I watched Meet the Press on NBC this morning. Two of Time Russert's, James Carville and Paul Begala, have written a new book about the Democratic Party and what it needs to be doing. Take it Back: Our Party, Out Country, Our Future dissects the real reasons that Bush beat Kerry in 2004 ( and it was not cheating in Ohio, not matter how much you want that to be true.) It also lays out a perscription for what is needed for the Democrats to win in 2008. Their analysis: the problems is not ideological but rather anatomical. The Democratic Party needs to get a Backbone. Let the public know, in clear uncertain terms what you are about.
One of my ongoing criticisms of the progressive movement in general is that it seems always to be against everything and not for anything.
This is a crucial year for the Green Party in California. The party as a whole is facing declining registration numbers. The surges is registration that accompanied strong populist campaigns by Nader for President in 2000 and Camejo for Governor since then have not translated into gains for the party as a whole. It is clearly time to rethink what we need to do to build a stronger party.
I suggest that Carvill and Begala's perscription for the Democratic Party applies equally to the Green Party. We need to have a clear message of what we are about and articulate that message throughout all of our campaigns. Each candidate will have their own particular emphasis and specific issues. Two things must be clear:
- the differences between our Green candidates and all the others is that we are working directly from the ten key values that define what it means to be a Green.
- Greens are not just negative whiners, angry over what the bad guys are doing, but are offering a new way for our country with well defined goals.
The history of the progressive movement is one of protest. You do not build political parties on protest. The strength of Camejo's appearances in the gubernatorial debates was the fact that he had a graps of the problems and told the public audience directly what he was going to do about it. This was a characteristic that he shares with Tom McClintock, even though their perscriptions could not have been more different.
I firmly believe that the average voter is tired of big money, pay to play politics and that a hard fought Green campaign for responsible political process will resonate far more than most believe. The Stockton Record has a very conservative editorial policy. They have consistently backed Republican Richard Pombo since his election in 1992. Pombo's district is solidly Republican in registration. With Pombo involved in the Abramoff investigation, the Record published a series of Letters to the Editor about Pombo in Saturdays paper. They were 100% negative, not just against Pombo but against the entire corrupt practices of lobbyist driven Washington.
In contrast to the Democratic Leadership's tweaking of the rules and not really changing anything, Green Candidates up and down the slate need to call for fundamental reform, inclding public financing of elections, that puts control back in the hands of the people rather than lobbyists.