Thursday, November 30, 2006

GPCA Focus

Mike Feinstein has joined the blogger world. He has a new blog called A Global Green. It appears that Mike will be publishing stories about Green activity from around the world as well as using the site to promote the Global Greens Conference in Nairobi, Kenya in 2008.

I read the first post from Mike, a news story about the leader of the Green Party of Canada, Elizabeth May. It is good news to see that Greens can become at least the loyal opposition as May finished 2nd among 4 candidates in a partisan special election to fill a vacant seat in the Canadian parliament.

I find it striking that the basis of her relatively successful campaign is so different from the Green Party's focus in the US and especially that in the GPCA.
May was elected Party Leader at a national Green Party convention in late August in Ottawa. Since then, she's been shifting the focus of Canadian political debate around environment and economy.
I no longer find either the economy or the environment as being central to the debate in the GPCA. It is all about electoral reform rather than winning converts to our issues and programs. I wonder if that disconnect is why we are losing registration at a time when the majority of California Voters say that they support the rise of a strong third party. (p. 9 of the linked PPIC Survey Report).
The current favor for Democrats notwithstanding, a long-term challenge looms for the two-party system. Majorities of Californians (53%) and likely voters (56%) believe that the Republican and Democratic parties do such a poor job of representing the American people that a third major party is needed. Independents (72%) are far more likely than Democrats (52%) and Republicans (45%) to believe a third party is needed, but the numbers of voters who hold this view are significant across the board. "“The growing numbers of independent voters may drive this change, but the fact is that many Californians question the relevance of the current system," says Baldassare. (Research Director - Public Policy Institute of California).
If the GPCA wants a model of how to succeed, maybe we only have to look to Canada.

8 comments:

Patrick Meighan said...

"I no longer find either the economy or the environment as being central to the debate in the GPCA. It is all about electoral reform rather than winning converts to our issues and programs. I wonder if that disconnect is why we are losing registration at a time when the majority of California Voters say that they support the rise of a strong third party."

I would absolutely agree that electoral reform--while vitally important--is not an issue that is resonant enough, immediate enough, and realizable enough to be of much use, politically, to us Greens in appealing to the average California voter. At the end of the day I think kitchen table issues like a living wage and affordable health care are the ones that voters care about. [Sorry, Wes, but down here in LA I just don't think the Delta is a very hot and politically-resonant issue to exploit. And that's okay... what Greens push in Sacramento (or wherever you are) doesn't have to match what Greens push in Los Angeles... as long as our issues are consistent with the 4 Pillars (or 10 Key Values, or whatever it is yer usin' up there).]

As for the recent dip in our voter registration numbers, I think much (prolly *most*) of it has to do with the fact that California progressives are so angered at the Republican Party and the regressive results of 6 years of GOP electoral dominance. The understandable reaction for most progressive voters is to reach for the most immediate weapon with which to strike at the GOP. At the moment, that weapon is the Democratic Party. But now that the Dems have retaken Congress, all we need do is wait 'til that party, once again, demonstrates that it is no more committed to peace, social justice and environmental sustainability than is the GOP. At that point, our numbers will rise yet again. It's cyclical, and--I suspect--has relatively little to do with the issues we Greens choose to promote.

Wes said...

I think that the Delta will become a resonant issue in LA when we start ruling that absolutely no additional water will be diverted to support the Metropolitan Water District. Shut off the spiggot and listen to LA cry all the way to Fabian Nunez.

As for the California progressives, if they were only "anti-GOP" then why as the increased registration been in the ranks of the independents (DTS) rather than the Democrats? In my Congressional district, GOP registrations are dropping, DTS are increasing and DEM registration is staying flat (+ 1 on a year-to-year basis as of Sept. 2006).

Patrick Meighan said...

"I think that the Delta will become a resonant issue in LA when we start ruling that absolutely no additional water will be diverted to support the Metropolitan Water District. Shut off the spiggot and listen to LA cry all the way to Fabian Nunez."

Yes, I suppose that'd make the California Delta a resonant issue, politically, here in LA. But that'll never happen. No Southern California politician would ever cast such a vote, and no Northern California politician who'd ever hope to successfully run for statewide office would ever voluntarily discard Los Angeles County.

But sure, if, somehow, someway, LA got its spigot turned off, then water policy would resonate politically here in Los Angeles and would probably present a political opportunity for the Greens.

As for the California progressives, if they were only "anti-GOP" then why as the increased registration been in the ranks of the independents (DTS) rather than the Democrats? In my Congressional district, GOP registrations are dropping, DTS are increasing and DEM registration is staying flat (+ 1 on a year-to-year basis as of Sept. 2006).

You may have a point. I don't know the particulars in your locality, and my observation, I admit, was based on anecdotal evidence from here in L.A. But I'd like to see if the local numbers bear you out. Can you direct me to such data?

Patrick Meighan
UCLA Class of '95

Wes said...

Patrick,
On the day after the election, Nov. 8, there was a conference on "Visioning the Delta" held at the offices of the MWD in LA. One MWD official was heard to ask "What would it cost to buy out the property owners?" That was just after he had heard what it would cost to bring all of the levees to the state where they could withstand the higher sea levels that we are going to experience.

This is complex, inter-related and, if we recognize that fact and deal with it as a sate (nation?) we are all in deep doo-doo.

Patrick Meighan said...

Wes,

I'm not saying the issue is not important. I'm saying that the issue is not, in my judgement, resonant and immediate enough to be of much use, politically, down here in Los Angeles, as unfortunate as that may be.

Maybe I'm wrong though. I dunno. I just never ever hear anyone talk about it down here. Health care, I hear people talking about. And the living wage. Immigration policy, too. And traffic. Smog, sometimes. Big box retailers. I hear about all that stuff sometimes.

But look, I don't mean to pee on your parade. It's clear you're very passionate about this issue, and for all I know, I could be wrong and the California Delta it could be THE preeminent issue that'll carve the political landscape in this state for the next several decades. It's certainly possible, given how frequently I'm wrong, and how likely it is that I am again, right now, on this very issue.

Patrick Meighan
UCLA Class of '95

Wes said...

And so I may also be wrong. I have had a lot more practice at that then you.

University of Redlands
Class of '62,

I am going to continue to pound away at this idea until I either change things or decide to hang it all up. I am firmly of the belief that the Green Party has lost its interest in environmental and/or economic issues other than Min. Wage. It that is so, then why is this the GREEN Party?

Lisa said...

We don't hear much about the Delta in L.A. political, or otherwise, circles, but that doesn't mean it's not important.

People are "consumed" with their lives and the "regular" progressive issues I suppose.

Wouldn't it be lovely if, like in Canada, the former director of the Sierra Club, ran for office on the Green Party ticket. Wanna recruit Carl Pope, Wes? The challenges we face with our supposed 2 party system and the gap between us and Canada makes my head hurt.

I find green issues are the hot thing, not the party of course cuz that is too icky and "too political", and people like happy, informative sites like Green LA Girl
www.greenlagirl.com
where they can feel like their daily choices are making some sort of environmental difference. I like it too.

I think it is important to keep keepin at it for the Green Party, too, though, and I will!

Lisa
University of Central Florida '83

Wes said...

Well, I have tried to better leadership in the Sierra Club, but the current top contact I had, a real help in defeating Pombo, is also hung up over Greens in Florida in 2000.

S. Californian's will end up learning about the delta. Unfortunately, it may be the wrong lesson if the Water District ends up doing to West Side of the Sierra what they did to the Owens Valley on the East.