Interview
with Dean Myerson, secretary of the ASGP
  If We Build It They Will Come 
Dean Myerson, secretary of the Association of State Green Parties, responded to DEMOCRACY IN ACTION's questions via e-mail in July 1998. At that time he was running for a University of Colorado Regent position.
Greens | News
  • QUESTIONThere seems to be considerable tension, if not downright hostility, between the ASGP and the Greens/GPUSA. Is this an accurate perception? Does it undercut Greens' effectiveness? Are there any initiatives underway that could reduce this tension or any signs that it will dissipate? 

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  • QUESTIONOutline how you see the Green presidential selection process unfolding.  Will there be a Green convention and what will lead up to it? 

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  • QUESTIONIn 1996 an ad hoc committee produced a Green Platform '96, which Ralph Nader lauded, although he did not campaign on it. Has the 2000 platform process been finalized?   

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  • QUESTIONWho are some of the people who have been mentioned as possible Green presidential candidates? 

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  • QUESTIONIn 1996 Ralph Nader was on the ballot in 21 states and DC. USTP, Natural Law and Libertarians were all on the ballot in considerably more states. Can Greens do better in 2000? 

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  • QUESTIONWhat were the major lessons of the Nader campaign? 

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  • QUESTIONWhat would a Green 2000 presidential campaign look like, how would it get its message out and what impact would it have?   

There seems to be considerable tension, if not downright hostility, between the ASGP and the Greens/GPUSA. Is this an accurate perception?

No.  There is considerable hostility among a few people, who try to make it a major issue for everyone else.  For most of us, it is not a significant problem, though it is a concern.

Does it undercut Greens' effectiveness? Are there any initiatives underway that could reduce this tension or any signs that it will dissipate?

Both groups have formed "Contact Committees" for discussions and had observers at each others' recent meetings.  The ASGP has agreed to co-sponsor some activities with the GPUSA.  I don't think it seriously undercuts the effectiveness of local and state party activities, though it discourages some people from becoming involved in national Green activities, particularly if they are affected by the people I mentioned above--who are most hostile.  By scaring these people away, it makes the problem tougher to solve since many organizers stay uninvolved.
 

 


Outline how you see the Green presidential selection process unfolding.  Will there be a Green convention and what will lead up to it?

The ASGP has a committee which is putting together proposals for how such a convention would be conducted.  We believe it is premature to schedule anything yet.

...Greg Gerritt, of Rhode Island, chair of the ASGP's transition committee, chimed in at this point.  [The transition committee's general function is to help ASGP transition to a more fully developed organization.  It is developing a representation formula for the ASGP Coordinating Committee, and performing the same task for a nominating convention].
 
The transition committee will be seeking information on the status of the various state parties.  We will poll for ballot status, number of activists, number of registrants, and various other demographic information.  The committee has not yet come to a consensus about whether to use the information to determine a formula calculating the number of delegates each state would be allocated at the national nominating convention or to present a proposal with specific number of delegate slots for each state based on our weighing of the factors for each state individually.  The committee expects to collect the demographic information over the next few months and to internally discuss how we wish to use that information, and then make a presentation in 1999.
 

 

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In 1996 an ad hoc committee produced a Green Platform '96, which Ralph Nader lauded, although he did not campaign on it. Has the 2000 platform process been finalized?

The ASGP also has a Platform Committee which is continuing work on this platform.  It is generally expected that final approval would come at a 2000 convention.
 
 

 

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Who are some of the people who have been mentioned as possible Green presidential candidates?

Most individuals have wish lists but the ASGP is not yet involved in choosing any candidates.  We believe that by focusing on building our grassroots in our state parties, we will be best prepared to attract the best candidates.

Granted, but what are some of the names out there?

The most common name I hear is Winona LaDuke, our VP candidate in 1996.  She has kept involved with the Greens but has not said she woud do this even if asked.  Beyond that, just think of any progressive and someone has mentioned that name: Jerry Brown, Molly Ivins, Paul Wellstone, Jim Hightower, etc.
 

 

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In 1996 Ralph Nader was on the ballot in 21 states and DC. USTP, Natural Law and Libertarians were all on the ballot in considerably more states. Can Greens do better in 2000?

The political system in the U.S. is controlled by money, and well-funded parties, even the conservative alternative ones, can get ballot status by paying for signatures.  Greens wish we had gotten Nader on more state ballots, but this was the best progressive, low-money effort in a long time.  The Greens have 9 ballot status parties now, more than all other progressive political parties in the U.S. combined.  By focusing our efforts on building state parties, we improve our ablility to support both grassroot and national political efforts.  This is why we are focusing on this kind of party building rather than longwinded national structure debates or premature candidate debates.

I want to emphasize that the parties you compare/contrast us with are not grassroots parties.  They operate on different principles.

Could you clarify that?  I don't think people in those parties would agree.

Would they?  I've read the Libertarian Platform and I don't remember grassroots democracy as a key part of their platform.  No one will say they are against it any more that they are against apple pie, but how and where do they describe it?  Greens work with folks from these other parties in ballot access coalitions all over the country and they are alway tired of our process because they usually just appoint someone and let that person do what they will.
 

 

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What were the major lessons of the Nader campaign?

First and foremost, that we need something like the ASGP.  In your above questions, you refer to ad hoc processes.  The ASGP provides a forum for state parties to deal with these kinds of issues in a much better way.  A method that provides for broader participation and better decision-making.
 

 

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What would a Green 2000 presidential campaign look like, how would it get its message out and what impact would it have?  

It would be a grassroots effort focusing on the strengths of our local chapters and state parties.  It would get its message out through them and with coalitions of other progressive organizations.  But this is all very general.  As I said, we believe we will do best by focusing now on building this grassroots infrastructure so that we can improve on the 1996 effort as mush as possible.
 

 

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Copyright 1998  Eric M. Appleman/Democracy in Action

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