Since 2000, valuable activists at the county and state levels have come and gone. They have burned out, left to pursue other priorities, or just disappeared without notice. Other valuable activists have somehow stuck with it all these years, including some might lean years. They may have been discouraged but never crushed by the internal and external obstacles that keep the organization from growing and thriving. They have also taken some courage from the increasing numbers of Texans willing to vote for Green candidates.
Odd-Number Annual Meeting in Corpus
The Party leadership's traditional preference has been to convene in the big cities during even-numbered years with statewide elections, and less populous spots in odd years. In 2007, GPTX met in Marfa, its only annual meeting in Far West Texas to date. That was a truly memorable sojourn that included camping near Fort Davis in vicious summer storm.
This weekend, the state Party meets in Corpus Christi. It will be GPTX's first annual meeting there, and only its second south of San Antonio. Corpus Christi, the seat of Nueces County, was selected for its proximity to the growing county parties in Webb County/Laredo and the Rio Grande Valley. It is also more accessible for Houston, Austin, and DFW Greens than Laredo or Harlingen would be. Nueces County has not had an active Green chapter of its own since the early 2000s; we're hoping to change that this year.
I am looking forward to this weekend's trip, but with a bit of consternation. Usually, I leave these meetings with renewed vigor and enthusiasm, and I hope that will be the case this weekend. To be quite candid again, if I don't get that post-meeting buzz, it will be difficult to justify continuing my activities with the Party.
For a complex of reasons, I missed last year's state convention in San Antonio. Since I could not thereafter be a delegate at the national convention, held at the University of Houston that August, I volunteered instead. The buzz I got from helping make that convention successful was indescribably awesome. My partner Kayleen can also testify about the injection of positivity we both got just from driving delegates (and a presidential candidate) around the campus on a golf cart on the 100-degree August days, or shuttling delegates and dignitaries to and from the airports.
Of course, after the convention came the nasty orchestrated campaign by the Democratic establishment and its attack dogs in the media to besmirch Jill Stein, the Green Party, and Progressives in general. Sure, Stein and her running mate Ajamu Baraka got some quality time on CNN and elsewhere; after that, however, the print and electronic media seldom uttered the name "Jill Stein" except to grossly misinterpret her speeches and platform. On Election Night, a shocked Rachel Maddow looked as if she would court eternal damnation just by speaking the word "Jill" or the word "Stein," as she tried to make the case that third-party voters were responsible for swing states voting Orange.
Will We Get It Done or Do Ourselves In?
After that election came also the certainty that GPTX would need to do some heavy lifting to get back on the ballot in the spring of 2018. The question is whether the Party has the resources in place—human and monetary—to conduct the required petition drive. Even if it has the resources, will internal squabbling make it difficult for those resources to get the job done?
About what could Greens possibly be squabbling? We all subscribe to the same Ten Key Values, and some of us have had some notable successes in our time. Our electoral results, even against both major parties, have trended upward since regaining ballot access in 2010. And for the most part, despite past and lingering disagreements, we even like each other as people.
On a strictly practical level, the squabbling is mostly about strategy and tactics for regaining ballot access. Ideally, the Party will attract thousands of Green voters to precinct conventions next March, decreasing drastically the number of signatures we would need to chase down over the succeeding 75 days. How do we find these Green-voting folks? It's not as if the quarter-million or so who voted Green left their names and numbers at the polls last November for us to collect.
We don't have a lot of money to start a big publicity campaign. Corporate benefactors aren't lining up to shower us with hundred-dollar bills, and we wouldn't take their money if they were. So we have to use what little we have judiciously. That's the major tactical concern. Everyone with an idea will have a different idea what mixture of methods that would require. At least everyone agrees that we can reach out to people, by various methods of communication, to let them know how important 13 March 2018 is for us.
Strategically speaking, we have some dissension concerning who will provide the necessary leadership in the coming year. One of the agenda items for annual meetings is the election of about half of the State Executive Committee, including one of the two co-chairs. The possibility looms that we could end up with an SEC that doesn't work well together, or that doesn't communicate effectively with the county chapters. This possibility is the main source of my consternation.
I will not mention names in this entry, but in my post-meeting wrap-up next week, I will report on the composition of the new SEC for 2017-18. Also, I will assess the Party's prospects for success with the new line-up.
The scary part for me is that I have taken on a leadership role in Harris County's Campaign Coordination Committee, a committee that I myself proposed and the general membership approved this year. If that committee can't get it together, can't provide the necessary logistical support and leadership on the ballot access effort locally, the responsibility will be mostly mine. Even with all the aforementioned obstacles, internal and external, it's make or break.
This weekend's activities will give me a better idea of which way the effort will go.
The odds against reclaiming ballot access for GPTX are mighty tall. As a rule, I'd rather try and fail than just abandon the task. But if trying and failing produces more stress than I can handle, I will abandon it as gracefully as possible. I have a history of leaving my positions on the county Steering Committee before my term is up, which makes me hesitant to run for anything ever again. If I do give up midstream, I will join those quarter-million anonymous Green voters who don't go to meetings.
In 2010, GPTX received an in-kind donation of a whole cohort of paid signature-gatherers. That spring I barely even participated in the petition drive, and yet the drive succeeded. The Democratic Party didn't run a candidate for State Comptroller, and our candidate polled 6%, Similar holes in the Democratic ticket kept us going through last year. The Party may very well do even better without my help.