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As some Occupiers turn to electoral activism, the Green Party welcomes them home

As some Occupy Movement participants turn to electoral activism, the Green Party sends them an invitation

Green Party condemns orders for police to clear Occupy encampments in Oakland, California and New York’s Zuccotti Park

As some participants in the Occupy Movement across the US begin to turn towards involvement in elections, Green Party leaders are inviting them to run for office as Greens and to support Green candidates.  “The Green Party encourages those Occupiers who want to have an effect on the 2012 elections to help us build a permanent alternative party that represents the interests of We The People — the 99 percent — instead of banks, oil companies, arms manufacturers, insurance firms, and other powerful lobbies.  The Green Party accepts no money from corporate PACs.  Our platform reflects the values and demands of Occupy Wall Street,” said Kent Mesplay,  Green Party presidential hopeful (http://www.mesplay.org).

Photo of Jill Stein in 2010

Jill Stein via Wikipedia

“No one can pretend that either of the establishment parties — the Democrats and Republicans — represents the Occupy Movement in any way,” said Jill Stein, candidate for the Green Party’s 2012 presidential nomination (http://www.jillstein.org).  “President Obama campaigned in 2008 as the candidate of change, but after taking office he simply continued the pro-war and pro-Wall Street policies of the Bush Administration, with troop surges and bank bailouts and attacks on social programs under the guise of deficit reduction.   We need to create eight times more jobs than are promised by his inadequate ‘jobs bill’ and we need to stop his attempts to create job-destroying trade pacts with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea.   I’m glad he backed down from his climate-destroying threat to approve the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada, but we know that without a long-term political pressure, schemes to exhaust the tar sands into the atmosphere will be back on the table.  This is the time for a principled opposition party to emerge and give an effective voice to all those who are suffering under the current Republican/Democratic doctrines.  Greens and OWS together are a formidable force to take our democracy back.”

Occupy Wall Street in New York City and other Occupy protests have declared that they do not endorse any political party and that the demonstrations are not a venue for electioneering.  The Green Party has respected and cooperated with this request (http://www.gp.org/press/pr-national.php?ID=453).

But many Occupiers have begun to embrace electoral participation as a strategy for challenging the corporate corruption and the erosion of democracy in the US (http://www.occupytheballot.org).  Occupy Cincinnati demonstrators are working to establish their own party (http://www.denverpost.com/nationworld/ci_19279413 /http://www.occupationparty.org).  Carl Mayer, public defender and long-time Ralph Nader/Green Party supporter, recently spoke before Occupy Wall Street in Zuccotti Park and expressed “his hopes of the OWS movement’s becoming a viable third party in the future” (http://www.policymic.com/articles/2251/carl-mayer-speaks-at-zuccotti-park-says-ows-can-be-third-party).

David Doonan

David Doonan

“Without Green Party candidates to vote for, the demands of movements like Occupy get ignored, because their votes are routinely taken for granted by Democratic politicians who know that progressive voters have nowhere else to take their votes,” said David Doonan, Green Mayor of Greenwich, New York.

The Green Party, as an established national party, has laid a foundation for Occupy candidates to run for public office.  In many states, Greens have accomplished the difficult task of achieving ballot status, overcoming prohibitive rules enacted by Democratic and Republican politicians to hinder alternative parties and candidates.  By allying themselves with the Green Party, by becoming the Green Party in some states and towns, Occupiers who wish to launch campaigns for office can take advantage of the infrastructure and experience we’ve been building for more than a decade.

In New York, the Green Party gained major-party status through Howie Hawkins’ campaign for governor in 2010, fulfilling the state’s difficult requirements and earning the Green Party of New York State its place on the 2012 ballot.  New York Greens have been active participants in Occupy Wall Street since the protests began in September.  (See “Hawkins Blasts Cuomo for Arrests at Occupy Albany,” Nov. 14, http://www.web.gpnys.com/?p=11207)

If the policy goals and legislative agenda of the Green Party and Occupy Movement participants who wish to pursue electoral activism are the same, there’s no reason we should compete with each other in 2012.  Nor do we want to see the Occupy Movement exploited by the Democratic Party and front groups like MoveOn.org or the American Dream movement, which seek to corral people sympathetic to the Occupy Movement into voting Democratic and reelecting Barack Obama.  There is no hope for the Occupy agenda as long as the US is stuck in the two-party status quo.  Elections aren’t the only way to effect social change, but change must including replacing the corporate-money politicians who now hold public office.  We appeal to those who support Occupy Wall Street — help the Green Party emerge as a major party.

The Occupy Movement’s demands, such as an end to the legal status of corporations as ‘persons’, a halt to home foreclosures in the wake of the Subprime Mortgage Crisis, rejection of an austerity budget that burdens working people and the poor, requiring corporations and the wealthy to pay their fair share in taxes, a ban on hydrofracking, and withdrawal of all US military forces from Afghanistan and Iraq (including private contractors, which President Obama intends to keep in Iraq after 2011) reflect the Green Party’s positions.

The Green Party also supports Medicare For All (single-payer national health care) and rejects the Democratic health care bill passed in 2010, which requires Americans to subsidize the for-profit insurance industry through ‘mandates’ to purchase private coverage or pay a penalty.  The party also supports a massive public works program to include millions of new green jobs in conservation, conversion to safe clean energy, expansion of public transportation, and other efforts to curb the advance of global climate change.

The Green Party’s goals are summarized in the ‘Green New Deal’ adopted by Green candidates across the US (http://www.greenpartywatch.org/2010/08/11/62-green-candidates-endorse-green-new-deal/).  The Green Party will nominate a presidential candidate at its 2012 national convention, at a site to be announced.

Greens have warned that the Occupy Movement and its agenda may be eclipsed by late spring 2012 as the media focus on the debate between the Democratic and Republican candidates for the White House.

See also:

“Green Party calls for a nationwide moratorium on home foreclosures”
Green Party press release, November 3, 2011

“Occupy Wall Street looks ahead to 2012”
By Justin Elliott, Salon.com, November 11, 2011

“One Bay Area mayor WELCOMES Occupy protests to her city”
(“At least one Bay Area mayor is actually welcoming the Occupy Wall Street movement to her city: [Green] Richmond Mayor Gayle McLaughlin.”)
By Joe Garofoli, Politics Blog, San Francisco Chronicle, November 9, 2011

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