Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Green Cleaner for Washington

I have followed the Abramoff scandal with a lot of interest and more than a little digging on my own. My interest arises out of the connetion between Abramoff, Indian Gaming, and Congressman Richard Pombo about whom I have written a lot.

My point here is that, while both major parties are getting a lot of press over making cosmetic changes in ethics rules, neither is in the position of the Green Party with a well known aversion to corporate money. David Baldwin (NY GP) thinks that this may be the Green Moment.

I am not sure that I totaly agree with him. I am not sure that Green Candidates are in a position to take this on, focused on their particular grand stand issues. It is clear that even Pelosi is as much a part of the problem as she is a mouthpiece for partisan advantage. Yes, it is time for a Green Moment. I hope that we have the will to make it happen rather through concerted action, through vocal opposition to all of this obscene largesse.

If there is a single word of advice that I would have for our Green Party candidates, it is to concentrate on what the Green Party will do. Baldwin criticizes Washington for "A near-total vacuum of ideas, of will, of basic integrity has thus enveloped Washington, and politics loves a vacuum no more than Nature does." That is a thread that I have seen many time recently. Just go to any of the Red State type blogs and you will see that the major criticism leveled against the Democrats is that the "have no ideas" and can only lash out at others. These bloggers are right (both meanings). If Greens are to grow, it is by blowing the fresh wind of our ideas into that vacuum.


Anonymous said...


I am kind of disappointed that you uncritically accept the Republican talking points about the Democrats having no ideas. What about universal healthcare? What about marriage equality? What about voter owned elections and verifiable paper trails? These are ideas Democrats are championing in California. And if you look at any of the liberal think tanks you will see innumerable new policy ideas. Even "Arnold's" million solar home initiative was initially written by a Democrat.

You know that Pombo's rhetoric centers around progress. He argues that environmentalists have fetishized old laws that in reality need to be "updated" and made "more scientific." Well the Republicans use the same language against Democrats. And it's about as true.

If the GOP were really concerned with the Democrats' ideas, they wouldn't routinely ignore the Democrats in the legislature.

Let's understand that the Republicans use the "no new ideas" meme to attack the bedrock laws and programs of the New Deal, which are rhetorically invalidated because they are not "new." George Bush attacked Democrats for not putting forth "new ideas" about how to "fix" social security when all he wanted to do was dismantle it. You're going to see the same thing repeat itself with respect to medicare, which Bush also wants to privatize. And let us not forget school vouchers are a "new" idea designed to destroy our public schools.

Look, I know some Democrats suck. I know some Democrats, including Democratic leaders, are venal and mendacious, not to mention politically timid. But it's just not true that they have no new ideas. And when you repeat it, you're taking a Republican talking point and using it against Democrats. And when you do that, you're ultimately helping the Republicans.

Wes said...

Then I have failed to make my point clear. I don't care whether there is any truth at all in those talking points. That is a perception that is undercored every time the Democrats unleash an highly publicized attack on the Republicans. It is a widely held public perception. In fact, that is the perception of David Baldwin's, The Green Moment. Baldwins's point applies to both parties. If you take out the example of Red State Bloggers, then it is clear that my post does also.

Let us understand that having a campaign based on attacking Republicans will not differentiate the Green Party from the Democrats. Attack politics is common among leading Democrats, was the hall mark of Gray Davis campaign style, arouses immediate indignation among the faithful, does nothing to attract the wavering and ultimately leads to nothing new.

Green Politics must be based on defining Green Issues (CFWI), putting forward Green solutions and challenging the major parties to respond at the state and national level. At the local level, it must again be based on finding Green Solutions to local issues and making sure that they work.

For local reactions, allow me reference an OpEd local issue response that I wrote for the Morgan Hill Times last October. Taking action on the local level will inevitably take Greens out of the world of big issues on which we can contribute a little and put us into the realm of changing the way that people think about government and the quality of their own lives.