Sunday, February 11, 2007

What is the purpose of the Green Party?

We don't exist to advance libertarianism as a movement. The LP exists to elect libertarians to public office so we can move public policy the way we want to go.
__Timothy West at Third Party Watch . Currently the last comment at the bottom of the page

So that's the question. Is the Green Party here to advance the larger green agenda, or are we here specifically to elect Greens to office so we can move public policy the way we want it to go?

To me, I am thinking that the planet, the actual earth, may become uninhabitable under anything approaching "normal" circumstances inside two hundred years, maybe much sooner. This could be a radioactive wasteland, a waterless wasteland, an airless wasteland, or a toxic wasteland.

I believe it is possible that the globe itself will provide the circumstances to bring us to our collective knees. We human beings are behaving as though we have a protective coating that will filter our air and water, and protect us from poison and radiation.

Part of the argument at Third Party Watch is the question of ideological "purity" in the Libertarian Party. West goes on
My own father was going to vote for him because I asked him to vote LP until he saw that appearance, and he asked me exactly how I thought the LP could go from where we are now to zero taxes and how did I think the American people would ever vote for such a impossible thing. I couldn't’t answer him except to say that I was trying to get rid of stuff like that in the party and platform. He voted for Kerry.

Do I risk losing potential members by talking about what I see as our likely future if we don't start to get really serious really fast? Do I risk sounding like a loony toon by saying that the fact that Pakistan, India, and North Korea have exploded nuclear weapons of varying potential makes me think that nuclear explosions are a lot more likely? Am I crazy to say that the fact that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has decided that the nuclear industry does not have to make any attempt to stop an attack by airliner but only mitigate it after the fact makes me think we who live near nuclear facilities have just had targets painted on our backs?

I believe I have a better chance to bring someone to the Green Party by talking about schools and taxes and sidewalks. I believe that a Green Party position on plans to build a new local hospital is critical if we are to grow. I believe that a position on food quality at our schools makes sense for us to focus on, as does local application of pesticides and local water plans.

But since those other perspectives are important to me, what can I expect of myself? If someone is interested in the Green Party because they know that we are proposing a comprehensive educational / physical / recreational /health program for her children, should I keep my opinions about 9-11 to myself? Should I leave talk of drug laws and their impact on the poor and racial minorities out of the picture? Do I risk her walking away if I bring up using local tax dollars to fund water treatment in the third world? If I do, does it matter?

In other words, if someone is not on the exact same page as me, do I serve the goal of electing Greens more effectively by focusing on our areas of agreement, or the goal of the broader green movement by trying to educate her on whatever issue and risk losing her? Can I do both effectively? Has anyone else got this one figured out, and if so, what do you do?
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