Sunday, April 11, 2010


The passage of Resolution 380 on water being a priority and the passage of the Water Planning plank of the California Green Party Platform were steps taken away from the foundation funded advocacy groups and directs our Party's work towards eco-issues and related voter blocs. They introduce the concept of formulating local strategies and tactics that are ecologically-based and focused. As a political party, we have stepped into an arena of the ballot as a third party. Few in the U.S. Greens have been willing or able to successfully establish consistent constituencies or stable cores of leadership capable of navigating the turbulent waters of electoral politics.
We have seen the importance of a stable leadership and the consequences for constant internal bickering. We have learned that we can appeal to voters outside of the Democratic/progressives’ spheres of influence. We have learned that expected progressive constituencies do not inherently deliver the sound base needed for campaigns and candidates. We have seen the failings of our own candidates in expanding the scope of our message in a way that is inclusive of broad sections of the American public and engaging them to identify with the Green vision.
The intent of the water resolutions and the water plank was to provide some political review of the tasks ahead and to shape it based on the work of Greens. For too long some Greens have taken their cue from writers, academics and professional critics and defined our priorities and policies without a review of election results and review of the demographics of Green Party support at the ballot box.
Deconstructionism has failed to establish a political agenda because it is at heart anti-political in its program of action. Activists who work outside the political system and advocacy groups continue to see alternative societies as the solution to issues of social justice and environmental restoration. Naomi Klein illustrated her anti-electoral approach with her summary on C-SPAN that the failure of activists lay with those who invested their focus on electoral work around Obama. Naomi’s real blindspot lies in her inability to grasp the significance of electoral political work. Green electoral work remains outside of Naomi’s realm of review and consideration. Such critics have been more then willing to criticize the presence of Green candidates when the GP can significantly impact election results. Many would rather be in the streets then in the legislatures and when push comes to shove go running back to the Democratic Party.
Structural reform of governmental entities is always the last thing on the agenda of the advocacy giants. The Green Party has stepped into the arena of water politics at the planning level. It has found a much broader base for sustainability politics then simply that defined by the rigorously stratified constituencies of the Democratic/Urban and Republican /Rural Parties. The emergence of ecological democracy and adaptive governance has the potential to re-shape traditional political definitions of party allegiance. If strategy was linked to priorities, campaigns and policies, this would be addressed. It is unfortunate that the new alignment of potential supporters has been grasped by so few of the Green Party and as a result few state parties have worked to promote political campaigns centered on land and water use, regional planning and urban development.
It is important to connect the Platforms of the state Green Parties with the campaigns and the candidates. It is critical to understand who we are speaking to and what we have to say that is important to voters. If we are to grow, we need to localize our message, pinpoint those who share common concerns and interests and recruit candidates with credentials and local support of their own. Platforms are statements of our political agenda in the society we live in. People will grasp what most relates to their lives and when the organization demonstrates its own organizational viability they will add to our understanding of the concerns of voters.
Brian Tokar presented a succinct review of US Green Party progress and problems, “THE GREENS AS A SOCIAL MOVEMENT: VALUES AND CONFLICTS “Greens have contested the norm of US politics as largely an elite activity, and raised the important question of whether a political party in the US can aspire to act as an expression of a broader social movement. This is often taken for granted in Europe, with its history of political parties rooted in organized labor, but explicitly contradicts the managerial pragmatism that dominates politics in the United States – and increasingly in the European Union as well. Whether there is room in the American political landscape for a multi-issue, ecologically based social movement seeking an explicitly political expression still remains to be seen. But the twenty year history of the US Greens raises the hope that this may one day be realized, along with a host of valuable lessons for those who will most certainly keep trying.”


Wes said...

I like your use of the term "adaptive governance." It has similar connotations to the sense of adaptive management that has infused even such hide bound organizations as the U.S. Forest Service. If these techniques can gain a foothold even there, we should make use of them as well.

Ross Levin said...

I find this very interesting. And I really agree with you a lot. I'm trying to start a discussion about this on GreenChange: