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GPUS 2012 Presidential Convention Re-Cap

jest's picture

(crossposted to http://www.oldelmtree.com/)

The convention is in my neck of the woods this year, so I went.

I doubt it's going to get much coverage, so I thought some Firedogs here would be interested. The only outlets that were providing quarter-way decent coverage were Indecision2012 (which scares me, honestly), and C-Span. Today was the big formal day of the convention where everyone nominated our candidates. A lot happened, so I'll do what I can to break it down...

They had some awesome speakers! I don't have photos or videos, but I'll link to ones from other events, so you know what their style is like & put a face to the name.

The MC was David Cobb, who's recently come into his own as a speaker, from what I understand. He's a loud, compassionate, funny, angry Texan (he clearly takes pride in the word "y'all") who is a great host. He's also one of the minds behind Move To Amend.

The opening speaker was Colin Beavan, who is running for Edolphus Towns's old seat in Brooklyn. (At one of the after parties, I told him I joined the Greens about two years ago. He told me I was a veteran, b/c he joined about 4 months ago!) He's a really cool, bright, sophisticated guy; he's really the future of the party; they're really excited about him.

He was on The Colbert Report a few years ago:

http://www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert...

After that was George Paz Martin, an incredible activist & former Black Panther from Wisconsin (Wisconsin Greens are the shit, BTW. They do not fuck around)

He had one of the most rousing speeches (Jill's was amazing too, more on that later) of the event. The video above doesn't do him justice at all. The 1st thing he had us do was yell the chant "NO MORE WAR! NO MORE WAR!" He was really inspiring.... His message was about peace, justice, and organizing.

After that we approved the party platform for 2012, which has a minor revision about achieving alternative voting systems.

Following that was another great speaker, Rev. Ed Pinkney. You know Benton Harbor, MI? That's where he's from, and that's where he lives. He is also a Green, and a leading organizer to get rid of their emergency manager. He got put on house arrest by them simply for registering people to vote....

His big message was that what is happening to Benton Harbor now, is going to happen all over the country. This was just a testing ground to see how far they could go, and how much they could get away with. His message also was that the Greens are the only ones who truly believe in democracy, which is why they are so important.

After lunch, the Gar Alperovitz (yes, the guy from Univ. of MD who frequently posts on myFDL) gave an empowering & cerebral keynote address about how critical and indispensable Greens are, and more important, how important they will be.

It was about concentrations of wealth, economics, and poverty. 400 people own more than 185,000,000 people. He said this current period is the most important in US history; more important than WWII, the Civil War, and even the American Revolution. The system is running out of options, and it can't be managed the old way. The kinds of questions people are openly asking today are unusual moments in history, and often result in revolution. He says that Greens are laying a groundwork; that they are creating a pre-history for what is next. The situation we face is so grave he takes Greens very seriously; so seriously he believes he takes them more seriously than Greens take themselves. His big takeaway was that he hopes the party will take themselves as seriously as he himself does. Greens are one of the few entities that gives him "hope."

Then there was a great speech from Leland Pan, a college Green from Wisconsin (WISCONSIN!!) who got elected to a local office (he's only 19). He was one of the many Green student organizers who led the occupation at the state capitol in WI. He spoke about the struggles of youth and student debt, as well as the lack of opportunity today.

(skip to 2:52)

Margaret Flowers also had a great speech on single payer & health care in general. Her take on the Supreme Court decision was that it was the worst of both worlds: a mandate for insurance that does not work, and an opt-out of expansion through Medicaid.

Then we voted on the presidential candidate. To no one's surprise, Jill won!

The fun part was that every state delegation got to do a short talk on their pride as Greens, and their history of progressivism, or their history of fighting conservatism. It was pretty exciting to cheer each other on & support each other; this kind of thing doesn't happen very often!

Following that, the VP candidate was officially presented and accepted. Cheri gave a speech on her story of homelessness and foreclosure that was pretty inspiring. She is an incredibly strong, resilient spirit who has gone through things that would completely break most people...

After that, was Jill Stein's appearance. It was probably the best political/policy speech I have ever heard. Ever.

I've heard Jill talk before, but never like that.... Very articulate, factual, spirited, savvy, logical... She addressed everything: the economy, the environment, racism, sexism, the Federal Reserve, Wall Street, the Green New Deal, etc. I've never heard any politician run through not only the problems we face, but a solution that can actually work. It was so well done, the media is going to have a pretty hard time making her look like a kook, but lord knows they'll try. They can't refute anything she said; they can only invent things she never said, or ignore it entirely. You should check it out, hopefully it'll be on C-SPAN somewhere.

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Submitted by hipparchia on

also, you've done what no one else has succeeded in doing - you've convinced me to change my political party. i've been a registered democrat ever since i turned 18 (that would be 3 decades ago), but now i'm going to go see about changing that this week.

i almost became a green in college, and again shortly after, but never quite liked them enough. now your whole post gives me hope that maybe the greens are evolving into a real political party - finally! - but i especially liked reading this:

After that, was Jill Stein's appearance. It was probably the best political/policy speech I have ever heard. Ever.

I've heard Jill talk before, but never like that.... Very articulate, factual, spirited, savvy, logical... She addressed everything: the economy, the environment, racism, sexism, the Federal Reserve, Wall Street, the Green New Deal, etc.

jest's picture
Submitted by jest on

also, you've done what no one else has succeeded in doing - you've convinced me to change my political party.

Wow! That's a great compliment! But the way I look at it is: You were always a Green, you just didn't know it until now... It's a very liberating experience to re-register as a Green; it's like having a big weight being removed from your shoulders.

And yes, Jill seems to be coming into her own now. She's a much more confident and polished speaker than she was even a few months ago... You can tell she's been practicing.

DCblogger's picture
Submitted by DCblogger on

I was hoping that someone form this community would go and give a first hand account of what happened. Can you post about some of the people you met there? The sort of conversations that are taking place?

jest's picture
Submitted by jest on

I think the most interesting conversations I had were with the international Greens. I met the founders of the Benin Greens, the Belgium Greens, and one member of the New Zealand Greens, who absolutely kick ass.

New Zealand Greens are pretty much the opposition party now, but a few years ago they were nothing. The story of their rise is probably the subject for an entire post, but it's a great blueprint for what we can do here. One of the great things about the Greens is they are one of the few (maybe the only) international parties in the world. One of the recent Nobel Prize winners from Kenya is a Green. There is a lot of opportunity for dialogue, conversation, education, and experience we can draw on from around the world to make things happen here. But definitely keep an eye out for the Kiwis; I hope we can emulate them. They're pretty sophisticated.

The youth Greens were another great group of people. I met Ursula Rozum, Asher Platts (aka the Punk Patriot) and others. Both of them are candidates, so support them!! They are all really great, dedicated, cool people. And they are also take this seriously. These guys are not playing around...

A lot of the talk was about strategizing and organizing. I've always had a murky idea of what exactly "organizing" means, but I think I get it now.

There was also a lot of talk about ballot access. That is a serious, serious issue that is fairly arcane and complex. This is one of the few places where you can have an intelligent discussion on the issue. I wish people knew all the crazy legal things that go on behind the scenes for a party just to exist. You guys have no idea. Again, that's probably a subject that would require its own post.

Fundraising, fundraising, and fundraising. We also talked about fundraising.

Did I mention we talked about fundraising?

Something I did not expect were all the calls for people to not only get involved in the party, but running for office. A lot of people asked me if I was running, and I was like "NO WAY!!" But it's such a common thing, that by the time it ended, I could actually see myself doing it. (Don't hold your breath, though)

Can you imagine going to the DNC with no money and being recruited to run for office? Literally any office you want? When they say they want an open democracy, they mean it. They actually mean: "Hey, you! Get off your ass and run for mayor!"

Erika Wolf, Stein's field manager, is AMAZING. Wow. Again, she alone would be enough for a post altogether. She's also a recently converted Green, and she spent a lot of time under the Democrat apparatus. So she's bringing a lot of training, discipline, experience, and know-how that the party is sorely lacking. But she kicks some serious ass.

One of the things that Erika and some of the more successful Greens said is that we need to spread out beyond the party. In order for this to work, Greens need to organize in their communities, in co-ops, PTAs, etc. everything. All that organizing will eventually lead back to the party. But being active throughout the community, not as an ambassador or Green recruiter, is critical. It's all about organizing.

I wish some of the Wisconsin Greens could do teach-ins of their experiences, especially in Dane County where Madison is. As far as I'm concerned, they are the heart and soul of the Green Party. Greens were instrumental in making the occupation at the state capitol in Madison possible. There's a notable unwritten history of Greens in Madison that is begging to be explored.

There's so much more. The guy from ballot-access.org was there too. I could go on, but I can answer any more questions you may have!