GUEST COMMENTARY – Green Party not a social club for activists


We are a political party not a social club for activists. Let’s act like we actually know that!

Greens believe in direct participation by all people in the environmental, political, and economic decisions that affect their lives. In practice, Greens make decisions by voluntary consensus, whenever possible.

That is how we in Michigan define one of the Four Pillars and I believe it is particularly relevant at this stage and time of the Green Party of Michigan.

Two important points: belief in direct participation of ALL. And Decisions by consensus, when possible.

Now lets look at a couple of proven myths:
People of all kinds just have to be told about our Four Pillars and the truth will be so obvious that everyone will become Greens and elect our candidates to office.

If my view isn’t the one chosen to move forward with, than I was not heard and “they” are not allowing me to participate. Whoever “they” may be.

A simple truth: in order to have all people participate there needs to be compromise, adaptation, and some failures. We can have the same or similar goals such as participation by as many people as possible in decisions that impact all our lives but that does not mean we have to all believe the same things or have the same priorities. If we start saying we are only going to allow you to participate if you march in lockstep with “My, view” or “My interpretation”, then you should go drink Donald Trump’s Kool-Aid.

A simple truth: We elect officers by consensus or vote so that they can handle certain jobs and decisions on our behalf. If we are going to elect them, but then block them from doing the job we gave them, we are nothing more than a social club, a very small, ineffective one at that.

A simple truth: We gain more by thanking members for their efforts, help, and actions than by berating them for not doing them well enough, especially when we ourselves did not step forward to take the responsibility on our shoulders.

A simple truth: The Green Party of Michigan has thousands of members but if you look at your own email records of the personal attacks, in-fighting and back stabbing that happens so very often here, you will notice that the number of members participating in that negative non-sense can be counted on two hands with ease. Don’t take my word for it, do your own count.

A simple truth: People tell us they are leaving, or sometimes threaten us with leaving, because of frustration with this non-sense or because of this non-sense; the vast majority of members stay silent and their ideas and knowledge are never heard, much less utilized. That is a real waste.

A simple truth: We know good people who want to run for office and would love our support but are embarrassed to call themselves Greens because of this non-sense.

That is not how elections are won, that is not how worthwhile change is effected. That is not how Green Values are spread and strengthened.

When a decision is reached by consensus or otherwise you do not have to get behind it if you disagree, but you have no right to undermine it if you are truly Green. If you are going to add to any of the lists and forums, before hitting that send button ask yourself; “How does this move the party
forward?” “How does this advance our values?” I guarantee you, that if it only attacks someone else or some other’s view, it does not move this party forward, it does not advance our values.

If you are one of those that can be counted on 10 fingers or less, you need to rethink your role in this party. Find the strength to move forward and find your own strength to step out of the useless circle of personal attacks that weaken us all. If you are one of the many hundreds, even thousands that sit silent because you do not wish to be drawn into the senseless morass I have just
mentioned, you must find the strength to speak-up. Don’t join the non-sense, but voice your ideas, make your suggestions. Do the things that move the party, indeed all people, forward. At the very least you will help to drown the nonsense, at the best, your ideas will be added to, strengthened and turned into actions that unite us were we hold common cause and belief and get
people elected who can take that same method of adaptation and growth into our governments at all levels and start to make Green Values a reality.

Now, I know that a small number of folks that read this are seething and sputtering and feeling like they have been personally attacked. A greater number of you are thinking, “he makes some sense”, a few are writing it off and don’t care. That is your choice to make.

I will say this much more, I am the current chair of the Green Party of Michigan. I do believe in our values. I do not back every bit of dogma. I do understand that to become a force we must compromise, we must adapt, and we must grow in mind and in numbers. I also know that I will stand up for my views and for this party. I will not resign in frustration or anger. I will listen
to any who chose to vent their own anger but I will not join it, nor acknowledge it, as it does not move us forward. If you decide you want to get rid of me, that is your choice. It will at least require your active participation in this party, and that is a first step. You won’t find it easy but those choices are yours.

I intend to keep doing what I can to build this political party into the force that it can be when more people and more views are welcomed in and they are allowed a platform to bring their own skills, strengths, and dreams to fruition under the Four Pillars that we share.