Sunday, April 15, 2007

AZ Green tells why she opposes 272

Claudia Elquist of AZ wrote a long, and reasoned statement on the state of political reality in her state and how the impact of Proposal 272 would be negative. Unlike others, it's not "It's a California power grab", or "This is designed to hurt small states" or "The laws are racist, so we are racist for going along."

Instead, Elquist basically says "If your state has party registration, and you get to count all those people as Greens, even if they never attend one meeting, hold one sign, run for office, give to a campaign, or even vote, you count, but in a state where registration is not permitted by party, we can only count Greens we see face-to-face. I think that is a reasonable concern. I also agree that Proposal 272 is passing, in part, because the GNC wants to end the debate and move on.

The entire text of her message, worth reading, is behind the "Read more!" link below.

There are two key reasons why this proposed change in the NC is a bad idea, at this time.

One is that Greens are not equivalent across state lines, where some state Green Parties [like Arizona] are letting their state government define Greenness, at a very low level, and other state governments are, de facto, making Greenness something far fewer voters are going to select, because of the hurdles, bribes, and corruptions within the system.

Someone who scribbles in "Green" on a state supplied form, and then disappears [as in my state] simply is not the equivalent of someone who actually has to come into physical contact with another Green, on a regular basis, and do something to build the Party [as in another state.]

Until we have consensus, on a basis for membership that really is equivalent, what on earth do we mean when we say we are "representing" those "members". But there is a second issue as well. In some ways this discussion is also a continuation of the unresolved discussion about what the GP-US is-- a political party or a social movement.

If GP-US is a movement, then delegates "represent" individual "members," and vote their beliefs, about various issues. Just like joining the NAACP or NOW. Pay your dues, and expect that delegates you send to conferences will democratically vote on issue resolutions, so the whole world knows where you stand. Members may add action, like pickets or rallies or letter writing, to broadcast further where the group stands.

That's a social movement kind of organization, a righteous kind of membership club, and representing its members is what it is all about.

But voting in a club, no matter how big or righteous the club, is not democracy. Democracy is voting in the government, and those clubs are standing on the outside, shouting in the windows, but unable to enter at the doors.

Which is quite different from a political party. A political party is about getting ballot lines and running candidates, so you can walk in the door and take a seat. When a political party stops doing ballot lines and candidates, and just makes pronouncements, it succumbs to irrelevancy. The resolutions might be on important issues and might be reflective of the beliefs of every one of its members [however it defines membership]. But nobody cares. Because as a party, we have set the bar
higher than shouting in the window. We have said that, election by election, we will take back the government from the robber barons, the cronies, the torturers, et al. And, having set that standard, for us to act like a mere social movement organization-- writing letters, holding signs and passing resolutions on the issues of the day-- is to show that we are frauds and liars.

Yeah, yeah-- we still do those other things [I do anyway-- twice a week I am out there with my sign]. But that's secondary. If we hold our Green Party banner at every rally and protest out there, and don't have ballot status, we are a public joke.

But, because I am not joking, I'm out there gathering signatures. Uphill, all the way. But what is harder than forcing myself to pick up the clipboard, is convincing other Greens, in my state, that it is worth it. For some reason, they don't want to do this, every day, for the rest of their lives! They want to know that if we sacrifice this one year, of our too-short lives, to get the signatures, that we won't have to do it again the next year, and the next.

And [tell the truth and shame the devil] we all know, in this state, that likelihood is that the GP-US is gonna fail us, in that regard. There is no one on the horizon who is gonna spare us that bleak signature gathering future by getting 5% of the presidential team vote. Not saying this to blame anyone-- but it is the reality of our state, just as it is the reality of a lot of states.

So, why do we bother? Well, this may surprise you, but we do it for the rest of you. We do it because we are part of the GP-US, and we want the Party to succeed, even if that manifests itself in California, and not here. We know that no political party can sustain itself as a state unto itself, even in the largest states. You need for us to be doing this, or you fail.

This part matters-- you cannot get ballot status in 51 states if you don't share the burden of getting ballot status in 51 states. If three or four state parties end up controlling the NC, it might make no difference-- if they suddenly start acting as though we are all in this together, and start sharing that burden. I have little doubt that if I saw us-- all of us-- actually acting like that, I'd be less put off by this social movement organization talk about "representing members" when we can define neither "members" nor "representation."

It feels like we are reallocating cabins on the Titanic, instead of doing the work that needs to be done to keep the ship afloat. Delegate Huckleberry put the challenge out there, that if we vote YES, the new delegates will have a vision that the old ones seem to lack, and volunteers would come forth, money would begin to flow. That challenge has echoed like a tin penny in the indifferent silence.

I'm voting NO. Not as a protest, but as a sign of hope, that we will abandon the false urgency here, take stock, re-read our Statement of Purpose, get a vision commensurate with our Ten Key Values and our task, and do it right when it comes to allocation.

--claudia ellquist, AzGP
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