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November 06, 2004

Regional significance of the election results?

At the end of a long wrapup of election results from across "American Cascadia," Alan During offers his summary thoughts:

Where does this all leave us? What are the implications for the health and wellbeing of Cascadia?

The key thing to keep in mind, I believe, is that party label matters less than values. Although progressives have embraced the concept of sustainability more readily than conservatives, the concept itself is neither left nor right. In the short term, conservative advances tend to slow progress on sustainability, but in the long term, sustainability cannot succeed if it is pigeonholed as a partisan cause. It needs to become a given--the conventional wisdom--of the broad mainstream of public thought and political discourse.

That can happen. It can happen because sustainability is ultimately a moral issue founded on nearly universal values. It’s about freedom and responsibility. It’s about protecting our freedom against trespass by the polluters and depleters of our homeland. And it’s about our responsibility as stewards of our heritage--a heritage that prominently includes our own kind, our cultures, and our communities.

As a movement for sustainability, our success ultimately depends not on the success of right or left (as currently configured) but on the resurgence of these values in many, even most, parts of the body politic. The German Greens got many things wrong, but their slogan was perfect: neither left nor right, but out front.

It seems to me that this strikes many of the right notes. What it misses, though, is the unpleasant fact that radical American conservatism (as opposed to the more mainstream conservatism of a bygone era) is driven by a theological worldview that doesn't admit a need for sustainability, for it believes that the End Times are upon us. I'm less sanguine than Alan that this (currently dominant) extremist minority will ever embrace sustainability -- its eschatology neither requires nor permits a long-term view.

Posted by Jon Stahl on November 6, 2004 at 10:24 AM in Candidate Races | Permalink

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