I just got my first issue of The Progressive Populist and have been
reading all morning. Not a bad piece of work. I plan to distribute pieces
of it to my acquaintances in the medical industry.
I gotta tell ya, though, Jim Hightower's and Molly Ivins' tiresome whining
about Alan Greenspan is vaguely aromatic of those who accuse him of being
an agent for the Elders of Zion. Molly's statement that he favors complete
deregulation of the financial services industry is demonstrably false, and
she should know it. He's not my favorite guy either, but the fact is, your
readers -- and apparently Hightower and Ivins -- know so little about anything
any central bank does, or should do, that Molly and Jim may as well be speaking
Swahili. Molly's credibility is suspect anyway, since she's become the Clintons'
apologist. I think too many journalists allow themselves to become too attached
to too many powerful people, of whatever party.
[As for Greenspan's preoccupation with inflation:] It's the law. Like it
or not. The law (notwithstanding the Humphrey-Hawkins provisions that require
the Fed chairman to stay after school to explain himself to the most poorly
qualified, politically motivated teachers of economics we could have) demands
that he whip inflation first, now and always.
The primary purpose of the Federal Reserve Act was and is to guard the value
of the currency. After we left the gold standard, a big goal of the the
early "progressives" and "populists," (Y'all seem to
have appropriated both of these culturally weighted monikers. I guess one's
already the title of a periodical and the latter's a museum piece in the
ground with Bryan) was the easier credit that leaving the fixed standard
Obviously, it appears to be in the interests of the have-nots to make money
easier to create and borrow. Since that, by definition, makes the money
less valuable, the haves made the Federal Reserve responsible not only for
banking the banks, but guarding the haves' henhouse, as well.
Now, we may bitch and moan that Greenjeans is doing too good a job, but
he is, in fact, doing the job the law assigns him.
I suggest Hightower and Ivins aim their broadsides at the people responsible
for defining Greenspan's job and responsibilities -- the Congress.
But woe be to he or she who dismisses inflation or its prospects too easily.
Those whose interests Ms. Ivins and Mr. Hightower so nobly defend are those
least able to cope with the destruction of savings by inflation, a prospect
Ivins and Hightower so airily dismiss.
I find it interesting that the people most prone to Fed-and/or-Greenspan-bashing
are boosterish, speculative growth-at-all-costs Republicans and lefty Democrats.
Do they have something more in common than either wants to admit?
Waterloo, NE 68069
Editor's Reply: The Humphrey-Hawkins act, passed in 1977, during
a time of high inflation, also set a target of 4 percent unemployment and
placed stable prices on par with full employment. It appears that Greenspan,
in his focus on keeping inflation low, has ignored the mandate to encourage
Nice Won't Cut It
Having reviewed Pat McGeever's letter published in the April Progressive
Populist attacking my piece, "In the Belly of the Pods", I
feel I must respond -- if nothing but for the sake of any future progressive
Pat is a nice, gentle man. Perhaps too gentle. I first met him at the October
19th march/rally at the FBI and statehouse buildings. Pat chose to walk
his dog during our march, if that tells the reader anything (I found it
insulting to the rest of us). Pat chose not to use the Alliance as an active
conduit for campaign finance reform -- the latter being the "spoke
in the wheel" of all other political injustice and unfairness. Matter
of fact, at the only real rally we few progressives had outside a Republican
fund-raiser, Pat was conspicuously absent. So much for activism on his part
-- or the Alliance.
My point: Indianapolis is what the pundits name it: Nap town. There is no
real, true progressive mobilization here. I arrived 1-1/2 years ago, thinking
that a state capitol held promise for citizen action. I implored the few
who attended Alliance meetings to start a massive letter writing campaign
and a series of weekly demonstrations at the statehouse. I implored them
to adopt the Maine Clean Elections ideal here and now in Indy. After all,
the legislature, as I write, is supposedly debating and formulating campaign
finance reform. As you probably realize, its all "smoke and mirrors."
The Democrats are, as a group, as guilty as the Republicans -- they don't
want real change. The one newspaper here (a Quayle family publication) won't
even address public-financed campaigns as an alternative.
As long as the decent, caring Pat McGeevers stand silent and do nothing
to raise their voices (which is the point I was making in my article), Indiana
shall remain beholden to the rich special interests -- by both parties (or
is it really one party?).
I spoke before the "blue ribbon" phony committee on reform --
I challenged them ... to address total public-financed campaigns. Where
were the Alliance members?
The challenge to all of you reading this in Anywhere USA is to raise
your voice. Write letters, form groups of just plain citizens and challenge
your elected officials. Challenge them with the Maine ideal. How about a
new non-partisan group, nationwide, called FED-UP (For Electoral Democracy-United
Public)? Lets all raise the roof and demand true reform. How about it, Pat?
How about it Naptown? How about it America?
Editor's Reply: The name might not be as catchy, but Public Campaign
recently was set up to promote publicly financed campaigns. For information
write Public Campaign, 1320 19th St. NW, Suite M1, Washington, D.C. 20036
Be Pure or Be Gone
Over the past several months, Senator Russ Feingold (D-Wisc.) has been promoting
himself to the American people as a strong supporter of campaign finance
reform. However, Senator Feingold's recent fundraising practices and legislative
efforts have left me with some serious doubts about his credibility on this
First, according to Federal Election Commission records (FEC), Senator Feingold
has accepted more than $541,000 in political action committee (PAC) money
between 1989 and 1996. Just in the last two years alone, Senator Feingold
has taken more than $96,000 of this special interest PAC money.
It is widely known that PAC's give money to politicians for only one purpose
-- to influence legislation. If Senator Feingold believes that he can take
their money and then vote against them, he is deceiving himself as well
as his constituents. The fact of the matter is that if an elected official
takes special interest PAC money he or she is obligated to do whatever that
special interest wants. There are no exceptions.
Second, the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform bill (of which Senator
Feingold is a co-sponsor) is nothing more than "political gimmickry"
because it includes virtually none of former California Governor Jerry Brown's
specific proposals for comprehensive campaign finance reform which he outlined
in his 1992 Platform in Progress. These proposals included the following:
1) Limiting individual campaign contributions to $100, 2) Banning of all
PACs, 3) Providing free television and mail to all qualified federal candidates,
4) Raising the voluntary taxpayer checkoff to $25 for the public financing
of campaigns, 5) Rolling back Congressional and White House salaries, 6)
Imposing 12-year term limitations, and 7) Installing a binding none-of-the-above
option on the ballot
If Senator Feingold is serious about cleaning up the current corrupt campaign
finance system, why hasn't he incorporated these specific provisions in
the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform bill?
As voting citizens, we must insist that our elected officials be held to
the highest moral and ethical standards when it comes to financing their
political campaigns. Elected officials who say that they support real campaign
finance reform must lead by example by not engaging in the type of practices
that they are supposedly trying to outlaw. Before Senator Feingold can meet
this much higher standard, he must first begin by not accepting any future
PAC donations and then follow up by amending the McCain-Feingold bill to
include Jerry Brown's proposals for comprehensive campaign finance reform.
JEFFREY M. GONYO,
P.O. Box 161
Richfield, WI 53076
Greens for Unity
Patrick Mazza does a good job of describing the development of the new Association
of State Green Parties in the May issue. He is less authoritative when delineating
the issues between the ASGP and The Greens/Green Party USA. I speak as a
long-term member of GPUSA who has become increasingly impatient with their
failure to adapt to and support the many emerging state Green Parties. I
am also one of the concerned Greens who have gathered endorsements to the
Unity Statement from 423 active Greens, 27 Green locals and county councils,
and 8 state Green Parties, all of which would rather not see a national
fight over the claim to be the "legally stuctured national Green Party
Mr. Mazza states that "many local circles of Greens ... look with disfavor
upon messing around with states and elections." I don't believe any
Green locals fit this description. A few individual Greens were quite vocal
in their opposition to the Nader candidacy, but they actually have very
little influence, even within GPUSA.
The emphasis on a debate over autonomy also misses the mark. GPUSA has absolutely
no control over its member locals and state parties (as one might expect
of a severely underfunded volunteer organization). The real challenge is
achieving bottom-up control over the national board which, though espoused
by both ASGP and GPUSA, is easier said than done. GPUSA definitely has problems
in this area while ASGP has yet to be tested.
The most concrete difference between the two national Green organizations
is that ASGP is essentially formed of and by state Green Parties while GPUSA
was formed by Green locals and now represents Green locals, regions of locals,
and (a few) state Green parties. Another key difference is that GPUSA only
claims to represent active Greens who have paid a $15 national membership
fee while ASGP hopes to represent all Greens in their constituent states.
One final clarification: Mazza remarks, "Many key state parties such
as California have never joined [GPUSA]." He failed to point out that
when the GPCA considered this question this spring, they also decided not
to join ASGP but overwhelmingly endorsed the Unity Statement. Similarly
New York, Texas, Minnesota and Florida have not joined ASGP and have endorsed
the Unity statement.
Ultimately, the Green Parties in these large states will hold the keys to
the future of the national Green Party. They seem willing to take their
time and do the job right. I am quite hopeful that by the end of 1998, the
Greens in the United States will pull together to form an effective, broadly-based,
and "legally-structured" national Green Party.
102 Catbrier Circle
Afton, VA 22920
See the Unity Forum at http://www.envirolink.org/greens/hn/uforum.html and
the Statement of Belief by the Greens for Unity at http://lonestar.texas.net/~ekliii/greens/unity.html.
Greens Believe in Politics
Your reporting on the Association of State Green Parties [ASGP] (May 1997),
leaves much to be desired. It omits, for example, the question of why North
Carolina Greens were specifically dis-invited from participating in last
November's founding of the ASGP. Could it be because we are, in writer Patrick
Mazza's words, "married to a purist eco-anarchism" and consider
electoral politics to be "trying to beat the master with the master's
Well, quite to the contrary, the Orange County (NC) Greens have won four
elections to local office, as much success as just about any recent progressive
third party effort. As well as running candidates, we conduct candidate
forums, raise election issues, and make endorsements. We couple this with
issue activism that has ranged from an innovative local campaign for candidate
spending limits to energy efficiency and solid waste reduction programs
to our current proposal for a county living wage ordinance. We are also
committed to public education and to building alternative institutions like
the grassroots newspaper, The Prism, now in its eighth year of publication.
This is the kind of politics that most Greens believe in and practice. Greens
understand that government is only one locus of power and that elections
alone are an insufficient means for bringing about a just and ecological
society. However, unreported by Mazza, a faction of Greens split off in
1992 who want a Green Party that focuses narrowly on electing candidates
to office. They saw last year's Nader campaign as an opportunity to woo
new Greens, attracted by the glitzy excitement of presidential politics,
into their camp. Thus, the ASGP was born.
Mazza's biased portrait of the long-standing national organization, the
Greens/Green Party USA, is in keeping with the record of other ASGP founders.
They have, for years, claimed, on the one hand, that there was no national
Green organization while, with the other, sustaining strident attacks against
it. Thus, it was not surprising when, last year, they organized the Draft
Nader Clearinghouse that was in many ways the direct forebear of ASGP and
encouraged Nader campaign volunteers to organize independently of existing
Green Party efforts.
Unfortunately, G/GPUSA also has its problems, most notably a decision-making
structure that has not kept up with the development of state party organizations.
As a response to being hampered by two competing and flawed national organizations,
a group of Greens is working diligently to create a unified national organization.
The participation of principled Greens of good will from both camps gives
us hope for success.
But progressive populists for whom the principles of Green Politics resonate
should not be put off by the disharmony at the national level. It should
be remembered that both camps are comprised primarily of local and state
party organizations that are hard at work building a new kind of party that
is committed to social justice, grassroots democracy, nonviolence, and ecology.
So far, Greens have achieved success around the country in places like Arcata,
Calif., Santa Fe, N.M., and Chapel Hill, N.C. This success has come regardless
of whether those Greens are affiliated with ASGP, G/GPUSA, or neither.
The Green Party is the only truly independent party among the recent formations.
Green Politics works and it makes sense. Those who seek a principled, progressive,
and independent politics will find their local Green Party organization
to be a welcome home and, by strengthening it, will contribute to building
the strong national presence that will carry us into the next century.
133 Windsor Circle
Chapel Hill, NC 27516
(author of Ecopolitics: Building A Green Society [Rutgers, 1994])
Dan Coleman is playing some games with words here. In fact, Coleman and
the North Carolina Greens were invited to the founding meeting of ASGP in
November. They were welcome to attend. But Coleman wanted an invitation
specifically extended to his chapter. That was not forthcoming because the
meeting was for state parties and state party organizers. On that basis,
he declined to attend.
Perhaps the reason for that has something to do with the negative and mythological
views he perpetuates regarding the Association of State Green Parties and
the Green Politics Network, the "faction" that "split off"
in 1992 to "focus narrowly on electing candidates to office."
As Coleman says, most Greens are committed to an approach that includes
both electoral and community-building activities, and this is no less true
of the Greens that make up ASGP and GPN than Greens in general.
Ironically, Coleman acknowledges the real reason for that new organizations
-- The old group, The Greens/Green Party U.S.A., has a "decision-making
structure that has not kept up with the development of state party organizations."
State parties aiming to run election campaigns have found that structure
a blockage, making TG/GPUSA incapable of providing the positive support
state parties need from a national-level organization.
Coleman refers to longstanding tensions between TG/GPUSA and many state-party-oriented
Greens. However, the issue has not been whether there is a national-level
organization, but whether there is one that is competent and capable of
supporting state parties.
These points are also very relevant to Robinson's critique, which likewise
acknowledges governance problems in TG/GPUSA and its failure to support
state parties. There are two ways to exert central control. One is outright
negation. The other is blocking the affirmative. The latter is the prime
problem with TG/GPUSA. GPN and then ASGP were formed to fill the gap. ASGP
aims to affirmatively support the growth of Green parties in every state,
and eventual creation of a legally structured national Green Party federation.
In response to another of Robinson's points, I probably should have used
a less confusing term than "local circles" to describe electoral-unfriendly
Greens. I was referring to more informal groupings rather rather than officially
recognized Green locals.
Coleman references Draft Nader Clearinghouse organizers urging formation
of state Draft Nader committees separate from existing Green Party organizations
last year. That has often been been represented as a hidden agenda to break
those organizations. Anything but -- it was done to maintain a firewall
between Ralph Nader, with his self-imposed spending limit of less than $5,000,
and groups that might make independent expenditures. Parties, using their
ballot line to nominate Nader, could not credibly make such expenditures.
Now that the campaign is over, the parties are once again the organizing
centers in each state.
Both Coleman and Robinson refer to the efforts of "Greens for Unity."
ASGP has endorsed continuing dialogue with the group, and of course everyone
wants to see a united, national Green Party. ASGP obviously does not represent
everyone, though it does include some of the more successful state parties
including Maine, New Mexico, Oregon and Hawaii. Our basic position is that
any national party must be composed of autonomous state parties, and that
any national organization must provide affirmative support for those parties.
We expect unity will grow organically from those basic principles, and will
continue to talk with all Greens on this basis.
As Coleman indicated, there is far more that unites Greens than divides
us. So while we disagree on specific points, I join with Dan and Peter in
hopeful expectation that Greens will find their way to create a united and
effective national Green Party sometime in the next few years. The condition
of the planet and our society demands it.
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