My name is Chad Lupkes, and I am running for Chair of the Washington State Progressive Caucus.
You have seen my name on blogs, mailing lists, and around the Internet. You have met me and heard me speak of where I stand on this issue or that. Many of you have been friends and partners in our ongoing quest as Progressives within the Democratic Party to stay engaged, get educated, and feel empowered to be the change that we wish to see in the world. I want to speak to why I stand with you, and what my core principles are as a candidate for Chair of the Progressive Caucus.
Many people have their own definition of "Progressive". Put 10 of us in a room, and you'll get at least 20 different answers, depending on how long you let us talk. It's hard to boil all of these ideas and values down into a 10 second sound byte. I don't usually try, except for a phrase I throw out occasionally. "Progressives put the concerns of people and the planet ahead of profits". But there is a lot more to it, and I want to give you my "8 statements for 2008".
1 Grassroots Democracy. If a decision is being made that affects your life, your voice should be heard. It doesn't mean that our individual desires should always win. But we can do better by bringing the voices of our neighbors and friends into the discussion.
2 The concept of WE. We are all in this together. We breathe the same air as everyone else, drink the same water, eat the same foods, and live on the same planet as everyone else. There is no "them". Drawing lines between 'us' and 'them' divides our world's resources. By sharing what we can as much as we can, we maximize the benefit to all. This is more than just academic nonsense. It's a fundamental aspect of sustainability, whether we're talking sustainable growth or sustainable life.
3 Learn from the past. We've made mistakes in the past, and the only way to prevent making them in the future is to learn from them. Sometimes it takes more than once to learn a hard lesson. How many more times will it take to fight against the control of the few at the expense of the many?
4 Plan for the future. We can't turn over a new leaf and expect a single decision, a single election, or a single leadership change to solve the problems that we face. We need to set goals, identify resources, establish milestones, and accept incremental change. Even in the current context of our climate crisis and the potential economic meltdown due to poor planning in the past, we need to recognize and accept that it is going to take time and work to turn things around.
5 Shared Sacrifice. I don't think that any of us should be required to shoulder the burden of this transformation by themselves. If our expectations are too high, we need to reduce them to something manageable. If expectations coming from elsewhere are too much for us, we need to communicate better what we can, and can't, do. The more people stepping up to move a single brick, the fewer people needed to carry an entire brickyard.
6 Fairness for all. In a world as diverse as ours, we need to be mindful that everyone has a place. We have to write resolutions and draft legislation to be fair to everyone, not just ourselves. That's part of understanding that we are all in this together. Laws are written in black and white to apply to everyone.
7 See, and take advantage of, opportunities. Being part of the Democratic Party gives us the opportunity to change the country for the better, and we can't let that slip by. We have to step up and do the work. It's not compromising our values to work for something better in the future by doing the hard work today.
8 Strong Foundations. We can't reach our potential if we are not standing on a solid foundation. That includes understanding our history and knowing what resources we have available to get the job done. We have to know what we stand for, or we will fall for anything.
I believe that it is time for us to answer some very basic questions having to do with our relationship with the Democratic Party. Some of you have been working within the party for years or even decades, some for only a few years. We're all working towards the same goals, but too often we don't articulate what those goals are, leaving it to our fellow activists to figure out what we mean. We need to communicate than that. I define my overall goal as a better world for my children. Whatever else being an American means, or what the American Dream is, that seems to be a key part of it all. We want our children to have the same or even more opportunities as we did, with the ability to reach for their potential as individuals and as part of a healthy society living on a healthy Earth.
What does being a Progressive activist mean in the context of the Democratic Party?
Who we are matters. We are middle class America. We live mostly above the poverty line, and mostly below the line of those who consider themselves to be financially self-sufficient. Very few of us earn our living sitting around "waiting for the dividend check", as Thom Hartmann frames those who are at the top of the economic pyramid. We are also the stakeholders of the future. We should be mindful of that as we make our decisions both in life and in political activism.
What do Progressives want to get out of our involvement and activism within the Democratic Party?
We want elected officials to make decisions and draft legislation in accordance with our values. We want the political party infrastructure to support our goals for a better world. We want leaders that listen to us, and we want them to keep their promises to us. We want a political party that leads by example.
Why should Progressives work within the Democratic Party?
It is an existing political infrastructure. The oldest political party in the world, and it changes every election to reflect the times, the candidates and the situation on the ground to get those candidates elected. “Past history" is just that - history. What the party does and what decisions it makes now (and in the future) does not depend on what it has done in the past, but only on who is involved NOW. If we are those people, who work hard to show that we can get our candidates elected, and we focus on our values of cooperation and our goal of peace, we will be the ones making those decisions.
How specifically can we help the Democratic Party grow and our candidates win?
By doing what we already know how to do. Networking with friends and neighbors in our social circles, our business community, our faith community and everywhere else. Many of us know how to use technology for this type of networking, and many more of us want to learn. We can become the teachers that can continue to expand our ability in this.
I mentioned that the Democratic Party is existing infrastructure. I believe that we have the ability to make that infrastructure of, by and for the people of this country, while we reach for the stars together. I believe in our message, and I believe in our values and I believe that we win elections by standing firm.
I'm good at flowery statements and (obviously) long emails. I hope most of you by now know that I mean every statement from the core of my soul.
My name is Chad Lupkes, and I am running for Chair of the Washington State Progressive Caucus. I would appreciate your vote