Greens Begin Midterm Convention in Philadelphia.
THE GREEN PARTY OF THE UNITED
PHILADELPHIA, PA. -- The Green Party of the United States kicked off its 2002 Midterm Convention in Philadelphia with the seating of five new states in the party's Coordinating Committee and a dramatic challenge from Green candidates against the erosion of U.S. democracy by corporate control of the Democratic and Republican Parties.
"We have 78 delegates from 39 states, including 6 states that were approved this morning," said Jo Chamberlain, a California Green and member of the party's national steering committee. "That includes the District of Columbia, which is seeking statehood."
The five new states are North Carolina, Washington, Alaska, Vermont, and Nebraska. The party's Lavender Green Caucus, representing gay, lesbian, bi, and transgender Greens, was also seated on Thursday morning.
"This is not a show convention, like the national conventions of the Republican and Democratic Parties every four years," said Michael Morrill, Green candidate for governor of Pennsylvania. "Every word, every moment of the major party conventions is scripted. The Green Party is here in Philadelphia to debate openly and freely, and to organize ourselves as a national political force. We in Pennsylvania welcome the Green Party to the cradle of American liberty."
"We have 155 elected officials now, double the number from two years ago," added Chamberlain. "And we have triple the number of candidates over two years ago."
At a press conference Thursday morning, Green candidates and activists spoke of measures necessary to retrieve democracy from what Texan Green David Cobb called "hijacking" by powerful corporate interests.
"The first thing I'd do, if elected, is seize the assets of Enron and bring Ken Lay and his cohorts before a grand jury," said Cobb, the Green candidate for Attorney General of Texas. "I'd begin an immediate investigation of Dick Cheney and Halliburton."
Elizabeth Shanklin, candidate for Congress in New York's 17th Congressional District, spoke of the need to restore the social safety net, especially for women, children, and other vulnerable Americans, after years of assault from both Democrats and Republicans. "Corporations, seeking quick profits, have betrayed the future. The Green Party is the party of the future."
"We need clean money for campaigns, voluntary funding as practiced in Maine, Arizona, Vermont, and Massachusetts," said Ted Glick, New Jersey candidate for the U.S. Senate. "This would allow candidates to run effective campaigns without corporate money.... Corporate boards must include democratically elected representatives of their workforces, as well as consumer representatives. And we must repeal the Taft-Hartley Act, which limits the right of workers to organize."
Glick noted that, after voting to limit debate on legislation against corporate abuses last week, 16 Democratic senators flew on corporate jets to Nantucket, Mass. for a weekend retreat with 250 major corporate campaign donors. The flights were donated by BellSouth Corp., Eli Lilly and Co., FedEx and AFLAC. Among the Democratic senators were Majority Leader Thomas Daschle (S.D.), Joseph R. Biden Jr. (Del.), Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.), Edward M. Kennedy (Mass.), John F. Kerry (Mass.), Charles E. Schumer (N.Y.) and Jon S. Corzine (N.J.).
"Under corporate globalization, passed by the two parties, corporations have been moving down to Mexico to escape environmental and labor protections," said George Martin, co-chair of the Green Party of Wisconsin. "In my lifetime, we've gone back and forth between Democrat and Republican, but nothing really gets better. We've suffered globalization, lack of national health care, privatization schemes...."
Kevin McKeown discussed the recent passage of a living wage law ($10.50 an hour, with medical benefits) under Green leadership in Santa Monica, Calif., where he serves as Mayor Pro Tem and is up for re-election in November. "The minimum wage is no longer a floor, but a sub-basement. Working people deserve a real living wage, and the Green Party will help them get it."
The convention will continue through Sunday; the next press conference takes place Friday at 11 a.m., at which Green gubernatorial candidates will be introduced.