Georgia Green Party Offers Progressive Alternative, Struggles for Relevance
With additional reporting by Matthew Charles Cardinale.
(APN) ATLANTA — The Georgia Green Party, a chapter of the national Green Party of the United States, is facing many challenges as they gear up for next year’s Presidential election and a continued search for local candidates.
In our continuing coverage of the 2016 Presidential election, this article looks at the Green Party of Georgia. Previously, we covered the campaign of U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), a democratic socialist seeking the Democratic nomination;
The Green Party of Georgia espouses as its ten key values, principles that are progressive and offer an alternative to the corporate, often Republican-lite, Democratic Party of Georgia.
Those values include grassroots democracy, social justice/equal opportunity, ecological wisdom, non-violence, decentralization, community based economics/economic justice, feminism/gender equity, respect for diversity, personal/global responsibility, and future focus and sustainability.
As reported by Atlanta Progressive News, many issues have split Senate and House Democratic Caucuses, with many Democrats joining with Republicans to support charter school legislation, for example.
However, despite its progressive principles, the Green Party continues to struggle for relevance in Georgia.
“The Georgia Green Party has been challenging the unconstitutional restrictions on ballot access facing ‘third Parties’ in the State of Georgia,” Al Herman, Georgia Green Party Treasurer and State Coordinating Council Member, told Atlanta Progressive News.
As previously reported by APN, the Green Party of Georgia and Constitution Party of Georgia are in federal litigation regarding the ballot access restrictions in Georgia affecting minor parties (or “political bodies”) who wish to run Presidential candidates.
Originally dismissed by the U.S. District Court, the case was reinstated by the U.S. Court of Appeals and now is headed for trial.
Currently, Georgia has a one percent petition signature requirement that the Green Party–as a political body that has not qualified to be a political party in Georgia–would have to meet to get a statewide candidate, such as a Presidential candidate, on the ballot.
Herman identified a number of progressive issues of concern to the Green Party.
“Greens have been organizing around the issues of ending mass incarceration and the drug wars against citizens, fighting privatization and underage military recruitment in schools, stopping police violence and supporting Black Lives Matter, stopping construction of new nuclear power facilities at Plant Vogtle and support for single-payer healthcare,” Herman said.
However, in the last few years there have been few specific, publicized Green Party events addressing any of these issues in the Metro Atlanta area.
One flawed former candidate, Kwabena Nkromo, had organized a few Green Party meetings in Atlanta a few years back. The Georgia Green Party stood behind Nkromo despite his poor judgment in emailing sex tapes in retaliation against a former girlfriend to City Councilwoman Cleta Winslow (District 4) and others. Even he appears to have stopped his organizing efforts.
Successes for the Georgia Greens have been few and far between.
“The growth of the Georgia Green Party is stifled by the domination of the corporate-funded two party system. The barriers appear insurmountable to dispirited voters anxious for real progressive change,” Herman said.
Gearing up for another election year, the Georgia Greens are prepared to keep fighting at the state level for ballot access.
“The Georgia Green Party will continue to seek judicial remedy for our candidates, while mounting a ballot access petitioning campaign to place a slate of progressive candidates on the ballot,” Herman said.
But what about running local candidates in non-partisan races, where there are no petition requirements? Local, nonpartisan (and sometimes forgotten) seats, like Soil and Water districts for example, have been excellent starting points for Green Party candidates in other parts of the U.S.
However, for the Georgia Greens, it has been harder to find viable candidates to run for smaller, local seats.
“While very few candidates have thus far signaled an interest in seeking the Green Party nomination for office, it is anticipated that individuals for local offices will come forward. The discouraging lack of a ballot line for Green candidates force most progressive candidates to seek the nomination from the Democratic Party,” Herman said.
As corruption plagues DeKalb County, APN asked Herman if the Greens would be capitalizing on this to run candidates that can’t be bought. Unfortunately, there is no plan for the Georgia Greens or the DeKalb Chapter to run or organize around the multitude of ethics issues that speak to their platform.
“The Georgia Greens struggle with the challenges of organizing in a non-registration state with one of the most restrictive ballot access barriers anywhere in the world and a political playing field dominated by corrupt conservatives embracing the two party system that fends off all challengers. In spite of these obstacles, discontent with the two party system and their shared embrace of corporate interests give encouragement to those working for real progressive change and a just and sustainable future,” Herman said.
“The Georgia Greens is a progressive, grassroots political party funded solely by the donations of individuals, not corporations, and mostly in amounts well under a thousand dollars. Supporters are encouraged to become enrolled as sustaining donors to our ‘Dollar-a-Day’ program, which actually allows donations levels of any manageable amount. These contributions fund the infrastructure allowing Georgia Greens the ability to communicate with supporters, and advocate for policies which will expand democracy and create a just and sustainable future for generations to come,” Herman told APN.
The Green Party of the U.S. is “a functioning party and plans to participate in the [nomination] elections next year. It’s an uphill battle, with the ballot access laws,” Scott McLarty, National Party spokesperson, said.
“There have been many candidates that have held local, nonpartisan seats around the country. California and New York… Greenwich, Connecticut… their Mayor was a Green. Gayle McLaughlin [former Mayor of Richmond, California], who had to leave office because of term limits, is now a part of the City Council. One of our main priorities is recruiting more state legislators. The National Party is doing pretty well with fundraising… we’re conducting workshops, webinars for state parties. Our Coordinating Campaign Committee will kick into action after beginning of the election. This year’s nominating convention will be Houston, Texas,” he said.
Jill Stein, who has secured the Green Party of the United State’s nomination in the last Presidential election, will be attempting to secure it again next year.
Coming up next in our 2016 Presidential Elections coverage, a look at the campaign of former Sec. of State Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination.