Both the Wall Street Journal and the San Francisco Bay Guardian have pieces today concerning the declining stature of San Francisco’s Green Party since early last decade. They are very interesting – even if they are somewhat discouraging – and well worth a read.
From the Wall Street Journal:
Even in famously liberal San Francisco, the Green Party is hurting.
The city’s Greens had their heyday seven years ago when the party—which trumpets its commitment to environmentalism and nonviolence—boasted 15,000 registered voters and a serious mayoral candidate in Matt Gonzalez, then the Board of Supervisors president.
Now the party is at an intersection. Membership has dropped to 9,000. Mr. Gonzalez, who eventually lost a mayoral runoff to Gavin Newsom, left the party in 2008 to run for vice president on Ralph Nader’s independent ticket. And donations to the local party dropped so much that in October, it closed down its headquarters in the city’s South of Market neighborhood—and auctioned off the art in the office.
“It’s been an uphill battle,” says Green Party spokeswoman Erika McDonald. “It’s never been easy building an alternative.”
And the more lengthy and history-based article from the Bay Guardian:
But many loyal Greens dispute the assertion that their party is on the rocks. “I think the party is going pretty well. It’s always an uphill battle building an alternative party,” said Erika McDonald, spokesperson for the Green Party of San Francisco, noting that the party plans to put the money it saved on its former Howard Street headquarters space into more organizing and outreach. “The biggest problem is money.”
Green Party activist Eric Brooks agrees. “We held onto that office for year and year and didn’t spend the money on party building, like we should have done a long time ago,” he said. “That’s the plan now, to do some crucial party organizing.”
Mirkarimi recalls the early party-building days when he and other “Ironing Board Cowboys” would canvas the city on Muni with voter registration forms and ironing boards to recruit new members, activities that fell away as the party achieved electoral successes and got involved with policy work.
“It distracted us from the basics,” Mirkarimi said. Now the Green Party has to again show that it’s capable of that kind of field work in support of a broad array of campaigns and candidates: “If I want to grow, there has to be a companion strategy that will lift all boats.”