I returned from Houston, TX last night, where I served with James Lane as the Honorary Co-chair of the Green National Convention.
This year, the Annual Meeting and Presidential Convention were attended by hundreds of more people than usual. I met many former Democrats who were happy to find a political home in the Green Party. One young woman said that she was overwhelmed by being in a party where people showed such love and respect for each other.
There were great workshops on how to reach new constituencies and strengthen the party infrastructure and caucus meetings by the LatinX, Lavendar and Black Caucuses. There were discussions about ways that the party could hold difficult dialogues and be even more inclusive than it is.
Unlike the other party conventions held this year and so that more people could participate, the GNC was held at a university. Attendees slept in dorm rooms and ate at the student cafeteria. Meal tickets were provided for a low cost and some were donated.
James and I were unable to attend many of the workshops because we were tasked with making the Presidential Nominating Convention (PNC) on Saturday go smoothly. That meant meeting with the various committees to understand their needs and studying the party bylaws so that we understood and respected the process.
While Jill Stein was the candidate who met the criteria for being recognized and received sufficient votes to be nominated, with her Vice Presidential candidate Ajamu Baraka, there were many people who also made an effort. Some of theme spoke on the morning of the PNC.
Here are the opening remarks that James Lane and I gave:
Welcome to the Green Party Presidential Nominating Convention 2016. We are live in Houston, Texas.
Today we have great speakers, some work to do and we will nominate our presidential candidate.
One of the things we will do this morning is to vote on amendments to the party platform. The platform is a living document that has been shaped using a grassroots democratic process over the past twenty years. Green locals present amendments that are voted on at the state level and brought to the convention for final approval. Today there are 19 amendments that will be presented.
We want to applaud EVERYONE who chose to run for president this election cycle. Unlike the major parties, the Green Party is a real grassroots party and each candidate had to do a lot of work on their own to put their campaigns together. We congratulate everyone who made the effort because we know that it is very challenging, and often frustrating, to run a campaign.
Today you will see a real party made up of real people dealing with real issues. Many of the issues we are seeing today were created at the foundation of our country that was built on genocide, slavery and capitalism. Those issues may look different today than they did at the beginning of our nation, but they are still as pervasive and destructive, whether it is the taking of sacred lands for mineral extraction, racially biased police brutality and mass incarceration or the growing wealth divide.
Unlike the major political parties, we recognize that these issues exist and that they have impacts at every level of society, including within our own party. The difference is that Greens are working to address these issues and change the underlying systems that cause the crises we face.
There is a long history of social movements that teach us how social transformation occurs. It takes a combination of building a broad movement and creating a political party that embodies the values of the movement. We are excited to see growing social movements throughout the US and globally from Black Lives Matter, to gender equality, to the fight for living wages, to ending deportations, for environmental justice and to make sure that everyone can meet their basic needs for a home, education and health care.
Our Green Party itself was born from the work of several movement such as Civil Rights, Environmental, Labor and Peace which formed the basis of our four pillars of Ecological Wisdom, Grassroots Democracy, Nonviolence, and Social Justice. Since our founding, over 1,000 Greens have been elected to office in the United States. Currently over 130 Greens are in office and over 140 are running at the federal, state and local levels.
The Green Party is a party of solutions. Many of the solutions you will hear discussed by Green candidates are not talked about by Democrats and Republicans because they challenge the profits of their campaign donors. Greens don’t accept money from corporations or PACs, so we are free to represent the people.
60% of Americans want to see an alternative to the Democratic and Republican parties because they feel that their current elected officials in those parties "do such a poor job" of representing the needs of the people. In fact, although supermajorities of people want to get Big Money out of politics, to tax the rich, to transition to a clean energy economy, and support single payer health care, jobs with living wages, ending wars and strengthening our social safety net, legislators are doing the opposite.
This is why right now is a critical time to build political power for these changes by building an alternative party that represents the people, the Green Party.
We invite you who are new to the Green party to learn more about our values and our people and to get involved. Today, you will have a glimpse of the party and you may notice that we don’t have the scripted spectacle of the major parties. There are no corporate logos, no paid seat fillers, no white noise machines. Instead, we are enriched by the dedicated and passionate party members who volunteer not only to make their communities a better place, but to also build a party that gives voters a choice that they can feel good about.
This convention has been made possible by a dedicated community of volunteers who have been working overtime to make the day go as smoothly as possible. We want to thank them and to thank the Green National Committee for inviting us to be the honorary co-chairs. Thank you to the delegates and to all who are present.
So let’s get started.
Houston We have A Solution: Vote Green in 2016.