It’s Not Easy to be a Green

Warning: Rant Ahead.

One of Bob Brown’s major tag lines is that the majority of the population agrees with the Greens on issues like climate change and social policy. I suspect he’s right. But the problem for the Greens is the majority of the population – those who see the world and politics in oppositional binaries (good/bad, Liberal/Labor, male/female, black/white, or whatever) – can’t agree with the party’s more radical ideology.

Most people generally support the idea of environmental protection, even at the expense of jobs, as the recent anti-mine movement attests. Most people agree there should be universal access to healthcare services including dental and disability. Most people like the idea that there will be a strong safety net there when they most need it. But they cannot accept that we should legalise marijuana and they cannot accept private schools ought not receive any public funding. These are part of The Greens’ platform in the public mind. The descriptions I’ve given might not be accurate, but they are prevalent, and that’s where The Greens fall down with most of the voting public. They have an image problem because they allow the ideas to linger. They allow radicals within the party to promote these as legitimate policy platforms. Instead of consigning their radicals to the dustbin so a broader range of community support can be gained, they carry on as is.

And that is why the Greens will not achieve the power they crave. Their platform denies entry to those they need most – voters on the margins of the major parties who do support their broad environmental and social policies. They don’t make it easy to vote for them, much less participate in the party as a member or even candidate, because they alienate too many.