I wish I could believe in fairies. I wish I could still remember what it felt like to know that Santa Clause was real. I wish I could also go to the polls and cast my ballot with the absolute certainty that I was voting for a good person that could actually perform well in office and make an ACTUAL difference that would impact the lives of those who are most suffering in our country. When I cast my ballot for Obama I really believed he was really going to change things, and when he let me down I tried following my heart by voting for Jill so I understand your process. Before I continue to write this, I should first state that I like and respect Jill Stein. I also love and respect many of the people in the Green Party. We share a lot of values.
Sadly, I must say, some of you remind me of the people in churches I run away from. Many of you are literally on the opposing end of the spectrum from Evangelicals, the hard-core conservative ones, when it comes to policies. Many of my Green Party friends are atheists, agnostics and many believe organized religion is a big part of our problem. I’m here to tell you as a progressive Christian, a person that fights for progressive values as an activist, and a person of faith, you often remind me of the Evangelicals of my childhood. Those unrelenting, annoyingly preachy, Bible-literalists, fundamentalists who think they are better than everybody else and judge others based on their beliefs. They knock on your door and arrogantly tell you they have the ONE way, the one answer to everything and that until you believe that, well, you’re just “not there yet” even though they don’t know what you know or what you’ve read or lived.
It’s sad to me that people who call themselves progressive, who say they want to change the world, save the planet, and fight for justice are the very people that with their arrogance are alienating allies and the very people that could stand next to them and fight. Some of you might not realize this, but even unreasonable evangelicals have good intentions in the bottom of their heart too, just like you. They believe in love [of God and others], they believe in doing good, they believe in a path of righteousness and they too believe in justice. What neither you or your evangelical counterparts understand is that your behavior is often alienating, divisive and downright holier than thou and arrogant. These days we’re being exposed to a lot of “truth.” Thanks to technology the curtain is being drawn and much of what was hidden is now in the light. Digesting all of it can be very difficult for all of us, and we are all doing it differently. But when you tell me that your choice is moral and mine isn’t, or tell me I’m a sellout and you’re a true progressive or when you claim that your candidate is better and perfect you sound just like those people who use the Bible to destroy the self-esteem and lives of others.
As a person who has spent her entire adult life recovering from the mental and emotional abuse of fundamentalist, conservative cults, I can tell you that sadly many of you remind me of them. I see the same arrogant air that they hold the only possible truth and the inflexible inability to see there may be another side. If I have learned anything in life, is that no one holds any absolute truth.
That’s why people lump politics and religion together under the same taboo umbrella. Because any ideology can fall into the same set of fundamentalist parameters. In this case, even though I think the values are probably completely opposite to yours, the tone in which they are delivered is pretty much the same. There are many examples in history where people pushing a leftist agenda have turned to the “dark side”. Che Guevara, for example, started out as a simple doctor who just wanted to help other people, but his relentless uncompromising desire to force his beliefs upon others turned him into a villainous mass-murderer.
There are two things many of you fail to realize about the Green Party:
- One: Jill Stein is not Jesus Christ and not everybody loves her or sees her as a viable candidate. In your eyes she may be the best choice and a perfect embodiment of progressive values but not everyone agrees. She isn’t a better choice for anyone but you.
- Two, your party doesn’t have their shit together. You may denounce all the strategy and machinations of the DNC and RNC but much of it is politics and how successful parties run. You can’t beat a behemoth at their own game when you don’t even want to organize, strategize and realize that compromise is a vital part of politics.
In your idealized version of the world you can skip many elements of organization and strategy, marketing, PR and good old chess. That’s where Libertarians, another third party option, have your party beat. Their ideas may seem completely insane to progressives, but because they understand the rules of the game, this election year they managed to outdo you in the metric that matters most: percentage points. As a person who has worked in marketing for a very long time I know exactly why this happened. The party failed to engage a large number of people in an election where Bernie Sanders supporters were easy pickings. The Green Party has grown because of Bernie Sanders, a man who had all the elements for success. Then we burdened Hillary with the uphill task of earning the progressives’ vote. We must admit then that Jill hasn’t accomplished the very same challenge to earn the vote of many Berners.
I wanted nothing more than to see a progressive, third-party grow, flourish and take on a new life in this election. Sadly, not even I felt like I fit in the Green party, even though it had been my favorite party for many years, even before Bernie.
The bottom line is, the Green Party has a lot to learn, just like Evangelicals have a lot to learn if they want churches to grow again. 90% of churches in this country are in decline and it’s because they failed to adapt, to progress and understanding the importance of engaging new people.
You can blame people’s morals from your high horse all you want, but that’s not the only reason why people don’t want to be part of the party.
Some of us grew up around that kind of rhetoric, the kind where people look down on you because they think they are better than you or know more than you. We want nothing to do with that kind of system or organization.
What Bernie has that Jill doesn’t is what Hillary and Trump lack: the ability to keep it inclusive, the ability to keep it about the issues without shaming other candidates in the humility that inspired all of us.
While engaging in this criticism of some of the people in your party I guess I too am becoming the very thing I dread, judgmental. I hear that from my conservative Christian friends. It’s the way they choose to ignore the criticism that could save their movement. I like playing devil’s advocate because nobody did that for me when I was being mentally abused in a church. I’ve made a vow since then to speak out whenever I find myself surrounded by group think, hostility and exclusion within a certain group of people.
Do you want your movement to grow, or will you be like some churches that prefer to live an isolated, protected existence where everyone agrees with you and thinks your shit don’t stink?
If you want growth, this is my advice to you.
- Promote what you love instead of attacking and denouncing what you hate by sharing unsubstantiated “facts” and propaganda that prove your emotions.
- Stop using language that places you in a category separate from others; understand that a ruling parties and Presidents need to be able to represent a vast majority of people and not just a political or ideological elite.
- Realize politics is not just about feelings, ideology and morals. It’s about being able to work for all people in one diverse nation. How can one enact a plan that is only appealing to 3% of the population?
- Find your loving, caring, and engaging voice. You may just find me joining your party again.
For the time being I will remain a Democrat because they never set their own standards very high, they never told me it was about love and inclusion. At least they are clear that with them it’s all about politics. This is strictly a strategic move, because like I said, politics is about compromise, communication, open dialogue but mostly about enticing people to come over to your side. That I can try to do. What I know will always fail is trying to deal with irrational fundamentalism that doesn’t speak the truth but only seeks to prove itself right. Ask yourself why you find yourself sharing propaganda from publications that oppose the very values and morals you say you uphold so strongly. Why do you think you find yourself agreeing?
You either want to make a difference or be right. You don’t always get to do both.
A recovering fundamentalist.