Sunday, November 22, 2009

Progressive towards what?

California Republicans look back with fond memories of the days when Reagan was Governor. Little do they remember that he actually raised taxes. It is rather President Reagan that they quote, and Nancy Reagan that they follow. Her most famous words were "Just say no." And Republicans have been doing that ever since.

For the life of me, I can not understand why those who consider themselves to be progressives would want to emulate Reagan. Yet so called progressive media: whether hard copy publications or just bloggers, continue to emulate Nancy Reagan, telling us all that they are against and very little about what they are for. It is no wonder that the public trusts Republican Politicians even less than they do Democrats. The public understand that stopping government is not a solution, even though Newt Gingrich thought it would be.

Greens who think of themselves as progressives need to think about what we are progressing towards. They should be telling the world how good it good be rather than how bad it is. A recent tweet from the GPCA id said that our candidates should be dream catchers. If we could turn the corner on this, if we could remember the words of John Lennon and allow voters to Imagine what the future might bring, Greens would attract more voters.

I quote from William Ford's Keynote speech at the 2000 Democratic Convention. It embodies the type of vision that too many Green Candidates fail to deliver.
Imagine a debt-free economy so strong that everyone shares in the American Dream.

Imagine a healthcare system where every American receives the medicine they need, and where no senior is forced to choose between buying food and filling a prescription.

Imagine a society that treats seniors with the respect and dignity they deserve, and where Social Security and Medicare are strengthened, not only for our parents and grandparents, but for our children and grandchildren.

Imagine a nation of clean coastlines, safe drinking water, pristine parks, and air our kids can breathe as they play in those parks.

We all recognize that no issue is more critical to our nation's continued success than how we educate our kids.

If we can find the will and resources to build prison after prison, then we can build new schools, reduce class sizes, connect every classroom up to the Internet.

Surely we can pay teachers what they are worth- surely we must hold schools accountable for results.

Imagine giving all our kids the world-class education they deserve.

Well, it is time to stop imagining.
We know what happened to Gore. We are thankful the Lieberman never became the VP. We know that Ford's career was trashed and he was relegated to an occasional NewsHour appearance, much of it attributed to the lack of a progressive imagination or the fact that the moneyed interest saw this as a threat.

The times have changed, some issues remain: education, health care. Ignored issues like climate change can no longer be ignored. But we still lack those visionary leaders who can show us what we could be. Will we be left with the remorse of might have been?


Unknown said...

Good post. Identifying problems is only a small part of answering the question "why should I vote for you?" Candidates also need to offer viable solutions to those problems. But that still isn't enough - they need to offer a vision that brings it all together. We should work on articulating a Green vision that will help voters get why they should vote Green.

Wes said...

In my mind, the lack of a positive goal was the central problem for both the Nader and McKinney campaigns. We are just too good at running against everything.

Unknown said...

Another problem is that in the very limited space the corporate media gives Greens, they often use something negative or stereotypically 'third-party' like "the system is stacked in favor of the establishment parties" or "no one in Washington is looking out for the little guy". That's one reason why I'd like our candidates to talk about a Green New Deal, so that journalists have something like a sound bite, but one that still sums up a lot of the positive Green message. "Green New Deal" says let's fix the economy and environment at the same time, and create broad prosperity like FDR's New Deal.