Politics: The Australian Greens – to join, or not to join?

Is it symbolic, do you think, that when I letterboxed for Labor last week, I got sunburned on my right shoulder, but when I handed out how to vote cards for the Greens yesterday, I got burned on my left shoulder? Comments about the left- and right-wingishness of these parties come strongly to mind… (if you’re wondering why I was helping two separate parties, it is because a friend of mine was running for the wrong party ;-), and also because for some reason they do not print political parties next to names on Council ballots, which I think is appalling, so I want to make sure as many people as possible actually know who they are voting for, whether it is someone I like or not)

I’ll not go into detail about the joys of walking 40 minutes in weather which is 34 degrees and humid in order to stand around for 2 1/2 hours handing out how to vote cards in more of this weather. I’m sure you can imagine it. I suggest you don’t, though. It wasn’t fun, and while it may have been my own stupidity that caused me to wear brand new sandals, that did not add to the fun. I did quite enjoy the scrutineering, though, despite the heat and the fact that we couldn’t turn on the airconditioning because it blew the papers around. I really do not cope well with hot weather, and I stupidly did not have any water with me, so I’m still feeling a bit wrecked.

An interesting aspect of yesterday was getting to interact with a lot more of the rank and file Greens. I think I’ve mentioned before that while I really like the Greens’ social policies, I find them a little scary on the environment. And while I get along fine with the older greens (the ones who have been around for a while and organise the campaign), the ones who are around my age, or even under my parents’ age … well, I get along fine with them, I suppose, but they make me a little uncomfortable. It was only tonight, talking to my lovely Andrew that I was able to put my finger on it. It’s like spending time with F and her family. F and her family are all Assembly of God, Fundamentalist, Creationist, Right to Life people. And I love them dearly – they are also sweet, kind, loving, friendly and appear to espouse and practice exactly what they preach and believe in, even when this would be vastly inconvenient, difficult, frightening or just annoying. But they are True Believers, and I am not, which can make me feel a bit uncomfortable around them at times, and leads to very frequent, if courteous, arguments about virtually everything.

The Greens, at least the younger Greens, are True Believers too. And I find them just as uncomfortable, if not more so, because I do agree with a lot of Greens policy. But not all of it, and not to that extreme. It feels a bit weird, to be honest. On the one hand, I want to join the party, because I do like their policies, and it appears to be easier to have an effect on this country from within a party than as an independent. On the other – I don’t feel that I am much like these people, although I have a certain amount in common. I am an idealist, I think. But I’m also practical, and I’ve never taken the view that there is only One True Path For Everybody, And Anyone Who Does Not Follow It Is Bad. The older Greens are sympathetic to my divided loyalties (having a friend running as a Labor candidate), and seem to feel it is a good thing to have friends in other parties. The younger Greens seem to find it strange and amazing that I have friends in other parties, and are a bit suspicious… Rightly so, I suppose. I don’t share every one of their opinions, and I suspect they find that intrinsically untrustworthy.

So do I join, or don’t I? I think the Greens probably need more people who are open to co-operation with people from other parties, but I find True Believers scary regardless of what the beliefs are. True Believers can do some very nasty things in support of Truth, after all.

The alternative is starting my own political party. I don’t really have time for that at present, but it is certainly a possibility for the future. I suspect that doing time in an existing party would increase my chances of doing this successfully anyway, but is that fair on the existing party?

When it comes down to it, I do want to see the Greens gain influence. I can, and should, therefore support them with a clear conscience. Whether this means I should join the party proper or just stay on their mailing list for now is another question.

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