Monday evening I attended the first meeting of the Lackawanna County Green Party. I’m not a registered Green Party member and am still part of the Young Democrats of Lackawanna County. However, after last night’s meeting, I sincerely am rethinking my political affiliation…
I have been learning about the Green Party only over the past month. I became interested when Jill Stein started showing increased polling and saw mainstream political articles sternly lecturing Bernie supporters that they better not support Stein. I did believe that Stein could hurt our country by aiding Trump by basically taking votes away from Clinton. This is a valid fear, however the mainstream media extremely exaggerates it. CNN, MSNBC, Politico, The Hill, WP, and NYT all have had some type of article where they demonized Bernie supporters who may be thinking of not supporting Clinton. In my opinion, this is a pretty shitty way of getting Bernie supporters to back the establishment that we have been fighting against.
So ANYWAYS. Monday night: I was at the Green Party meeting and Mr. Carl Romanelli spoke about his experience over the past 16 years as a Green Party member in NEPA and his run for US Senate in 2006. He spoke about the Green Party’s history which started in Germany in the 80s and spread throughout Europe. He also spoke about the Green Party’s history in NEPA and some of their accomplishments in the area, such as making the 7 Tubs in Luzerne County a public area.
I also met Jay Sweeney from Falls Township who is running for PA State Rep for the 112th District. Sweeney also has been active in the Green Party for the past 16 years and graciously gave me a copy of “The Green Pages”, the National Newspaper for the Green Party, which I wasn’t even aware of.
There were a lot of good take-aways from the meeting. Romanelli compared political parties to religion in the idea that almost everyone is born into one, but only through self-reflection and research can someone find the best fit. I see this a lot in some of my friends. They were raised a certain way, and to think differently, or attempt to explore different viewpoints is sacrilegious. Something else that Romanelli said which resonated with me was “America doesn’t so much need new ideas or pure hearts- we just need a new way of looking at things”. I agree with this wholeheartedly. I think a real change of perception, and a close examination of American values are crucial to our country’s fate of being the “land of the free”. A friend of mine, Alex Lotorto, explained the Green Party as the party that puts all social movements on the ballot. I’ve been saying recently that I wish there was a “Progressive” party, and I think I found that affiliation last night.
After the meeting I took a petition to get Jill Stein on the ballot in November in PA, and walked to a local bar to participate in their weekly trivia night. I thought this would be a good opportunity to gather signatures since this bar gets pretty busy. The first person I asked questioned me a lot, and asked me why I would try to get Stein on the ballot since it might help Trump. My response, which is my conviction, is that I really want to vote FOR someone, not AGAINST someone. I also want headway for the Green Party. WE NEED A THIRD PARTY. Things aren’t black and white. I’m fed up with establishment politics and am ready for a real change. I explained this in so many words.
Then I approached another friend who refused to sign it, saying that it would help Trump. I tried explaining that I see this effort as a way of gaining recognition for the Green Party, but she still didn’t want to sign. She said this was the first time she stood up for something, so I get it and respect her, and anyone else’s, refusal.
After an hour and a half into the night, I asked the woman next to me if she wouldn’t mind signing. This was a mistake. If I ever saw distinct party lines, it was within this conversation. She first accused me of not knowing what I was talking about, and that the Sanders’ campaign doesn’t teach its supporters how to answer questions. NOTE: She didn’t ask me any questions- this accusation was the first thing she said to me. I told her I respected her opinion and was happy to listen to her. She then continued to lecture me on not voting for Clinton because I should be supporting our first women president. This is an argument that I have a real issue with (ironically enough, I was asking for her help to get another WOMAN presidential candidate on the ballot) and deserves a blog post of its own. I can understand where this feeling comes from, but I can’t stand behind someone who I don’t believe in. This woman continued to question my intelligence and belittle me, and then reduced the Green Party to just a pro-marijuana group. I was happy to get out of the conversation as soon as possible.
This is the issue though. People are afraid of the unknown. America has had a two party system forever, adding a third (or a fourth! or a fifth!) is a hard concept for people to swallow. But this is the route we need to go. Issues aren’t black and white, and our parties are as polarized as ever. There isn’t room right now within our political system for a revolution, which I believe is what we need. Our elected officials don’t live in the same reality of their constituents. There needs to be a change, and I believe supporting third party candidates is a good place to start. I haven’t changed my party affiliation yet, but the more and more backlash I get from within the Democratic Party makes me very tempted to do so. As someone who cares about real issues, not the surface value entertainment the media dishes up as news, the Green Party’s platform carries real weight.