I wrote the other day about Crossing the Chasm, a 1991 classic from Geoffrey Moore that addressed the stages of product adoption. I sought to apply its thesis to adoption of sustainability among the nations and peoples of the world.
As an initial step in examining this issue, today I took a look at Congressional votes in favor of sustainability, as recorded by the League of Conservation Voters (www.lcv.org). More specifically, the LVC assigns a percentage from 0 to 100 percent to votes by Members of Congress on environmental issues; the LVC calls this their National Environmental Scorecard.
It seems like a reasonable extrapolation to view these votes in the context of supporting sustainability as well.
Well, as might be expected, the votes were almost completely polarized between Republican and Democratic members. In the House, the average score of Democrats was 93%, and of Republicans 7%.
Only a single Republican scored higher than any Democrat, and only three Democrats scored below that Republican. The Senate results were statistically identical to this.
Since there were slightly more Democrats than Republicans whose votes were surveyed – 54% versus 46% – the overall percentage for the House and Congress were 54% in support of environmental issues.
I see little common sense in dispersing these votes across Geoffrey Moore's five categories of adoption: innovators, early adopters, early majority (aka pragmatists), late majority, and laggards.
It's clear from this data that Democrats would be viewed as innovators and early adopters, and even majoritarians – the Democratic party is essentially “all in” on environmental (and thus sustainability) issues. The Republicans must be uniformly classified as laggards.
Within the parties, there were five Democrats scoring 100% (including Illinois Representative Jesus Garcia, pictured with this post), and seven Republicans with 0% support of pro-environmental legislation.
So, just as the state of politics in the United States looks like an unending tug-of-war with neither side able to vanquish the other – “gridlock” as we've called it for generations now – it seems the United States commitment to sustainability cannot legitimately be considered to be one of the two “majority” categories in Geoffrey Moore's analysis of how markets adopt products.
Is the US Really “Centrist”?
Another way to look at this data is to view the United States as indeed in the early majority category, in other words in a pragmatic position. Viewed through the lens of America as primarily a centrist nation, this data seems to fit that idea. Indeed, the average score in Congress is 54% of votes are in favor of pro-environmental (and thus sustainability) legislation.
But that 54% is earned, as noted above, by nearly 100% support of policies by Democrats and almost no support from Republicans. There are, in fact, only four Members of Congress (about 1% of them) within 10 percentage points of an actual 54% vote.
Compared to the EU...
This is in contrast to the EU's more aggressive, idealistic approach, in which actual Green Parties have had some influence for decades, in a region that is perceived as far more committed to sustainability than the United States. I'll see if I can find relevant EP (European Parliament) data to see if the EU's alleged support of environmental issues and sustainability is backed by data.