Open the Floodgates to Inspired, Participatory Democracy

4:27 pm in Uncategorized by greenmassgroup

[Cross-posted at Green Mass Group]

An Open Letter to the FireDogLake Community:

Dear friends at FDL,

I come to you with open arms, an open mind, and an open heart. I read your analysis and commentary and reporting and informed discussions, and I am grateful for all of it. It is heads and tails more open-minded and thoughtful than other similar progressive blogs, even those on your blogroll. FDL gives me hope. But then I take a look at your blog family, and your affiliation with the Blue America / Act Blue fundraising PAC, and my heart sinks. Ultimately I yearn to know the answer… how open-minded *is* the FDL community?

I write this as a Green activist, an active member of the Green-Rainbow Party — the Massachusetts affiliate of the Green Party of the U.S. I like to think that my allegiance to the Green Party is not rigid, or dogmatic, or permanent, or tunnel-based – the types of things that made Ralph Nader promise his father on his deathbed (as the story goes) that he wouldn’t ever join a political party. I myself am brimming with criticism of the Green Party. But it’s constructive criticism, because I think we desperately need to make the Green Party viable in the United States and around the world. Any global ecology-based movement will do, so long as it does not shy away from the difficult, frightening, and often-nauseating terrain of modern-day politics.

I was more-or-less indoctrinated into the Democratic Party by my family. My dad switching his registration to Green after John Kerry ignored the Ohio election fraud was a breathtaking event in my life. My mom switched too. Their unyielding support for the state of Israel, no matter how criminal or destructive, made me think this was a sheer impossibility. My dad’s early support of the Iraq War sparked some bitter debates where voices were guaranteed to rise. Now he’s tweeting away about indigenous peoples’ rights and injustice across planet.

My sense of FDL, from the few months that I have paid it any attention, is that its members are genuinely concerned about the issues and, like me, have political allegiances that are grounded more in reality and insight than in irrational identity. If this is accurate, FDL will be open to the most pragmatic paths to a vibrant democracy, and progressive, forward-looking policy. And if this is right, I know I need to make my arguments in that reality-based, non-emotional space, where each of our minds can grip the potential and possibilities around an idea and start to rally creativity and energy in that direction. I think our movements are atomized and diffused. Our vectors are pointing in too many different directions, and while there are more of us progressive, thoughtful people out there than the loud, hateful, and reactionary crowd, our collective voice is largely muted. We are canceling each other out with bad strategy, little funding, poor communication, and the countless traps of mainstream, conventional politics.

The reality is that we live in a two-party system, and the success of an upstart third party is all but impossible. The reality is that the Green Party is a mess — a complete, disorganized, incoherent mess. The reality is that the Green Party has provided infinite reasons to turn people off, from our processes and rules to our self-righteousness and our quest for immaculate position statements that will gain no political traction whatsoever. The reality is that would-be Greens would have to commit to supporting a perennial loser, and would-be candidates would have to give up truly beneficial party machinery, name recognition, and a stamp of political feasibility. The reality is that the American people are not likely to elbow each other out to be the first on the block to proudly declare their support of the Green Party’s Ten Key Values. If I ignore these realities, then I should give up the game of trying to convince anyone here of anything.

But there are plenty of other realities that outweigh these crippling shackles. The economic reality is that the growth economy is sputtering, and it is hurting people across the political spectrum and even across the class spectrum. The social reality is that the mythologies that keep our society humming are starting to be exposed as myth, and compelling narratives that securely replace them are few and far between. We see our families struggling, we see our neighbors struggling, we don’t really understand what’s going on, and we don’t have confidence that things will get any better. The ecological reality is that the very survival of our species is now under threat, that the whole web of life that we are inextricably dependent upon is under severe strain and existential threat. The political reality is that voters and non-voters alike are ready for a transformative break from our old, unraveling systems. That someone as supposedly as transformative as Barack Obama could spend precious political capital, as well as tax-payer dollars, on giving such an outdated and destructive energy source as coal a new sheen speaks volumes about just how pathetic the politics of the past have become.

We need new ideas. New forms of governance. New forums for collective decision-making. We need a politics of the people, because the people are proving themselves more open-minded and collaborative than the elites in power. 44% of Congress are millionaires — how could they possibly, ever, ever, ever, relate to the people of this nation? How could we ever expect them to consider the devastation they are bringing to the people of Iraq or Afghanistan or Pakistan or Yemen or wherever their next decision will impact? How could we ever expect their climate legislation to protect the people of the Maldives — people our over-consumption is directly threatening with drowning? To the extent we support these aloof lemmings in Congress, we are complicit in these and countless other daily tragedies.

Thankfully the time is ripe for a new kind of politics to emerge — a politics that isn’t so quick to label tea party supporters as Nazis. A politics where revenue growth isn’t the only solution to deficit spending, and neither is cutting badly-needed programs. A politics where the people have a voice in decision-making, and corporations don’t have exclusive access to self-interested politicians. A politics that is overflowing with common-sense solutions and possibilities, where jumpstarting the green economy can solve the climate crisis and the jobs crisis and the energy crisis and the healthcare crisis in one fell swoop. A politics of the whole — of the interconnected parts and the connections themselves.

The crises that are converging upon us are shifting the political terrain beneath our feet. There is something of a slow, global uprising afoot. If we remain blind to those realities, we will be left in the dust like empires of old. If we embrace them and further catalyze them, we will find ourselves in the midst of the greatest revolutionary struggle of all time. Like the movie Independence Day, when the nations of the world cooperated against extraterrestrial enemies, the people of the world are starting to unite themselves in an emergent people’s globalization. We have seen a common enemy, and it is our way of life, our dirty rotten politics of short-sighted self-interest, and the greedy economics of maximal extraction of resources and wealth accumulation.

It is in this spirit that I ask FireDogLake to embrace the possibility that the direction forward lies not with the Democratic Party, but with a much more open-ended, non-partisan approach. I ask FireDogLake to ditch its affiliation and use of Blue America or Act Blue, and to take the necessary steps to create an independent PAC that will support candidates based on commitments to a more thoughtful and inclusive agenda. I further ask that the FDL community engage in a purposeful dialogue about Which Way Green, Which Way Progressive, Which Way Forward. With such a sizable, impassioned, engaged and informed readership, I think that taking a new look at mobilizing around the Green Party might open the floodgates to an inspired, participatory democracy in this country and beyond.

Yours in Hope,
Eli Beckerman