Founding US Green Party Platform
"The Green Platform hands down is the most thorough, justice-saturated platform of any political party platform of the day. Reminds me of some of the great platforms of many decades ago when parties -- at least one -- stood tall for the working people of this country." (Ralph Nader: July 2000 at the Green Party national convention)
"You must know that you were responsible for all this. All I did was accept.... Most of the issues and the subjects that the Green Party is adhering to are majoritarian positions in the United States of America and this is what commended the Green Party so much to those of us who were not in on the founding is that if you look very carefully at the Green Party platform, that's being proposed for your approval, this is by far the most comprehensive, broad-based platform that deals with the wide-range of systemic justice that's needed in this country. From the political to the corporate, to the cultural, to the civil liberties, civil rights, of any platform in the country." (August 1996 Green Party nomination acceptance speech)
Steve Schmidt / GreenPolicy360 Siterunner: As a drafter of the founding Green Party platform (approved at the 2000 Green Party convention) and a chairperson of the platform committee from 1995-2001, I look back at the drafting of the US Green Party founding platform with appreciation for the work that went in to it, every word typed and posted to the new site I set up @ gp.org after going through a lengthy process of discussion, debate and decision-making.
It was, as a result years later, somewhat of a shock as I watched how a small cadre of individuals took over the Green Party and, in a quick succession during the Jill Stein campaign, wrote up and managed the passing of an amendment that completely changed the core beliefs and positions of the Green Party.
As of 2016, the current Green Party is no longer a continuation of the founding party, but rather has become an ideological re-version of the founding green political vision that led to the 2000 founding and national status of the political party. For those interested in the US Green Party, and how it was taken over and changed, here are a number of recollections and memories by one of the original organizers, your GreenPolicy360 siterunner.
Let's talk just a bit about what goes into a political party platform...
The drafting of the Green Platform began after the 1992 Brown campaign platform, as Micah Sifry wrote about this transition. Your GreenPolicy siterunner chose to 'go independent' and build a "serious, credible, platform-based" Green Party, first in New Mexico and then, beginning with a formal "40 State Organizing Plan" presented to the annual Green parties gathering in 1995 at the University of New Mexico, to build a formal, legal national party.
Writing a NM Platform began in 1993 and it was the beginning of what became the national platform as it went through successive iterations, from the 1994 NM original platform, to the 1996 national platform informally approved at the 1996 Green Party convention to nominate Ralph Nader, and then to the formally approved "Official" national party founding platform approved at July 2000 nominating convention.
The challenge was to construct a successful model on which to build a growing, vital, U.S. Green Party. The model of party building came from an unlikely place: a small state in the hinterlands far from centers of power. In 1994 in Santa Fe, named after St. Francis of Assisi, the Catholic patron saint of the environment and animals, I began drafting and eventually the process led to feeling that I was being inspired by larger, perhaps spiritual forces. Green values became a foundation as I began, with the Santa Fe publisher Bear & Company book by Charlene Spretnak, "Spiritual Dimension of Green Politics" inspiring with Green Party values.
Political and policy ideas flowed from many sources and I deeply felt a diverse multi-colored tapestry of ideas that I shared as I wrote, from Great Books to green, visionary ideas. The first draft of a national platform for a new Green Party was ready to lift a first Green presidential campaign in 1996.
I'm recalling when Ralph Nader was first handed the draft platform as we were requesting he consider running as a new Green Party candidate for president. He would be the first Green Party presidential candidate. Much was at stake.
The Green Platform your GreenPolicy siterunner worked up, and that was given to Ralph Nader in Washington DC, was received in a way that surprised me.
In fact, his words were supportive beyond any of my expectations as he held the Platform up and accepted the Green Party nomination at UCLA in August 1996. The Platform was the reason he chose to run he explained -- "You must know that you were responsible for all this. All I did was accept.... Most of the issues and the subjects that the Green Party is adhering to are majoritarian positions in the United States of America and this is what commended the Green Party so much to those of us who were not in on the founding is that if you look very carefully at the Green Party platform, that's being proposed for your approval, this is by far the most comprehensive, broad-based platform that deals with the wide-range of systemic justice that's needed in this country. From the political to the corporate, to the cultural, to the civil liberties, civil rights, of any platform in the country."
In 2000, the founding "official" 2000 platform was approved in Denver. Nader watched before his nomination, then went on record again about the founding document -- "The Green Party Platform hands down is the most thorough, justice-saturated platform of any political party platform of the day. Reminds me of some of the great platforms of many decades ago when parties -- at least one -- stood tall for the working people of this country."
I had worked hard to draft language and pull together these Platforms in 1996 and 2000. They expressed and were based upon Green Party values and positions on the issues. They also, in a personal way, expressed my own goal to put forward what I called "a rights agenda" and a "quality of life" agenda. As Greens we were tapping into "ideas and ideals" of those who came before us and a torch was being passed. The ideas went back years and decades to the Great Books, the Enlightenment, reasoned debate, facts, science, human rights leaders, and civil rights, constitutionally protected liberties and freedoms, and 'Earthrise' , new visions of a 'whole earth' that led to the modern green environmental movement of the 1960s and 70s. The formation of the Green Party in the US and internationally created a unique worldwide Green politics and parties that brought needed environmental protection and security forward.
Let me share a few thoughts about this time when ideas and a strategic plan became a reality, although delivering unexpected consequences in 2000, the opening up of a 21st century politics in a two-party dominated nation took another step toward solving problems threatening every community, every nation.
The issues of climate change are real and those of us who first pointed out the science, and worked to set in motion the first Earth Day and first National Climate Act, remember how our task came into focus.
With your GreenPolic360 siterunner, two Californians with whom I worked, two with the name 'Brown' acted to shape my ideas and ideals and, as a result, the founding Green Platform.
First, Jerry Brown, Governor of California, with whom I work in 1976 and then closely on the platform for the 1992 presidential campaign. We had moved to extend a new vision of environmental security, peace and social justice on issues that had taken big steps in the 1960's and 70's.
Second, beginning with George E. Brown, I worked as a friend of George's on and off for over three decades.... peace work, environmental work, the organizing of the first Earth Day, and continuing with many resources and inspirational relations...
Jerry Brown and George Brown are featured on many GreenPolicy360 pages... the 'We the People' platform of the 1992 presidential campaign, later with Senator Paul Wellstone and a cast of characters that extended my East LA roots to Manhattan and scholars like Hannah Arendt and Robert Heilbroner, and a journey across the globe, we reached out to form a new kind of international, global politics and political party. Now in over 100 countries we were on the way to changing politics of the past and setting forth new waves of rippling change.
The opportunity that was presented me in 1993 in Santa Fe, New Mexico, was to create a constructive third party that could 'turn platform positions into reality'. I became convinced a progressive and future-oriented politics was needed to push US Democratic-Republican two-party 'duopoly' dominated politics in new directions. The turn of the Democrats and Republicans away from the potential "peace dividend" with the ending of the Cold War as the Soviet Union collapsed, even as the nation was overextended from decades of war spending, was a focus. Colleagues like Roger Morris and, at the president of St. John's University, Michael Riccards who asked me to advise him, further developed the ideas that carried over from the "Great Books" program of the NY New School and St Johns, as well as many years of security and environmental politics.
I chose to put forward a plan, a strategic plan, to build the party beginning with a New Mexico campaign in 1994, that was described later by Ballot Access News as one of the most successful independent party campaigns in four decades. This "serious, credible, platform-based" campaign (with a newly drafted NM Green Platform) became the model subsequently for a plan put forward to run a "40 State Green Organizing Effort". I wrote it and presented it to the NM Greens, then brought it to California Greens as a first step to achieve the goals of the plan which included a first-ever presidential campaign.
In 1995, the NM Greens held the national Green Party gathering at UNM and the "Great Kiva' and the 40 State plan was presented and supported, beginning a process that led to the 1996 Green presidential campaign. The drafting of a national platform began and I was faced with "process", a well-known word in the Green Party lexicon. Often, too often, this political process had gone in counterproductive directions and it was clear that better process was needed if the new national platform was to be both democratic in its process and successful. I put forward an online process, utilizing the newly enabled web connectivity between state Green parties and individuals. The NM Green plan chose to workaround the previous blocking of Green members who has coopted the Green Party previously. I called the new interactive process "3-Ds": discussion, debate and decision-making... The larger goal was to have serious, well-developed policy positions and to turn Green policies/positions into reality.
My personal goal of "serious, credible, platform-based" Green Party became what was sometimes called your siterunner's "mantra." Although the U.S. Green Party had many factions, and many individual Greens did not support what at times were referred to as reform politics of 'to turn Green policies/positions, into reality', the Green Party began to have serious impact.
At this time, apart from Green platform writing and organizing, I was appointed and confirmed by the New Mexico state legislature to join the State Board of Education. As a state official I began to oversee K-12 public education, which included over 50% of the state's budget. One of my key tasks was to expedite and facilitate web development and policies for all the schools and districts in the state. Also as chair of NM Technology Council and member of an interstate working group, we established the first 'virtual university', that today is the largest in the country. The web was booming and networking was in the sails and we were moving fast. Science standards were improved and a new more equitable education funding formula was adopted by the legislature after three years of local meetings and lobbying.
Continuing with Green organizing work, I developed an effective website, gp.org, to advance the new Green Party process. I obtained and registered gp.org and built a website to reach out and interactively engage with Greens across the country, using the NM Green Party platform as a beginning point and then expanding the structure and positions/policies into national and international reach.
From 1995 to 2000, your GreenPolicy siterunner guided a "3-D process" and drafted an initial Green Platform. The 2000 "official" founding platform of a new national FEC-legalized Green Party was approved at the 2000 national convention at the Renaissance Center in Denver by some 2000 delegates from around the country.
The "3-Ds" -- discussion, debate and decision-making -- of the strategic plan had led to a "serious and credible" Green foundation platform and national party.
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Green Key Values
The question-format key values statement led us to our ten declarative-format KVs in the 1996 presidential campaign and founding Green Party 2000 Platform
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Update: From Steven Schmidt
Hannah Arendt was one of my teachers in the 1970s at the New School Grad Faculty. Two of her latin phrases stuck w me over the yrs - vita contemplativa and vita activa. I put them together as 'think before you act'. Later, in political writing, I added a moral dimension, a sort of Augustinian value-add that I called a 'values-based politics' and 'politics of values'. I've explained since the 1990s when I drafted a founding Green Party platform, and European-US 'common ground platform', that the platforms were drafted with a foundation in values, that is, I applied 'green key values' to issues that led, with integrity, to positions and policies on the issues.
These days (although the US Green Party has been taken over by self professed anarcho-revolutionary socialist types and the founding platform thrown out) I just keep on and have found millions who follow, interact with and share my green writing/work via GreenPolicy360.
Here's to vita activa' these days -- Read Hannah's work (especially her warnings) if you have a chance...
Green 'Vita Activa'
- https://www.greenpolicy360.net/w/Planet_Citizen_Action | Planet Citizen Action
- https://www.greenpolicy360.net/w/Climate_Problems,_Climate_Solutions | Climate Problems, Climate Solutions
August 2016 - 2022
US Green Party Turns from Its Founding Platform
In 2016, during the Jill Stein campaign, a radical change in direction of the U.S. Green Party was put forward. The economic diversity and economic justice positions in the Green Platform were replaced, and the founding platform of the U.S. Green Party was rejected by an ideological group of advocates numbering about one hundred.
This group/clique/cadre/faction, call it what you will in a former incarnation called the Left Green Network (LGN), had attempted throughout the 1980s and 90s to block the development of a broad-based, electoral and platform-based Green Party that was focused on accomplishing green policies. The platform of the Green Party spoke to these policies, even as it rejected the LGN's "program'.
The rejection and replacement of the economic positions of the U.S. Green Party, and announcement of a 'revolutionary leftist socialism' (often described by Left Green Network persons as 'watermelon -- green on the outside, red on the inside') was decided in an 'amendment' to the founding Green Party Platform by approx. 100 of 250,000 Green registered members.
Questions were immediately raised about the democratic extent of this vote to re-make the basic beliefs and values of the US Green Party. However, the cadre that pushed the profound change prevailed. The amendment noted that 'expropriation' of property was not immediately being called for. After years of work, outreach and discussion, debate and decisions from 1994 through to the founding platform in 2000, the Green Platform was set aside by a small group vote. One hundred or so Greens voted in August 2016 to change the core positions, the foundation of the US Green Party from economic diversity / eco-nomics and emphasis on economic justice in the 'real world' to another world view. This other world view is that of an 'anti-capitalism' faction as the U.S. Green Party finds itself taken over and its name coopted.
Even as a Green New Deal, as originally drafted by a working group of British progressives has been adopted by a wide diversity of global green, environmental, liberal and progressive voices, a cadre within the U.S. Green Party executed a takeover of the party platform. An economics of diversity / eco-nomics, though widely supported, was rejected and replaced with a professed "Ideology" of "anti-capitalism" and "eco-socialism" (although these terms were not debated in the amendment to change the Green Platform.)
In 2017 Wikipedia and online sites began to be targeted to re-label the U.S. Green Party's "Ideology" as:
The U.S. Green Party origins, from the mid-1980s and in the official national Green Party organizing in the 1990s, its founding platform and state party organizing that led directly to legal recognition by the Federal Election Commission as a National Committee of a National Party, the Green Party was a 'big tent'. This would change in the 2000s.
The convoluted history of the US Green Party, at this point, began to shift back to the former structure of what was known as tG/GPUSA prior to this faction's demise in the 1990s.
Although a 2016 restructuring vote was challenged by many experienced Green Party members, a North Carolina state amendment passed by about a hundred in the heat of the Jill Stein presidential campaign, a campaign that brought her to Russia and a dinner with President Putin, and an online campaign coordinated in what was described in a "Great Hack" of a campaign, the coopted Green Party of a self described 'anarcho' railed against Hillary Clinton and supported a Donald Trump option.
In 2018, one of the long-time players in the group that worked to restructure the national Green Party announced plans to run for the Green Party nomination for president. This person led a spoiler campaign that broadcast an intent to 'bring on the revolution'. The current Green Party, circa 2020, has imploded and struggles...
Steven Schmidt | Green Horizon Magazine on Founders of the Green Party
2022 Update -- Note: In 2016 the founding platform of the US Green Party was set aside and a self-described "anarcho, revolutionary socialist" cadre, a fringe group with an over thirty year history of attempts to take over the Green Party, finally 'succeeded'. A 'vanguard' of approximately 100 GP members voted to declare the US Green Party an "anti-capitalist" party as this cadre with a sudden amendment rejected the Green Party platform. Most all Greens, including the key drafter of the founding platform, departed after the take over. The evident and increasing ramifications of the take over of the US Green Party include their pro-Trump 2016 'give Trump a chance' and 2020 'spoiler' campaigns. Few supporters in an effective green politics/policy global movement have any relationship with the current US Green Party.
International Green Parties and the Green Party of the United States
The Founding US Green Platform and First Presidential Campaign, by Steven Schmidt
– Presented to the German Historical Institute / Boll Institute Conference in Washington DC / “The Origins of Green Parties in Global Perspective” / May 26, 2004
Article available @
US Green Party National Platform - Official National Platform
Approved in 2000 at the National Green Party Convention / Denver, CO
A Historic Moment
- The US Green Party Becomes "Officially" a National Committee/Party
- The US Green Party Platform and Key Values
- The 2000 Green Party founding platform document in the 2001 Federal Election Commission Request Petition and Advisory Opinion
Federal Election Commission
Founding Platform of the Green Party of the U.S. / Filed with the FEC
As I look back at the drafting of the U.S. Green Party's Key Values adopted formally as I presented them to the 2000 national Green Party Convention in Denver, along with the founding Green Party national platform, it remains for future greens, whether formally affiliated with the Green Party in the US or greens who share core values of Green parties to do their best in bringing the values and positions of green thought into reality.
The politics of the present era clearly demand the independent, future-oriented vision of green, environmentally focused 'planet citizens'...
-- Steve Schmidt, March 2015
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