Tuesday, December 18, 2007

What gets me mad?

Since yesterday, I have engaged in a bit of dialog with Ben Malkin, Publisher, Southern California Life After 50 It all started when Lisa Taylor picked up the print version of his magazine with a picture of Al Gore on the cover. However, one part of what she read in Malkin's comments on Gore and Climate Change got her so upset that she emailed her comments to a few of us.

I wrote an answer to Mr. Malkin, he replied, I replied again. Then, we agreed that it made sense to run those comments on the magazine site and this blog. I hope that it creates some discussion on several levels.

First, there is the question of how we frame our positions, and our responses, as we engage with other media. If we get it wrong, we run the risk of doing more damage than good. If we get it right, then it should be good for the Green Party, good for this country if we have the right message. In fact, good for all.

Second. there is the fact that Climate Change is surely the number one ecological issue for decades to come. Most Republicans are a no show when it is time to provide solutions. Too many Democrats are corporate sponsored hypocrites. Thus, we need to keep this discussion in front of everyone.

The discussion began with a story that you can read in it's entirety on the magazine's web site. I want to extract two sections. I fully agree with the first. I chose to respond after reading the second.
Basically, we have to come to grips with how we as humans view our relationship with all other living things—animal, vegetable, earth, air and water. Our Western culture places humans above all else. As a result we are not in harmony with our environment. There are lessons to be learned from Native American cultures about balance and harmony. Luckily, it’s not too late to learn them.
Then, he added this bit of sharply worded opinion.
Let’s make sure that the idiots who populate the Green Party never get another chance to help elect someone like “Dubya” who stands for everything they supposedly oppose. Let’s use less energy (fossil fuel) in our daily lives. It will not only save some money, it will help us as individuals pollute less.
I don't accept the blame for Gore's loss. But, that is the past and there is a future to think about. Thus, this response.

I fully agree with the position you take concerning the need to do more regarding global warming. That should be obvious to all.

I don't agree with your assessment of the Green Party and what it might be able to accomplish if only people like yourself quit fighting the battles of the past and took at hard look at the current battle that you ask us all to join.

Do you really think that the current energy bill is going to fulfill all of the hype that the Democrats put around it? Do you really think that mandating a three fold increase in the use of ethanol is going to help? If you do, then perhaps you need to read this from Energy Justice. It is these very triangulated, overly hyped non-solutions from both sides of the political divide that has driven me away from both major parties and turned me into a Green Activist. There are only two good things that I can say about the energy bill. The first is that is is better than any that would have come out of a Sen. Inhofe (R-OK) run committee. Second, the CAFE fuel economy standards are good, even though a Democratic Sen. from Michicagan still voted against this energy bill.

Fundamental change will only be possible when there is a third way, an alternative that does not kow-tow to corporate special interests, an alternative that looks neither right nor left but to the future, an alternative that can say Yes to the Democrats when they get it right and Yes to the Republicans when they get it right. That alternative at the present time is only found in the Green Party. If only you can get over the battles of 2000 and start thinking about the America you want to see in 2020.

We have the energy plan that needs to be implemented. It is documented in the GP press release on the Bali Conference. "US Greens have called for an end to subsidies and tax breaks to fossil and nuclear energy industries; enactment of socially equitable carbon taxes; incentives, legislation, and reforms to provide renewable energy technologies; rejection of environmentally destructive 'alternative' fuels produced from unsustainable or toxic feedstocks; rejection of 'clean coal'; an absolute limit on CO2 emissions; reduced fossil fuel use and an 80% cutback within ten years (condensed from the Green Party platform and the EcoAction Committee's statement of goals, 2006 Earth Day Statement)."
Mr. Malkin replied this afternoon. This is why I suggested that we need to think more carefully about how we frame our messages whenever we write or respond.
Thank you for reading our magazine or visiting our website.

Today I have received a blizzard or Green Party emails. That must mean someone from your group must have spotted my article and email blasted your members. Good for our web traffic, so keep ‘em coming.

While I may agree in good part with your environmental agenda, the net, net of working on the fringes politically (at least the “left” in this country) is that all you ever seem to accomplish is the election of those who stand opposed to everything you believe in. Your members seem to hate Al Gore (based on all of the emails I received) as much as the mindless extreme conservatives who attacked my article in large numbers with great and acidic gusto. The facts are that by working within the system he has accomplished considerably more than the Green Party ever has. If his “sin” has been to work within the “system”, then so be it.

In addition, what all of you seem to have overlooked is that I called the liberals (Democrats), hypocrites. They are. The new energy bill is a gutted compromise that needed Democratic leadership that was missing when push came to shove. They seem to be biding their time until the 2008 elections. Well then, I guess we’ll see then. Unless the Green Party manages to help elect another version of George Bush. You would be better served to pressure (where your #’s can make a difference in a close election) the Democrats to do more than pay lip service to reforms. Political debts do get paid if they are negotiated with skill.

Thank you again for the first clear headed and logical response I received from members of your party.
That gave me a chance to explain who really won the 2000 election.
f someone sent a note that Gore did not get it, then they are not
thinking clearly. Most people in the Green Party believe three things
about the election of 2000.
  • Gore won but had it stolen.
  • The effect of Nader being in the race was to pull in a large number of voters, e.g. students, that would normally not have voted.
  • The Democrats lost because more of them voted for Bush than anybody voted for Nader. They could not deliver their own party members.
You encourage Greens to work together with other "Progressives" to achieve our goals, but there is a history that says we do. In fact, I worked very, very hard supporting Pete McCloskey in 2006, both as a Republican Congressional Candidate running against Richard Pombo and then continuing as he threw his support to Jerry McNerney, who eventually won.

I would like to see the next target be Dana Rohrabacher, a good old So Cal snakeoil salesman, much like Pombo. He also is an embarrassment. He has been quoted as saying that Global Warming might have come from dinosaur flatulence. There are not yet any announced Democratic candidates running against him. If things stay that way, would you then support the Green who is?

I will be trying to get an answer to that question again, and again, and again.

1 comment:

Gregg Jocoy said...

Well Wes, there is a lot here to comment on.

I am often more than a bit abrasive when I contact folks who attack we Greens without justification. The author of the article did at least imply that we are political children incapable of being trusted with the machinery of democracy.

I would likely have been one of those Greens who did not respond as carefully as you did. I am sure that you are right in what you did, and I imagine that your effort is more likely to bear fruit than what I'd have written the guy.

I also believe that we need to be certain who we are talking to when we respond. For example, unless a reporter has a reputation for biased reporting, I am most likely going to contact them and point out errors when I spot them gently. I might write them, for example, and say "In your article you said that Congresswoman McKinney was elected twice to Congress, when in fact she was elected six times to congress, five in a row, skip one term, and then the sixth.", but in writing to the publisher I might be more likely to write "As you know, Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney announced her run for the Green Party presidential nomination this week. The fact that none of the McClatchy newspapers has choosen to report on this announcement, even McClatchy papers in cities with Greens on their city councils, leads me to believe that you intend for the voter to never know that she is running. Wghen, exactly, do you plan to tell your readers that she is in the race, the day *after* the election?"

The difference is that a reporter has no control to speak of, other than to be sure they get the full story and get it right. A publisher, editor or columnist has a different level of responsibility, and as such we should be able to hold their feet to the fire.

But, does that get us anything more than the smell of burning feet and a sense of satisfaction, or should we forgo that even when the target of our anger is sooooo deserving so that we might accomplish more vital goals?

Personally I think the fundamental answer is: create our own institutions, media outlets, training programs and learning centers so we are not dependent on others to tell our story or accomplish our goals.