Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Do polls tell us where to spend our energy?

  • The GPCA has only a limited amount of energy to expend and that means we can give the highest level of attention only to a limited number of issues. Are public opinion polls of value in determining where that energy is best spent?

The most recent survey from the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) has released a new study entitled Californians and their Government: January 2007. Given that the aim of the PPIC is to improve public policy in California, this is about as good as any survey will be.

One of the more interesting facts out of this survey is that the number on issue for people in the State of California is "immigration / illegal immigration". I note that the wording of the question (pg. 27) uses exactly that terminology, both the positive "immigration" and the negative "illegal immigration". The question asked the responder to select "which one issue facing California today do you think is the most important for the governor and state legislature to work on in 2007?". The ranking of the responses was:
  • 22% immigration / illegal immigration
  • 18% education / schools
  • 13% health care / health costs
  • 10% other
  • everything else was less than 10%.
The immigration issue has not gone away after the demonstration of 2006 and that is both a challenge and an opportunity for the GPCA. It is our choice. While Greens have been very much involved in some of the immigration demonstrations, it appears to me that we have not followed through with organizational action, a curious lapse when the President of the Mexican American Political Association is a Green. There is an open question as to how we should proceed and I don't hear much discussion. If this is truly the most important issue, we probably should be doing more.

The Tahoe GA approved an update to the platform regarding immigration. A translation of that platform by RocĂ­o Guido-Ferns (09-2006) can be found here. At the very least, we should have this translation available for distribution when tabling.


Patrick Meighan said...

The question, to my mind, is what, exactly, can be accomplished by GP action on this issue, at this time?

Down here in LA, I'm trying hard to push the LA Greens to attack issues that are specific, immediate, and realizable. Or, as local Green Erin Schmidt calls them, "SMART" goals: Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Realistic, Timed/Timely (SMART, get it?). What goals do you suppose the LA Greens (or even the GPCA) can seize on, within the realm of the immigration issue, that fits such criteria? How can we localize and specify this immigration issue down to a level that will be actionable and politically-useful for the Greens?

I don't know that there's an easy and obvious answer to those questions, but I've taken a stab recently. It's something immigration-related that I'd like to see LA-area Greens and progressives consider. Something that'd certainly be hard to achieve, but maybe (*maybe*) within the theoretical realm of possibility: immigrant suffrage in local elections.

You can read my thoughts on it here.

Patrick Meighan
Los Angeles Greens

Lisa said...

Yes, and thanks to Patrick for keeping us focused on this Local, local, local track. We had a productive retreat and yearly goal setting of the Los Angeles City Greens Steering Comm. this weekend.

Often our members are attracted to LA Greens through national issues--interest in the Nader campaign (as was the case with Patrick and myself in 2000), anti-war, global warming--and our challenge is to channel that passion into local issues that are realizable. We would love to have an issue we can point to in a year or so and say "hey, the LA Greens won that issue!"

We're getting a few copies of the book Patrick recommended, from Cathy's book publishing friend:

Re-imagining Progressive Politics in an Age of Fantasy


Wes said...

To begin with, we have to recognize that immigration, legal and illegal, is changing the demographics of California. There is no longer a single majority racial / ethnic group.

Everything costs money, but having Green Party materials (flyers, Green Focus, etc.) available in Spanish would be a start.

Then, we need recognize that, according to the Public Policy Institute of CA (PPIC) Hispanics are much more likely to say that environmental issues would be important to their vote. Maybe that is a clue as to how to proceed. Remember, environmental justice is social justice.