Friday, February 08, 2008

Culture of Blame

There are many reasons to feel good about being a member of the Green Party. Even at the most basic level, one can always keep your bumper sticker that reads "Don't Blame Me, I Voted Green." We have not yet had to apologize on behalf of the Green Party for the actions of our Congressman or our President.

But there is one tendency in the culture of the Green Party, especially the Green Party of CA, that truly hinder our growth and, if we continue, will forever relegate the Green Party to being an interesting footnote in an era when others have become known as the "green" party. We do love to play the blame game.

Maybe it is because so many Green look to the party to save this country from all of the things that they already blame on others. On top of that, we actively encourage this behavior by focusing our energies so much on demonstrations against the war, against Bush and Cheney, against Walmart. Even in the demonstrations around immigration, there was almost never a time when Greens were stepping forward with a plan that said what we were for.

Given that culture, one should not be surprised when those who get frustrated with our lack of electoral success play the same blame game internally. They are quick to point out all of the things that anyone has ever done to weaken the party and somehow, they never seem to get beyond replacing those whom they blame. For example, the following was posted to a GPCA email list today.
M. Borenstein and Peggy Lewis have been performing the County Council support function, but more people are needed. The job involves going out to troubled locals and offering assistance. Faramarz Nabavi went on to point out that the group's role is to make suggestions, not to take over and fix locals.
The implication is that our lack of a substantive presence in San Bernardino County can be placed solely on two people. This blame game, so destructive at the GPCA level, is even more prevalent in the National Party where on National Committee Delegate today complained that...
... there is a core group of players who chart our course. This
information has recently come to light and everyone should be aware of this.

Do we want our 501c3s writing our legislation like K street does?
"We are hoping for several organizations to sponsor this exploration. They are Liberty Tree, the Green Institute, the Green Network, and the Green Horizon Foundation."
In both of these cases, there is a remedy close at hand. One needs look no further than the tips of the fingers that typed these notes. If we fail, it is because we would rather slay dragons than plow the fields. The Green Party is filled with erstwhile Don Quixotes in a world filled with windmills.

In the meantime, I watch the Democratic Party in my home town tackle local issues, work directly with youth in Young Democrats, organize support for local candidates and, when the time comes that they need to, manage to harvest the results in the general elections.

I am losing patience with those who only want to reboot the party. There is a very simple way to do that. One has only to build local organizations to the point where new leaders emerge. In the overall competition, those who are serving the needs of the people will end up as the new leadership. It may be some of the same people that are there now and that is OK.

The word "whining" came to describe the Romney presidential campaign. The same word can be used to describe so much of the internal Green Party communications. After a while, it begins to sound shrill to my ears, as if the NC delegate was miffed that they were not invited to join the group.

For a party that claims grassroots democracy as a guiding principle, we fail so often to work at the grassroots level. In the communities were we do, we have more success that in those where we continually focus on the big issue of the day.

We have the option of building this party from the ground up or we can hope for a Saviour (Nader, McKinney, Kucinich) to provide some sort of deus ex machina. While the latter provide good political theater, they may also leave a lot of empty seat if it does not play in Peoria.

Choose your future.


Jonathan Maxson said...

On the other side of the country in northern Maine, your article rings just as true. Here is one proposal, although I think California law dictates an alternative approach: Getting Past Nader in Maine: A Proposal to End Waer Fluoridation.

Wes said...

I like the idea, but not the issue. Water is a major issue in CA, but the fluoridation issue would label one as a crack pot when not having any water at all could be a real possibility without major changes in how we think about resources.

Jonathan Maxson said...

California may indeed have water resource issues, suggesting that every last dollar be spent on intelligent water conservation and access, not misguided mass medication. You might want to check out the national leadership role played by Citizens for Safe Water in your home state, and also the international work of the Fluoride Action Network, before jumping on the crack-pot bandwagon. Are you familiar with the work of these groups, and did you get a chance to check out my background links? I'm not trying to be a troll on your blog, I just wonder why a California Green is opposed to the anti-fluoridation campaign in California?