off the ballot even before he declared as an independent. Those states where he competed gave him 38% of the total popular vote of the first 21 states with vote counts available. Yet because of the lack of one-person, one-vote, that 38% share of popular votes only gave him 31% of the delegates in the same 21 states. The other side of it is that McKinney got 21% of the popular vote in those 21 states, but it got her 46% of the delegates of those 21 states. *That* is how I was describing the deck as stacked against Nader. In those 21 states, he beat McKinney almost 2-to-1 in popular vote, yet trailed her in delegates by 3-to-2. It certainly looks like a stacked deck.

    TOM:
    The National Committee did not reject what Chuck calls “One Green, One Vote”. Chuck’s proposal to effectively make us into a one-state party at the convention (California would have received about 86% of the delegates!) was never made into a formal proposal, not even by his own Green Party of California.

    ME (CHUCK):
    The National Committee (NC) most certainly DID reject something that would have been marginally more fair. Prior to adopting the current delegate allocation formula, the NC voted down a slightly more fair proposal. The NC then approved an amended version that increased the minimum number of delegates per state from 5 to 8, to artificially boost the delegate counts of the many tiny state parties. (Half of the states have 8 delegates allocated.)
    But even with the minimum of 5 delegates per state party, it would have been almost as bad as what we have now.
    It is a weak defense of the NC to say that it never rejected one-person, one-vote, when in fact it wasn’t even willing to accept something even a tiny bit more fair than the grossly unfair system it did adopt.
    Or maybe I should approach your claim from another direction. If you want to claim that the NC has not rejected one-person, one-vote, does that mean that you think the NC will accept this new idea for one-person, one-vote, once it is made into a formal proposal after next month’s convention? Will you support it? (It doesn’t sound like it, given your comments above.)