It’s also the Environment, “Stupid”

by on July 10th, 2005

Let me say up front that despite my playing cute with the infamous Clinton (Carville?) campaign slogan, there is nothing remotely stupid about Simon Rosenberg or the NDN, though like all of us they can at times err. Now I’ve been an enthusiastic member of the New Democratic Network for about a year and was a strong backer of Simon’s bid for DNC chair. I also continue to hold the same enthusiasm for NDN’s pragmatic, forward-looking, media and tech savvy vision for revival of the sagging fortunes of progressive politics in America, as evidenced by The New Politics Institute initiative for instance. All that said, on a recent visit to their site it dawned on me that almost no where on those NDN sites can one find the word environment or sustainability prominently featured as a targeted issue. In fairness I must cop here that the blogmaster over there responded graciously to my posted rant by pointing out that the 6th, and last, item on the NDN Agenda page is:

    Leave Behind an Even More Beautiful America: Keep our air and water clean; preserve land for future generations; and make America energy independent through greater production here at home, investments in new clean technologies and renewable sources of energy, and a national crusade to encourage smart energy use and conservation.

I stood corrected, but not content. Though the language of this item is spot on, the bottom of the list on a single page just don’t cut it in the my eyes. A perusal of NDN sites will show that The economy, homeland security, Iraq, new media and the Hispanic vote are featured headings almost everywhere, and quite rightfully so. But to highlight these while down-playing the environment, either consciously or no, is not only ignoring what is arguably the single most critical issue of our time, but also ignores one of the central pillars of the Democratic Party platform and progressive politics. Our good mamma earth deserves equal, if not top, billing with these other hot button issues.

Though it’s probably accurate to describe NDN as essentially a centrist outfit (ND stands for New Dems, after all), they tout their intention to reach out to a broad political coalition, left to center-right. And this is good. But where low balling the environment might buy you some modicum of right of center support, it risks losing as much and probably even more support from left to center. Do the math.

If this oversight is unintentional, I urge NDN to correct it. If it is by design, I then urge that they rethink that strategy. Perhaps the logic is indeed that too many swing/red state voters will be turned off by wishy-washy “tree hugger” propaganda. That’s possible, but I think not. Clean air, clean water, and a livable planet are everyone’s business and I think polling data indicates this realization across a broad spectrum. And, at risk of stating the obvious, the economy, the media, the military and ALL ethnic group issues are trumped by sustainability in that all these things depend upon a healthy, functional biosphere for existence.

So as a continuing supporter and a proud centrist Dem, I ask the NDN to seriously consider featuring the environment as an issue given the prominence it both needs and deserves. I do so because all of us and all our children need and deserve that.

Kit Robinson