Then it turned into a get-together with, presumably, a meeting to follow served near what most Americans consider dinner hour. "Sure, I'll go, have some pizza and beer, and make myself scarce when the meeting part happens."
Then it turned into a meeting starting at 7 (although there were differences of opinion about the starting time right up until it started) and lasting about an hour, followed by the pizza. "Oh dear. I much prefer not to have to conduct Party business on an empty stomach."
Then, after introductions, at the part about approving the agenda, with the tension already so thick that there wasn't a knife in the Midtown Bar & Grill's kitchen that could cut it, a comrade insisted on adding to the agenda multiple items that would have made the meeting last at least two hours.
I quietly picked up my stuff and walked out. I cycled over to Cali Sandwiches and ate a tofu banh mi instead. There was no way I could remain civil in that room, under those circumstances, and also hungry.
Having missed the last few monthly meetings and returned to this one with fresh eyes, I have reached a surprising (to me, anyway) conclusion. This troublesome comrade is not so much "the problem" with HCGP, but more a symptom of a larger problem. While I deplore violence, even metaphorical violence, I must say that this party needs a major kick in the ass. I'd like to be able to deliver that kick, and I hope I don't have to do it alone.
Fortunately, as mentioned in that previous post, I am certainly not alone in wanting no more of the current environment at those meetings. Beyond the unnecessary stress, it is mortally embarrassing to have visitors there—especially progressive folks looking for an alternative political outlet—exposed to the bullshit, power gambits, micro-aggressions, and high-jacking of the agenda that have become the norm.
Another comrade, who participated in the recent extraordinary strategy meetings, sent several of us a message stating that he can no longer face these meetings. I replied to the group something like this, a summary of my divided feelings on the matter:
I'm-a do one of the following:
a) have nothing more to do with HCGP, but help with the petition drive (that's a state thing) and perhaps the campaigns.
b) run for co-chair on a No More Bullshit platform, containing policies (to be enumerated later) which will be adopted as a package deal in the event that I'm elected, in which case I will serve to the best of my ability; if I don't win, see a).
Getting involved in fixing it will likely produce more stress than I can handle. I rather enjoy living when not besieged by elevated stress hormones. But surrendering the political landscape to the Partisan Duopoly, watching it fuck up the world on behalf of imperialist capitalism, is pretty damn stressful in itself.
I've Lived This Story Before
About ten years ago, First Unitarian Universalist Church, Houston, went through a similarly divisive period. The conflict within the congregation, mostly over a member of the ministry team whom many of us thought physically and intellectually unfit for the job, was the inspiration for The Earthworm That Blows No Trumpet. At the time of the brouhaha, I thought, What if a clever outside agitator were responsible for stirring up strife within a group of intelligent, dedicated folks who agree on almost everything else but can't settle this one argument amicably?
Both the settled co-ministers agreed to resign, the expressed thought being that if they failed as a team, they should resign as a team. (We never found any outside agitators, but there was no apparent reason to look for any either.)
The rift in the flock was certainly not the first for a North American UU congregation, or even for First UU. For example, in the early 1960s, First UU lost quite a few influential members when the Board of Trustees voted to welcome African American members. The Unitarian Universalist Association has protocols for repairing broken churches and fellowships. In 2008, the protocol involved sending Rev. David Keyes as an interim minister to First UU for a two-year assignment.
Keyes, who retired from full-time interim work last year, was like Harvey Keitel's character The Wolf in Pulp Fiction: He solved problems. He is given extraordinary powers to do what must be done to solve them. He made some changes that upset people, and I myself resented his heavy-handed tactics at first. But I can't deny that he left the church in much better shape.
The kick that HCGP needs is similar to the kick that Keyes administered at my church. It needs to be administered lovingly, but firmly, with no ambiguity as to its intended purpose.
All the Texas Greens who have made noises about a strategy of saving the Party's resources for 2020 must understand this: In order for there to even be a state Green Party in 2020, action must be taken at the state and county levels to make it more functional in 2018.