Melt-down of the Minnesota Green Party?
Curiouser and curiouser. Two months or so ago, Cam Gordon, a Green, received the endorsement of the Minneapolis Democratic Party and Mayor RT Rybak – that mannequin guy that looks just like Tim Pawlenty. According to Mike Calvan, someone testifying under oath explained in a court suit brought about by Dave Bicking that Rybak and Gordon had made a deal. Gordon would oppose the Greens running anyone for mayor, and the Democrats would not run anyone against Gordon. It happened…especially the last part. Mr. Rogers now has a safe seat. Dave's suit was to stop Rybak from claiming Gordon's support, which he had not gotten written approval for at that time. Later, Gordon did endorse Rybak.
At any rate, this sad setup was preceded by the main Party in town, the Democrats, gerry-mandering the wards of Natalie Johnson Lee and Dean Zimmerman, in order to get them out of the city council. Evidently, the Democrats couldn’t make a deal with these two. Also evidently desperate for cash to pay for a lawsuit against this gerry-mandering, Dean Zimmerman accepted some in an entrapment sting organized by the Republican federal District Attorney. There was no quid pro quo, but this did not make a difference to the DA. Those with long memories can remember how the U.S. DA did somewhat the same thing to Eddy Felien, another progressive council person from an era long ago. And you might add several black council people that the powers-that-be evidently didn’t like, adding to a pattern against ANYONE who rocks the boat in this here ‘nice’ town. In effect, only if you are 'approved' can you get away with this kind of thing in Minnepolis. In sum, together the two – the Democrats and the Republicans – eliminated two Greens in the city council, by fair means but mostly foul.
Dean Zimmerman is back in town and out of jail. And Natalie Johnson Lee’s Uncle Tom replacement rules the roost in the forgotten part of town. But Natalie is still kicking, running again in the 5th Ward, though not as a Green it seems.
Now ‘Papa’ John Kolstad is running against RT for mayor, breaking a pact Gordon could not enforce. Remember Rybak, the pretty-boy, do-nothing former neighborhood activist, who claimed he was going to fight for ‘affordable housing?’ Right -he increased housing stock for poor people less than the former Republican mayor in St. Paul, which was hardly any. RT is running a non-campaign, dreaming about being the next handsome, young, white governor of Minnesota.
RT’s Minneapolis police, evicted Rosemary Williams from her house a month of Fridays ago because of a Minneapolis trespassing charge… trespassing in her own house. Ah, yes, the bank owns it now. So the bankers’ cops - with RT not making a peep, or issuing instructions to allow her to live in her home - busted in, boarded up the house to the rafters with steel grills, and hired a private security guard to stand by the property, while arresting more than a dozen. And so, Rybak’s move for ‘affordable housing’ continues. Rosemary's house stands empty, joining thousands of others while the 'leaders' of Minneapolis fiddle.
However, in this virtual crapdown, Papa John is now running as an “Independent Civic Leader,” not a Green. He has secured the endorsement of the Minneapolis Republican Party, which has been seized by the followers of Texas Republican Ron Paul. The Independence Party has also endorsed Kolstad. Kolstad ran previously as the Attorney General candidate for the Greens. Al Flowers, who also has ties to the Greens, and is endorsed by Fareen Hakeem, is now running as a “Democratic Farmer-Labor” candidate. The Green Party is not running an official candidate for Mayor, much as RT wanted. The Greens are running Dave Bicking, Jeanine Estime and three others for city council, including Gordon.
Now read that back. Kolstad got an endorsement from Ron Paul’s libertarians, who are hated within the fundamentalist Republican Party, it was thought. However, Ron Paul has also recently endorsed Michelle Bachmann. So there is no Chinese Wall between the crazy fundie wing of the Republican Party and the libertarian one, contrary to certain illusions. I understand that Kolstad has good personal relations with the Paulites, and that on certain issues they agree. And I also understand the Paulites are upset about the Paul endorsement of Bachmann.
Certainly, if the Greens are endorsed by someone, it is different than if the Green's adopted their program, which they haven't. And in this run, Kolstad is not an official Green. In this instance, that certain piece of the program that they all seem to agree on is standing up for small businessmen – or as Kolstad put it on cable TV and at Merlin’s, ‘small businessmen are the life-blood of the community.” Wha?
OK, so now we come to the meat of the issue. Anyone hanging around the Greens can see that labor people are few and far between. And anyone hanging around also sees that they have had an over-representation of small businessmen among their candidates. Essentially the Marxist analysis of the Green Party is that it is a basically a progressive, petty-bourgeois opposition to big capital – in the Democratic and Republican forms. In a way, the Ron Paulites are also a petit-bourgeois opposition to big capital. And so we see the link. It is not that some of their criticisms are not accurate, or that we do not need small businessmen as allies - it is that they represent a class that is not, ultimately, able to fundamentally change our situation. No Marxist wants to point this out, but at this point, it is so obvious even the uninitiated can figure it out.
With the evaportation of the Labor Party in the U.S. because they would not run candidates, I supported Nader in 2000, and worked in a group called “Labor for Nader.” No wing of capital supported Nader at that time, and a critical vote for Nader was a useful tactic in 2000. He got millions of votes and showed up Gore in state after state. I voted for that ‘crazy black woman’ from Atlanta in 2008, Cynthia McKinney, who ran as a Green candidate. I have worked and donated money to David Bicking, running for the council in Ward 9 as a Green, who is one of the most principled persons in Minnesota politics today. I will be voting for a member of Socialist Action, Brent Perry, in my own Ward, Ward 12. He doesn’t have a chance in hell against another former neighborhood activist, the wretched Sandy Colvin Roy, who gave away public park land on Nicollet Island to the Catholic Church for ANOTHER stadium - among other acts. These people are truly stadium-crazy. Roy's claim to fame, from her candidate forum, was protesting outside the ROTC building in 1972. I was there too, but seem to have gotten a different message from that event.
At any rate, the national race in 2000 galvanized the local Greens into some kind of mass support in the City. Since then, no national race has helped the local Greens. And this is a real deficit. I know there is an argument between those Greens who just want to concentrate on local issues (and who refused to endorse a national candidate in 2008) and those who think the two are interrelated. The answer is now in. You need to burn the candle at both ends, if you are a Green.
The Minneapolis City Council is the grave-yard of neighborhood activism.
So how can we absorb these changes? I think the Green Party in Minneapolis is fractionating, and has lost its ideological and organizational coherence. And just when IRV was to go into effect in the city, a situation they could have taken advantage of.
The real masters of our local Democratic Party council members are the real estate interests and giant corporations who run this town. This is a One-Party Town, presided over by an incestuous council cozy with the ruling financial interests, the stadiums, the real estate developers, the cops, and anyone with a dollar bill. They all vote alike. Once they get elected, it is 'hasta la vista.' These people are just tiny versions of the corporate Democrats on the national stage, and neo-liberalism in general. They are helping undermine the true health of the city by giving a free license to the police, condo overbuilding, corporate welfare like stadiums, wasting taxpayer money on ridiculous projects like the Lake Street makeover and the new downtown public library; trying to liquidate any independent groups like the Park and Library boards and other anti-democratic moves, and ignoring the foreclosure crisis and the jobs crisis. They also allowed the federal and various city police to run wild during the Republican Convention. The Greens made a valiant effort to change this. Hopefully their present candidates will do well. However, the present situation points to a need to go beyond Green politics. The fat is in the fire.