Green Imagination

Your Blog for Sharing Green Ideas.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

The Future of Politics is GREEN

A friend of mine, a staunch Democrat, sent me this article from Steve Gillard's blog after a rather heated debate over this year's presidential election and the politics surrounding it.

I don't have to tell readers of this blog (bless your heart, the few of you regulars) that some of this material is just plain wrong:
The last vestiges of upper middle class radicalism, which values issues
over results. Just look at the energy of the Greens into IRV. Not wage
increases, not safer working conditions, not even a boycott of Wal-Mart, one of
America's evilest corporations, but IRV, which will change almost nothing for
most people. Not even weekend voting.

I'm sure many of you can point to several cases where IRV was indeed used successfully. More importantly, Gilliard characterizes what he calls "the new left" as "resolutely middle class and moderate." There's much in that tiny fragment to be picked apart. For one, he's calling anyone who is working for the Dems this year as a "new left." He particularly points to Deaniacs and the like who are using the Internet to effectively organize and raise money. Of course, organizing and raking in cash online have little to do with a person or group's politics. It has to do with their effectiveness and their re-investment of some funds into furthering their online presence and organizing mechanisms.

What's more, how can there be a "new left" if it is moderate? This implies what political commentators have been saying since Bush took office: the overall political attitudes of this country have shifted, or been dragged, to the right. If this is true, then people aren't become more politically polarized, their only being polarized in their loyalty to a particular candidate. It says nothing of their politics. After all, how can you be both "left" and "moderate?"

Indeed, Gilliard seems to miss the point of the entire Green Party and its movement:

What many on the Green left don't get is that Americans hate politics.

Isn't that why the Green Party exists? To reinvigorate politics? And here's a contradiction:

The Green left may never accept this as a model [the leader-centered model, as he calls it] of reform, but what have their methods gotten them? Candidates who can't get five percent of the vote in a national election, limited power, if any, in America's largest cities. We've tried their "everyone has a voice" model and it leads to petty politics and inaction because the loudest voice wins or bitches so much no one can do
anything. When you have an organization like Move On or ACT, with clear goals,
it is far easier to organize people to carry them out.

So, instead of having a single person to rally around, a Nader or Cobb for example, groups like Move On and ACT dictate the ways in which people get involved. Again, this is just effective organizing, not some wild uprising of the left that's about to storm the Whitehouse with Kerry. (I should point out that groups like Move On are generally funded by and lead by incredibly rich democrats like George Soros, and they are not an "open governing body" in any way that remotely resembles a democratic organization--a clear contrast with our own Coordinating Committee).

Gilliard clearly misunderstands the Green Party movement. Whether it's out of a lack of knowledge or an unwillingness to engage Greens is not for me to say. What's important, though, is his focus on the use of technology to better organize. Ironically, he calls ANSWER ineffective, although much of their organizing is structured very similarly to Move On's. That is, Gilliard emphasizes the form over content of Internet organizing, placing groups with which he is politically aligned on a higher level than those he is not. For Gilliard, the medium is the message.

What's the lesson here? I have urged it many times: Greens need to be more effective online. Simple as that. We need more sophisticated ways of reaching the key people who would naturally be attracted to our movement if a) they knew about us, b) it wasn't a presidential election year. Essentially, we need a stronger online community.

This begs the question of the digital divide, to which I have no answer, and which is also a different blog topic.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't understand Steve Gillard's point(s?)

Is he saying that the Deaniac/Internet or the MoveOn models are what the Greens should adopt? If so, it makes no sense to me: the former was a strategy employed by a Democratic presidential candidate and the later is, as Daniel points out, largely funded by a billionaire.

The Greens are not seeking the nomination of the Democratic Party, nor are we seeking the largess of billionaires. We are growing a truly grassroots political “third party” and that is a long and hard job.

If Gillard thinks the Greens should use the Internet more effectively, I certainly agree.

Dave Goldsmith

11:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gilliard tends to just bash Greens everywhere he mentions them. The post isn't very coherent generally. To call the Dean "movement" a grassroots thing is pretty strange considering that the focus is so strongly on an individual.

The thing that is important is for us Greens to use the internet far more effectively than we have been so far, and realize its potential as media we control. I'm working on Theresa Dudley's campaign and have been somewhat frustrated that there isn't more emphasis on the internet in the campaign.

Still, it's a learning experience for all of us and Greens will be happy to welcome those Dems who realize after a few months of the Kerry presidency just what he's about.


12:08 PM  
Blogger Daniel said...

Actually, it seemed to me that he was arguing that the Dems actually have a movement because of Dean's campaign and Moveon. That is, the technology preceeds the movement, and not the other way around. I would prefer to see the Greens work their movement better online as well.

8:48 PM  
Blogger Daniel said...

I believe someone from Theresa's campaign is working on putting together a website (at the least). I've also invited Theresa and the other MD Green candidates (including the Baltimore City candidates) to blog, but only a few have responded. Of those, none have posted anything.

At least we're working on collecting donations online! It's an important we just need to drive people to our sites.

10:37 PM  

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