From: Dialogue Not Expulsion
To: Steering Committee of the
Green Party of the United States
Date: April 2, 2020
This letter is sent in response to your statement, published Thursday, March 19, 2020, in which the Steering Committee condemned “unfortunate statements of one of our state parties in recent weeks.” This is clearly a reference to the Georgia party, which at its February 22nd state convention adopted an amendment to its state platform endorsing the Declaration on Women's Sex-Based Rights, a position the Georgia party took in pursuit of the feminist values of the Green Party. The national Steering Committee failed to initiate any conversation with the Georgia party before determining its position on this question.
The Georgia party’s endorsement of the Declaration was condemned on February 29th in a video statement by the national Lavender Caucus. In opposition to every principle of grassroots democracy, the Lavender Greens called for the Georgia Party to rescind or recant its position, and submit to "education," or else be decertified as a state party.
Certain state parties (Illinois1 on March 17th, and West Virginia2 on March 18th), have joined the Lavender Caucus to call for the resolution of these political differences with arbitrary, top-down administrative action. And the New York State3 Executive Committee on April 1 adopted language echoing the National Steering Committee, raising the question of whether any of these state leaderships engaged their own members in a democratic process before making such pronouncements.
Grassroots democracy, a condition for accreditation of Green state organizations and caucuses, requires freedom of discussion and freedom to disagree; failure to allow for such open discussion and clamoring for condemnatory action violate the key values of grassroots democracy and decentralization.
This controversy has prompted two online petitions. One4 launched the afternoon of March 3rd is authored by the Lavender Caucus and expresses support for its position. The other5 was launched earlier that day by an informal group calling ourselves “Greens for Dialogue Not Expulsion.”
The latter calls for the opening of a discussion in the party about the underlying substantive issues in dispute. (We enclose a page with the exact text of the two petitions). The Lavender Caucus states that the goal of their petition is to “demonstrate the overwhelming support” for their viewpoint in the national party. As of the date we send this letter, however, the actual number of signers on the LC petition is 87 whereas the “Dialogue Not Expulsion” petition has 145 signers. Clearly the Lavender Caucus has failed in the past month to demonstrate that there is “overwhelming support” in the Green Party for its position. Indeed, it seems that there is significantly more support for the approach advocated by Greens for Dialogue not Expulsion. We also note that the national Black Caucus issued its own declaration which, like the Dialogue not Expulsion petition, calls for a national discussion before anyone issues declarations taking sides in this dispute.
Recently we have witnessed an escalation of the trend to censor discussion of the substantive issues underlying this controversy. There is an extremely hostile environment created on GP social media accounts by the deleting of posts by women expressing concern for the rights of females as a sex and/or questioning certain ideas about gender promoted by a section of the transgender community, and the tolerance of aggressive and even threatening posts directed at these feminists.
We appreciate the work of group administrators appointed by the Media Committee of the national party to remove posts threatening physical violence against group participants over policy differences arising from the gender-critical views of the women targeted with these threats. We appreciate that some of those making these threats were finally banned for their use of such tactics, though we remain concerned that this occurred only after repeated aggressive, threatening posts.
But the group admins for the party's official Facebook presence, the public GPUS Facebook group6 (with 25k subscribers) have gone further, choosing sides and suppressing discussion on a question that is obviously very much still a matter of debate within the party, by deleting long and informative threads. Further, overwhelmed by the ongoing harassment by some trans-rights activists for her work to create a space for a respectful discussion of these issues, the group moderator principally responsible for managing the unofficial private group, Green Party of the United States—Issues and Discussions,7 has chosen to focus her energies instead on addressing the crisis needs in her own community arising from the current pandemic.
This led to the group owner closing the group to new posts and comments, removing all of its moderators and mothballing its archives. This has unfortunately left very little space for the broad party-wide democratic discussion of the underlying issues that is sorely needed.
It is totally inappropriate for the national leadership of a party upholding grassroots democracy as a key value to take a position in this dispute before a political discussion of the relevant issues has been conducted. Members, and most importantly leadership bodies, of the Green Party need to hear the discussion that is proposed by the Greens for Dialogue not Expulsion before any conclusions should be reached. Autocratic methods are no substitute for democratic discussion and debate when addressing political differences of opinion within the party, and are in sharp contradiction with our 10 Key Values. Acting in such a top-down, authoritarian manner will only lead to division and, in the worst case, the possibility of a split in the Green Party—something that has occurred in several other left organizations over this issue8—and at the worst possible time, during a pandemic and an election year when unity in the party and our critical Green voices are urgently needed.
We are so deeply concerned about the current situation that we are asking those who have supported our online petition to join us in creating a formal issues-based caucus formation that will struggle in the national party for the goals presented in our online statement.
It seems clear that the only reasonable action by our national leadership would be to take steps to organize the kind of national conversation recommended by the Dialogue Not Expulsion petition, allowing for everyone to have a voice, rather than rushing to judgment and making ill-informed statements. We look forward to such a dialogue.
The Administrative Committee on behalf of the Organizing Committee for the “Dialogue not Expulsion” Caucus
8 Note the recent #expelme twitter storm, with 20,000+ Labour voters and members responding
to the endorsement by candidates for U.K. Labour party leader of a manifesto of the Labour Campaign for Trans Rights. https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-51465800