The Women's March and Petra Kelly's Legacy

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On Saturday, Garret joined a crowd of a few hundred in support of the march’s Unity Principles. The principles of the march include a call for criminal justice reforms and an end to police brutality, protection of reproductive rights including the right to abortion, environmental justice including protecting our air and water, and recognizing LGBTQIA rights, workers’ rights, immigrant rights, and disability rights as human rights.

Garret decided to provide short comments inspired by Petra Kelly, a major figure in the history of the Green Party world wide. In his remarks, Garret called for systemic change that opposes the current patriarchal system that puts the power and money in the hands of the few. Petra’s attitude is actually very well reflected in a quote from Women’s March website: “Women’s March is committed to dismantling systems of oppression through nonviolent resistance and building inclusive structures guided by self-determination, dignity and respect.”

Garret supports the full Unity Principles list, including a right to abortion and women’s control over their own bodies, free of government intervention. Unfortunately, Garret’s opponent in the general election, incumbent Anita Kulik (D), was a co-sponsor and Yes vote on several pieces of anti-abortion legislation.

Garret’s prepared remarks for the Women’s March are included below. The quotes come from the essays “Women and Power” and “Thinking Green” in Petra Kelly’s book “Thinking Green!”.

Hello, my name is Garret Wassermann, and I am a Green Party candidate for state representative in the 45th district.

The irony isn’t lost to me that I, a white male, am addressing the Women’s March. So rather than “mansplain”, let me offer a few words from a woman I greatly respect – Petra Kelly, a founder of the German Green Party and the Global Green movement.

Petra was dedicated to the Green values of nonviolence, ecology, social justice, and feminism, and saw them as inseparable.

“Politicians give speeches about these values while working to undermine them.” she wrote. “The benefits of the current political and economic systems are reserved for the privileged; therefore, any meaningful movement for social justice must focus on systemic change, on transforming both the oppressive state and the economic structures that concentrate wealth and power into the hands of the few. The Green methodology is not to work from the top down, but to begin at the grassroots, empowering ourselves to direct our own destinies through the cultivation of civil space and democratic social forms.”

If Petra were here today, she’d tell you to challenge the moral authority of those who make decisions on our behalf. Challenge every person speaking today – you deserve to have a say in your own life and community. Politics from the top is hierarchical domination, a characteristic of patriarchical thinking, so it’s not a coincidence men hold much of the power in today’s system. The counter to patriarchy is feminist-led grassroots organization, education, and democratic empowerment. Let’s look at building new institutions, not just capturing old oppressive ones.

I am here to help any way I can. Two minutes isn’t much, so please contact me at votegarret.org, let’s keep up the conversation. Thank you.

A short clip of part of Garret’s speech is available; while he can’t be seen in the video, you can listen. Unfortunately we had some technical issues and did not get a full clip!