Although about five months remain before the filing deadline, during which I might change my mind, I hope that I can avoid that temptation. Lots of friends and Green Party comrades would like a chance to vote for me, and have said so; my hope is that a Green more willing and able than I can emerge to run for the Senate seat, or for Harris County Judge.
- I don't feel that I can devote the time to it. And that's partly because:
- I can't afford to do what I did in 2012, which was to quit a job that was plenty rewarding but also hella stressful, and
- I am acting as occasional caregiver to my life-partner, who has a rather complex disability.
- My own body and mind are not as sound as I would like them to be. (Regular readers may have seen hints of this in recent posts here—don't worry, I'm not dying yet).
- I'm none-too-happy with the way things are going with my county and state party organizations. Frankly, if GPTX earns a ballot line in 2018, I will be extremely and pleasantly surprised.
The other difficult decision that I have reached is to withdraw from the chairmanship of HCGP's Campaign Coordinating Committee, and to avoid meetings of the Steering Committee and the General Membership unless circumstances compel me to attend. I informed members of the Steering Committee by email last night, after leaving the SC meeting midway due to severe sensory overload.
HCGP does not have the funds to rent a private office or meeting space. For a few years now, the Steering Committee has convened at Midtown Bar & Grill. I like that place. I especially like their sizable calzones. But sometimes it's too noisy to conduct any business there, especially for someone whom, like me, has trouble filtering out ambient conversations and music.
Even worse, we were trying to include co-chair George Reiter and Secretary Deb Shafto via Skype from their vacation home in upstate New York. As one might expect, there were technical problems in addition to the noise level.
From multiple accounts, the June General Membership meeting, to put in charitably, did not go well. It was hardly the first such meeting in recent months. Thus, members of the Steering Committee and others have begun an initiative to improve the monthly meetings: to smooth them out and make first-time visitors want to come back rather than driving them away with displays of disorganization.
What's the Problem Here?
Among the HCGP regulars, there has long been a difference of opinion about the purpose of the Party. Ostensibly, it serves as the local electoral entity of a worldwide political movement—a movement with a grand vision for global peace, justice, and democracy, and of course ecological wisdom. The question is how much emphasis to put on the "electoral" portion of its purpose, as opposed to making it an outlet for general activism.
As important as activism may be—the rent we pay for life on earth—my own opinion leans toward more emphasis on contesting and winning elections. There are plenty of other groups one can join for marches and rallies.
Yep, I said "winning." It's not unknown for Greens in the US to win local and state races. If we could focus on the contesting part, we might do more of the winning part.
Behaving Like a Party
There are certain things a political party needs to do: e.g., candidate development, fundraising, articulating positions on issues. The revised meeting structure will be designed to dedicate every other meeting to these activities.
But within those certain things, there is plenty of room for variation, and for a grassroots-oriented party with a minuscule budget to improvise. It is possible for state and local Green organizations to behave more like political parties without completely emulating the major parties. In candidate development and fundraising efforts, one need not resort to the same slick and corporatized methods as the D's and R's. Those methods likely wouldn't appeal to true Greens anyway—and by true Greens I mean those who subscribe to the Ten Key Values, consciously or otherwise.
By necessity, the Green Party must adopt a big-picture perspective, rather than focusing on individual issues, and figure out the best ways to turn that perspective into a Green Gospel. We can still support immigrants' rights, oppose fracking, or chant "Black Lives Matter!" and mean it; when conducting Party business, one must put these issues and positions aside, unless somebody proposes something that directly conflicts with the Key Values.
Recently, as I have mentioned previously, HCGP has been wrestling with revisions to its outdated bylaws. Fixing bylaws is certainly a good example of how a political organization behaves. In particular, some members determined that the Party needed a process for removing Steering Committee officers—and indeed rank-and-file members—for various kinds of malfeasance.
The main problem with this effort is that the process has gone on for almost two years, with large chunks of General Membership meeting time devoted to it. It takes a special kind of person to focus one's attention on the nuts and bolts of bylaws, and most people (even in a room full of Green wonks) aren't that kind of person. While I respect the desire, in the name of democracy, to include as many opinions as possible in this important work, all that democracy turns quickly into drudgery.
Here is what I recommended: Get your wonkiest wonks together as a committee to hash out the revisions, allow the General Membership to vote them up or down, and after they are adopted encourage members to produce amendments to change the parts they don't like. That's how you get things done. Do not kill the joy of Greendom, especially for visitors and new members, by dragging them all through the semantical torture of Bylaw Hell.
I feel no great joy in being proved correct about this. I would feel no great joy even if those with whom I disagreed on this point should slap me on the shoulder and say, "Dave, you were right all along."
As much as I would like to contribute to making the new meeting structure work, I have come to dread HCGP meetings. These monthly affairs will have to get measurably better before I feel right about attending them.
But I'm Still Green
None of the gripes expressed above should imply that I am leaving the Party or deciding that I've really been a Libertarian all along. Socialist Alternative may draw me away, but only after it gets its ducks in a mighty tidy row. My hope is to continue with this blog, with maintaining the new hcgp.org, and with logistical support for events. If a candidate emerges whose campaign I can support enthusiastically, I will contribute to that campaign whatever time and money I can.
I encourage any Greens and Green sympathizers among my friends to do the same. The partisan duopoly and its corporate sugar-daddies are the enemies of peace, justice, democracy, and ecology. The more the non-corporate parties grow, I believe, the more those values will take root in our nation.