The nomination in Baltimore by the Green Party of Massachusetts physician Jill Stein for the presidency of the United States drew the ire of the members of the party’s Black caucus this week.
The Green Party, a third-party that is centered around environmnental protection and non-violent change, made the announcement July 14 at the Holiday Inn of the Inner Harbor on the third day of the national conference, held in large part at the University of Baltimore’s Law School July 12-15.
The Black Caucus announced on March 29 that it would support candidate Roseanne Barr, actor and activist, after she received a major endorsement from the first African American woman to represent the state of Georgia in Congress, Cynthia McKinney.
Barr was one of three candidates that included Stein and Kent Mesplay, a biomedical engineer from San Diego, Calif.
"I was disappointed,” said Betty Davis, recording secretary of the Black Caucus since 2008. “I felt the Green Party did not act with honor with the Black Caucus, and I know they did not act with honor for the presidential candidate Roseanne Barr."
A lifetime New York City resident and member of the New York Green Party since shortly after college, Davis said she supported Barr because for her strong support of women and children’s rights and her strong stance against major corporations that have burdened lower and lower-middle class families with their greed.
Davis said that another important part of Barr’s campaign was the fact that she wanted to end foreign conflicts and wars involving American troops to improve the American economy, something Black Caucus Greens don’t believe Stein will do. Supporters of Stein strongly disagree.
“That's absolutely not true,” said Brian Bittner, chair of the Baltimore City Green Party. “She has made a stronger statement than any candidate that she is opposed to the wars that are going on.”
Bittner said Stein, a physician from Lexington, Mass., seeks to not only quickly end the wars and bring all troops home, but “divert the money that is being spent on continued occupation and the continued operations in Afghanistan to infrastructure projects that are certainly needed in the United States.”
“One of the keys to her Green New Deal platform is taking that money and investing it in green projects that will rebuild the communities in Baltimore and across the country,” said Bittner, who also added that Stein, who campaigned in Baltimore during the Spring months, is one of the most organized candidates he’s ever seen with enough support to raise the money necessary to a successful run for president.
"Dr. Stein is a very good nominee, she has a strong grasp of the issues and talks about alot of things that President Obama and Mitt Romney are not going to talk about at all between the two of them," said Scott McLarty, national media representative for the Green Party. "She's a very important voice for the people who are going to be left out in the 2012 election."
Still, GPBC members are still unsatisfied with the news.
Whether it be Barr, Stein, or any other candidate from the traditional or marginalized parties, Davis believes that President Obama should not take a second term in office.
“You sell people a dream and they don't pay attention to the details,” said Davis, “Obama is a dream for Black people- it’s hard to fight that dream. The role of any third party is to force the other two to face reality.”
Davis adds that the Green party strives to have 10 to 15 percent of the seats in Congress because that would create Green bargaining power.
According to Thomas Muhammad, co-chair for the Black Caucus, even though the chance of seeing a Green candidate actually take the White House is slimmer than that of Democratic or Republican nominees, the opportunity to gain at least five percent of the votes within the electoral college is key.
“If we get 5 percent of the electorate, then we get major funding for our convention,” said Muhammad, who now resides in Dallas, Texas and has been a member of the Green Party since 2007. “The reason why Democrats and Republicans are funded so well is because they get funds from the federal government.”
“We would have a national convention that mirrors the Democratic and Republican conventions,” said Muhammad, adding that the party strives to become an official third party by 2016.
The Green Party Black Caucus (GPBC) was officially recognized with accreditation in 2004, just four years after the National Green Party was recognized as an entity with political power.
The national conference addressed many issues such as education and healthcare.
"Some of the workshops that took place dealt with specific issues like how to organize in the Green Party, how to help candidates, how to raise money, how to promote candidates in front of the media and the public," said McLarty.
The party stands on “Ten Key Values” that include belief in grassroots democracy, social justice, feminism and gender equality, and respect for diversity, among other core morals.