Hug a tree, but don’t upset the Democrats

Crisis in the San Francisco Green Party

The DemoGreens, David Cobb supporters aided by Medea Benjamin, have taken over the apparatus of the SF Green party, just like they have at the national Green Party level. The resulting ruptures have been nasty and destructive to the party, something that may be the unspoken objective of at least some of the DemoGreens.

The Green Party national convention:

The SF delegation and Medea Benjamin—who was not elected by the chapter but received a delegate’s credential—joined this national group of apparatchiks. They cast their votes for Cobb in open defiance of the 75% of Green voters in California who chose Camejo, who ran in the primaries (and received 33,000 votes) standing as a proxy for Nader. With the exception of Global Exchange’s Medea Benjamin who had made it very clear for months that she was hostile to Nader’s campaign, raising the issue of “Anybody but Bush” early and repeatedly, most other SF delegates hid their allegiance to Cobb or covered it with Green rhetoric.

“Global Exchange is a corporation disguised as a non-profit”—explained Frontlines editor Carlos Petroni—”Medea is now in the midst of big businesses, like her projected $100 million ‘Green’ Mall in Downtown San Francisco, her ‘Pink’ apparel line of shoes and her imports of Third World crafts for sale at high prices in the US.

She probably figured out that in order to succeed economically, her operations need lots of legislative support from Democrats and I think that’s what she meant when at the Green Party California Convention—when asked why she would support Kerry when the Democrats never listen to Greens—she answered that a number of them in Congress do and that ‘we’—meaning her—needed them”

The DemoGreen objective is to drive out the radicals and make the Green Party a tame, slightly progressive, business-friendly adjunct to the Democratic Party. Yes, you can mouth your slogans about how things must change – but substantive criticism of the system, well golly, that might upset “business interests.” Hugging trees is fine. Questioning why the economic system encourages polluters to pay fines as a cost of doing business rather than forcing them to clean up is not ok. “Anyone but Bush” is a permissible slogan. “End the imperialist war” is not. Will this “Protest Lite” approach so favored by the sincere (but misguided) DemoGreens and Medea change much of anything? I doubt it.

Other local activists contend that the local Democrats—confronted with the almost-win of the Mayoral race last year by Green Gonzalez—are doing their best to buy off the more bureaucratic elements of the local Green Party. The Democratic mouthpiece Bay Guardian and local Democratic Party powerhouse Carole Migden and a number of other members of the Democratic County Central Committee spent thousands of dollars in the last Green primary promoting Cobb and a slate of Demogreens for the County Council.
The Bay Guardian, for the first time in history made endorsements in the Green race, supporting pro-Democrat David Cobb and attacking Peter Camejo.

Peter Camejo is a local hero in San Francisco, so the Guardian’s endorsement of the bland pro-Democrat Cobb becomes even more illustrative. Defuse and neutralize the Green Party, drive out the radicals, then replace them with pro-business, compliant DemoGreens who won’t propose radical change or ask embarrassing questions.

One wonders, do the ousted Green Party forces have the will and organizational ability to take back the party?