It is a privilege to run around the country, meet with Greens and other independent progressives and socialists, and discuss with them how we can build up the Green Party into the force we need to enact real solutions to the pressing problems we face. It is also special bonus to be able to catch up with family and friends around the country.
My first road trip after announcing my candidacy on May 28 in Brooklyn NY took me to 14 cities by June 6: Blacksburg VA; Winston-Salem, Charlotte, and Greenville NC; Columbia and Orangeburg SC; Savannah, Stone Mountain, and Athens GA; Volusia (near Daytona Beach) and Tampa FL; Mobile AL; St. Louis MO; and Carbondale IL. I rounded out the first month of the campaign with trips to Baltimore and three conferences of socialists: the Solidarity Summer School in Chicago, the Left Forum in Brooklyn, and back to Chicago for the Socialism 2019 conference. Thank you to all the people who organized these meetings and media interviews.
My stump speech at the meet and greets focuses on three life-or-death issues we face: climate, inequality, and nuclear war. We need an ecosocialist Green New Deal to address the climate crisis and growing inequality with an emergency program for 100% greenhouse gas reductions and clean energy by 2030 and an Economic Bill of Rights. The climate crisis threatens ecological collapse and mass mortality. And inequality kills, as the growing gap in US life expectancies between the working classes and the upper classes proves.
I also center my stump speech on the existential threat of nuclear war. The US nuclear modernization program that is putting more tactical nukes into conventional forces as we withdraw from nuclear treaties demands that the Green Party take the lead in a movement for a US no-first-use pledge and for a US unilateral nuclear disarmament to a minimum credible deterrent, followed up by urgent negotiations for complete global nuclear disarmament.
I finish my stump speech by talking about how we can build up the Green Party into a major party in American politics. I lay out our campaign’s organizing goals, including getting on all 51 ballots and qualifying for federal matching funds early. I talk about how our campaign wants to help Greens become first-rate organizers. Greens are reliable activists. We show up. In many parts of the country, Greens are known and respected for consistent participation in social movements and for advancing real solutions in elections. Now we need to become organizers, not just activists. Our campaign wants to support field organizers who can help local Green party activists become effective organizers who can build the party organization, expand the party membership base, and initiate and lead issue as well as electoral campaigns.
The Green Party should be helping to build independent social movements that make their demands without compromise instead of what we see too often from the nonprofit/industrial complex NGOs: compromising to what is possible with the corporate politicians we’ve got. Our campaign wants to help down-ticket candidates run competent and competitive electoral campaigns that give voice and political leverage to independent social movements. Greens need to learn the methods of union and community organizers in base-building with social groups beyond the usual circles. If the Green Party is going to become a major party, we must expand the base of the party, especially among the working class, youth, and people of color who vote in lower numbers because they feel the two corporate parties don’t care about them.
In the discussions following the stump speech (and the obligatory appeal for donations), we talk about all kinds of issues, from immigration and reparations to reproductive freedom and electoral reforms.
Family and Friends
I enjoy these political discussions. I am encouraged by the enthusiasm for the programmatic vision and organizing strategy of our campaign. But I have to admit that catching up with family and friends is my favorite part of these road trips. I wouldn’t have made the first campaign trip to the South if my sister Renee hadn’t been bugging me to take a trip with her to visit our sisters Carol and Juanita to Orangeburg SC. Renee was going to make the whole campaign trip, but in the end, she couldn’t get off work. But the trip was on and my campaign manager, Andrea Mérida, stepped in for Renee.
If you don’t see the family resemblance, it’s because I was adopted into the extended Perry family. I’ve got three other sisters, a brother, and lots of nieces and nephews in the Perry family. Geraldine, the youngest sister, was my campaign manager in 2009 when I broke 40% of the vote for the first time in a district council election. Unfortunately, she passed away from pancreatic cancer last year. We miss her.
Another memorable stop that is now bittersweet was staying in Atlanta with my campaign co-chair and friend, Bruce Dixon, who passed away on June 29 from cancer. Bruce was one of my favorite people on the planet. One thing we had worked on together was a power-point presentation on why the Green Party should become a dues-paying mass-membership party. That presentation has been well-received and we were planning more presentations right up until his health took a sharp turn for the worse. Bruce was contributing to our campaign as well as his managing editor responsibilities for Black Agenda Report right up to a week before he died. Bruce urging me to run is the biggest reason why I am actually doing it.
More than politics, Bruce was a friend. We both had Chicago family, friends, and political experiences we often talked about. We both came of age politically in the movements of the 1960s. A quick phone call to check on this or that detail often became a long discussion about all kinds of things. I will miss those conversations. I know our campaign will miss his experience and wisdom.
I am looking forward to road trips to all parts of the country. The calendar is filling up, but please contact the campaign to find a time when we can do an event in your community.
Hint to any Hawaiian Greens reading this: I’ve got lots of cousins in Hawaii. Any time Hawaiian Greens want me to campaign there, I’m on my way.