|Peace on Earth requires peace with Earth -- A vision for returning democracy to the people.
Reclaiming Democracy: How to Grow Beyond A Failed Vision
Copyright 2003 by Dave Ewoldt
Urgent calls are being made for progressives to take back the Democratic Party in America. But thinking, caring people should not be asked to sign on to a co-opted, and therefore failed, vision that doesn't represent their values or interests in the vain hope that the Democratic Party can somehow be changed and redeemed. True progressives should support a true progressive party--not a supposed opposition party whose policies and pandering to moneyed special interests are indistinguishable from the party they purport to oppose. Democrats who still have their soul need to embrace a totally new vision coupled with a new story that reflects their common core values of respect and care for the community of life, ecological integrity, social and economic justice, democracy, nonviolence, and peace. A political party based on these values already exists. Progressive Democrats need to move--en masse!--to the Green Party.
You may ask, "But isn't America a two-party system with no room for a third?" I purport that we currently have a one-party system. If you think 'bush'evik rhetoric and doublespeak is bad, check out the Democratic Leadership Council's website and their "Progressive" Policy Institute. They claim to be at the forefront of progressive politics, but here's a typical "progressive" quote from their homepage: "We congratulate those in both parties who worked for decades to build today's military, and those in Congress who voted last October to put it to use in a just cause." These are the New Democrats? No thanks! The DLC's idea of "modernizing" the progressive tradition is to continue with gunpoint democracy--offering further proof that American politics today is a one-party system. While they may not be as bad as the current Bush regime, they really don't appear to me to present a viable, or substantially different, alternative.
Progressive liberals need to take an honest look at the Democratic Party today, and especially the Democratic National Committee. For instance, what do you suppose the realistic possibility is of the Democratic Party officially supporting the Earth Charter and using it for the foundation of their platform and party policy? As long as Terry McAuliffe is the DNC Chairman, the answer is somewhere between slim and none. The Democratic Party still equates progress with growth and refuses to enact campaign finance reform or seriously address electoral reform. And as long as this remains true, the DNC cannot claim to embrace and represent progressive values and goals.
But doesn't the Green Party divide the traditional 'Democratic' or liberal vote, thus allowing conservatives to win elections? Ralph Nader has been blamed for handing the 2000 American presidential election to George W. Bush, after all. The truth is, the DNC and DLC are actually responsible for this election fiasco. These "Democratic" groups are the people that rank and file Democrats should fear--not the Greens, who are actually working to return democracy to the people, save the environment, and put an end to corporate rule. The realitiy is that the DNC and DLC are decrying the Green Party because it threatens their corporate financed power base.
It seems to me that what we are actually hearing are the agonized cries of a dying Democratic Party that has managed to make itself largely irrelevant to the true majority of the electorate in America today. When it comes to voting for a third party candidate, voting one's conscience is never a wasted vote--it's the whole point of voting. A wasted vote is when one abstains from voting, or when one votes against one's own soul for the lessor of two evils in the forlorn hope that maybe this time the candidate will live up to their election promises. Change begins by actively making new choices.
The Bush administration has done at least one positive thing: It has galvanized the peace and justice movements on a global scale. A global, public dialog that is questioning the very legitimacy of war and aggression has moved into the open. It is no longer just an issue to be addressed by the left, and cuts across all previous boundaries of gender, race, culture, and religion. The causes of the poor and the working class in seeking economic justice are included as well. The shallow rhetoric that sought to build support for the war in Iraq and a never-ending war on terrorism has been seen through for what it is: armed support for defense contractors and the oil cartel to prop up a sagging US economy and exploitive, unsustainable lifestyles.
Saddam Hussein was but one of the current crop of political leaders around the world who put their own interests above the interests and welfare of their own people. The United Nations needs to invoke the charter they have been given to maintain peace, security and to advance human rights in order to address the underlying causes of the hopelessness and despair that runs rampant amongst the people of the world. By first enacting the Earth Charter as a policy document, the UN could begin acting as a true representative body of world concerns on issues that concern the world. This model is at the other end of the spectrum from the unelected, unrepresentative, and unaccountable world bodies and their underlying ideology that is causing so much of the global despair and resentment: the IMF, World Bank, and WTO. These bodies represent the economic dictums that cause the accumulation and consolidation of wealth and power in the hands of the few at the expense of the many.
The economic model these ideals are based on is creating a high quality of life for a few, and a poor quality of life for the rest. Using the U.S. as a prime example, our land of plenty causes the majority of the population to be in constant need of plenty of therapy, counseling, and medication in a fruitless and never-ending attempt to remain sane in an insane world. We are a nation living in a constant state of fear, and it is a fear of the other--any other apart from or outside of an insecure ego. Wars against each other and against nature itself do more harm than good. They lead to even further polarization as they promote and sustain the force based ranking hierarchies of a dominator culture.
We need to stop the causes of terrorism, such as corporate greed and indifference to worker's rights, environmental degradation, social injustice, and lack of respect for diversity by not continuing to support the policies and political parties that continue allowing these wrongs to continue. These policies include, but are by no means limited to, corporate welfare, excessive over-consumption and the throw-away society, and the corporate belief in the environment as little more than a source of profit-increasing resources, rather than as a life-support system for humanity and the rest of life on Earth.
How can Nature be both an endless supply of resources as well as a bottomless pit for waste products? How can growth be truly limitless if we limit the definition of growth to material goods? If human desire is truly infinite, it is impossible for material wealth to ever deliver complete fulfillment. US economic policy based on GDP ignores the former two questions and the latter fact. Even more dangerously and at odds with humanity's best interests, GDP includes in its measure of growth any spending that occurs due to disasters, accidents, and decreases in both mental and physical health. This is what allows a neoconservative administration to say with a straight face that reducing emissions, cleaning up the environment, or ratifying the Kyoto Protocol is bad for the economy. Decreasing risk and increasing health is bad for the American economy. Saving, sustainability, and simplicity is bad for the economy. Reduce, reuse, and recycle are bad for an economy based on excessive and mindless consumption.
The solution to these problems is to build a citizens movement--a coalition of new progressives--that holds a positive vision for the future based on a foundation of common core values. This vision will include goals of reclaiming democracy, restoring civil rights, returning to ecological sanity, and will demand, politely but firmly, that the movement's concerns and desires be addressed and attended to by their elected representatives and public policy bodies. To get this process rolling, the movement needs to turn up at the polls and elect representatives that will remain true to core progressive values. Politics can no longer remain the rule of force or the threat of force. In the political arena in America today, I see only the Green Party as being able to publicly and proudly support this vision.
To support education, health care, social justice, and respect for diversity increased awareness and active participation by all citizens is necessary. The movement needs to understand that economic development needs to be intimately tied to environmental stabilization and recovery. The movement needs to support strong international institutions for justice and cooperation among diverse nations that will make global security possible by becoming a guardian of the public welfare and a safeguard of the commons for the benefit of all species and the Earth itself.
To both support and further this vision, Naturally Creative Earth Politics (NCEP) is a coalition of New Progressives working to help enact the widespread adoption of the Earth Charter as a viable alternative to greedy and exploitive policy and as a manifesto for peaceful, just, equitable and sustainable solutions to political and environmental problems. The Earth Charter is our Declaration of Interdependence.
NCEP is also helping to spread awareness that the Green Party is not just an alternative third-party, but should and can be the majority first-party. Liberals of good heart and conscious need to simply abandon the DNC and DLC as not being representative of their best interests, and provide the infrastructure and additional strength for the Green Party to lead America into a just and sustainable future. As Paul Ray's analysis in "The New Political Compass" shows, what he calls the New Progressives make up 45% of the potential voting populace. As the German Greens say, we're neither left nor right, we're in front. The Green Party is the one party that is truly in tune with the cultural movements that have been crucial to the cultural change that has been taking place in America since the 1960s.
One of the needs of today's citizens movement is for a reframing of the issues, and a consistency in a positive type of language used to present the New Progressive message. An example of this reframing is shown by the way the pioneers of the early '60s social movements gained the ground swell of support necessary to bring these issues into the social conscious. Rachel Carson, in giving birth to the environmental movement, didn't use the fear, guilt and NIMBY tactics which have for too long been a favorite of environmentalists when she talked about the death of Nature; she basically just pointed out that if the birds and insects die, our children will be next. Martin Luther King, Jr. talked about civil rights not as a way just for Blacks to get their share, but based his message on the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution; that if any segment of society was oppressed, we were all oppressed. Betty Friedan didn't frame the feminist movement as a way for women to gain equal pay; she pointed out that there was a fundamental problem for a majority of humanity whose views were excluded and diminished, and that socially supported sexism and gender bias maintained this problem and diminished us all.
These three movements, and the non-violence that was at their core, turned the anti-war and anti-nuclear movements into the Peace Movement. This reframing bespoke what they were for instead of what they were against. The growth today of alternative medicine and natural healing comes not from being against institutionalized medicine--which looks at a single disease in a single part of the body--but from being for what is best for the health and wellness of the whole person. Successful social and consciousness movements use reframing to redefine parts of social reality, to reinterpret events and shed new light on evidence to present new diagnoses and to forward the values and positions that are important to them.
Today we share a common struggle for the ideals of peace, justice, and freedom. There are many common strands that bind us together, many connections and attractions between us that revolve around these three ideals. This is how we are in solidarity with one another. Next, we must realize that a clean and healthy environment is necessary to sustain us in our common struggles. We must realize that the greed that abuses and exploits the Earth is the same, it comes from the very same mindset, that harms each of us through abuse and exploitation. Looking at Nature as other, as separate, is exactly the same as how the dominator culture gets us to look at each other, as "other"--as separate and disconnected. This same mindset is how they try to make us think that we have nothing in common, when, in reality, we have most everything in common. Especially the need to democratically take back our lives and our spirits. To be able to raise our children free from fear. To educate all of our brothers and sisters. To be able to holistically grow ourselves, to become fully self-aware and to creatively express ourselves along our paths to wholeness and integrity. To discover both our purpose in life, and our passion with life.
Each and every one of us can help affect the shift in consciousness necessary to restore ecological health, ensure a sustainable world, and a peaceful and just society with a population where each individual can creatively grow in fulfillment and be free of want. To solidify this vision and help the movement realize these goals, the Natural Systems Thinking Process, a way to reconnect with Nature and each other that is part of the field of ecopsychology, can be used to allow people to naturally regain their health and well-being--to begin to think and act the way Nature works. We can build a partnership society based on mutually reciprocal relationships and co-create the sustainable future that will lead to a better world for all. We can all learn to live and grow in ways that will allow all others to live and grow as well.
Questions or comments about these Web pages? Send e-mail to