Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Democrats Ready to Ride the Green Wave?

Democratic leaders want to ride the Green wave into this year's election. Will the Dems shoot the curl or are they just skimboarding?

At the last convention, going green meant focusing on recycling trash and reducing waste during convention week. Now DNCC officials have paid professional greeners to guide them before and after the convention to the next baby step in going green.

"It's not about PR," assured House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, "It's about substance."

But amongst Green Party leaders, the co-opting of the Green brand poses a threat to the party's membership and future growth and greenwashes the urgent issues at hand.

Co-founder of the Green Party and high ranking San Francisco elected official, Ross Mirkarimi fears that liberal Democrats who have adopted green lifestyle like a cloak, will significantly impact the ability to attract new voters into the Green Party. "Ecological disaster has become so mainstream. We've become so successful at influencing the other parties on agenda, that they don't even have to credit the source." He said he feels the lament of a parent who wonders if their child will survive.

"The Democrats have the rhetoric but not the substance," retorts another co-founder, Howie Hawkins.

For Greens, shooting the Green wave would include:
  • immediate overhaul of sustainability practices throughout government
  • immediate withdrawal from Iraq with diplomatic solutions supsported and varying degrees of military presence in out-lying regions to support humanitarian concerns.
  • creation of a single-payer health reform such as in Canada
  • reform of the drug laws and the prison system
  • targeted Reconstruction efforts
  • ecological and environmental justice
  • social justice and equal rights
  • decentralize government and return to local control, keeping tax money closer to home
  • electoral and ballot access reform
That makes the DNC skimboarders in the face of Mavericks.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Even if the Greening of the Dem's convention is about style as well as substance, at least environmental issues are being showcased at a National convention. Will the Greens do the same in Chicago this July? Or will they be promoting themselves as "The Anti-War Party" or "The Social Justice Party"? If the Greens don't promote their environmental identity at a time when the general public is finally ready to listen, who is to blame?

For the Democrats "going Green" is about becoming identified as the party that is concerned with the environment and sustainability. From what we've seen, it's a good thing that the Convention organizers are getting some coaching. At the last Hillary fundraiser we observed nicely pre-packed lunches donning every chair, each in their own plastic container, resting next to a nice plastic bottle of water. Oops. Outside an Obama rally last fall, a row of busses that had brought in supporters sat idling outside the Bill Graham Convention Center. With incentives for Democratic Delegates to offset their carbon, recycle and minimize their waste in Denver, the Democrats might be making progress.

Were these ideas promoted by the Green Party first? Most Greens would say they are environmentalists, but not all environmentalists are Greens. Will the Democrats enact meaningful environmental changes? It's possible. Will the changes be enough for most Greens? Probably not - but it could be a start. Will millions watch the Democratic Convention and learn more about these issues? Or is it all for show? We'll find out in August.