Monday, November 10, 2008

Green activism, Green policy.

The hysteria of the election of Barack Obama has subsided. The celebrations are over, or never got off the ground as Obama himself nixed the idea of having fireworks in Grant Park. At this time, after this election, in which Green successes were all local, we need to turn our attention to our state, California, and the dramas being played out on the street and in Sacramento.

The success of Proposition 8 has surprised a lot of people, most of all those who ran the No on 8 campaign. As a result, people who are most affected, those who lost their rights, have begun a campaign of street demonstrations as well as starting the funds raising needed finance a long legal battle. With almost daily marches to be shown on the evening news, it will not go away, nor should it until there is true equality under the law.

I have seen some suggestions that California change it's laws to only issue licenses for civil unions, since the State is a civil institution. That would make sense were it not for the use of the term "marriage" in federal tax law and similar regulations in other states. Until this is resolved, there will never be equality.

Still, the progressive democrats who blog at Calitics seem to think that the No on 8 campaign organization must take a large share of the blame, citing the following as examples of a poorly run operation.
  • There was no GOTV operation either planned or executed.
  • With Obama pulling in many Black and Hispanic voters, there was no specific targeting of these groups with advertising or organizational outreach to change their perceptions. As is was, these two groups were the key demographics that favored Prop 8.
This is not over and will occupy attention until it is resolved in favor of equality.

The other element will not bring people to the streets, at least not for a long time. This is the ongoing budget battle in this state. This year, the legislature took a record time to produce a budget. It was locked in partisan bickering and political posturing with Republicans being adamantly opposed to any new taxes.

Now, less than two months after the budget was adopted, Governor Schwarzenegger has called the legislature back into session to fix the problems that remained unresolved the first time, basically the fact that the legislature ignore the economic situation that was approaching crisis status even then. Economic problems were a major factor in electing Obama but it had absolutely no affect on the California legislative election. We just did not make the connection and we still have not done so.

Even as Governor "Ahnuld" produced his own proposal, the battle lines were drawn much as they were all summer. Democrats refuse to make the steep cuts seemingly necessary in any services while the Republicans still refuse to consider any new taxes. It has all of the makings for another stalemate that will not be resolved in any special session. I have not completed my analysis, but I don't think any districts changed parties.

Sacramento has made a practice of balancing it's budget by cutting the amounts given to county and city governments for their use. The same is true for school districts who have no idea what funding will be available to them next year and still must negotiate with unions for new contracts on the basis of reading tea leaves.

In the case of Prop 8, the appeal is to the most progressive of the electorate. In the case of the budget fight in Sacramento, the appeal to decentralized power and an opposition to any mortgaging of our future are core Green concepts. If we are to have any ongoing role in California politics, we need to be strongly pursuing both goals: the return to equality under the law and the recognition of the new economic realities by a legislature that would rather rile up their supporters than solve problems.


Philip H. said...

From the outside, the Prop 8 battle really came down to the fact that many of the minority groups that you mentioned, who have been reported to be the lynch pin in 8's defeat, are actually socially conservative even though they tend to vote for "liberal" candidates more often. SO defeating Prop 8 was seen, I suspect, by many as a way of affirming their social views in an election when their economic interests were really carried by Democratic/liberal candidates. Overcoming that social conservativism will be the toughest part of the battle to come. And you 3won't do that with street demonstrations.

Wes said...

Phil, the Civil Rights movement and just about everything else that involved black advancement came with support of the church. If the No on Prop 8 folks had made the effort to go to the churches, they might have won. As it is, the observation of one black journalist is that No on 8 was run by a bunch of rich white gays without any idea of how to really get out the vote. Listen to the NPR discussion as I did or read her piece in the LA Times.