Green Party State of the State: Oregon
This year and is an exciting and opportune time for the Green Party nationwide. This will be a year of big political and electoral victories for Greens, and Oregon is no exception, but if and only if we seize the moment. The Pacific Green Party of Oregon looks to the future with hope and optimism.
Who We Are
Stating what we’re not — we are not Republicans, we are not Democrats — makes for a good introduction, but our staying power will only come by emphasizing what we are and what we believe. The Ten Key Values, as outlined in the Green Party’s 2016 platform, outlines a progressive agenda that defines Green politics as one that emphasizes respect.
Respect towards nature, respect towards our neighbors, respect for both cultural and bio diversity, respect for our individual and collective responsibilities, respect for the principle of nonviolence, respect within our communities, respect towards women, respect for ideas and input from all angles, respect for social justice, and respect for a sustainable future are among our defining characteristics. In a political climate of name-calling, personal attacks, and scandals, both fabricated and all too real, the Green Party should embody its platform of respect by opting for the high road, in all dealings.
Though we are hardly a single-issue entity, the Greens are the only major party with an antiwar platform. The case for war should not be an easy one, and yet in 2016, Dr. Jill Stein received just 1% of the popular vote and zero electoral votes. This is a chilling reflection of how, in just fifteen years, the American public has become almost unflinchingly pro-war. The true nature of the United States’ so-called “War on Terror” has become apparent. It has become a series of endless wars against faceless enemies for oil, at the expense of the lives of countless innocents abroad.
To this end, America needs a revolution in the head, and the Green Party can be a leading force to sway public opinion on war. Our opposition to war is balanced by our belief in peace, which is rooted in the emphasis on respect and mutual understanding. These principles guide us to support feminism, social justice, antiracist action, grassroots democracy, multiculturalism, biodiversity, queer rights, and comprehensive energy reform. The Green New Deal is the end result of these ideas coming together into a major legislative effort, one that can only be made possible by getting more Greens into office.
In Oregon, a state with a Democrat governor and congressional delegation, politics remain sharply polarized between liberals and conservatives, with the Cascade Mountains providing a loose boundary between Democratic-majority populations on the west and a Republican stronghold to the east. So “us versus them” is the mindset of both parties that on either side of the Cascades, regardless of which side is in power, the manipulation remains the same. In Democratic-majority strongholds, Republicans are denounced as Nazis, their supporters painted with a broad, demonizing brush as a melange of Wall Street backers and “white trash.” Similarly, in conservative parts of the state, Democrats are painted as “liberals,” the word itself frequently uttered with a tone of disdain, even hatred. In both cases, the side not in power tends to play the victim card.
Accordingly, it is in the best interests of the Green Party’s platform to establish meaningful relationships with the Native tribes of Oregon, as well as engaging in outreach to faith communities across Oregon. Oregon as a state exists on stolen land, and it is appropriate to reconcile this theft by building community with the indigenous people of this land. Many sacred traditions of the indigenous people of Oregon express reverence for nature; similarly, many of the world’s major faith traditions contain scripture advocating for human stewardship towards the earth and its inhabitants. Locally, the PGP should build strong coalitions that work together across county lines to boost candidates, attend each other’s events, and promote the Green platform.
We must act purposefully and quickly if we hope to obtain more Green victories in Oregon’s upcoming elections. These efforts will gain support for the Green Party across the state while also showing the rest of the country that there is hope and a way forward on the Left. This concentration of recruitment, promotion, and engagement will assure a greater future for the Pacific Green Party through 2018, into the 2020 election cycle, and beyond.
Our greatest obstacle is not that of the current ruling party in Washington DC, even though we are in many ways political opposites to the Republican platform, but that of the ruling party in Salem, the Democratic Party. Last week, Governor Kate Brown unveiled in her State of the State address a vision she calls Future Ready Oregon. This plan promotes preparing the next generation of Oregonians for the emerging career paths in our state’s growing economy. This includes jobs in renewable energy, and the Pacific Green Party is committed to ensuring the Green New Deal is considered in future energy legislation, including job creation in the field of energy retrofitting.
Future Ready Oregon also proposes to create Next Gen apprenticeships in fields like advanced manufacturing, renewable energy, biotech, and healthcare. As Greens, we will make sure Oregon remains a leader when it comes to supporting renewable energy apprenticeships. On healthcare, we believe in investing in preventative healthcare, while also moving towards a single-payer system, guaranteeing universal access to quality care. We shouldn’t have to be fighting for this.
In Oregon, where the shortcomings of a Democratic monopoly have been piling up, the Pacific Green Party will only grow in numbers. The Green Party should make a concerted effort to recruit Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, and Independent voters from all across their states.
The political reality of Oregon is a typical story for many states which have deep blue urban centers and rural voters who tend to vote conservative. This exudes a reductionist, partisan, “us versus them” mentality, the result of divide and conquer politics. One needs to look no further than 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue to see the outcome of such a sick ploy. As a third voice stepping into what has been a two-sided conversation for too long, Greens are proud of not supporting Trump or his Republican-backed agenda of attacking marginalized communities, wreaking environmental havoc through the extraction industry and enacting rollbacks on emissions standards, continuing our endless wars, and defending white nationalism. It should be very easy for Greens to state their ideological opposition to Donald Trump and the party who backs him.
Accordingly, as some Republicans in Oregon are seeking to distance themselves from Trump, Greens should make efforts to appeal to them by finding common ground on issues related to conservation and investing in green energy, while encouraging social conservatives to consider the needs of others with regards to moral issues. Denouncing the policies of Donald Trump and the majority of the Republican Party should, in 2018, be talking points that Greens can deliver in their sleep.
We recognize that the Republicans’ hesitation towards Trumpism in 2015 turned into tacit support by 2016, which by the end of 2017 unfolded into groveling capitulation. Their shame will not be ours.
Ours is a tall order: convincing the American public to think beyond two-sided dichotomous conflicts, framed by the example of a popularity contest dominated by two nauseatingly wealthy narcissists. We are the party of respect, and it is with that message in our hearts that we accept such an monumental task. If you’re tired of the duopoly held by the corporate Democratic and Republican parties, join the Green Party.
Here is the link to change your party registration online, through the Secretary of State’s office. (All you need is an Oregon ID!)
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