I’m quoted in Robert Morris’ front-page story for the Gambit, “Seeking a third: Louisiana’s Libertarian and Green parties.” Give it a look, and if you’re interested in helping to build an electoral expression of the movements for justice, ecology, democracy and peace, then please join us for the next Green Party of New Orleans meeting.
Herewith, a couple excerpts, but you should really read the whole thing.
The Green Party, in contrast to the Libertarians, is less focused on finding applications of a singular political philosophy and more interested in promoting a wide swath of progressive goals regarding long-term sustainability and social justice. Long associated with environmental protection, Greens also favor protections against economic injustice or mass incarceration while supporting initiatives that foster diversity in all its forms.
On many specific progressive issues, there already are activist groups in New Orleans that expertly articulate problems and solutions, said Bart Everson, who is organizing the Green Party in New Orleans. “There’s a ton of groups out there working on those things,” Everson says. “We don’t want to reduplicate their efforts; they’re already doing it better than we can. But the missing piece is the electoral piece, and that’s what we aim to provide.”
Thus, much of the Greens’ local work to date involves networking with other established progressive groups in New Orleans. The Greens have participated in protests against new oil drilling leases in the Gulf of Mexico, and they see the work of the Orleans Parish Prison Reform Coalition as a logical ally, even discussing the possibility of running candidates for Orleans Parish sheriff, specifically to protest the record of Sheriff Marlin Gusman. “At the national level, people are saying the most important thing that the Green Party can do is run Black Lives Matter candidates in local elections,” Everson says.
The Green Party in New Orleans flourished prior to Hurricane Katrina, Everson says, with a membership so large that it required two meetings per month — one general meeting to discuss the issues and priorities, and a coordinating committee to plan specific actions. The diaspora after the storm scattered many members across the country, though former Black Panther activist Malik Rahim drew some national support for his Green Party bid for Congress against Democratic incumbent Bill Jefferson and Republican Anh “Joseph” Cao in 2008.
Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein attended the Louisiana state convention at Xavier University in 2014. She returned the following year for the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and hosted a discussion during the Rising Tide conference on organizing a progressive movement. During that discussion, Everson says, a member of the audience asked whether the Greens had a local chapter in New Orleans — they didn’t. He began organizing monthly meetings.
New Orleans will host the state Green Party convention July 30 at Xavier University. The delegates selected there have a similar option to vote as they see fit at the national Green Party convention in Houston, though Stein, a physician, remains a prominent voice in the party.
“It’s the thing that gets people charged up. Every four years, we have (the) opportunity to catch some of that energy,” Everson says. “Once Hillary [Clinton] gets the [Democratic] nomination, and Bernie [Sanders] encourages his supporters to vote for her, where does all that momentum go? Jill Stein will welcome those voters with open arms. She says she’s a better socialist than Bernie and a better woman than Hillary.”
In the meantime — despite their profound differences on many policies — the Greens and Libertarians are communicating with one another about how to raise awareness of additional options for voters. In late April, a small contingent of New Orleans Libertarians attended the monthly meeting of the Greens, and they discussed issues of voter registration drives, keeping membership rolls, and training members to speak on bills pending in the state legislature.
“We’ve established that there’s a huge amount of common ground,” Everson says.
“Libertarians have always been strong on the idea that we need competition of ideas,” [Mike] Dodd says. “These ideas don’t need to be silenced by the major two parties as effectively they have been for so long, so we intend to be working with the Green Party and any other third parties that we happen to come across on ways to help each other get a platform.”