There are debates which rise to the fore that have not been addressed following elections of Green campaigns and numerous campaigns throughout the country. The question asked in Wes's post: "Who killed the Progressive movement?" should be preceded with the question: "Who created the Progressive movement?" The term progressive, like the term liberal, is the latest whipping boy in the media and was no more then an effort to avoid the label of liberal by substituting words. The strongholds of progressivism are the same strongholds of liberalism. The priorities of progressives are the same as the priorities of liberals.
The self-definition of the Green Party has not recognized the real social forces behind the political priorities of a green party. It has not matured sufficiently to distinguish between Greens and progressives at the political level. This accounts for the constant fusion issue and party jumping of activists, former candidates and elected public officials. This is no small obstacle. There are many who fear openness in this discussion. Acceptance of a third party strategy has to move to the point where we develop language in our campaigns, priorities in our issues work and reconstruct our own strategic political map and vision for the future. Our independence is our ballot line, our Platform, our base of support and our distinct ties to the communities that we live in.
There is a separate discussion to be held as to strategy, vision and priorities. It involves assimilating our electoral experiences, considering the political landscape and mapping out survival tactics in heavily Democratic states. If we see family farmers as a potential base of support in a given campaign, then we need to identify what are the critical issues of concern to them that are not represented by the Republican Party and are consistent with the Green Platform and Key Values. If we are addressing an urban context, we can provide leadership only if we present a distinct agenda of policies that differentiate the Green Party from the urban Democratic Party machines.
This goes back to my post on redefining the politics of bioregionalism. Resource management and renewable energies are critical areas where the Green Party is able to address both urban and rural residents with distinct policy proposals. They are also significant issues on the current political agenda. Our presentations need to be distinct; otherwise, we will be exposed as Bill Richardson did against the Green candidate for Governor. He said: “I am greener then the Green” because of his position of stopping the project on Otero Mesa. The Green Party candidate simply stated his desire to review the issue. On the one hand, this can be dismissed as a gaff that was seized on by Richardson, but on the other hand it demonstrated that Democrats can out-green Greens if we do not distinguish our positions fundamentally.
Today Richardson has been doing things on the state level that present him as a greener then Green and the Green Party of New Mexico has fallen off the ballot. There are windows of opportunity, but the windows are not open for long and there is a need to demonstrate the relevancy of the Green Party in concrete victories. Visibility and viability are based on our real role in politics and not simply our rhetorical flourishes condemning the other parties. Being called spoilers will be neutralized only if we demonstrate our relevancy in decisions being made and show our base on Election Day. You cannot be a spoiler if you are contributing to the decisions being made in demonstrative terms.
Democrats in California are losing a significant base of support in regards to the peripheral canal and the California Delta. But, without the concepts of adaptive governance and regional water planning being incorporated in the debate the distinctions between the Green Party and the Democratic Party will not prove sufficient to engage Delta stakeholders in the local Green Party work. Likewise, failing to distinguish the concerns of farm workers and family farmers in the Central Valley from corporate agribusinesses will only push those stakeholders into the arms of the Republican Party.
All of this requires a party organization much more rooted in our communities than is currently the case. It means seeing our electoral politics as connected to our distinct vision. It means recruiting candidates that have deep roots locally and have the capacity of presenting the need for structural reforms needed to implement a Green agenda. It means being there with the people when they are expressing their anger and frustration, while presenting new options that address the underlying concerns.
We are the only game in town capable of doing this. But, it does mean deciding as an organization how we can do this. Our state Water Planning Platform plank presents the vision, http://www.cagreens.org/platform/platform_ecology.shtml#water but it does not give us a roadmap forward. The window of opportunity is closing and if we cannot act decisively now, we will not be able to do anything when the window is closed and locked.