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“Green” Stands Alone

Teressa Rose Ezell

Near the end of the Democratic primary, a meme circulated on Facebook featuring side-by-side images of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump above the caption, “Tell me why you’re with her without mentioning him. Go!” As a long-time Independent who recently took the leap into official Green Party membership, I think the meme makes an excellent point: if it’s hard to explain why we are for one candidate or position without referring to the failings of the person or position we’re against, maybe it’s time to rethink where we’re putting our time, focus, and vote.

In that spirit, I decided to explore my reasons for becoming active in the Green Party, without giving in to the temptation to make comparisons to other parties or candidates. Actually, it’s quite simple to explain why I’m Green without mentioning Red or Blue, because I remember the exact moment when I made the decision. It didn’t come at the same time as my decision to support Jill Stein in this particular election, which for me was a no-brainer as soon as the writing on the wall regarding Bernie Sanders’ candidacy became crystal clear and undeniable. No, my moment of Green truth came a little later, when I read the party’s ten key values. These guiding principles, along with other aspects of the party, such as its global nature, resonated with me to such an extent that it felt like a political homecoming.

I love the grassroots structure of the Green Party. Contrary to some of the misinformation that has been thrown around lately, the bulk of the party’s work is performed at the local level. I like that, because that is the venue in which daily life takes place, and that is the level on which the impact of local, state, and national policies is really felt. Here in St. Louis, for example, the Gateway Green Alliance spearheaded a successful effort to raise awareness about a private developer’s plans for historic buildings in University City. Thanks to the hard, grassroots work of Don Fitz and team, the issue made it onto a ballot, where an amendment requiring voter approval for the disposal of historic buildings passed with a majority of sixty-nine percent.

It’s tempting to take the Green Party’s core value of social justice and equal opportunity for granted, because… well, who could possibly argue against these concepts? But what I especially appreciate about the Green Party’s approach is that they don’t stop with arguing for social just and equal opportunity. From what I can see, “lip service” just isn’t a thing among GP activists, who instead roll up their sleeves and get to work to bring those ideals into reality.

Environmental issues are also of great concern to me, as they should be to everyone on the planet. Again, members of the Green Party back up their stated core value of ecological wisdom with concrete action in consistent, walk-the-talk ways. Jill Stein and Ajamu Baraka’s willingness to face possible arrest in connection with the Standing Rock protest demonstrates their chosen party’s expressed conviction that now is the time to ensure that future generations will “not suffer from the practices of our generation.” The current situation is dire and the survival of our Mother Earth as a habitable planet is by no means guaranteed, so I deeply appreciate knowing that when I see the “Green Party” designation by a candidate’s name on a ballot, it means I can cast my vote for someone who is ready to place the well-being of the planet above corporate profits.

One of the most distressing aspects of our society is the widespread and persistent use of violence to deal with conflicts. I am continually amazed that the pacifist position is considered “fringe,” and that any discussion of complete nuclear disarmament is thought of as radical. While I do realize that the Green Party’s position is not technically one of pacifism, the platform does stress demilitarization and nonviolent conflict resolution. Furthermore, Greens are committed to working to eliminate weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear warheads. And that is good enough for me.

The Green Party’s focus on decentralization and community-based economics makes perfect sense to me, as do the core values of personal and global responsibility, future focus, and sustainability. Feminism, gender equality, and respect for diversity also fit prominently into the Green Party’s interconnected, interrelated set of ideals and social policy goals. That interconnectedness is one of my favorite things about the party. Rather than a solid-colored piece of fabric that is suitable only for one, or for a few, the Green Party’s platform is more like a sturdy, colorful, and intricately-woven tapestry. It has the potential to work for everyone, if given the chance.

The challenge I gave myself—to explain why I’m Green without mentioning Red or Blue—turned out not to be challenging at all. Some say—and I believe—that what we focus on, grows. With that in mind, I will probably never again mention…you know, those two… while explaining why the Stein/Baraka ticket, and the Green Party in general, have my support. There’s absolutely no need to mention the candidates I don’t support in order to justify supporting the one I do, and that is not so much a breath of fresh air as a stiff, cool breeze, full in the face and filled with all the hope and promise that hard work can bring. I, for one, am thankful and ready.

Teressa Rose Ezell is a writer and activist based in St. Louis, Missouri. Her fiction, nonfiction, and poetry have appeared in journals and anthologies. She earned an MA in English and Writing from Western New Mexico University, an MFA in Writing from Lindenwood University, and is currently pursuing a Master of Social Work degree from Saint Louis University's College for Public Health and Social Justice. She and her family live in the Tower Grove South neighborhood, where she is her district's Green Party candidate for the Missouri House of Representatives.

Teressa can be reached at teressa.rose.ezell@gmail.com, or connect via Facebook.