Recent events, in Wisconsin and elsewhere, have renewed my interest in the pox-ridden political landscape in the United States. I’m wondering whether, if I put my mind to it, I might actually be able to do some good. It’s not easy to see how I could accomplish anything, or even how to get started.
For a few years I was a registered member of the Green Party in California. I even had a vague stab at getting involved with the Alameda County Greens. It was a frustrating experience. I came away with the impression that while the Greens have good intentions, they’re poor at organizing, they don’t know how to communicate using modern mass media, and they seem to have very little understanding of — or, what’s worse, interest in — the messy process of actually governing.
This morning I had a look at the website for the Green Party of the United States. It’s depressing. Now, we have to acknowledge that the quality of a website is not always a reliable indicator of what’s going on in an organization. But it’s hard to escape the idea that a political party needs a good website, both to communicate and to recruit new members.
The most telling weakness of the Green Party website is that the party’s platform is not posted anywhere. Unbelievable! On the platform page, we learn that the 2010 Platform Committee is in the process of compiling the amendments adopted by the Green National Committee for inclusion in an updated 2010 platform. (At this writing, it’s March 2011.) This is a perfect example of poor organization and poor communication.
We’re told, as well, “The GPUS Platform is a living document and we intend to always stay ahead of the issues facing our country and the world.” They’re so far ahead, evidently, that there’s no platform. And does it matter what they intend? As my friend Dennis used to say, “I preferred to judge myself by my intentions, but the rest of the world was judging me by my actions.”
The list of Green Party office-holders in the US consists mostly of board members of neighborhood councils, school boards, and sanitary districts. There’s a handful of mayors, all of them of small towns — Marina City, Willits, and Richmond in California, Ward in Colorado, and the villages of Greenwich and Victory in New York. There are no state legislators in the list, and certainly no members of Congress. There are no mayors of large cities.
Turning to the About Us page, we find several assertions that, while admirable in the abstract, are not indicative of anything very concrete. “Greens are renewing democracy in the United States through community-based organizing without the support of corporate donors.” In what sense can they claim to be renewing democracy? I’m not even sure what that means. Does it mean better monitoring of polling places to prevent ballot-box stuffing? Probably not. Does it mean holding mainstream media accountable (somehow) for biased reporting? Probably not. In any event, the results, if any, are not readily visible. If there were any visible results, you’d think the Greens would be trumpeting them. But perhaps they’ve failed to let us know about actual results due to their poor communications skills.
“Greens provide real solutions for real problems,” we’re told. Well, no, that’s not technically accurate. Greens propose real solutions for real problems. The actual providing of solutions, were it ever to occur, would have to come from Congress or from state legislatures, venues from which the Greens are conspicuously absent.
“We devote our attention to establishing a national Green presence in politics and policy debates.” And how well is that working for you?
Somebody ought to pick these people up by their heels and shake them until their teeth rattle. Maybe I’ll give it a try.