Brett '00 serves on Green Party body

by Kathleen McDermott | 8/20/01 5:00am

This past fall, John Brett '00 was member of a rag-tag yet committed coalition of students at Dartmouth campaigning for Ralph Nader in the 2000 presidential election.

A year later, he is now one of ten students from across the nation charged with building the Green Party at the national level.

As Brett explained, the Green Party itself became a national political party only following Nader's candidacy, and the Campus Greens -- the leg of the Green Party comprised of college and high school campus members throughout the country -- quickly followed suit.

The ten-person committee of which Brett is member -- the National Campus Greens Steering Committee -- represents the Campus Greens' first attempt at a steering committee and was elected just two weeks ago at their first national convention, held August 9-12 at the University of Illinois in Chicago.

Brett himself is fairly new to the Green Party, and became involved only last summer after conversations with several Dartmouth Green Party activists.

"The positive energy amongst campus peers in struggling for a platform they could fully support and believe in" excited him, he explained.

Brett was particularly attracted by the party's emphasis on social justice and community-based economic development, and thus began campaigning for Nader over the 2000 summer.

At that time, Nader's name was not even on the New Hampshire presidential ballot.

So along with Charlie White '02 and Nikolaus Stein '02, Brett helped circulate petitions throughout the Hanover area to get Nader on the state ballot, according to White.

By the fall, Brett was co-chairing the campus Nader campaign. And

after the election, Brett realized he wanted to continue his involvement in the Green Party.

In running for the national steering committee, Brett explained, he hoped to learn more about a party that he said he "knows in his heart" is struggling for the right ideals.

Examining society, Brett said he sees families and communities being sold out to corporations by mainstream political parties. He said the manner by which campaigns are financed works to undermine the political process and give undue power to corporations.

"The political freedoms which I hold dear and are protected in the Constitution mean nothing if I and my community are made subservient to an economic, corporate dictatorship," Brett said.

Yet the Campus Greens focus on ten "key values," such as social justice and community-based economics, as well as respect for diversity, ecological wisdom and feminism, among others.

Over the next year, Brett and his fellow committee members hope to develop a national-level infrastructure that can help realize these political and social ideals.

"It's not about national elections ... but about local elections and positively influencing the electorate for the Green Party's agenda," Brett said.

Brett hopes the Campus Greens can truly "invigorate American civic life" and empower students and others to take action on their ideals.

At Dartmouth, Green Party activists hope to "hit the ground running in the fall," Brett said.

According to White, after the presidential election in the fall "things sort of died out a bit." The main problem, White explained, is that the Green Party draws students with a diverse array of political interests, from those championing environmental sustainability and feminism to those advocating for workers' rights and fair trade.

After the enthusiasm over Nader died down, "we all split up again to work on our particular issues," White said.

Yet over the next year Greens hope to "create a stronger link between the issues and the Green Party," so that students who strongly support particular planks of the party's platform come to identify more with the party, White explained.

According to Brett, several incoming freshmen have already indicated an interest in Green Party activism, and the future of the Green Party at Dartmouth appears promising. One has spent the summer interning with the Green Party in Madison, Wisconsin and was one of the organizers of the National Campus Greens convention in Chicago, according to Brett.