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E-M:/ Green or not

Enviro-Mich message from "Tom & Anne Woiwode" <woiwode@voyager.net>


Someone posed a question about whether I, as a local candidate for office,
might join the Green Party.  As E-M continues lively debate about the
presidential race, I wanted to offer up my very parochial perspective on why
I am running for local office as a Democrat, because despite the orders of
magnitude of difference between the two races, there is some comparison to
be made.

I am not someone who has ever held out a desire to run for political office,
but eventually decided to do so after being encouraged to join a slate of
candidates running to reverse the very troubling direction our current
Township Board is taking our community.  As active participants in a variety
of issues and concerns in our local township, we had watched the Board cater
to developers at the expense of our natural resources, our neighborhoods and
our schools, watched them treat citizens with no respect when addressing the
Board, and watched the shutting down of the public's access to the
government that supposedly is responsive to them.

As we pulled together with the goal of winning back our township, the key
questions we had to face were how best to run our joint and collective
campaigns to assure that we have the best chance of winning.  I will point
out that this is in contrast with the stated aim of the Green Party's
presidential campaign. The Green Party has defined "winning" in this
election not as winning the presidency, but as winning 5% of the votes to
secure public campaign financing in the future.  There is nothing wrong with
that, but if the party's goal had been to win the presidency the entire
strategy would undoubtedly be different.  In fact, it would probably be in
direct contradiction to the purpose of the campaign, which is to raise
awareness and concerns about a system dominated by two parties.

But for those of us looking at both the very real and tangible destruction
of our township, and the feasibility of actually turning it around, a
quixotic venture to make a point was not going to serve our objectives.
Some of our group have long association with either the Republican or
Democratic parties, while others were pretty much independents.  As we
talked about these issues, we consulted as well with a number of credible,
knowledgable individuals about any of us running as independents.  The
history in our township is that NO independent has ever won office.  Again,
the reality is that if your objective is to win, it is critical to build a
campaign that makes that a possibility.

Ironically, by running as a bipartisan slate in a partisan primary we had a
real challenge of getting folks to understand the importance of voting
either with our Reps or with our Dems without spoiling their ballots by
voting for both. In the long run we actually succeeded in getting a
heightened level of attention to our campaign as a result of having a
difficult primary race for some of our candidates. Now, with the election
just days away, we will find out if our novel approach, running as a
bipartisan slate, will succeed.  As much as I would like to say that running
a close second should be viewed as admirable and acceptable, the reality is
that it is critical for a majority of our slate to win in order to reclaim
our township -- to pretend that a noble showing makes a difference is
delusional. It may be more feasible for Greens to win in other local
communities than here -- I can only speak to this community.

I admire those who have taken on the challenge of building a grassroots
political party, and hope progress is made in expanding the discussion.  But
you should be very clear that your objectives are very different from those
of us who have decided, for what ever combination of reasons, that it is
essential to win back or to not lose the seats, houses, councils, where
decisions are made the effect our lives and the environment.  I always think
of the comment from the bank robber who was asked why he robbed banks -- his
comment was "because that's where the money is".

Elected offices are where the power is in our country -- if we are committed
to changing the decisions made we need to take on the same awareness as the
bank robber and assure that we are running for offices because "that's where
the power is".  I also recognize that elections aren't an end in themselves
-- they are one means, and powerful one, to bring about essential changes.
But anyone who goes home after the election and fails to keep talking to
elected officials, demanding accountability, ferreting out inappropriate
influence, etc. etc., will contribute to the loss of any gains from an

One more point of view

Anne Woiwode

Tom, Anne, Nate and Pete Woiwode
5088 Powell Road
Okemos, MI 48864

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