Green Politics Must Evolve, Quickly
How green politics can appeal more to everyone.
Green politics, associated not only with protecting our environment and our planet but also with peace and alternative lifestyles, is still not too popular among the general public. In modern history and in an increasingly competitive political arena, no Green Party has managed to finish first once in a nation's parliamentary election and lead the government at national level. This is in spite of the German state of Baden-Wurttenberg managing to elect Winifred Kretschmann in 2012 and again in 2016 as the first Green Party provincial Minister-President of a German province, and also despite increasing concern for environmental issues among the general population.
Many critics of Green Parties not only in Britain but also in Europe have stated that green policies can be rather authoritarian in nature, condescending, patronising, and overloaded with jargon most people don't understand or care about. They also say that green politics only appeals to old-fashioned hippies or white, middle-class, metropolitan liberals living far away from the rural and natural areas green-minded policies are supposed to protect. This stereotype has persisted in many people's minds for 3 decades now, and it needs to be broken. The threat of artificial climate change is worse than ever now, and it is clear systematic change is needed rather than simply cutting carbon emissions in order to tackle it.
In spite of all these stereotypes, the reality is, of course, that green politics goes above the old notions of class politics, by putting values important to all humans (and all animals and plants for that matter) first. These include peace, grassroots democracy, ecological wisdom, and sustainability, and from the four core pillars of green politics worldwide. These are valuable to poorer people as well as richer people since, in general, people of any class, ethnicity, or other characteristic prefer peace to war and don't want their local environment ruined by such things as drilling operations for fracking wells, felling of trees, or unnecessary road-building projects. Many Green politicians around the world have successfully been elected locally and nationally because of promotion of resistance to these intrusions as well as having real respect for local communities, an aspect where mainstream parties traditionally fail due to their vulnerability to corporate lobbyists and vested interests. A clear example of this is when resistance to the controversial Stuttgart 21 transport project led to the election of the first Green-led government in a German landtag (state parliament) back in 2012.
In our media-dominated world, though, it is important policies can appeal to a wider audience and especially those wanting real and positive change. The increasing importance of social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter has certainly helped the cause of green politics, as has a rise in non-mainstream news websites, but environmental concerns are still not high on national agendas even in rural areas. This is certainly the case in the United Kingdom, for example. Environmental movements need to do more to promote a positive environmental message in all forms of media and ensure it is actually relevant to all people, and lead by positive example rather than by discouragement and lecturing. Green politics also needs to broaden its base and reach out to diverse communities who benefit from green politics' respect and tolerance for all people, whilst being seen as a sensible yet genuinely different alternative political force at the same time.
All in all, practising green politics is just common sense and working with the realities of our natural world and its limits. But green politics must evolve and adapt quickly in order to persuade enough people to support its cause such that it can actually implement its policies. "Not left, not right, but forward" is the way to be.