September 22, 2008
Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Parliamentary Assembly - U.S. Elections Seminar
Presentation by Brent McMillan
Good Morning Ladies and Gentleman. I would like to Thank Chairman Hastings for the opportunity to address this body.
2006 was the second strongest mid-term for independents and third-parties in the U.S. since 1934 and the Greens led the way. Our candidate for Governor in Illinois, Rich Whitney got 11 % of the vote with candidates for both major parties present in the race. Our candidate for Governor in Maine, Pat LaMarche got 10% of the vote with candidates from both major parties present in the race. So far this year we have won over 50% of our elections. Currently, Greens are most successful at getting elected at the local level, mayor, city council, school boards, etc. That is where we have a foothold.
1) What are the unique challenges faced by the Green Party?
The Green Party faces a deliberate Media White Out by the corporate owned media, especially our current presidential and vice presidential candidates, Cynthia McKinney and Rosa Clemente, the first all women of color ticket in U.S. History. We ran an action earlier this year in front of the Washington Post is order to call attention to this deliberate effort.
Unlike much of Europe we exist in a primitive form of Democracy know as Winner take all. This means that only the most powerful interests get represented. For example, you?ll notice, that for the most part, Congress does not look like the American people. It is largely, white, male and millionaires. We are working to change that through election reforms like Instant Runoff Voting or Ranked Choice Voting to create a more representative from of Democracy.
(From wikipedia) "Instant-runoff voting (IRV) is a voting system used for single-winner elections in which voters have one vote and rank candidates in order of preference. If no candidate receives a majority of first preference rankings, the candidate with the fewest number of votes is eliminated and that candidate's votes redistributed to the voters' next preferences among the remaining candidates. This process is repeated until one candidate has a majority of votes among candidates not eliminated."
The largest municipality to utilize Ranked Choice Voting in the U.S. today is San Francisco. In the Washington area, Takoma Park recently went to IRV.
We face a lack of Election Integrity. I compared notes with Nader campaigner, Theresa Amato following the New Hampshire and Ohio recounts of 2004 and we found that this can be classed into two categories; Old School Thugishness and High Tech Fraud. Examples of Old School Thugishness include the deliberate shorting of voting machines, like we saw in Ohio in 2004, or the purging of voter rolls, like we saw in Florida in 2000 and physical intimidation at polling locations.
Greens and Libertarians were very active in the Ohio recount following the 2004 election. We turned over a large amount of evidence to the U.S. Justice Department. Several people should have gone to jail. To my knowledge only two have served any jail time.
Another example of High Tech Fraud is VoteHere , a division of Dategrity which prints a unique bar code on every ballot and pre-links it to your name before you receive the ballot, just like Zimbabwe, opening the door to voter intimidation. Recognizing that this was a violation of the secret ballot, Greens in San Juan County in Washington State filed a lawsuit against this product. In the process they learned that Robert Gates, then former director of the CIA served on the technical advisory board for developing the product. There are several retired CIA operatives and officials in the San Juan Island chain in Washington State including Orca Island, where now current Secretary of Defense Robert Gates maintains one of his homes. San Juan County was the first jurisdiction to deploy this product.
We also face Ballot Access Laws which are different for each state. There are different classes, it?s much tougher for parties that aren't either Republican or Democrat. It uses up a large amount of our energy, meaning less energy to actually run for office. We currently have 32 ballot lines, up four ballot lines from 2004.
Following the 2004 election cycle the Common Wealth of Pennsylvania decided to hold candidates personally, financially accountable for the cost of a ballot access challenge if they fail to prevail. This has a bone chilling effect on independent and third party candidates from running for office. For example, the Green Party Candidate for Governor in 2006, Marakay Rodgers was financially intimidated from running for office.
Carl Romanelli, the Green Party Candidate for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania in 2006 decided to stay the course and weather the Democrats attempt at financial intimidation. He is now being asked to pay a large sum of money to the Democrats for having failed to overcome their challenge.
What happened in Pennsylvania is now considered by the International Community to be a human rights violation.
Earlier this year, Mother Jones Senior Washington Correspondent, James Ridgeway broke a story about how Green groups have been targeted for black ops by former Secret Service Agents and Cops. Former Secret Service Agents had founded the security firm Becket Brown International. Since then two moles have been outed. One worked for the Maryland State Police Department and was working to infiltrate anti-death penalty groups and anti-war groups in the Takoma Park and Silver Springs area.
The other was working on behalf of the National Rifle Association and had infiltrated Gun Control groups in the Philadelphia area. I have been keeping in contact with investigators. They assure me that there are a lot more moles to be outed. One of the major funders for this type of work is Exxon, working to influence US Energy Policy.
2) What are the Green Party positions on Major Issues?
In exit polling from the 2006 election the three most important issues for the American people are:
1. Get out of Iraq, bring our troops home.
2. Response to Global Warming
3. Access to Healthcare.
This looks like the Green Party Platform.
Our positions on major issues include stopping Wars of Imperialism - Stopping the War in Iraq and bringing our troops home - Working to stop the invasion of Iran.
We are working to address the issues of Global Warming and Peak Oil by working within our communities to plan for climate and economic uncertainty. A great example is the publication, 'Post Carbon Cites', A Guidebook on Peak Oil and Global Warming for Local Governments, published by the Post Carbon Institute. A couple of the contributors to this publication are Green Officeholders, Larry Robinson and Sam Pierce from Sebastopol, California.
The US has become addicted to energy consumption. Greens understand that the long emergency, as we work to stop wars of imperialism, global warming and climate change we face will require serious curtailment of energy consumption by U.S. citizens. Just switching from one form of energy production to another is not going to solve this crisis. Nor is greater efficiency going to solve this crisis (Jevons' Paradox: consumption increases as efficiency improves). Drilling in the ANWAR, drilling offshore, building Nuclear Power Plants is not going to solve this crisis.
Greens support Universal Health Care. It's a shame that such a wealthy country refuses to take care of its own citizens.
Restore Civil Liberties:
Repeal the Patriot Act (which has been used more for the suppression of political dissent than it has for stopping terrorism.) Many or our journalist are coming to realize this first hand and they are angry.
Re-establish Habeas Corpus as the fundamental foundation of Law.
We are working to address our Crumbling Infrastructure, our lack of investment in our roads, bridges, levies and sewers, etc.
We are also working on a saner Immigration policy. The U.S. is a nation largely of Immigrants. Each new generation faces its challenges.
Once again, thank you for this opportunity.
(Afterward there was a Q and A session in which I got to say a lot of things that I wanted to say but didn't have time for in the presentation. Perhaps I can get a transcription later.)