Greens/Green Party USA

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In the United States, people speak generally of the "Green Party," but there is actually more than one national-level Green political organization in the United States - there is both the larger Green Party of the United States and the smaller Greens/Green Party USA

Founding of the Greens/Green Party USA[edit]

The Greens/Green Party USA (also known as the Greens/GPUSA or G/GPUSA) was founded at the August 1991 Green Gathering in Elkins, WV, restructuring the Green Committees of Correspondence with the idea that the Green movement and Green Party would operate as part of a single organization.

A press conference was held in Washington, DC to announce the new organization, featuring Charles Betz (G/GPUSA Coordinating Committee member), Howie Hawkins and Joni Whitmore (Chair, Green Party of Alaska), as well as Hilda Mason of the D.C. Statehood Party, and was featured on C-SPAN. Subsequently, legal documents were filed under Missouri law to form the Greens/Green Party USA as a 527 group.

Subsequent G/GPUSA Green Gatherings were held in Minneapolis, MN (Augsburg College, July 1992); Syracuse, NY (August 1993); Boise, ID (July 1994), Albuquerque, NM (University of New Mexico, July 27–30, 1995), Los Angeles (UCLA, August 1996); and Lawrence, MA (August 1997).

At various times, a "Green Clearinghouse" has been the central administrative office of G/GPUS. The Clearinghouse has operated from various locations, including (originally) Kansas City, Missouri; Blodgett Mills, New York; Lawrence, Massachusetts; and Chicago, Illinois.

Despite its development of a national-level organization, the G/GPUSA has always emphasized that the "Green Local" is the primary organizing unit. Some members of G/GPUSA resisted efforts to organize Green parties at the state level, on the theory that state bureaucracy was inimical to the organic and democratic nature of autonomous Green locals. The model in the early days was based on the bioregion and not state boundaries. Other Greens pointed out that, in most jurisdictions in the United States, political parties gain recognition at the state level, so without state-level organizations it would be difficult for Greens to participate in election activities.

In 2001, the Green Party of the United States was founded and recognized by the Federal Election Commission as a national committee, and has become a much larger and more visible national-level and state-based party organization than the smaller G/GPUSA.

The Green Party of the United States grew out of the Association of State Green Parties. The idea of a national organization of state-based parties was carried by a small group of organizers who also recruited Ralph Nader for the 1996 presidential campaign, beginning in 1995. The ASGP led to a national party now called Green Party of the United States (GPUS), a name the party adopted in 2001. Early organizational meetings of the ASGP created the Heartland Declaration. The first ASGP meeting was held in Boston, Massachusetts, in either 1991 or 1992. Other meetings were held in Middleburg, Virginia (shortly after the 1996 election); other early ASGP meetings were held in Portland, Oregon (1997), and in Topsham, Maine (1997).

Legal Status[edit]

In 2005, G/GPUSA lost its political party status (this had been established on the basis of one candidacy in New York State and an inaccurate FEC filing) with the Federal Election Commission. It had reported no income or expenditures for some time. Because an FEC committee exists to regulate expenditures on political activity, there was no need for the committee any more. The G/GPUSA now exists as a political organization, not a political party.

Contrast between G/GPUSA and GP-US[edit]

The Green Party of the United States and Greens/Green Party USA have no organizational connection but share a common and difficult history. The G/GPUSA is not an electoral party, although some of its members participate in elections. The name "G/GPUSA" is said to have reflected a compromise or a synergy between Greens who emphasized the primacy of combining nonelectoral movement building with electoral campaigns, and those who sought to participate actively only in elections. It has also been characterized as a power grab when the original Committees of Correspondence split and a small group registered the name without consultation with the five existing state parties, all in the western states.

The Greens/Green Party USA is an educational, grassroots organizing, advocacy group based on the 10 Key Values. The journal Synthesis/Regeneration published in St. Louis, Missouri, is associated with the G/GPUSA. This journal publishes articles by writers with a wide range of Green viewpoints. Synthesis/Regeneration was first published in 1991 and is produced every four months.

The source of the rift between the two national Green parties is a matter of contentious debate. Some point to differences of political philosophy or views on the proper structure of the party or attitudes toward elections, while others suggest it was more about personality conflicts, turf struggles, and poor communication leading to concerns about financial and political accountability, or perhaps the 1991 name grab or the inaccurate G/GPUSA FEC filing in 1995. It is important to note that the heated debates and the fighting that was waged for several years at the national level (and among Greens within a few states, such as New York, Missouri, California and New Jersey) seemed largely irrelevant to the vast majority of grassroots Greens, who preferred to devote their energies to local organizing.

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