Discussing her efforts to build the Green Party nationally and her disillusionment with the two major political parties, Anita Ros, one of four national co-chairs of the party and the highest ranking Latina in any national political party, relayed yesterday the difficulties a third party faces in becoming a legitimate power.
During her sit-down discussion at the Michigan Union, Ros contrasted building the Green Party with party-building done by national Democrats and Republicans. The national Greens are, she said, basically a federation of state Green parties, of which there are 44 registered.
“Each state pretty much does it”s own thing within the party platform,” she said.
The federation was just recognized last month by the Federal Election Commission as the party”s national committee.
Ros said the party should work to change its image of a group of “white guys in sandals.” It should also try to attract minorities, she said.
In explaining how she became a Green Party member, Ros, a retired social worker, recalled feeling past Democratic and Republican administrations had done little to improve the difficult circumstances in which many Latinos live. She was born to migrant workers in a three-room farmhouse without plumbing and electricity. At age 16, an adviser told her to drop out of high school.
“You know what kind of jobs 16-year-old Latina drop-outs can get? You can”t get very good jobs,” she said.
For more than 30 years in her hometown of Toledo, Ohio, she said, high school dropout rates for Latinos had remained around 40 to 60 percent.
“I saw that the realities I grew up in still existed,” Ros said.
The reason she joined the Greens, she said, was the inability of the major parties to address her concerns.
“If the solutions presented by the Democrats and the Republicans aren”t solving the problem, a reasonable person, at some point, must seek other solutions.” The Democratic and Republican parties, she said, have “put out stars with empty messages and empty rhetoric.”
Ros also discussed the Green Party”s platform, which stresses the party”s support for universal health care and free education for all students. However, Ros later added that the party might also be able to use it”s bully pulpit to push Democrats into supporting more progressive and pro-labor policies. In most elections nowadays, she lamented that voters have to choose between “conservative Democrats and a bogeyman.”
Third-year Rackham student Rob Haug, co-chair of Student Greens, said he is glad a grass-roots campaigner made it to Ann Arbor.
“It”s important they leave those (meeting) rooms and the public hears what we”re talking about,” Haug said.
First-year Social Work student Jose Melendez, who came to the discussion to hear more about the Green Party, said he was impressed with what Ros had to say, but, “for now, I remain a progressive Democrat.”