Members of the Green Party of the United States (GPUS) met this past month remotely for their 2022 Annual National Meeting where they engaged in volunteer training and party-building activities.
The three-day event held over Zoom gave party activists and supporters the chance to hear from prominent Green figures, network with candidates, and learn new ways to introduce Green politics into their local communities. Publisher and editor of Ballot Access News and ballot access expert Richard Winger served as the keynote speaker.
Unlike the Presidential Nominating Convention (PNC) where state Green parties send delegates who vote on the presidential nominee and influence internal business, the Annual National Meeting (ANM) serves as a networking and training opportunity. An estimated 300 party activists attended over the weekend, a steady increase from previous years.
Panelists ruled the weekend where they provided an in-depth look at a variety of prominent social topics, including elder issues, queer geographies, disability politics, and learning how social justice movements can get derailed and coopted. Panels were led by or featured known Green advocates such as Jill Stein, Howie Hawkins, and Cheri Honkala, but also elevated the voices of many other party activists who used their own lived experiences to better inform discussions.
A Candidate Cafe event closed out the first night, giving Green candidates from across the country an opportunity to run ads and introduce themselves to prospective volunteers. Green activists like Blaizen Buckshot Bloom, a recent graduate running for Chesapeake School Board in Virginia, discussed what motivates them to run and the details of their unique districts. For candidates like Bloom, significant issues ranged from greater access to mental health resources to resolution-based disciplinary reform in schools.
Friday night’s Candidate Cafe event additionally served to spotlight the different philosophical approaches to governance that Green candidates held. Some candidates struck a more pragmatic note and acknowledged that they would need to caucus with the Democratic Party if elected whereas others had stronger words. “People are feeling abandoned by the Duopoly” sproclaimed Heather Garrold, a member of the Maine Green Independent Party running to represent District 38 in the Maine legislature.
Others in attendance still just as easily disclosed their joint membership with separate electoral organizations such as the Socialist Party USA.
Richard Winger addressed participants on Saturday afternoon. Winger, a lifetime member of the Libertarian Party, is an electoral reform advocate with an extensive history of helping third parties overcome restrictive ballot access laws. He is frequently regarded in third-party circles as one of the foremost experts on the subject.
To Winger, the issue of ballot access reform goes beyond any one political party. “My mission today is to persuade Green Party activists of the importance of lobbying for better ballot access laws”, Winger said to the audience before delivering a detailed overview of ballot access reform in the United States. Winger also touched upon specific battleground states in dire need of activist attention, such as North Carolina where the state is trying to deny Green Party Senate candidate Matthew Hoh a place on the ballot.
The final day of the ANM saw additional panels but also opportunities for participants to get further involved with the party.
Party leadership unveiled the Green Party electoral database on Sunday afternoon. The database documents all GPUS members who have run for public office since 1985 and includes those candidates on a municipal level. Leadership also discussed active efforts to organize new internal caucuses, naming the elder, indigenous, and disability communities as the focus of those efforts.
An end-of-the-day request was made for ANM proposals with a focus on geographic diversity, financial viability, and overall housing accessibility for those with lower income levels. Financial viability was especially important with some veteran members in attendance recalling a sudden venue change in 2008 significantly impacting party finances during a presidential year. The importance of areas that provide opportunities to build the party was further highlighted.
It was also announced that the Green Party would be actively looking to host either an in-person or hybrid meeting moving forward. This initially drew some concern from members wanting a virtual component to remain an option due to medical and financial concerns. Proposals for the next ANM will be accepted in October with members having an answer at the start of the next year.
Workshop videos from the 2022 Green Party Annual National Meeting are now available online.