June 7, 2014. Detroit. Last year, the Green Party took the lead in opposing the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal involving a dozen nations around the Pacific Ocean. Now, the Greens are on the front line against TPP’s Atlantic twin, TTIP - Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. Both are global trade alliances between the US and its allies in opposition to economic powerhouses like China, India, Japan and Russia.
Michigan Green Party US Senate candidate Chris Wahmhoff. Image courtesy of Chris Wahmhoff for US Senate.
A recent Green Party press release quoted the party’s Tampa, Florida co-coordinator Friedemann Buschbeck voicing opposition to the TTIP agreement. “Trade barriers between the US and Europe are already low,” he said, “But the TTIP would lower it even further by weakening labor, food safety, and environmental protections, enabling further privatization of public resources and services, and gutting corporate regulations.
He went on to explain, “The White House doesn't want us to talk about it. As with the TPP, the TTIP's US negotiators have tried to keep the deal a secret from the public. We need public scrutiny and discussion, including hearings, on the effects of the TTIP." Those sentiments fall right in line with the Green Party’s official position.
The party’s press release confirmed its opposition to TTIP saying, ‘The Green Party of the US has strongly opposed trade deals that establish a secretive panel of pro-corporate experts sitting in a foreign court of arbitration with the power to nullify legislation passed in the US and other signatory states. Greens support negotiation of TTIP and renegotiation of other agreements to strengthen labor, environmental, and consumer protections.’
Last month, former Green Party Presidential nominee Cynthia McKinney teamed up with fellow Green Parties in England and Wales to denounce the TTIP trade deal. McKinney said, “First and foremost, the TTIP is focused on profit generation for the benefit of owners and shareholders of large multinational corporations. It will do this through lowering labor costs and removing tariffs. This won’t be to the general benefit of citizens. The TTIP will bring substantial reductions in tax revenues at a significant cost to the public good, greater job insecurity and a 'race to the bottom' in labor standards, safety, environmental regulation and consumer protection.”
Also joining the chorus against TTIP is Green Party candidate for Michigan’s US Senate seat Chris Wahmhoff. The candidate says, “US citizens should recognize that the TTIP is a scheme that would allow corporations and investors to challenge government regulations, while weakening the ability of individuals and governments to hold corporations accountable. We need fair trade, not free trade. We need the kind of public protest against the TTIP and TPP that took place from 1999 to 2003 against the WTO, IMF, World Bank, and other antidemocratic trade authorities." The Michigan Green Party is holding its state convention this weekend.
Upcoming Green Party happenings
As mentioned above, the Green Party of Michigan is holding its annual state nominating convention in Detroit this weekend. A number of candidates, including Wahmhoff, will be seeking the party’s official nomination and endorsement. But one recent bit of information from the Michigan Greens was just as interesting. It was an informal poll taken by the party’s local Traverse City affiliate. Typically, polls like these ask questions with obvious answers to induce donations and participation, or even a rigged one-sided poll for publicity. Bu this one was different.
The Traverse City ‘Penny Poll’ measured the support of local Greens on a host of topics, almost all of which are currently passionate issues to party members. It was interesting to see how Green Party voters reacted when being forced to choose between issues like ‘education’ and ‘healthcare’. Here are the results:
85 votes cast for Environment
77 votes cast for Education
68 votes cast for Health Care
48 votes cast for Energy
31 votes cast for Veterans Benefits
30 votes cast for Infrastructure
30 votes cast for Jobs
28 votes cast for Housing
1 vote cast for Defense
It’s interesting that ‘Veterans Benefits’ finished above ‘Jobs’ and ‘Housing’, two favorite topics of most Green Party activists. And this poll was taken last month, before much of the Veterans Administration scandal and corruption charges were flooding the news networks. The two least surprising items were ‘Environment’ and ‘Defense’.
With the name Green Party, it should be no surprise that ‘Environment’ was issue #1 for local Traverse City, Michigan Green Party voters. And with a history of little or no love for the American military industrial complex, it’s no surprise that ‘Defense’ finished last. But the fact that ‘Veterans Benefits’ ended up in the middle of the list shows that the Greens are at least differentiating between the federal government and America’s sons and daughters.
2014 National Convention
Last but not least, the Green Party 2014 National Convention is coming up next month from July 24-27. Gathering at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota, the party will be meeting in the same city it did when it met for the first time in 1984. This year, the Green Party USA is celebrating its 30th anniversary. The Party’s 2014 Convention website remembers, ‘10 key values were put forth during that meeting. In 1984, the spirit was very much grounded in grassroots democracy.’
Tickets for the National Convention in St. Paul aren’t cheap. But then, unlike the two establishment political parties, the taxpayers don’t pay for the Greens’ nominating conventions. All proceeds go directly to help the party. The cost is $125 per individual or $225 per couple. There is also a webpage set up so registrants can also pre-purchase everything from lodging to meals. In true Green fashion, the convention announcement confirms that the event will have vegan, vegetarian, and meat options available for all meals.
For more information, visit the Green Party at GP.org.
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