An overview of the Green Party of the United States
The GPUS was formed in 2001 out of the Association of State Green Parties (1996-2001). Our initial goal was to help existing state parties grow and to promote the formation of parties in all 51 states and colonies. Helping state parties is still our primary goal.
The Green Party of the United States (GPUS) is a federation of state Green Parties. Committed to environmental wisdom, peace, social justice and grassroots organizing, Greens are renewing democracy without the support of corporate donors. Greens provide real solutions for real problems. Whether the issue is universal health care, corporate globalization, alternative energy, election reform or living wages for workers, Greens have the courage and independence necessary to take on the powerful corporate interests.
The Federal Elections Commission recognizes the Green Party of the United States as the official Green Party National Committee. We are members of the Federation of Green Parties of the Americas and the Global Greens.
History of the Green Party Globally
The Green Party is a grassroots global movement in over 90 countries on six continents, sharing values of ecology, justice, democracy and non-violence.
The first Green Parties were formed in Tasmania and New Zealand in 1972. Since then new Green parties have sprung up around the world, inspired and led by people who’ve concluded that the traditional parties in their own country are not responsive to Green ideas, and a new party needs to exist that is.
The first Green elected anywhere was Helen Smith to the Porirua City Council in New Zealand in 1973. Thinking globally and acting locally, thousands of Greens have been elected to local government around the globe since then, including over 300 in the US.
On the national level, the first Green elected was Daniel Brelaz in Switzerland in 1979, followed by two more in Belgium in 1982. Then came the historic breakthrough 1983 – with West Germany nervous about the escalation of the Cold War and with the presence of U.S. nuclear warheads pointed at the Soviet Union on its soil, the Green Party “Die Grünen” won 5.6% of the vote and 28 seats in the West German Bundestag (parliament). Four years later, on the heels of the Chernobyl disaster in 1986, the Greens’ consistent position against nuclear power helped them grow to 8.3% and 49 seats.
The international Green success in the 1980s in West Germany and elsewhere helped inspire Greens in the United States to begin forming local chapters. The founding meeting of U.S. Greens was held at Macalaster College in St. Paul, Minnesota in August 1984. In the face of the US two-party duopoly, attendees drew strength that voters in other countries were electing Greens. Perhaps combining Green values, social movements and electoral politics could also work here.
Today almost 300 Greens hold seats in national legislatures - 235 in 16 European nations and another 50 in Australia (5), Brazil (14), México (22), Mongolia (1) and New Zealand (9). There are also 46 Greens elected to the European Parliament.
Why are US Greens not holding similar offices in similar proportions? The difference is not of ideology but of the electoral system. Greens are being elected on the state and national level in countries that utilize systems of proportional representation. In contrast to US-style winner-take-all, single seat districts, there are multi-seat districts in these countries where representation is determined according to the proportion of the vote cast for each party.
If systems of proportional representation existed in the US, Greens would assume their rightful place at the political table as they do elsewhere in the world. Thus far there has been progress on proportional representation on the municipal and county level. US Greens hope to parlay that to change up above.
Structure of the Green Party of the United States
The GPUS decision making body is the National Committee (NC), composed of delegates from each accredited state party and identity caucus. There are currently 35 accredited state parties and 3 accredited caucuses. Representatives to the NC and to other national committees, such as the Media Committee, are chosen by each state party and caucus.
The Green National Committee devotes its attention to establishing a national Green presence in politics and policy debate, while continuing to facilitate party growth and action at the state and local level.
The Steering Committee oversees the primary day-to-day business and operations of the GPUS. The Steering Committee is composed of seven Co-chairs, a Secretary, and a Treasurer. To be eligible to be elected Co-chair, one must be a current member of the National Committee at the time of nomination and election. To be eligible to be elected Secretary or Treasurer, one must be a member of a member state party or accredited caucus, but does not have to be a member of the National Committee. The term of office for Co-chair is two years, with a limit of two consecutive terms. Four Co-chairs are elected in odd-numbered years and three in even-numbered years. The term of office for Secretary and Treasurer is two years, with no term limits.
Presidential Nominating Convention
The presidential nominating convention of the Green Party is the delegated decision-making body responsible for nominating the national Green Party's presidential and vice presidential candidates and approving the Green Party's national platform in those years in which it convenes (presidential election years).
The National Committee of the Green Party of the United States establishes standing committees and may create other ad-hoc committees according to need.
Green Party Caucuses are accredited by the Green National Committee. Full accreditation grants each caucus one delegate to the Green National Committee.
For an Identity Caucus to be recognized by the Green National Committee it must represent an historically disenfranchised or underrepresented and significant sector of the population.
There are currently three accredited caucuses in the GPUS.
The GPUS maintains an office in Washington, DC. Current staff includes an Executive Director, Office Manager, Media Director and Web Manager.
7059 Blair Road NW
Washington, DC 20012
Why support a National Office?
GPUS committees, together with GPUS staff at the National Office, provide critical services and support for state parties and Green locals around the country. Without the GPUS and the national office, there would be little national visibility for the party, and it would be far more difficult for interested parties such as the press or potential volunteers or allies to find the right Greens they are seeking on the local level. Here are just some of the things the national staff does on a regular basis:
- Answer dozens of calls a day from all over the country. Most are requests for literature, basic information, and local contacts. Others are requests for Green political contacts around the country. Our address and phone number regularly appear in books, magazine articles, newspapers, and dozens of resource lists across the country.
- Open up to a hundred pieces of mail a day. Many of these are also requests for info, merchandise, and local contacts. Others are requests for endorsements, offers of resources, and so forth, as well as the usual bills and bureaucracy any office has to deal with.
- Keeping our support list and records up to date. The GPUS has got thousands of supporters and hundreds of locals, and staff is always working to make sure that their addresses and phone numbers are current.
- Developing, stocking, and distributing Green merchandise and literature.
- Placing advertisements in national publications to raise awareness of the party.
- Supporting the activities of the National Committee and our national Standing Committees and Working Groups: providing mailing lists, phone contact, and general day-to-day coordination.
- Compiling and distributing GreenLine, a monthly e-newsletter.
- Sending out press releases and materials to journalists.
- Maintaining the Elections database. We track our candidates and their election results, and link websites and news articles to our candidates.
- Maintaining the Officeholders database.
With your help, state and local Green support of the national organization makes it possible for all of these services and more.