Proposal: The Green Party of California shall affiliate with the Association of State Green Parties, 2) The Green Party of California shall choose two delegates to the ASGP for a period of one year

Proposal:   1) The Green Party of California shall affiliate with the Association of State Green Parties, 2) The Green Party of California shall choose two delegates to the ASGP for a period of one year

Contact:  Goals & Strategies Working Group, c/o Ross Mirkarimi
Executive Summary:  The proposal for the GPCA plenary, is 1) for the GPCA to affiliate with the ASGP, and 2) for the GPCA to select two delegates to the ASGP as representatives. The delegates’ term shall be one year (if there is not a GPCA plenary in November ‘99, delegates shall serve until the next plenary after that time).  Since we do not have a process in place to choose delegates, the recommendation for representatives is that the current two GPCA state spokespeople - Nancy Marmol {San Francisco} and John Strawn {Santa Barbara} -  serve, and that we direct the By-Laws Working Group to come up with a proposed selection process to be considered at our next plenary.
o Green issues (and organizing) occur on many levels.  These levels often interconnect - what we do in our communities can affect the nation and globe, and what happens globally and nationally can affect our communities.  This is true for issues, as well as for the organizing of the Green Party itself.  This is partly why we formed the Green Party of California in the first place (in 1990), and why we naturally network with other Greens across town, state, country and planet.
In the US, formal Green organizing began in 1984, with a focus mostly on building local groups.  Today 14 years later, in addition to local organizing, there are also statewide Green Parties in at least 25 states, and a national Green presidential campaign was conducted in 1996 with Greens involved from over 40 states.
Today, discussions are going on among state Green Parties about various national Green organizing issues, including a potential 2000 national campaign and platform. Many of these decisions can affect the GPCA.  The GPCA however, is not a formal part of these discussions, and is without votes and/or a strong voice.  This is a vital missing link, which by its absence depreciates and undercuts Green organizing in California and across the country.  
(This gap can also create a formal vacuum in terms of the democratic process, leaving ‘representation’ of the GPCA to undelegated individuals who are either self-selected and/or selected by Greens in other states who seek them out.)
What are some of the issues that might affect the GPCA?  A major issue is ‘whether we should run a national presidential candidacy in 2000?’.  If so, ‘will there be an exploratory effort, including the GPCA, to sound out potential candidates, and what sort of criteria would it include; where would a national nomination convention be held; what sort of voting and general convention process would we use; would there be a specific issues platform that would accompany a candidacy and how would that be arrived at, etc.?’
In 1996, most of these questions were answered in an ad hoc manner, as the Nader campaign evolved quickly, and without as much coordination among Greens as organizers had hoped.  This tended to leave out many Greens, particularly in the smaller states. We can improve upon this for 2000, with scheduled meetings, pre-announced agendas and chosen delegates, so that all states get to participate in a decision of such national importance. 
The ASGP is a perfect forum for this kind of discussion. The ASGP was established as a tool of and for, the state parties, focusing on issues that are clearly national in scope. Furthermore, it will be the state parties themselves that will (or will not) put a presidential candidate on the ballot in 2000, and almost all of the state Green parties are already affiliated with the ASGP.   Finally, this national discussion is already underway without California, among the states already affiliated with the ASGP.
In addition to planning for 2000, there are other national issues of relevance to the GPCA.  One is a more formal, organizational issue, which has perplexed US Greens for years - ‘how to balance the voting between different state Green parties that are at different stages of evolution?’ (for example, how do we compare a lightly populated, but well-organized state like New Mexico that defines Green membership by voter registration, compared to a heavily populated, but barely-organized state like Texas where one cannot register Green?).  This organizational discussion is underway within the ASGP.  Certainly a state like California, which arguably is the strongest Green state in the country, would have an interest in the outcome.
Finally, there is the increased networking of information that can come with a more formal link with the ASGP (the electoral success in New Mexico, and the leverage it is creating for instant run-off voting and proportional representation is but one example of how positive Green news elsewhere can be used to our benefit and vice-versa).   By simply being part of a national organization, the GPCA will be more into the national Green information loop.  There are also several ongoing information sources provided by the ASGP - the ASGP has a 2-3 times annually-printed newsletter (GreenPages), a semi-monthly on-line newsletter and an email distribution list of English-language Green Party press around the world (ASGP News Circulator ).
o How does the ASGP work?  The ASGP has a simple, clean structure that will be easy for the GPCA to interact with.  The ASGP is an association of state parties, with two delegates coming from each member state, chosen by each state’s own internal democratic process.   These delegates make up the ASGP Coordinating Committee (CC). CC members attend bi-annual meetings and participate between meetings on-line.  The CC establishes the basic policies of the ASGP.
A five member Steering Committee (SC) is also chosen (by preference voting) from within the CC by CC delegates. The SC consists of three co-chairs, a secretary and treasurer.  The SC is guided by a set ofrules approved by the CC. These are listed in the official ASGP Rules and Procedures (see accompanying document).  At each face-to-face meeting a new SC is selected.  This promotes rotation of leadership.  The ASGP also has a committee structure.  These committees are open to the participation of all Greens in the U.S., whether they are affiliated with the ASGP or not.
ASGP meetings have been found to be productive and well-run.  They have not been bogged down in process gridlock.  They do use a fair, democratic, consensus-seeking decision-making process. The minutes of ASGP meetings are comprehensive and have been available on-line consistently after every meeting.
As to how much time and energy the GPCA will have to put into the ASGP, the focus of the ASGP is on those issues that are specifically national in focus.  The ASGP has a self-limited mission and does not try toreplace, guide, or otherwise co-opt the grassroots role played by locals and state parties.
Currently, twenty-three state Green organizations are affiliated with the ASGP, representing approximately 90% of Green parties that are actually organized statewide (AR AZ, CO, CT, DC, GA, HI, MA, ME, MI, MN, NV, NM, NJ, NY, OH, OR, PA, RI, TN, UT, VA, WY).
Concerns?  There have been a few concerns raised in the past by GPCA members.  One was that the ASGP is a ‘personality-driven’ organization.  Whether or not this ever was the case, there is an ASGP track record over the last year and a half that suggests it is not so now.  Rather, a working structure using democratic processes is in place.  The fact that the number of states that have affiliated with the ASGP has grown continuously (and those states come from various philosophical backgrounds within the spectrum of US Green politics) suggests that the ASGP process is a functioning and credible one. 
A second concern has been ‘California doesn’t need to worry about what happens in the rest of the US’ and/or that the ‘GPCA is the 800-pound Green Gorilla, so that until it decides to participate, nothing significant can move forward nationally without it’.  With the growth of the Green Party across the US, it no longer serves Greens in California or elsewhere, if the GPCA is not part of the national Green dialogue.  Indeed, national organizing is already going on without the GPCA.  Too many issues can affect us without our participation, and we have more to gain by cooperation than isolation.
A third concern has been that ‘we aren’t well-enough organized on the state level to worry about the national’.   It is always important to balance our energy - we had to address this same question when we formed the GPCA.  But we didn’t say  at that time that because our locals weren’t strong enough, we couldn’t form a state party.  Rather, we knew that a statewide identity and coordination would only make our individual (and common) efforts stronger and more influential.  Therefore, the key was that we kept everything at the local level, except that which was needed to be on the state. 
The same is true for the ASGP.  It functions only for common national issues, not for the business of each state.  Therefore, it does not have to take up a lot of GPCA time.  But the time it does take will be worth it, because of the synergy in party building that will come with better cooperation and coordination.
Financial Aspects:  There are no financial costs that the GPCA would be obligated to pay if it affiliates with the ASGP.  In particular, there are no ASGP ‘dues’.