Politics is far
too important to trust to professional politicians. The Greens believe
in a popular politics where people participate directly in making the
decisions that affect their lives and do not leave these decisions to
a professional representative elite. Professional political elites inevitably
put their own interests ahead of the public interest. The Greens stand
for a new politics of Grassroots Democracy, where the elitist structures
of representation today are transformed into new institutions of popular
participation and power.
Plutocratic Oligarchy to Grassroots Democracy
is one of the "Four Pillars" of Green Politics. Grassroots democracy
refers to the idea of a participatory democracy where we, the people,
in a direct democracy of face-to-face assemblies in local communities,
meet to debate and vote on the collective decisions that affect our
in the United States have virtually nothing in common with Grassroots
Democracy. American government is commonly called a democracy, but that
notion is propaganda spread by the corporate rulers, their media, and
their other educational and cultural institutions. To be honest and
accurate, the form of government in the United States is plutocratic
Going back to the
Greek origins of the words we use today to describe forms of government,
"democracy" means the rule (kratos) by the common people (demos).
We do not have a
democracy in the United States, except concerning local matters where
town-meeting governments-face-to-face assemblies of all citizens of
a township-still exist in parts of the six New England states and seven
other Northeastern states and some American Indian nations. Everywhere
else, at the local, state, and federal levels, government in the United
States is oligarchic (rule by the few).
Elections are merely
a mechanism by which the people choose the individual oligarchs. For
millennia, elections have been the telltale mark of oligarchy, of government
structured around the elitist concept of representation instead of the
egalitarian concept of participation. Elections today lend an aura of
legitimacy to oligarchy for democratic-minded people who have forgotten
what real democracy is.
Elections are also
a means of pacification of the oppressed. They serve as a mechanism
for co-opting the brightest and most energetic members of the lower
classes into the ruling class, diverting them from movements to transform
the class and hierarchy structure into a classless, nonhierarchical
In the US in particular,
privatized elections yield the best politicians that money can buy.
Elections are corrupted by the corporate rich, who have effectively
privatized the public system of elections through private campaign financing.
These private campaign contributions function as legalized bribery,
creating a government oligarchy dependent on the corporate plutocracy
(rule by the rich).
is exactly what the "Founding Fathers" intended when they replaced the
Articles of Confederation with the US Constitution. These slave-owning
planters and slave-trading merchants designed the US Constitution to
maintain elite rule by the wealthy oligarchy over the common people.
Among the mechanisms
they set into the US Constitution to protect the wealthy oligarchs from
the democratic spirit of the people and their recent revolution were:
- the checks
and balances that divide government against itself, enabling the
Congress, Senate, Presidency, and Judiciary to stall and veto each
other in multiple ways, creating the political gridlock that today
shields corporate power and privilege from the democratic majority
of common people,
- the monarchical
with its personalized executive power and independence from and veto
power over the more representative Congress,
- the aristocratic
Senate, the most unrepresentative legislative body in the industrial
world, where gross violation of the one-person, one-vote principle
is institutionalized, where voters from Wyoming have 61 more times
clout than voters from California, where the Senators from 26 states,
representing only 20% of the population, can block legislation supported
by the other 24 states with 80% of the population,
- the unelected
lifetime federal Judiciary, its independence compromised by its
appointment by the monarchical President with the advice and consent
of the aristocratic Senate and holding veto power over the more representative
legislative branch of government,
- the ultra-conservative
amending clause, which
requires multiple super-majorities in the House and Senate and then
approval by 75% of the states, enabling just 13 states representing
only 4.5% of the population to block any amendment sought by the other
95.5%, except that it requires 100% of the states to approve any change
in the aristocratic structure of the Senate under the clause of the
amendment article that says "no state, without its consent, shall
be deprived of its equal suffrage in the Senate."
is also sustained by the absence of democratic political parties that
can hold their office holders accountable to party principles and platforms.
The result is that virtually all US politicians are corrupt, entrepreneurial
self-servers who raise campaign funds and cut legislative deals do as
to advance their personal careers by serving the super-rich and the
The absence of principles
political parties means that the 144-year old Democratic-Republican
duopoly is the longest lived two-party regime in history. It gives voters
the choice between the Center-Right Democrats and the Center-Harder
Right Republicans. It represents the narrowest political spectrum and
most vapid political debate in the industrial world.
The US has never
lived up to its democratic ideal of government of the people, by the
people, and for the people. But there has always been a strong democratic
spirit and counterforce to plutocratic oligarchy in the US. The roots
of American democracy run deep:
- in indigenous
American Indian nations--the popular participation and free and
equal forms of association practiced by the confederations of the
Haudenosaunee (Iroquois), Penacook, Muskogee, Yaqui, Lakota, and other
- in the first
American Revolution--the town meetings of New England that were
the cradle of the revolution; Washington's call for neighborhood "mass
meetings," Jefferson's call for "ward republics," Franklin's acceptance
of the advice of Haudenosaunee diplomats to model the Articles of
Confederation on the Iroquois Six Nations Confederacy;
- in the earliest
multi-cultural Maroon societies of runaway African slaves, Irish indentured
servants, and other European conscript sailors and rebels who united
with Muskogee (Creek) Indians to form the Seminole Nation and fight
to overthrow the slave owners and establish a popular democracy based
on racial equality;
- in the Abolitionist
Movement--where the contradiction between the reality of slavery
and the ideal of democracy was exposed;
- in Radical
former slaves helped to elect and lead the most progressive state
governments in US history, instituting universal public education
and raising the issues of land reform and proportional representation;
- in the Populist
struggle against agrarian debt slavery, where a massive movement of
millions of small farmers and sharecroppers formed countywide farmer's
alliances that conducted sophisticated political and economic education,
organized cooperatives, and built a movement counterculture and an
independent People's Party that nearly united poor blacks and whites
in an interracial majority of the "plain people" to prevent the consolidation
of the corporate oligarchy at the turn of the last century;
- in the Labor
struggle against industrial wage slavery, particularly the anti-racist,
rank-and-file democracy traditions exemplified by the Industrial Workers
of the World (Wobblies), by the best of the sit-down strikes of the
1930s, and by the more recent rank-and-file democracy movements like
the Detroit Revolutionary Union Movement (DRUM) and Teamsters for
a Democratic Union;
- in the Participatory
Democracy movements since the 1960s--starting
with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and Students
for a Democratic Society (SDS), the spirit and practice of participatory
democracy was carried from the civil rights and antiwar movements
into the women's, radical ecology, gay liberation, and other popular
movements and then into the Green movement as Grassroots Democracy.
history, these democratic struggles have made progress in some ways.
For example, originally the elective franchise was limited to propertied
white males. Over the course of two hundred years of struggle to extend
democratic participation, the property, color, and gender restrictions
have been stricken from the law. However, there is still a long to go
from our representative elected oligarchy to participatory democracy.
Power Is Not Up for Election
In many ways, there
has been regression from democratic to oligarchic forms. Concentrations
of wealth with decisive political influence, massive bureaucracies impervious
to individuals and communities, virtually no remaining public sphere
for political discussion by ordinary citizens, the corporatized and
stupefying mass media-today's political culture and structure is anti-democratic
in fundamental ways.
First, the US State
and its sub-jurisdictions are structured around the elitist concept
of representation. The people have no enforceable means of expressing
their desires and controlling their representatives between elections.
We don't govern ourselves. Instead, we elect elites to govern us.
The Greens don't
want to elect new rulers. The Greens want to enable people to make the
rules. Real democracy requires new institutions through which people
can participate in the formulation of policy and then can monitor policy
implementation by their elected representatives.
Second, most of
the power in this society is not up for election. The power of these
elected representative elites is severely circumscribed by the extra-legislative
powers of unelected elites:
- the private
power of unelected corporate elites who
effectively veto public polices that would advance the public interest
against the corporate oligarchy by threats of capital flight and setting
exorbitant conditions for government financing;
- the growing
power of the executive branch and its unelected bureaucracy over
legislative bodies, acting with increasing secrecy beyond the control
of our legislative representatives and often undermining what reforms
are passed by the legislative branch;
- the growing
power of the federal and global over the state and local levels which
results in federal and World Trade Organization pre-emption of state
and local measures to protect people's living standards and the environment;
- the unelected
federal court judges which
have expanded Bill of Rights protections for "fictitious persons"-corporations-while
reducing Bill of Rights protections for real persons in name of law-and-order
and national security;
- the unelected
National Security State,
the military/industrial complex of military, covert operations, and
domestic police agencies linked with corporate military and prison
contractors, which attacks-at home and abroad-democratic movements
and activists who challenge corporate power.
Third, the ability
of people to freely choose their representatives is undermined by the
private financing of elections by wealthy elites. Long before the people
have a change to express their preferences, the field of possible candidates
is selected by elites who control the purse strings of private campaign
and economic elites are fostering militarism, racism, and chauvinistic
nationalism as irrational diversions from the facts of popular powerlessness,
economic hardship, and environmental degradation. The middle and lower
reaches of society are being discouraged from participation in public
affairs by political and economic elites through policies that combine
the centralization of state power with a lowing of living standards
for the majority of Americans. Instead of democratic participation,
elites are encouraging disempowered people to identify vicariously with
the power of the aggressive militarism of the national state as in the
Balkan and Gulf wars. Elites are encouraging the people to blame each
other, to scapegoat other races and nations-and gays, feminists, environmentalists,
radicals-for their own powerlessness and economic hardships.
of Grassroots Democracy
The Greens are committed
to a grassroots democracy, to decentralized, confederal, participatory
forms of self-government. Direct democracy at the community level is
the foundation for genuine self-government at larger scales of self-government.
The Greens call
for the creation of forms of face-to-face democracy at the base of society
that control their own communities and their representatives to larger
political jurisdictions with which they are associated.
The Greens therefore
envision a radical reconstruction of our political institutions to replace
the centralized US nation-state with bioregional confederations of self-governing
communities. This will mean radically restructuring the US government,
honoring the land and treaty claims of indigenous American Indian nations,
and reconstituting intercommunal relations of the basis of community
self-determination and free and equal confederation from below.
is based on the following principles:
- Direct Democracy
in Community Assemblies: Community
Assemblies, general meetings of the whole community, in every neighborhood
and town, will be the source of and final authority over public police
at every level. Community Assemblies will hold representatives to
larger political jurisdictions accountable through their right to
instruct and recall their representatives. Community Assemblies will
address regional, national, and international as well as local issues.
These grassroots legislatures will bring the people directly into
the political process and give people the power over the decisions
that affect their lives.
Assemblies will confederate at the local, regional, national, and
ultimately international levels in order to develop and coordinate
common policies to deal with common problems. The higher levels will
be accountable to the lower levels, reversing the present pre-emptive
powers of the centralized state hierarchy.
Assemblies will not make every detailed decision. They will often
delegate responsibilities and powers to confederal legislative and
administrative councils of mandated and recallable public officials.
But the Community Assemblies always have the right to address any
issues and instruct their representatives.
legislative councils will be constituted through a system of mixed-member
proportional representation. In mixed-member proportional representation,
voters vote once for their district representative and once for their
party of choice. Half the representatives are elected by preference
voting by the Community Assemblies in districts. The other half are
elected from party lists. The district seats count toward each party's
total and the party lists are used to establish overall representation
that is proportional to the party vote. By combining community representation
by assembly delegates and proportional representation of party representatives,
mixed-member proportional representation combines the advantages of
both district and party representation. The assembly delegates would
carry mandates from the Community Assemblies. The party representatives
would carry mandates from political parties in proportion to their
support in society, thus enabling minority viewpoints their fair share
assemblies and parties will instruct their assembly delegates and
party representatives to larger political jurisdictions. The delegates
and representatives may be given imperative mandates (binding instructions)
that commit them to a framework of policies within which they must
Assembly delegates and party representatives can be recalled by the
assemblies and parties they represent at any time for failing to carry
out the mandates they are given.
All public officials with delegated powers will rotate at regular
intervals to preclude a professionalization of politics and an elite
political class. Every citizen will have their opportunity to participate
in turn in the coordination and administration of public affairs.
by lot as now in jury selection-will increasingly replace election
for increasing numbers of public offices: legislative, administrative,
and judicial. Those eligible for sortition would be willing to serve
if selected and competent for the position. Replacing election with
sortition will reduce oligarchy and increase democracy.
legislative branch will be the people organized in their Community
Assemblies and the confederal councils. Legislative majorities will
form the executive branch administrations of political jurisdictions,
as in "parliamentary government."
Boards for Administrative Departments: Accountability
Boards will reinforce the accountability of executive branch officials
and departments. The members of accountability boards, selected by
sortition, will be given time off from work with pay to attend meetings,
review reports and records, and conduct hearings with subpoena powers.
The power of the boards would vary according to the public function
they monitor. In some areas, their powers might be limited to forcing
a reconsideration of any regulation or policy promulgated by a public
agency. In other areas, their powers might include sanctioning misbehavior,
as in a Citizens' Police Review Board.
- Economic Democracy:
democracy is undermined whey concentrated corporate power can effectively
veto public decisions by threats of disinvestment. Genuine political
democracy presupposes economic democracy where substantial productive
resources are under democratic social forms of ownership.
- Economic Bill
of Rights: Democracy
is undermined when some communities are impoverished while others
are affluent. The material and moral basis for unity at every level
of political jurisdiction must include an Economic Bill of Rights
that guarantees every individual's basic economic needs. It must also
include revenue and resource sharing by larger political jurisdictions
so that every community meets a minimum floor for public services
and human needs.
- Civil Rights
and Liberties: Political
democracy is undermined when majorities dominate minorities, be they
social groups or political tendencies. The democratic basis of unity
at every level of political jurisdiction must include enforceable
legal guarantees of the civil right and liberties of all people without
regard for race, color, creed, nationality, gender, sexual orientation,
or political views.
Habitat for Grassroots Democracy
- Civic Architecture:
Reconstruct the physical design of our communities to create a new
architecture of civic and public space. Reconstruct dwelling, work,
recreation, and shopping spaces to foster social interaction and conversation
and give citizenship a convivial physical habitat for spontaneous
social congregation. Build attractive, functional, convenient buildings
to serve as homes for Community Assemblies in every neighborhood and
the Economy: Political
democracy requires economic democracy, and economic democracy presupposes
a comprehensible and readily self-managed economy. In today's physically
centralized economy, over-specialization and complexity creates dependence
on the technocrat. Local diversification and increasing self-reliance
of local economies will make possible the rotation of work tasks,
a human scale to the technology, and a visible integration of the
economy into the ecology of the community, all fostering a technically
competent citizenry that cannot be easily manipulated by experts.
Self-reliance provides a human scale and a physical framework for
community and participatory democracy.
the Cities: Industrial
capitalism has left us with an unsustainable patchwork of sprawling
urban belts, agribusiness monocultures, industrial zones, and military
reservations. This physical infrastructure is no amenable to community
self-governance or to ecological sustainability. The Greens call for
long term planning to reconstruct our society around humanly-scaled
agro-industrial eco-communities. Existing settlements should be progressively
rebuilt around ecological technologies. Public funding should finance
the construction of new eco-communities that can experiment and develop
ecological technologies that foster community self-reliance without
pollution or resource depletion. Public planning should encourage
the resettlement of people from the vast conurbations into new eco-communities
in less populated regions.
Indian Decolonization: From Nation-State to Intercommunal Confederation
We will never have
real democracy in the Americas until we decolonize indigenous nations
and resolve the corresponding land question. The US and other nation-states
in the Americas are predicated upon the domination of indigenous nations
and the possession of their lands. The liberation of indigenous nations
presupposes indigenous land recovery, which can only mean the territorial
restructuring of the United States and other nation-states in the Americas
and the negotiation of a new set of equal relations among the peoples
who now live in the Americas.
The Greens believe
that serious negotiations to resolve the land question can create a
just resolution for all concerned and are preferable to litigation.
Negotiations should start with the premise that true self-determination
must acknowledge the right of indigenous nations to complete secession.
However, the Greens hope that negotiations can develop agreements between
equal partners to share the land-in a decentralized confederation in
place of the nation-state. A just resolution of land claims, the Greens
believe, would secure the tenure rights for existing home owners, residents,
and family-owned farms and small businesses (but not for large corporations).
It would also secure the basic political and human rights of all residents,
including the right to become citizens and participate in the public
decisions that affect them.
the US should consider carefully the proposals of indigenous activists
for the creation of a land base for indigenous nations in the Great
Plains and Great Basin areas of the lower 48 states. These proposal
flow from these key facts:
- After decades
of research, the US Indian Land Claims Commission acknowledged in
the 1970s, after a review of 370 treaties ratified by the US Senate
as well as 400 unratified treaties with Indian nations, that the US
has no legal claim whatsoever to over one-third of the land area of
the lower 48 states and that land claims to Alaska and Hawaii are
- The US government
owns 35% and the state governments own 10% of the land area of the
lower 48 states.
- The cattle ranches
and wheat farms on some 140,000 square miles of the so-called Buffalo
Commons in the Great Plains area west of the 98th meridian are economically
viable only with public subsidies and rapid net losses of natural
capital, particularly underground acquifers. Much of the Great Basin
area further west is federally owned. These two contiguous areas cover
about one-third of the land of the lower 48 states and encompass the
majority of indigenous people residing in the lower 48 states.
must deal with the land claims based on fraudulent and coerced treaties
(an additional 15-20% of the land area of the lower 48 states) as well
as the needs of untreatied nations in other regions of the country.
The Green vision
of a continent of decentralized regions of self-governing communities
cannot be realized as long as the US and the other nation-states of
the Americans exist by virtue of their domination of the indigenous
nations on whose land they claim sovereignty. The Greens are committed
to negotiations to achieve the recovery of a viable land base for indigenous
nations and the replacement of nation-states with intercommunal confederations
based on equal relations between indigenous nations and the rest the
people, with ancestry from the world over, who also reside here. The
Greens envision a continental mosaic of colorfully differentiated communities,
each adapted to the unique environments of their bioregions, working
together the meet many of the needs and respecting each others' cultural
and political rights.
city and county charters and state municipal laws to enable Community
Assemblies to form as grassroots legislative bodies, like New England
Town Meetings, with power over local affairs, with independent budgets
provided by revenue-sharing, and the power to instruct and recall
their representatives to larger political jurisdictions.
foundation for democratic self-governance must be the direct democracy
of people assemblies in their community neighborhoods, towns, and
villages. Bring the people directly into the political process through
Community Assemblies that create direct democracy. Community Assemblies
will have the power to administer their own budgets funded partly
from federal revenue-sharing and the power to monitor, instruct, and
recall their municipal, county, state, and federal legislative representatives.
for federal legislation to encourage the creation of Community Assemblies
by automatically providing direct revenue-sharing to communities that
establish directly democratic Community Assemblies and additional
funding to municipalities and counties that amend their charters to
build Community Assemblies into their governance structures.
- Abolish the
US Senate: Eliminate
this unrepresentative, aristocratic carryover from slavery times.
- A Unicameral,
Proportionally Representative US Congress: Make
a unicameral US Congress, elected by mixed-member proportional representation,
the sovereign power in the federal government.
- Abolish the
Electoral College: Abolish
this anti-democratic relic of a time when the wealthy oligarchy in
this country did not trust the common people to govern themselves.
Until a parliamentary federal executive is established, directly elect
the President and Vice-President by preference voting.
independent election of executive branch officials with the formation
of administrations by the legislative majority in order to end government
divided against itself-for example, by abolishing such executive compromises
of legislative sovereignty as presidential veto powers. Parliamentary
administration will make the executive branch accountable to the people's
representatives in the legislature and the people themselves in their
- End Judicial
Abolish the power of the US Supreme Court to declare legislation passed
by Congress to be unconstitutional. Federal laws should be repealed
or abrogated only by act of Congress or by a referendum of the whole
- Judicial Independence:
citizen election of judges for limited terms, instead politicized
appointments by politicians.
Amendment by Simple Majority: Make
the US Constitution amendable by a majority vote of the whole people.
- War Referenda:
of military action outside US borders (i.e., except in the unlikely
case of an invasion) without majority support of the whole people
expressed in a referendum. The question of going to war is too important
to leave to politicians who do not do the fighting. The people should
be able to debate and vote before going to war.
Referendum, and Recall: Extend
these basic democratic rights to cover every local, state, and federal
- Increase the
Size of Legislative Councils: Increase
the size of representative legislative councils to bring representatives
closer and more accountable to their constituents.
- Mandate Gender
and Ethnic Diversity and Parity in Legislative Bodies: Establish
systems of representation that create equal representation of both
genders and proportional representation of historically excluded ethnic
groups through such measures as dual member districts balancing male
and female representation, as Finland and Norway have introduced,
and constraint rules in proportional voting systems that establish
a floor of representation for historically excluded populations, as
New Zealand has done to correct the exclusion of the indigenous Maori
people. Amend the Voting Rights Act to include protection against
gender discrimination in representation.
for the District of Columbia: No
taxation without representation. Decolonize the District of Columbia.
Citizens of the District of Columbia are entitled to elect their own
representatives to participate in decisions over how their tax dollars
are spent. Extend full home rule and representation in national government
to the citizens of the Washington DC.
- Fully Informed
that the courts inform juries of their right to judge the law as well
as defendants-their right to find defendants innocent even if review
of the evidence strictly in terms of the law would indicate a guilty
verdict. Juries should be able to exercise this right when they believe
that justice would be better served by a "not guilty" verdict because
no harm was actually caused, or because they believe the law itself
to be unjust, or because a guilty verdict would other wise violate
their sense of right and wrong. The right of citizen jurors to judge
the law will protect our individual liberties and freedom from political
repression and capricious intrusion into our lives by government.
- Average Workers'
Pay for All Public Officials: Pay
public officials no more than the US Bureau of Labor Statistics' "Moderate
Budget" for a comparable household in order to prevent political careerism
and the professionalization of politics. Greens elected to public
office before this measure is adopted should donate any pay they receive
over a "Moderate budget" to the Green Party.
- Open Proceedings:
citizens should have access to all public business, records, computerized
information, and meetings.
Access to Government Information--Provide
for the people to have free computerized access in public libraries,
as well as from their own homes, to the full range of government information,
from statistical data to hearing transcripts.
Home Rule: Pass
environmental home rule laws at the state and federal levels establishing
the absolute right of state and local governments to bar disposal
or transshipment of hazardous materials, to reject the location of
hazardous industrial projects in their communities, and to set higher
than federal environmental standards.
Home Rule: Amend
state laws and constitutions to allow municipalities and counties
to revise their charters without requiring the approval of the state
Funding Option on Federal Income Taxes: Allow
people in low-income communities to give up to 75% of their federal
income tax to their neighborhood and community assemblies.
- Fiscal Federalism
and Revenue Sharing: Establish
a federal revenue sharing system that sends federal revenues to community
assemblies, municipalities, and counties according to a formula that
gives all local jurisdictions some money and low-income jurisdictions
the amending provisions of the federal and state constitutions make
constitutional changes too onerous, convene constitutional conventions
to rewrite these constitutions.
corporate parties in the US do not offer principled political alternatives.
They are shifting coalitions of political careerists held together only
by the prospect of victory, spoils, and patronage. Transient candidates'
committees, rather than ongoing party committees, receive most of the
funding and dominate the process. Behind the candidates' committees
are the rich, the º of 1% of the people who gave 80% of federal campaign
contributions in 1996. Winning is all and any principle will be sacrificed
The corporate parties
do not have memberships who can control their decision-making staffs
and candidates. They only have supporters who only get to choose in
primaries between candidates already pre-selected by the moneyed interests.
The party platforms have little effect on candidate positions and behavior
in office because whomever wins the primaries can do whatever they want,
not matter what the platforms say.
corporate party controlled by politicians rather than members is a direct
consequence of state election laws that regard political parties as
franchises licensed by the state rather than private voluntary associations.
The Greens fight for the independence of parties from state control
and the right to be a membership party controlled democratically from
the bottom up. They fight to change election laws that interfere with
party self-government through both legislation and court challenges,
which they believe they will win based on the rights of free speech
and association in the 1st and 14th Amendments.
We need election
law and related reforms that will remove the economic and institutional
barriers to full and equal participation by all citizens and viewpoints
in the electoral and legislative process. These reforms must enable
principled parties to emerge that can create coherent platforms, nominate
candidates responsible to their platforms, and have the capacity to
reach the public with their platforms.
In order to secure
equal access to the electoral and legislative process for all citizens,
to end the domination of elections by private moneyed interests, and
to enable internally democratic, principled, and responsible political
parties to form, the Greens support the following reforms:
Balloting for Single Office Elections: Institute
majority preference voting for races to elect a single candidate to
office. In majority preference balloting, voters rank the candidates
in their order of preference. If a candidate receives a majority of
over 50% of the first, she or he is elected. If not, the last place
candidate is eliminated and the ballots for that candidate are redistributed
to according to their designated second preferences. This process
continues until a candidate receives a majority of over 50%. This
voting process ends lesser-evil voting where voters choose what they
regard as the winnable lesser-evil candidate instead of their first
preference because they are afraid a vote for their first preference
will help what they regard as the greater-evil candidate. Majority
preference voting enables people to vote their hopes instead of their
Representation for Legislative Bodies: Institute
systems of proportional representation that represent all political
parties in proportion to the support they receive. In proportional
representation, 10% of the vote entitles a party to 10% of the legislative
seats. Proportional representation allows a wider range of debate
and a fair share of representation for minority and majority viewpoints
and constituencies in legislative bodies.
electoral system is fundamentally anti-democratic. It denies people
of color and political minorities their fair share of representation
and power. By systematically under-representing minorities, it inflates
the power of bare majorities or pluralities far beyond their actual
support in the population.
system also perpetuates negative "lesser evil" voting. Many voters
find themselves always voting for the lesser evil in order to prevent
the greater evil instead voting of for their first choice which is
an independent or third party candidate. Therefore, they vote for
the major party that they see as the lesser evil so the greater evil,
the other major party, won't get elected. Proportional representation
will enable us to vote our hopes instead of our fears.
major democracies in the world, all use some form of proportional
representation except the United Kingdom and some of its former colonies,
the largest being the US, Canada, and India. New Zealand recently
switched to proportional representation. The Australian Senate has
proportional representation. The new democracies in Eastern Europe
and South Africa chose proportional representation. In countries with
proportional representation, more people vote, more women and minorities
are elected, and more parties and points of view get representation.
- Mixed Member
Proportional Representation: Many
systems of proportional representation require large districts, which
are inconsistent with the imperative mandate and immediate recall
of representatives by Community Assemblies. The Greens call for mixed-member
proportional representation in legislative bodies as the system that
best combines the advantages of both districted and proportional systems:
grassroots democracy based on mandated, recallable district representation
and proportional representation of party viewpoints. In mixed-member
proportional representation, voters elect half of the legislative
body from single-member districts by preference voting and the other
half election at-large from party lists. Voters vote once for their
district representative and once for their party of choice. Overall
proportionality in the legislature is determined by the party vote
for the party lists, with the district winners counting toward each
party's total and the remainder of their share of seats taken from
the party list.
- Public Campaign
equal allotments of public campaign financing to all ballot qualified
candidates who agree not to accept private campaign funds.
- Free and Equal
Access to Broadcast Media for All Candidates: Ballot
qualified candidates should also have equal allotments of free broadcast
media time, provided by all private broadcasters as a condition of
their FCC license to use the public airwaves.
- Public Party
public financing through a system of matching funds for party dues
and small donations up to $300 a year. We oppose public financing
of parties based on votes or other measures not connected to grassroots
financial support because we do not believe public financing should
support party bureaucracies that can operate independently of material
support from and accountability to their members.
- Free and Equal
Access to Broadcast Media for All Ballot Qualified Political Parties:
that all broadcast media, as a condition of their FCC licenses to
use the public airwaves, make free and equal time available year-round
for all ballot qualified political parties to explain their party
principles and views on the issues of the day.
- Fair Ballot
US has the most restrictive ballot access requirements of any industrial
democracy. Some states have not had a third party with ballot qualification
since restrictions on ballot access were legislated early in the 20th
century. The Greens call for federal legislation to insure state election
laws provide fair ballot access for minor parties and independents.
We support a federal fair ballot access law establishing reasonable
signature requirements to qualify a new party or an independent candidate.
Support the standard that was developed in the American Civil Liberties
Union's Model Election Law of 1940 and has been the basis for bills
introduced into Congress many times. The standard to qualify a new
party or an independent candidate should be no greater than one-tenth
of 1% of the total vote cast in the last gubernatorial election in
the district concerned, with 10,000 signature maximum limit.
Voter Registration: Make
it the responsibility of government, not individual citizens, to insure
that every citizen of age is registered to vote, as most industrial
- Same Day Voter
voter registration at polling places on election day.
Voting Rights: No
taxation without representation. Immigrants ought to have, as they
did prior to World War I, the right to participate in electing the
people who decide how their tax dollars are spent. Extend voting rights
to immigrants who are residents. All people should have the democratic
right to participate in the decisions that affect their lives.
- Prisoner and
Parolee Voting Rights: Restore
the voting rights of people who are in prison or on parole. The stripping
of voting rights of convicted felons, many of them drug war victims,
has eliminated the voting rights of 1 out of 6 African American males.
Loss of voting rights is no deterrent to crime, but it is a deterrent
and Referendum: Establish
binding initiative and referendum processes in every municipal, county,
state, and federal jurisdiction where they do not now exist. Make
initiatives and referendums more democratic by setting overall spending
limits on initiative and referendum campaigns and by guaranteeing
free and equal access to broadcast media for both sides as part of
FCC licensing conditions.
- None of the
binding 'None of the Above" (NOTA) options in all elections. Should
NOTA win the election a new election is called requiring new candidates.
Mandatory Nonpartisanship in Elections: Eliminate
laws that prevent candidates from being identified on ballots by their
party if they want.
Mandatory Primaries: Eliminate
laws that require parties to nominate candidates by primary elections
instead of membership conventions. Primaries take the nomination decision
away from the active members of a party and give it to any voter who
is registered in the party 14 closed primary states or to simply any
voter in 36 states. Primaries enable voters who do not support the
party's principles and platform and who do not support the party with
activity and money to make nominations for the party. The result is
a system where candidates win primary elections without any commitment
or accountability to the party's principles and platform. Parties
should have the right to primaries closed to voters who are not enrolled
in their party and the right to nominate by membership convention
instead of primary elections.
Mandatory Open Caucuses and Conventions: Eliminate
laws that require parties to hold caucus and convention processes
that allow anyone who wants to participate, no matter what their commitment
to party principles and membership responsibilities. Parties should
have the right to form as membership organizations with shared principles
and defined membership responsibilities in order to develop as principled
parties under democratic membership control. A political party, not
the state, should have the right to determine who has voting rights
in their party.
- Citizen Control
of Redistricting: Redrawing
political jurisdictions and electoral districts after censuses or
to accommodate new electoral systems such as proportional representation
should be controlled by Community Assemblies or some other form of
independent citizen oversight, and not by legislative committees dominated
by the major parties who have historically gerrymandered safe seats
for their incumbents. Redrawn political jurisdictions and electoral
districts should be consistent with Community Assemblies representing
real neighborhoods and towns at the local level and bioregions for
- Repeal the
Hatch Act: The Hatch Act restricts the rights of public employees
to stand for office and participate in election campaigns. It has
disproportionate adverse impact on African Americans, who are disproportionately
employed in government because of greater job discrimination in the
private sector. This anti-democratic, racially biased law should be