Reflections on a Platform
I was one of the dozens of CNP members who contributed to the recent 2018 platform revision. It was nearly a year’s work to shape the then-existing 2016 platform into what exists now, but such revisions are necessary, since a platform is the means by which a party defines itself. This is no small task under normal conditions, and we in the California National Party are confronted with an even greater problem. Unlike many other political parties, we do not have the prefabricated answers of ideology to guide us. We cannot simply seek what progressivism, conservatism, socialism, or liberalism say, but must think through the issues to determine what works best for California as it truly is. No doubt on many issues much of our population is to the left of the United States, but we must not allow ourselves to be defined by the strict left/right divide which continues to destroy federal politics and reduce the incentive to cooperate in California as well. Instead, the California National Party should forge pragmatic policies, based on solutions that actually serve our complex and diverse society. An ideologically supported approach is not always the best solution simply because it is supported by the ideology, but only if it can be implemented in such a way that recognizes and respects the unique realities of California.
In the coming months, we would like to present a series of articles written by various members of the CNP who participated in the building of the new platform to explain why we made the decisions we made. This is especially important for issues about which party members expressed concern or opposition, such as:
- Gun rights and regulations
- Environmental policies, including the proposed Golden Gate seawall
- Immigration reform and language education
- Universal Basic Income
- Decentralized Gas Tax and its effect on transit funding, including High Speed Rail
- The United States Military in California
The purpose of such articles is not only to show the reasoning behind sections of the platform, but to encourage discussion and, yes, debate among the party membership. We become stronger as a party the more of us participate in creating the platform, especially at this crucial moment in our history when we are defining who we are and what we stand for. Unlike the Republicans and Democrats, whose policies and platforms are defined by insulated cabals, or alternative parties centered around ideologies, the California National Party needs Californians to help determine who we are.
We should not assume that every member of the CNP must absolutely agree on every topic, nor would that be a good thing. As an astute party member observed in their comments upon approving the platform, “[n]o individual (except an apparatchik) could possibly agree with everything in a party platform, but this platform is far better than the recent platforms of either major party.” Despite having spent months engaged in work on the platform, I certainly do not agree with every word of it, and I shouldn’t. To paraphrase the old quote, a sign of fairness is that no one is fully satisfied.
What then should CNP members do? Participate! Our platform will only improve if members are willing to put forth the effort to make their voices heard in the process of forming it. Access to this process is open to all party members, and beginning revisions of the platform for 2020 will be a major task of the 2019 California National Party Convention. If you are interested in commenting on the 2018 platform and would like to participate in its 2020 revision, please feel free to get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org. It is only through the energy and ideas of its membership that the California National Party can be a party that deserves to represent the needs of all Californians.
— Michael Loebs, North CA Chapter Coordinator