Friday, March 30, 2007

If you're a Green, you need to read this!

Take a peek behind the "Read more!" link and you will find comments by Brent McMillan, the national party's political director. The theme of his comments was Overview of Green Party national planning for 2008. Overview of Green Party national planning for 2008
Saturday, February 24th
GPCA Strategic Planning Retreat
Delivered by Brent McMillan

What's the political climate in which we'll be operating in 2008?

We will once again be under a lot of pressure to not run a presidential candidate. It will come from several directions and for different reasons. Those that want to run a candidate will be accused of being spoilers by progressive democrats and fetishist by those that want to run an independent.

Nader will probably run as an independent. I doubt that he'll be seeking our nomination. Although I will work to keep the door open to him, something that I have always quietly done since I began as the political director.

We also have some high profile folks who have expressed interest in seeking the Green Party's nomination in 2008. We may indeed be facing a similar situation in 2008 that we faced in 2004.

In many ways 2004 was our first really competitive convention.

As we would probably all agree 2004 was problematic. Before we even got to the convention approximately 70% of the national party's donor base either went ABB, Anybody But Bush, or didn't want us to run a candidate at all for other reasons. We then proceeded to fight over the scraps.

In my opinion we didn't do our work going into the convention and we left the convention with unfinished business.

I think that we are going to get another chance at reaching the American public in 2008. There is an immense political vacuum out there that we are operating in. I see a level of opportunity that we haven't had since 2000. For those of you that were involved in 2000 it's hard to forget the excitement that the super rallies created. We went from being a little fringe party to where we were now on the national political map.

(I was the State Facilitator for the Green Party of Washington State in 2000, in essence the chair, and I remember that after the Seattle Super rally the Seattle Times ran an editorial declaring the Green Party the second party in Seattle and that the Republicans were now the third party.)

So what are we going to do differently in 2008 so that we have the best chance of leaving our convention as a unified party ready to get behind our candidate? And if we are successful at that, how do we address those that share our values but not our necessarily our courage of conviction?

I'd like to talk about what some of those changes are that are in the works and also what yet might be.

1) Combined Calls:
Currently, GPUS Steering Committee member, Jim Coplen (IN) is convening joint calls between representatives of the Ballot Access Committee (BAC), the Coordinated Campaign Committee (CCC), the Presidential Campaign Support Committee (PCSC), Bylaws, Rules, Policies and Procedures Committee (BRPP) and the Annual National Meeting Committee (ANMC). We meet approximately once every two weeks.

One of the outcomes is that we are working to create a convention committee separate from the Annual National Meeting Committee that just oversees the Platform Approval and the Presidential Nomination Process. Expect a proposal to come forward to the national committee from the Annual National Meeting Committee.

2) Another outcome is that we are working to make more time for the Platform approval and Presidential Nomination. We would like to make more time for the process of approving the platform and for the presidential nominating process in 2008 than what we did in 2004. Therefore we will be scaling back competing programs. For example the
CCC had an ambitious campaign school going during the convention with several tracks. This will be scaled back in 2008.

3) Money:
A. Fundraise at the convention:
Little known to anyone is that in 2004 we did not allow our presidential nominee to fundraise at the convention. The national party was in dire financial straits at the time, so what else is new, and it was seen as competition. This was not made public. We asked our potential candidates to compete for the nomination, in essence to spend every last dollar they had to get the nomination and then sent this person away broke.

Who ever our nominee is in 2008 they should be allowed to fundraise at the convention regardless of the financial state of the national party.

B) Reseed the campaign:
Also, I think that they should walk away with a chunk of cash to reseed their campaign. What if 100 people donated $100 to a fund so that whoever walked away from the convention, walked away with $10,000 to reseed their campaign? I know that this is not a lot of money in the overall scheme of things, but it would be progress over what we have done in the past. I think that this money should not go through the
national committee but should be raised independently. We are competing with so many other programs for the general fund that this wouldn't stand a chance unless it was an independent effort.

We could use some help with this. This needs to be an effort outside of the National Committee. There are too many competing interests and saboteurs on the National Committee for this to be successful.

C) We need to work to get the National Committee more involved with fundraising. Recently I began circulating a draft of Plan for mobilizing the National Committee for fundraising. It is part of a plan currently being developed by the Fundraising Committee. Staff have begun working on a Wiki site for the development of the Fundraising Plan. Any delegate that has access to the GPUS Wiki can view the development of this. We do though ask that unless you are member of the Fundraising Committee that you not make any changes or comments at the Wiki site but instead send
these to a Fundraising Committee member. The Fundraising Plan also includes a Case Statement on the front end that basically asks and answers six questions. It includes questions like: What are we fundraising for? What resources do we have to accomplish this? What resources do we need to accomplish this? What markets are we targeting?

4) Impeccability in the rules process:
In my opinion representatives of the candidates had too much influence in the rules process.

We have to have a process that people trust. Not just in fact but also in perception.

The problem we have is that there are not enough active greens on the national level to have people work on the rules that aren't working on some campaign. Do we keep the two separate or do we work to keep a balance of representation of various interests.

Look at the former Delegate Apportionment Committee (DAC) as an example of the latter model.

This can be described as the Civil Service Model vs the Political/Trans-Partisan Model. Trans-Partisan is a word that I would like to see in the Green Party lexicon. It's not non-partisan, which denies political identity, it's not bi-partisan, which limits the debate to two sides, it's trans-partisan which recognizes that it's more
complicated than that. Yes, we have a political identity, but we are also willing to transcend our ideology in order to find a successful solution.

I think that people often mean well but don't understand that things are different when you work at the national level. We often come from groups at the local level where we are among friends. It may seem harsh to you, what I am about to say, but when you are working at the national level you are not among friends. This is a hard thing for people to accept.

At first, when they work at that level they are shocked at the level of animosity and distrust. They can't believe that that is the way it is. But it is. This party, at the national level, is still very young. There is little in the way of traditions to guide us in how to be civil towards each other. Email, for example, is an impersonal medium.

Perhaps, in time, we will build the traditions, in addition to the ten key values that will help guide us. In time our ability, as a party, to engage in civil discourse amongst ourselves does seem to be improving.

5) We need to have better informed Delegates. Many states did not have a plan in place for what to do after the first round of voting in Milwaukee. I have suggested a judge and jury model as a solution. The judge informs the jury of what the legal questions to be answered are but doesn't dictate to them how they are going to do it. State Committees need to have a plan in place before they come to the convention.

States will have a template to work from. There are drafts being worked on now for how to address this. We need help, though. We need people willing to work on this. We also need to have in written form an answer to the question, "how does the nomination process work?"

6) How do we do a better job of communicating with potential candidates?

What's the initial point of contact with a potential candidate? Who is the initial point of contact with a potential candidate? This is a problem at both the national and state level that needs to be addressed. The PCSC recently sent out a survey to all of the state committees in regards to this. A little over 50% have responded so far.

Who does the potential candidate talk to about the ballot access process for your state? Who can they contact to help them with fundraisers or hosting an event? Each state party needs to have clearly defined initial points of contact.

7) In 2006 we created the Green Senatorial Campaign Committee (GSCC). It became the first Congressional Committee to be recognized by the FEC since it was formed in 1975. We held off forming the Green House Campaign Committee so that we could incorporate the lessons learned from the GSCC in its formation and ultimately FEC approval. Former GPUS Political Director, Dean Myerson and I were present at the FEC hearing for the approval of the GSCC. It passed easily with a 6-0 vote.

8) Have the 2008 convention as early as possible, and settle on the convention site sooner rather than later. The earlier we know this the more likely we will have a well organized and well attended event.

9) Challenge 2008. In 2004, soon after I arrived at the national office in February, I began seeing in our press releases and other locations references to our running 1,000 candidates in 2004. I began asking around for where was the plan to do that. Nobody could answer the question, so I went to working on killing any reference to this. So what if we ran 1,000 candidates in 2008, what would that look like? I did
an exercise in an excel spread sheet where I looked at the last four years and each state parties record for the actual number of candidates run. I then developed a formula for this. I didn't let any state off the hook, so if they hadn't run a candidate before the goal became that they would run a candidate.

California runs about 16% of our candidates. The math is simple. Therefore if we were to do this the expectation for California would be 160 candidates in 2008. If anyone would like a copy of the schedule please email me and I will send it to you.

We have some tough questions before us that we need to have answers to in order to be effective in 2008. Our next annual national meeting is in Reading, Pennsylvania in July. I hope that many of you will be able to make it there to meet with your colleagues from around the country.
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