Gary Swing on the Green Party

Gary Swing has both run as a candidate and written for the NPA before. (See "References" at end of this article.)   The New Progressive Alliance has documented extensively the failure of both major parties. I respect Green Party values and the fact that the Green Party has spent decades building itself. Nonetheless, I believe they are now on the wrong track. For my perspective see A Hard Look at Where We Are After the 2016 Election

Below is Gary’s perspective. This is a one of the problems endemic to the Green Party and extends far beyond the borders of Colorado.

 

“I look forward to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

“There is a certain class of race-problem solvers who don’t want the patient to get well, because as long as the disease holds out they have not only an easy means of making a living, but also an easy medium through which to make themselves prominent before the public.” – Booker T. Washington

AN APOLOGY FROM A “RACIST SCUMBAG”

I talk with thousands of random people in my job promoting local cultural events and festivals.

One day, I was distributing handbills for a local festival when an elderly black woman approached me. I held out a handbill towards her and said: “Chalk Art Festival.”

She asked: “What did you say to me?”
I repeated, trying to enunciate more clearly: “I said, Chalk Art Festival.”
She asked “Did you just tell me to go fuck myself?”
I replied: “No. I said Chalk Art Festival. There’s a free festival on Larimer Street this weekend, where artists do chalk drawings on the street. I was just offering you a flier for it.”
She insisted: “You told me to go fuck myself. You’re a racist!”
I was getting irritated. I turned away from her and resumed offering handbills to other pedestrians.
She yelled at me: “I’m going to go tell the police you’re being racist!” She walked off in a huff.

Some people view the world through a lens that colors everything they see. For some people, this is a lens of racism. They see a world in which everything is about racism.

I think Andrea Merida Cuellar sees the world through a lens of racism that colors everything she sees. Andrea isn’t just a random person on the street. She is a co-chair of the Denver Green Party, a state co-chair of the Green Party of Colorado, and a national co-chair of the Green Party of the United States.

Early in 2014, I had an email exchange with Andrea in which she called the Libertarian Party racist. I disagreed with her. Andrea wrote:

"Not a racist party? I mean, look at the first line in their 2012 platform preamble, 'As Libertarians, we seek a world of liberty; a world in which all individuals are sovereign over their own lives and no one is forced to sacrifice his or her values for the benefit of others.' This is precisely why Ron Paul and others would completely rescind the Civil Rights Act of 1965: they believe that equity is disruptive to liberty. That immediately puts people of color, as well as the have nots, at the mercy of those with political and economic power. Not only is that racist, but it's also classist.

“I understand that you have a relationship with Frank; I respect that. One of the most frustrating things about dealing with white privilege is this penchant some of you have, of circling the wagons around each other. Unfortunately, you don't get to decide what's racist and what isn't. I do. Other people of color do. To qualify racism for me is an example of patriarchy and privilege, and I will give you the benefit of the doubt that it was not your intent to do so….”

I thought Andrea was crazy. I didn’t want to associate with her after that exchange. I did see her and interact with her occasionally due to our mutual involvement with the Green Party of Colorado.

THE INCIDENT AT THE PEOPLE’S FAIR

About two years later, I received a call from a Green Party activist who told me that Andrea had claimed that Bill Bartlett, the other co-chair of Colorado’s Green Party had physically threatened her. The caller asked me to help defend Bill against what they believed to be a false accusation.

I have known Bill for several years. I have known him to be friendly, outgoing, a talented public speaker, and a good facilitator. He’s the kind of person who helps to resolve conflicts. Bill helps to bring people together. Considering the long history of personality conflicts within the Green Party, I thought he was a good state co-chair.

From my observation of Andrea, however, I found that she was prone to engaging in nasty ad hominem attacks against people who disagreed with her.

In June of 2016, Andrea and Bill worked at an outreach booth for the Green Party of Colorado at the People’s Fair in Denver.

The story I’ve heard is that at the end of the festival, Bill helped Andrea carry materials from the booth to the car, where her partner Jason Justice met them. Bill had been drinking. He told Andrea that he didn’t want to be a co-chair of the state Green Party anymore. He criticized the tactics that Andrea used as a Green Party organizer. Then Bill offered Andrea a hug. Andrea denied a hug. She laughed at Bill. He said: “That’s fucked up.” Bill states: “I actually felt like she just misunderstood me. I tried to explain and followed as she was walking away, still thinking things were okay. That’s when Jason stopped me and said they didn’t have time. They had to go. They were smiling, annoyed, and patronizing. And they left. That’s when I flicked them off as they drove away, and actually said ‘fuck you then’ or some such, as they drove away. There was never a time when they expressed any sense of being threatened.”

A couple of weeks later, Bill heard that Andrea and Jason were telling Green Party members that he had threatened Andrea. Bill denied this accusation.

To the best of my knowledge, there were no other witnesses to the alleged incident. When I heard about the accusation, I thought it was absurd. I couldn’t imagine Bill physically threatening Andrea. I could easily imagine Andrea lying about such a thing to manipulate people. I would expect Jason to loyally back up anything Andrea said. Knowing the people involved, I wrote a character reference for Bill.

Like many other people who know Bill, I didn’t believe the accusation was credible.

In the wake of an ongoing pattern of nasty ad hominem attacks by Andrea and Jason against various Green Party members, I encouraged Bill to sue Andrea and Jason for libel and slander.

I spent three months trekking through New Zealand by myself in early 2017. When I came back to the United States, I returned to Denver for personal reasons. A few days after I returned to Denver, I ran into a friend from the Green Party at an anti-war rally. My friend complained about Andrea’s behavior towards other Green Party members, and expressed opposition to the Denver Green Party’s rule that requires registered Green Party members to pay dues of $5 per month (or get a waiver approved by party officers) in order to be a voting member. My friend tried to convince me to run against Andrea for state co-chair of Colorado’s Green Party. (I’m not interested in playing that role.)

I said there was no way I would run against Andrea, but it was time for me to speak out against the way she treats people. I posted comments on the Denver Green Party’s Facebook page, raising various concerns about Andrea’s toxic behavior, the chapter’s bylaws, and the divisive nature of the Denver Green Party’s current messaging. Andrea responded with a nasty personal attack against me on my personal Facebook page. She suggested that if I don’t agree with the Denver Green Party’s messaging, it isn’t the right place for me. This is a typical accusation from Andrea, who tells people all the time that they don’t belong in the Green Party. I replied that if Andrea chose to run for re-election as state co-chair, I would be at the state Green Party convention to vote against her. Her partner Jason Justice reacted to this by calling me “a racist scumbag.” He told me to go fuck myself. Jason promised to seat me in “the whites only section” at the state Green Party assembly, along with the Boulder Greens.

VOTING WITHIN A POLITICAL PARTY

Any registered Green Party member should be able to vote on Green Party nominations, election of officers, platform, and bylaws. The Green Party has rightfully criticized anti-democratic practices in the Democratic Party, The Green Party claims that it want to “get money out of politics.” It shouldn’t be a system of “pay to play.”

Colorado has five recognized political parties with automatic ballot status. One “qualified political organization” is trying to register enough party members to qualify for official ballot status as a minor political party. Any registered Libertarian in Colorado can vote on candidate nominations, party officers, bylaws, and platform statements. They raise money through voluntary contributions, vendor booths, and ticketed events.

Any registered Democrat or Republican in Colorado can vote on party business at the caucus level and vote to select delegates to the party’s assemblies.

I’m not familiar with the Constitution Party’s rules. I didn’t find them posted online.

The Unity Party welcomes people to participate regardless of their party affiliation. Their website provides extensive information about election laws and links to information about candidates of all affiliations. The Unity Party is working towards official party status.

RESPECT FOR DIVERSITY

The Green Party claims to stand for nonviolence, respect for diversity, feminism and gender equality, social justice and equal opportunity, and personal and global responsibility. Why is the Green Party so divided by hate, anger, and intolerance?

Maya Angelou wrote that: “Hate… has caused a lot of problems in this world, but it has not solved one yet.”

Nelson Mandela said: “No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background or his religion. People learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”

Racism is wrong, both morally and scientifically. In biological terms, genetically distinct races don’t exist within the human species.

There is No Such Thing as Race: http://www.newsweek.com/there-no-such-thing-race-283123

Andrea habitually interjects issues of race into discussions. She accuses white people of racism, with little or no evidence. Andrea Merida Cuellar and Jason Justice use the very real issue of racism as a false justification for engaging in personal attacks against other people to express their anger. As one former Colorado Green Party leader told me: “I get sick and tired of being called racist all the time.”

It has been said: “There is a fine line between free speech and hate speech. Free speech encourages debate whereas hate speech incites violence.” (Newton Lee)

Before Andrea Merida Cuellar became a co-chair of the Denver Green Party, the chapter’s bylaws included a positive statement welcoming people from diverse backgrounds. The new language is more negative, more divisive, and how should I put it? Rather academic? Bombastic?

The Denver Green Party's bylaws declare that it is an anti-oppression party, "actively dedicated to the work of ending capitalism and dismantling white supremacy and heteropatriarchy. As such, expressions of sexism, racism, classism, ableism, homophobia, transphobia, and other oppressive behaviors are not in keeping with the values of this party. Further, the Denver Green Party explicitly rejects the false ideas of reverse racism, misandry, etc., because we understand the role of white supremacy, heteropatriarchy, etc. in the oppression of our comrades of all colors, genders, and sexual orientations. While prejudice may exist against white people, against men, against cisgender people, against straight people (or any other privileged group), this prejudice is not oppression because there are no institutional power structures designed to disenfranchise these privileged groups."

The Denver Green Party creates a safe, welcoming space where privileged cisgendered heterosexual white male allies can go flagellate themselves.

WHO THE HELL IS THIS “RACIST SCUMBAG”?!?

I first joined the Green Committees of Correspondence as a high school student in 1985. The first presidential election I voted in was in 1988. I was simultaneously registered to vote as a Democrat and a dues-paying member of New Jersey’s Libertarian Party.

Jesse Jackson was the first presidential candidate I voted for, in New Jersey’s Democratic primary.

I attended the 1988 New Jersey Libertarian Party state convention, where I met American Indian Movement activist Russell Means. I listened to his passionate speech, gave him a standing ovation, and voted for him to receive the Libertarian Party’s presidential nomination. I never liked Ron Paul. I wrote in my own name for president in the general election. I even wrote a letter to the editor of the college newspaper, in which I invited people to write me in on their ballots as a “Libertarian Pacifist” protest candidate for president if they weren’t happy with the choices on their ballot.

As a student at American University in Washington, DC, I joined the Potomac Green Alliance. I had some of the same professors as Petra Kelly, a co-founder of Germany’s Green Party, who was a student at American University twenty years earlier. I met Petra Kelly when Professor Abdul Aziz Said arranged for her to speak on campus, along with her lover Gert Bastien. They were both Green Party members of parliament. Gert Bastien allegedly killed Petra Kelly later in a murder-suicide.

I moved to Boulder, Colorado in 1990 as a transfer student at the University of Colorado, I joined the Campus Greens organization. Indeed, the existence of a Campus Greens group was one of the reasons I decided to transfer to the University of Colorado. I participated in a Campus Greens meeting before I applied to the school.

When I moved to Boulder, I attended potlucks with the Boulder Green Alliance. On the first day of registration for classes, I participated in a Campus Greens protest against the Rocky Flats facility, where plutonium triggers were being manufactured for nuclear weapons.

In 1994, I petitioned to put Phil Hufford and Krista Paradise on Colorado’s ballot for Governor and Lieutenant Governor. They were the state’s first Green Party candidates.

I served as the Vice Chairman of the Colorado Coalition for Fair and Open Elections (COCOFOE), which represented alternative political parties organizing in the state. I found state legislators who agreed to carry bills that reduced petition signature requirements for independent candidates to qualify for the ballot, and created a process for political organizations to qualify as minor political parties with automatic ballot status. As a result of COCOFOE’s lobbying efforts, the Green Party of Colorado has had automatic ballot status as a minor political party since 1998.

I was a co-chair of the Denver Region Greens in the mid-1990s. In 1996, I petitioned onto the ballot as a Green Party candidate for state representative in Denver’s House District 8, with the party’s endorsement.

The Denver Green Party nominated me for US Representative in 2010 and 2012. In 2014, I ran as a Green candidate for Congress in a different district, rather than work with the Denver Green Party under Andrea Merida Cuellar’s leadership.

MY SINCERE APOLOGY

Everybody has baggage. I argue with people. I criticize the Green Party’s candidates and leaders. I act independently. I’m not loyal to the Green Party. I’ve been in and out of the party repeatedly. I get pissed off. I get other people pissed off. I’ve seen a lot of petty, stupid personal conflicts within the Green Party over the years. I’ve participated in more than my fair share of these conflicts.

Along the way, I’ve met some good people in the Green Party who have earned my respect and my friendship. I have argued with some of them bitterly at times. For that, I am sorry. I care more about people who have earned my respect and friendship than I care about the Green Party. It pisses me off when my friends are subjected to nasty personal attacks.

Everybody makes mistakes. I exercised poor judgment. I made a terrible mistake. I would like to offer my sincere apology to members of the Green Party of Colorado. I deeply regret that I voted for Andrea Merida Cuellar for state party co-chair in 2015. I knew that Andrea was the wrong choice for state party co-chair, but I voted for her anyway.

Three candidates stood for two state party co-chair positions. I have known Bill Bartlett for a long time. He has earned my respect and friendship.

Bill Bartlett and Andrea Merida Cuellar ran as a ticket for the two state co-chair positions. Bill had my absolute confidence and support to continue in his role as an incumbent state co-chair. In fact, I rejoined the Colorado Green Party specifically to vote for Bill’s re-election as state party co-chair.

Harry Hempy, the 2014 Colorado Green Party candidate for Governor, was the third candidate for state co-chair. During Harry’s campaign, I argued with him aggressively about election reform issues. In retrospect, that argument seems petty and divisive. For that, I sincerely apologize. Harry was a much better candidate for state co-chair than Andrea was.

SEDINAM”S VISIT WITH THE BOULDER GREENS

Sedinam Kinamo Christin Moyowasifza-Curry became one of my friends through Facebook. She drove around the country, seeking the Green Party’s nomination for President. Sedinam wants the Green Party to focus more attention on issues of racial justice in the United States. Considering her message, and the Denver Green Party’s intersectional analysis focusing on issues of “identity politics,” one might reasonably have expected the Denver Green Party to welcome Sedinam with open arms. They did not. Andrea asked her NOT TO COME.

To the contrary, Sedinam asked me to help her meet Green Party members in Colorado. She told me that Andrea Merida Cuellar was uncooperative. I told Sedinam that I didn’t represent the Green Party in any way. I wasn’t even a member of the party anymore. I had changed my voter registration to unaffiliated. I was planning to petition onto the ballot for US Senate as a “Boiling Frog Party” candidate, with a “deep green, dark humor” message. (I later decided a petition drive to become one of eight candidates on the ballot wasn’t worth my time and effort. I expected to get less than one percent of the vote, potentially fracturing the already marginal vote for Green Party nominee Arn Menconi. Ultimately, I chose to file as an unauthorized write-in “sham candidate” for the uncontested Green Party primary for US Senate against John McCain in Arizona, where my family lives.)

My (then) girlfriend and I hosted Sedinam when she came to visit Colorado. My (then) girlfriend is the daughter of a Chinese father and a Mexican mother.

I tried to organize a schedule of events for Sedinam to meet and greet Colorado Green Party members. I think it’s worth noting that the Boulder Greens, whom Jason Justice has promised to seat in the “whites only section” at the state Green Party convention, welcomed Sedinam to come and speak with them. We had what I thought was an open, positive, and respectful discussion about racism in the United States. I disagreed with Sedinam’s position that the Green Party should exclusively nominate women of color for president, vice president, and governors’ offices. I expressed my view that the Green Party should certainly welcome and try to recruit women of color as candidates and organizers, but that party leadership should be open to all Greens.

State and local Co-Chair Andrea Merida Cuellar, on the other hand, did not meet with Sedinam when she visited Colorado. Andrea would not arrange for the African-American woman seeking the Green Party’s presidential nomination to speak to the intersectional Denver Green chapter that focuses on opposing white supremacy.

Sendinam did meet with Frank Atwood, a long-time activist from the Libertarian Party that Andrea Merida Cuellar has denounced as a white racist organization. Sedinam and Frank discussed the merits of approval voting.

WHAT IS RACISM?

I recognize that the United States was built on a foundation of racism, slavery, and genocide. Racism remains a serious problem in this country. The United States has a genocidal foreign policy that goes unchallenged by the two major parties. We have a major problem with police brutality and a high incarceration rate among racial minorities. We still have slavery in this country through the prison industrial complex.

Andrea wrote to me that people are dying because of racism. In my reply, I pointed out that yes, indeed, an estimated twenty to thirty million (mostly non-white) people have been killed as a result of US military imperialism since the end of World War Two. Andrea, who volunteered to enlist in the US Army until she received an honorable discharge, did not respond to this point.

I reject the notion that everyone is racist. I reject the notion that all white people are racist. I reject that notion that non-white people are incapable of being racist.

I queried Google about how a person defends oneself against allegations of racism. A reasonable answer may be that you don’t. The claim that an individual is racist is a serious claim. The burden of proof in most cases should be on the accuser. I certainly shouldn’t mention that I was married to an African-American woman for seven years. She was the secretary of the Denver Region Greens when I was a co-chair of the group.

The Green Party takes a strong stand against racism. White people should not be in the Green Party if they harbor genuinely racist views. To simply brand white people in the Green Party as racist alienates people who want to change the system, and to end racism.

A person who is accused of racism should first ask what the accuser means by racism.

The Oxford English dictionary defines racism as “the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races.”

Muhammed Ali said that: “Hating people because of their color is wrong. And it doesn’t matter which color does the hating. It’s just plain wrong.”

There is no such thing as “reverse racism” because racism is just racism, regardless of who is being targeted by bigotry. The Denver Green Party has twisted the notion of respect for diversity into a weapon, beating ploughshares into swords.

SHAM CANDIDATES AND A SWASTIKA

Andrea Merida Cuellar has personally attacked me for filing as an unauthorized candidate for US Senate on the Arizona Green Party’s ballot line. I openly admitted that I filed without seeking the party’s authorization or endorsement.

Here is some background behind the “sham candidate” phenomenon in Arizona and my decision to file for the Senate race there.

Richard Grayson is a friend of mine. He is a gay rights activist, a humor writer, a stand-up comedian, and a lawyer who is interested in ballot access laws. Richard divides his time between New York and Arizona. He has filed as a candidate several times to run satirical political campaigns in different states. In 2010, he filed as a write-in candidate for an uncontested Arizona Green Party ballot line for US Representative.

I am aware that the Arizona Green Party filed unsuccessful lawsuits funded by the Democrats to try to disqualify “sham candidates” who got onto the Green Party’s general election ballot line by filing as write-in candidates for their 2010 primary without securing the party’s endorsement. Most of these unendorsed candidates were homeless people who had been encouraged by a Republican politician to file for the Arizona Green Party’s primary election. Richard Grayson was also targeted by these lawsuits. I read his defense of the “sham candidates.” I agreed with his argument.

The lawyer for the Arizona Green Party argued that the party didn’t want to be associated with Richard Grayson because he had a swastika on his campaign blog. The implication seemed to be that Richard Grayson was a Nazi. This story was published on Rosh Hosanna, the Jewish New Year. Richard Grayson, who is Jewish, was attending services at a synagogue that day. The context was missing from the story. The swastika on his campaign blog was attached to an article that compared the Arizona Republicans to Nazis because of particular legislation they supported. To Richard and to me, this was a clear attempt to smear him.

I heard about the Tucson Weekly’s 2012 “Project White House” political theater competition from Richard Grayson. The Tucson Weekly alternative newspaper encouraged “ordinary people” to “occupy the ballot” by filing as candidates for the state’s presidential primary. These candidates were presented with a series of campaign assignments that were reported by the paper. The “prize” was the newspaper’s endorsement for each party’s primary.

Only the Republican and Green Parties held a presidential primary in Arizona in 2012. Richard and I each filed for the Arizona Green Party’s presidential primary. I ran on a platform of “peace, justice, and cinnamon rolls.” I found that using humor created opportunities to present a more serious campaign message.

Green Party Watch: Candidates Grayson and Swing Trade Zingers: http://www.greenpartywatch.org/…/az-green-candidates-grays…/

Richard Grayson won the Tucson Weekly’s endorsement for the Green Party’s presidential primary. He later told me that the Arizona Green Party had “kicked him out.” Besides the fact that he filed as an unauthorized, satirical candidate for the party’s primaries twice, the Arizona Greens criticized Richard Grayson for using the party’s logo without their permission, creating a web blog for an imaginary Pinal County chapter of the Green Party, and publishing an endorsement of Barack Obama’s re-election campaign from the fictitious Pinal County Green Party.

Richard Grayson and I discussed having a rematch in 2016. We planned to file as write-in candidates for the Arizona Green Party primary election for US Senate, and run humorous campaigns against each other.

Richard Grayson surprised me when he emailed me the day after Arizona’s filing deadline. He wrote that he had decided not to file for the Senate race, leaving me as the only candidate to file for the nomination.

In the general election, I received the highest percentage of the vote cast for a candidate who appeared on a Green Party ballot line for US Senate anywhere in the country in 2016. I received the largest total number of votes for any candidate on a Green Party ballot line for either house of the United States Congress. This was on a zero dollar campaign budget in a three way race.

Cheers,

Gary Swing

There is No Such Thing as Race: http://www.newsweek.com/there-no-such-thing-race-283123

Gary Swing for Congress (Green Party) 2010/2012/2014: www.newmenu.org/swingvoter

Green Party Watch: Candidates Grayson and Swing Trade Zingers: http://www.greenpartywatch.org/…/az-green-candidates-grays…/

Appeal for Intervention in the Conduct of the Green Party of Colorado Steering Committee:
www.restoregreenvalues.org

 

 

Other References:

1. A Hard Look at Where We Are After the 2016 Election 

2. Gary Swing on Election Reform 

3. Afghanistan: An American Holocaust by Gary Swing 

4. When Clinton Lied, Yugoslavia Died by Gary Swing  

5. Gary Swing on Bernie Sanders  

6. Cautionary Tales by Jeff Roby   

7. So Much for Andrea Merida

8. Climate Change and the Green Party by Gary Swing 

 

 

 

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commented 2017-08-07 14:59:58 -0700 · Flag
I was there when Bill Bartlett said to my partner, I will fuck you up." He said it twice. As he moved in towards her, as cowards do, I had to step in front of him. He didn’t ask for a hug. He was going to hit her. You weren’t there. I was. When Bartlett was being recalled by GPCO he would only say “I don’t remember” about the incident. This must be him either him A) lying or B) getting closer to the truth. Since it is obvious to me that you care nothing about facts or violence against a woman of color, you ought to look up the word slander.

And you should also know that tokenizing your ex girlfriend is the kind of low down action from someone who practices and benefits from white supremacy.

BTW, white supremacist’s use the tactic of calling other white people “crazy” when called out on their own white privilege, like you did with me.

At the end of the day you are a cyber bully who has no stomach for the real work of organizing or movement building. You fight for your right to do nothing. You run joke campaigns not designed to build this party. You even parachuted into Arizona this last election cycle to squat on the Green Party of Arizona’s ballot line without even giving the party a heads up about your plan.

I read the site rules at the bottom and am not sure why they would allow such a slanderous post or support cyber bullying in this way. Well, liberalism always supports race, gender, and class warfare.
commented 2017-08-07 10:57:09 -0700 · Flag
Kind of hard to take anything in the piece seriously when it starts off with an anecdote so blatantly made up to prove his point. I’ll take “Things That Never Happened” for 500, Alex.
commented 2017-08-06 22:44:46 -0700 · Flag
My friend and brother, your on point,!!!