Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Senate Primary is a directional divide.

As I mentioned before, the Senate Primary is a directional divide for the Green Party of California. When announced candidate Todd Chretien posted this invitation to the Green Party Cal-Forum list, he invited everyone to his campaign and to his WWW site:

As most of you have probably heard, I am running for the Green
Party nomination for U.S. Senate so that I can challenge Dianne Feinstein in November. This will be a contested primary, which is, in my opinion, a very good thing. Tian Harter and Ken Mesplay are also running and I congratulate them on their decision to do so. I welcome a free exchange of ideas between the primary candidates and I am willing to accept any invitation by any Green Party entity to appear with one or both of Tian and Ken.

You can check out my website at www.Todd4Senate.org to get an idea of my bio and my past political work, my campaign ideas or (here's the plug) to make a donation or volunteer. I feel that my experience as an ISO organizer and a Green Party campaign worker, as well as my deep involvement with the anti-war and anti-death penalty movement, have prepared me to be a strong candidate in November and so I hope you will consider joining my campaign.

Very shortly I will be announcing a schedule for a statewide speaking tour in February that will include campus appearances, house parties, and public meetings. If you would like to invite me to come to your area on a certain date, or have an event in mind that I should attend, please call or email me.

And, please feel free to contact me personally with any questions, concerns or ideas.

Well, one San Francisco Green, Marc Salomon, took him up on it and went right to the heart of this debate. As I metioned in my previous post, one focus on this race is going to be Todd's ongoing membership in the International Socialist Organization (ISO). The question is being raised as to whether Todd is a Green who finds common cause with the ISO or, at his core, is a Socialist who is trying to make the Green Party into the electoral arm of ISO.

To illustrate that difference, Marc pulls material from the ISO definition of Where We Stand. He quote the entire page, but I will only quote the following call for a Revolutionary Party.

The Revolutionary Party

To achieve socialism, the most militant workers must be organized into a revolutionary socialist party to provide political leadership and organization. The activities of the ISO are directed at taking the initial steps to building such a party.

Marc, who has never backed off from a fight that he pursues with a single minded intensity. Cal-Forum will see a lot of emails from Marc before this is over.

From my own view, this is one of the two most important directional issues that the Green Party faces. The other involves the tension between our professed belief in developing concensus from grassroots inputs and our reliance on charismatic leadership. I will take on this issue later. As to the direction, I feel that it is essential that our party derive its authority to speak from the moral rightness of our 10 key values and not by trying to out-race the Democrats to the left. This latter will only further marginalize the party. We are not the electoral voice of the progressive movement. We are the public manifestation of Green Principles.


Anonymous said...

Thanks, Wes, for hosting this blog.

As far as the ISO goes, I'd wager that 1/2 of all Greens and of all Democrats agree with 1/2 of what the ISO says they are all about.

The crux of the issue here is that another distinct political entity, the ISO, has declared in effect a unilateral merger with the GPCA. And they have done so at the higher levels of the party, levels that are not "defended" because the party is not strong enough to operate there in any manner short of pro forma.

Now the Greens and ISO agree on social justice issues. But the ISO model of organizing is incompatible with that of the Green Party. The principles of the ISO are likewise incompatible with those of the Green Party.

Greens are neither left nor right. We are neither capitalist nor socialist. Greens operate as an electoral and activist collaborative where leaders empower everyday folks to take up their franchise in democracy to make the 10 Key Values real.

The ISO is a vanguard Leninist party. Greens are not a vanguard party.

The Greens were formed in Europe precisely because the model of sectarian leftism was failing so miserably. Here in the US, the mere presence of "Socialist Worker" wielding ISO cadre will alienate average Americans.

This is not the first time that this phenomenon has occurred. This is because the sectarian left gains no traction with Americans outside an occasional protest. In my 25 years of indy radical activism, almost every time indy radicals raise political energy and generate heat, the commies and socialists, like political reptiles, seek sanctuary on our hot rocks to our exclusion. For adherents to an ideology that has been an abject failure here for the past 80 years to set up shop within the Green Party should alarm all who seek to create a political space where independent radical politics can flourish in an opt-in environment.

Todd is not a bad person, but his inexplicable grafting of ISO Trotskyism onto Green values based politics is a political not personal act that portends negative consequences for the GPCA if past trends hold.

Marc Salomon
SF Green Party

Wes said...

I hope that the blog is useful. I will refain from a substantive comment until Todd replies.