January 28, 2010
By Ken Krayeske • 8:45 AM EST
A windmill in the sun,the Netherlands, July 2007. I found this while bicycling along the levees north of Amsterdam.
The route to transformational politics lies in believing in the power of ideas, Bill Curry, lawyer and politico, told the Connecticut Green Party's monthly statewide meeting at the Portland Senior Center Tuesday, January 26, 2010.
"We have to believe that the power of ideas are stronger than the money," Curry said. "You have to believe that your ideas will organize people."
The United States was the most powerful force in the world before it had money, armies or even a foreign policy. The American revolution, fueled by ideas of egalitarianism, equality and liberty, toppled monarchies across Europe. This is the power of ideas that we need to harness now, Curry said.
With a hint of resignation about the current political configuration in America, Curry's visit to the Green Party represents a milestone. For months, even years, Curry has said that the two major political parties in America are the Greens and the Libertarians, as their ideas align most with the majority of the American peoples.
However, the collusion between the Democrats, Republicans and corporations prevents those ideas from gaining traction in the political information war of the early 21st century.
Curry isn't the first statewide political figure from the two major parties to meet with the Greens. Republican state representative Diana Urban met with the Greens in the Portland Library when she was considering running an anti-war candidacy for the U.S. Senate should Lamont have lost to Lieberman in the primaries.
While Urban ended up switching parties to become a Democrat, and never married with the Greens, the exigencies that prompted the visit from Curry remain. As Curry put it, the Democrats and Republicans may not get along, but they have slowly become infused in the corporate state that is the American government.
Curry told the crowd of 18 or so people, including Green Party faithful, new Green Party members, and John Mertens of the Connecticut for Lieberman party, who was stumping to become the Green Party nominee for U.S. Senate, that the time is ripe for the ideas of a third party to take center stage in the American political scene.
"The kind of change you are I are talking about requires real political parties," Curry said. "Real political parties build constituencies behind ideas."
The Democratic Party, he said, is a mere shell, with town committee meetings resembling Madame Tussaud's wax museum more than active debate.
While he hoped that the Green Party could fill that role, he warned that the Green Party was not there yet. Policies drive progress and organization, he said.
The Green Party, Curry said, has to work out internally policy ideas, and the actual blueprint for what this transformational politics will look like. "People will buy it, they just don't know it is available," he said.
He outlined the demise of national Democratic Party policy from its height as the leader of the civil rights movement, to it being punch drunk and purchased by corporate dollars now.
As a former state senator, progressive organizer, state comptroller and presidential advisor, as well as a two-time gubernatorial candidate, Curry's thoughts deserve reflection.
For almost 30 years, Ralph Nader did the heavy lifting of intellectual policy exploration for the progressive community in America, Curry said. Nader passed more laws than virtually anyone in American history.
Yet as Nader's legacy was being dismantled by corporate Democrats in the legislative and the executive branches, Nader could not gain an audience these so-called progressive leaders.
Meanwhile, the Republican Party had and has the Heritage Foundation, Americans for Tax Reform and other think tanks creating the policies that drive their conservative engine.
Curry was on the Democratic Party policy team in 2004. One of the fights that he picked in trying to formulate policy platforms for the Kerry campaign was generated by union constituencies. But it said that every American had a right to drive the car of their choice. Quite the global warming initiative.
The ascendancy of Obama presented the best shot for progressive policy enactment in his lifetime, Curry said. And in a deadly serious tone, he inferred a doomsday for the American republic.
"If this thing goes under, I'm not sure what happens next," Curry said. "This thing is at the end."
Curry's disillusionment with Obama is shared by many, and Curry considers Obama to be another Clinton. While they are both transformational figures, and 2008 was a transformational election, both fell far short of creating transformation.
The point is best made in examining Obama’s first 100 days. In Roosevelt's historic first 100 days, he didn’t spend a dime, but changed all the rules. In Obama’s first 100 days, he spent $1 trillion, but didn't change any rules.
"We have to be writing fewer checks and changing more rules," Curry said. For example, rather than discussing cap and trade, (or cap and steal as many of the Greens there called it), what about new conservation laws, or what about taxing coal fired power plants or mountaintop removal of coal.
Nor does he think the concept of liberalism that generates another tax hike to deal with the victims of capitalism is sustainable. "It is noble," Curry said, "but as Ronald Reagan said, you can't keep doing it forever."
The Green Party may be in the best position to figure out how to address the core issues facing America. Curry suggested that if the ideas are right, the Greens won't be looking at merely a state representative seat, but at the Presidency itself.
Curry challenged the Greens to envision what transformational politics would look like. "Most of our differences are tactical," Curry said, "and I'm not sure how much is even left there."
The conveyance of new ideas has to be clear and concise, and easy to comprehend. Furthermore, in the mold of Gandhi and Mandela, personality conflicts should take a back seat to these policy drivers. Don't criticize the person, show respect, Curry suggested, but go hard on the issues.
Seeing Curry at a Green Party meeting should signal to progressives in Connecticut and elsewhere that we need to have the political courage to begin building bridges with others