Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Progressive Politics

"The Green Party is coming of age as the foremost electoral arm of the progressive movement." - Dean Meyerson - 2002.

"Cobb called the Greens the electoral arm of the progressive movement..." Austin Chronicle - 06/14/2002

If this was the true vision of the Green Party, why was it not called something else? Has anything changed since 2002?

"Green Party: the electoral arm of the Progressive Movement" was rejected as the theme for 2006 National Convention. However, the fact that it was considered shows that this meme is very much ingrained in the membership of the Green Party.

The most recent online commentary from Green Horizon Quarterly is entitled The third party alternative is called "Green". It makes no attempt to define the party as "progresive."
The Green parties have a solid ideological foundation and raison d'etre precisely because they are the organizational manifestation of something distinctive, namely, the global Green politics movement. Greens worldwide share the understanding that we can only satisfy our long-term energy needs by learning to live sustainably.

Going well beyond that issue, Greens are in broad agreement around principles of peace, ecological responsibility, social responsibility, and the idea of a deeper, more participatory, form of democracy. Other values commonly shared include gender equity and respect for diversity.

However, to say, as did the author, Steve Welzer, that "Few Greens identify themselves with liberalism or with any of the old ideologies." requires us to consider liberalism in a farily narrow, historical context and not just the liberal / conservative divide so commonly invoked.

To be Green, rather than only progressive, is a hard choice. It means making decisions based on issues: problems and solutions to them. It may be that there is more in common with those who consider themselves "Eco Libertarians" or even (ghast) Republicans, depending on the issue. Consider the following statements:

  • Without a profound improvement in math and science learning, America will simply not be able to sustain its national security nor compete for high value jobs in the world market.

  • America will be stronger if it develops coherent technology and market-oriented solutions to environmental conservation and energy consumption.

  • A sound American energy policy would focus on four areas: basic research to create a new energy system that has few environmental side effects, incentives for conservation, more renewable resources, and environmentally sound development of fossil fuels.

Do these sound like the basis for a policy that Greens can endorse? How about this?

  • Promote increased use of alternative fuel technology.
  • Use state funds to clean up former industrial and commercial sites that are contaminated, unused, or abandoned.
  • Support a bond for clean air, parks, and water conservation programs.
  • State funding for open space preservation
  • State environmental regulations should be stricter than federal law

The first are the words of Newt Gingrich on his Web site, Winning the Future. The second are environmental issues taken from Pete Camejo's campaign web site.


Lisa said...

The saying as I usually hear it thrown around is: "The Green Party aims to be the electoral arm of the Green movement (not progressive movement)."
I'm down with that!

I thought I had heard David Cobb say the above during his campaign, though I see you found the other quote in print.

Wes said...

If you define the Green Party as the "electoral arm of the progressive movement" it is easy to vilify all other parties who are not so pure. If you define the Green Party as the "organizational manifestation of the global Green movement" (which is Welzer's definition) then you have to deal with the issues that gave rise to that movement and validate yourself by finding workable solutions to those problems. This is defining yourself in terms of Green Values, not in terms of some external set of doctrines. We do too much vilifying and too little problem solving.

Roger, Gone Green said...

Left, Right -- and Green:
A choice, for a change!

There *is* overlap with both "sides" of the traditional spectrum. Grassroots democracy may be of interest to those who tout "states rights." Social Justice may appeal to folk who would otherwise be on about "the language of the oppressor class."

But in the end Green is Green. It's New. It's Different. It's Green!

For example: that Grass Roots Democracy that decries top-down government is modified by the commitment to Ecological Wisdom and the deeply biological, earth-centered culture implied by the party name. Thus a specific bio-region would be allowed to make many -- maybe most -- choices locally, but would not, under laws enacted by a Green state or federal government, be able to make the local choice to despoil their environmental heritage.

THIS is why I became both a green and a Green.

In the end, I think we get lumped into "progressive" because we try to be accepting of differences -- and tend to regard the well being of people and the planet over the accumulation of additional institutional and corporate profits, for example.

People say to me all the time: "Oh you're liberal/progressive/some kind of socialist!" To which I say "Nah. Just Green. Let me show you . . ." and whip out the 10KV . . .

Electoral arm of the Green Movement? Absolutely!