Monday, December 07, 2009

A Reply to Ted Glick's New Book


It is good to present a strategy for the future that is thought out and proposes organizational and tactical recommendations. The debate that needs to be held really needs to be public. I have written several articles in the GREEN HORIZON MAGAZINE that presented the particular strategy of building an independent political party, the Green Party. I would be more then willing to help build for a forum on strategy for the road forward in San Francisco. I am forwarding this for Greens on the Eco-Action Committee and others to review and consider the possibility of such a forum.

The idea is not to win a debate but to review the viable strategic options that have presented themselves and how to address the lack of progress from current tactics and strategy. As you know, no one strategy has demonstrated a degree of unqualified success that puts it beyond reproach. But there have been significant gains, increased electoral experience and lessons learned in regards to questions of organization and tactics that are worth summarizing. Your proposal of a United Progressive Alliance is by no means a new proposal. Internally, Greens have had those who promote a fusion strategy for years in many different political contexts. To date, the successes have not significantly impacted on the political debate of our times.

Issues that need to be raised include: the role of the Democratic Party in the marginalization of a third party option in states they dominate, the role of progressive advocacy groups in electoral campaigns involving the Green Party, the context and role of PDA and other Democratic Party political action groups, the lack of a broad-based constituency within the progressive movement and the deep environmental consciousness that exists among broad strata of the American public that has not been tapped politically in the past 2-3 decades. Strategically structural reforms necessitate an approach that works from the bottom up and establishes alliances with various public officials. Ballot access and proportional representation touch on the kind of changes needed to increase the representation of those currently marginalized in the decision-making processes.

It is a mistake though to take on campaigns that we are not prepared to win. Political viabilty will come with victories and by working in processes in which the global warming issue can be defined locally. Having spent much of my efforts in NM in water planning, there was a clear priority in that state and public awareness that presented itself for a process that developed a specific and holistic approach. The failure was the lack of awareness and willingness to formulate this experience into a political campaign that presented the options and built on the public engagement in the planning process.

There will always be contradictions between Greens and those promoting fusion. Bill Richardson can afford to present himself as a progressive to those outside of the state of NM, as he did in the primary, but his image in the state was far from that. At the same time, Democratic candidates, such as Richard Romero in his losing race for Congress, did the unthinkable by reaching out to Greens. Different candidates require different approaches.

What I am more concerned about is the inherent ideological definition of progressives being a pre-determined basis of unity. In California, groups have aligned with those in the Delta that included a variety of water-based recreational and sporting businesses. In NM, Republican farmers, local water managers, specialists, historical users and urban users were able to effectively minimize the influence of real estate interests and developers. In other words, strategic alliances need to be based on common issues of concern and not flow from a pre-set political agenda. If reduction of greenhouse gas emissions is the goal, then the analysis of who stands to benefit from this becomes a much more fundamental issue in electoral work and political action.

In an article in which I presented a strategic issue of energy transition, I presented the matter thusly:

" The development of a serious effort in this regard has not even begun. The first necessary steps is to establish a broad-based coalition of organizations that establishes a common, working strategy for the writing, passing and implementation of an Energy Transition Legislative Package. A five-year target date should be established at an appropriate Founding Congress of political action groups. Political action during that time needs to be prioritized in regards to the passage in Congress, and State Legislatures of the US...

"Time is not on our side. That does not negate the critical element of transformation that can take place rapidly and efficiently once the political will has been consolidated and institutionalized. The complexities are already being addressed.
The alternatives are already modeled in locales and nations around the world. Sweden, Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands have already established energy transition to renewable energy as national priorities.

"The first obvious aspect of any plan is that it needs to be approved with more than just a Democratic working majority. It requires winning over non-ideologues in both parties.... Actions are already being taken by the Western Governors' Association and the U.S. Conference of Mayors regarding climate change. As momentum is building public officials need to be encouraged to move faster and implement the transition legislation needed."

The essence of the position is that there remain more strategic issues to move forward that cannot be found simply in an alliance of progressives. Priorities need to be established and reduction goals defined in the political context of candidate districts. States such as California, Texas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania present themselves as the largest emitters of GHGs. As such, these states need to be prioritized in political work and electoral campaigns above and beyond work done at the Congressional level. In this context it is worth noting the recent consolidation and expansion of the Illinois Green Party on the state ballot and the election of Green candidates in California, though mostly non-partisan elections.

Defining the Mission of a unified alliance needs to be focused on the goals that we are striving for. Constituencies that we have worked with in the past need to be expanded based on common concerns and political action needs to be based on demonstrated common direction towards our common goal and not the entire Platform or political agenda of any one ideological or political group.

I welcome feedback.

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