I am myself instructed by, and I wish to broadcast to (my few) readers the circumstantial account by Brandy Baker, a Green Party National Committee delegate from Maryland, of the recent move by Jill Stein to invite funding for the recount of three formerly-safe Democratic Party states which voted for Donald Trump this month.
On Monday 21 November, she writes in her Counterpunch column dated today
the Green Party Steering committee was summoned to a call with Jill Stein and David Cobb at 10 PM and that the call was about deep pocket donors giving money to the party. This is the first time that the campaign has ever reached out to the GP Steering Committee. Not during the campaign and there have not even been any collaborative reachouts, not even after the election. Recently, there was one single fundraising email pitch that was proported to be for the Green Party, but the link went to the Stein campaign, not the Green Party donation page.
We Green Party activists are aware of the severe difficulties that have followed consequent upon our commitment, not to accept big-ticket donations. In our state of Oregon, for example, the bank account of the state party hovered (at least it did in the two years I served on the State Co-ordinating Committee) at one thousand dollars.
We did not have the money to notify members, through the mail, of state conventions being held.
Now, here is the nominee of the national Party requesting a device be put in place to run around that standard, and allow Big Money to donate to the Green Party — and not for the quadrennial Presidential campaign, but for a recount in several states. Brandy Baker’s immediately following paragraphs state
During the call, Jill Stein told the steering committee that she was approached by election activists who thought that there was fraud in the states of Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. Stein wanted the Green Party to open up a new bank account as political parties can take donations up to $10,000 and the Stein campaign could only take $2700 to file suits to demand recounts in these states.
One of the Steering Committee members suggested consulting legal counsel, and Stein immediately suggested an attorney she already had in mind. The Steering committee met on the phone with this attorney the next day. Reportedly, there was a lot of pressure for the Steering Committee to pass this. Stein, Cobb, and Ben Manski, a long time Green activist, would go on to heavily lobby various members of the Steering Committee to pass this scheme.
Fortunately, the Steering Committee did not. 5 no, 3 yes, and 1 abstain.
It is regarded as “fortunate” by Ms Baker, and I entirely concur, that a sudden ancillary cause, promoted by a single Party member, did not suffice to overturn the longstanding commitment by the Party collectively, and every single candidate of the Party individually, not to take large (probably corporate-originated) political contributions.
Stein went ahead anyway. Baker regards (and again, in my opinion quite rightly) as this decision being problematic, from the point of view of building an independent, self-conscious Green Party. It is a top-down style of leadership, forsaking our commitment to collective consensus.
Part of the proposal of making locals membership-based, dues paying entities is that Greens will be able to hold their leaders and their candidates accountable. Even locally here in Maryland, we have this problem. We have a Baltimore City Council candidate who went into another council district and colluded with a “progressive” Democrat who was marinated in dirty money, even though Baltimore Greens always run a candidate in that district. Now he is gearing up to wage an attack on independence by proposing a scheme to run with Democrats as a slate in local, partisan races. Also, a Maryland co-chair was speaking to voters at a forum this past summer and he told them how he switched party affiliation to Democrat, while he was a Green Party co-chair, and voted for Bernie Sanders.
I myself had exactly the same problem with my own campaign manager, who switched his registration from Green to Democrat, in order to vote in favor of Sanders in the Democratic Party primary held in Oregon.
I am making out a check for my annual dues today and sending it in to the Party that has withdrawn any institutional affiliation for my political efforts. In a later post I intend to return to the question of whether this (I am delighted to say, widely-shared, hostility to accepting large contributions) means that we Greens are more willing to be pure than ever to win any election.
Update 1 December 2016: This refusal by the Green Party to sign onto the Stein recount effort has now gone beyond a formal refusal to endorse, to public denunciation.
Spearheaded by Green Party Senate Candidate Margaret Flowers, the mutiny declared “while we support electoral reforms, including how the vote is counted, we do not support the current recount being undertaken by Jill Stein.”
“As a candidate, Dr. Stein has the right to call for a recount, however, we urge the [Green Party] to distance itself from any appearance of support for either Democrats or Republicans,” Flowers stated. “We are well aware of the undemocratic actions taken during the primaries by the DNC and the Clinton campaign.”
“Greens cannot be perceived to be allied with such a party.”
She also pointed out that Stein is apparently acting alone without direct help from the Green Party.
Margaret Flowers is the U.S. Senate nominee of the Maryland Green Party. A denunciation by a single Party candidate does not amount to a repudiation by the Party itself, but it comes on top of Ajamu Baraka‘s statement of non-support for the recount.
It would be sufficient to say that Jill Stein effort has been repudiated by, at the least, a significant fraction of leading Green Party activists. That makes this move by Stein the opposite of the Party-building she advocates.
Update 2 December 2016: The call for a repudiation by the national Green Party has been answered with a press release stating just that:
“The decision to pursue a recount was not made in a democratic or a strategic way, nor did it respect the established decision-making processes and structures of the Green Party of the United States (GPUS),” the official press release asserts.
“The recount has created confusion about the relationship between the Green and Democratic parties because the states chosen for the recount are only states in which Hillary Clinton lost. There were close races in other states such as New Hampshire and Minnesota where Clinton won, but which were not part of the recount. And this recount does not address the disenfranchisement of voters; it recounts votes that were already counted rather than restoring the suffrage of voters who were prevented from voting.”
The list of signers includes the 2008 Presidential and Vice-Presidential nominees of the Green Party, some 70 other prominent Party officials, and hundreds of ordinary Party members.
The Green Party, insofar as it is indeed a political party with its own agenda, has to look for someone other than Dr Jill Stein to head its next Presidential campaign. Perhaps, one suspects at this point, Ajamu Baraka.
Update 5 December 2016: Stein’s Recall Effort won a legal victory this morning, turning aside delaying tactics brought by the Trump organization. The recount in Michigan has resumed. This is in contrast to the recount in Pennsylvania, which has been abandoned, but aligns with the ongoing recount in Wisconsin.