Howard County Greens Weblog

The Green Party Local in Howard County, Maryland.

31 January 2006

Not just green, but Green

For as long as I know about, the world has been a scary place.

When I was growing up, the fear was that a nuclear bomb would fall, and the world would end. When my mother was little, the fear was that Hitler would win and (for all intents and purposes) the world would end. When my father was little, there was a world wide depression. Before that, a war which seemed to engulf the whole world, before that...

Today, my children fear global climate change. They fear that before their own children grow to adulthood, the world will end and, like my mother before me, I can't pretend that it's not a valid and fearsome thought.

When I was young, my parents took us (my two sisters and myself) to Peace rallies. It was not only a way to force the administration to listen to us, it was also a mythic gesture. It was a way, not only to do something, but to feel that we were doing something. We came together, with all these hundreds of strange people who looked and dressed and spoke differently than we did, and we sang and we danced and we chanted and we roared. It was our way of raising our voices against the darkness, and scare away our own, personal, serpents before they could completely digest the sun.

They also voted. Well, my mother voted. My father never got his US citizenship. Many of my teenage accusations of hypocrisy came from that, because he taught me, from a very early age, that voting was important. It was putting your power where your mouth was.

Today, I do the same thing with my children. We've been to peace rallies, and to protests. We've marched and we've chanted and we've sung together.

But, today, it's not enough to go to the polling booth and vote. Because neither one of the "Big" parties is giving us candidates who will (for example) sign the Kyoto treaty. Or pull out of Iraq. Or do any of a thousand things which we (me and my family) know that we (the US as a national entity) really ought to be doing. But the principle is the same.

It has occurred to me that taking the political route is not the same as pulling out the banner and marching for a cause. I have to stop thinking in terms of 'make them do this' and start thinking in terms of 'do this', and I have to use the system the way it is meant to be used. The goal of being a member of the Green Party is not to force the administration to take notice and change laws, it is to get like minded individuals in a position where they can change laws. It means knowing that those people I do elect will have to serve all their electorate, not just those who vote for them, and will, on occasion have to compromise. Because they will be serving with other people, who were elected on other platforms, and who also have to please their constituents. That's the way the system was designed to work, and it's not a bad thing when it does work, even if it does mean that my own viewpoint won't always win.

Sometimes, when I see progressives venting their ire on each other rather than working together to further the goals of the cause, I think that's what's forgotten. That there are different paths to the same goal, and that all of us marching in lock step doesn't get us there any faster.

But to win elections, and even more so, to legislate once elected, takes entirely different skills from those needed to organize protests. It's counter productive to yell and to vent your anger at lawmakers when you're trying to work with them to make better laws. The process requires some level of tact and diplomacy (one of several reasons why I really don't want to run for office - I'd be a very poor politician). So I want to choose candidates who I can trust to do it for me.

The beauty of the Four Pillars and the Ten Key Values is that it is an up front statement of what cannot be compromised, what the core of the platform is which must stand firm. Once we agree on those shared Values, it is (or should be) possible to trust to the power of compromise.

It's not as glamorous or exciting as protests and activism. It doesn't help the children feel better, or get the adrenaline pumping (well, elections might, but not the day to day business of governance which is the denouement of a successful campaign), or scare away the Serpent who Swallows the Sun. By itself it certainly doesn't solve all the problems we've made for ourselves over the last 50 (or 100 or 1000 or 10000) years, but it's a step, and it's one we must take if we're to get to the place we want to be.

The one where those childhood fears can all be reduced to the monster hiding under the bed.


At 7:26 PM, Blogger Tim said...

Great start! Keep 'em coming. Let's make Maryland Green Blog central!



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