Editorial: Sunflower gathers strength from the rootsLike picking the petals off a daisy and saying, "He loves me; he loves me not," the Green Party has been having a heart-rending debate for the last several seasons. As Greens pick the petals off the sunflower, we say, "Run hard; don't run; run hard; don't run."
by Laura Wells, co-editor
This fourth issue of the Green Focus quarterly newspaper again presents passionate arguments for both positions.
My dilemma, as I read the letters and articles, is that I agree with both sides of the debate. And there are points of agreement. One is summed up in the sentiment expressed by a Green Party bumper sticker, "Democracy-great idea! When do we start?" A major victory for democratic process was Peter Camejo's articulation of the issues in the recall election debates-see page one for quotes and analysis. Another point of agreement is the value of running and winning local offices. See the list of elected officials on page four, and articles throughout about the gathering strength of the Green Party of California.
As to the sunflower dilemma of "Run hard; don't run," I see no easy answer. What I want is for the best possible candidates to get elected this time, and for our system of democracy to be improved so that even better candidates will run and get elected next time.
Somehow we need to find common ground, and keep the petals on the sunflower rather than picking them off. To that end, I have been reading about citizens consensus councils, and I wonder if they could serve the Green Party.
As examples, Denmark and England have had citizen councils deliberate on genetic engineering of food and plant biotechnology. The public, the media, and policymakers were on hand to hear the results. These councils undoubtedly helped genetically modified foods get the cold shoulder in Europe, which in turn helps U.S. citizens in our efforts. On page three read about the struggle that's gaining momentum against GMOs-genetically modified organisms-in Humboldt County.
A typical citizens council, as described in the The Tao of Democracy by Tom Atlee (www.taoofdemocracy.com), is a group of a dozen or so people selected at random and with representative diversity. They come together for two days, or two weekends, and receive initial information from divergent sources. They digest it, determine points of initial agreement, develop additional questions and decide which experts they want to interview further, and then deliberate more. Their recommendations-whether investigating genetic engineering in Denmark or England, planning for agriculture in the Andhra Pradesh state of India, or dealing with environmentally destructive storm-water runoff in an Australian beach town-get wide dissemination, and the respect of policymakers mandated to follow-up on the suggested strategies. Elected representatives are usually pleasantly surprised by the wisdom and coherence of the citizens councils' results.
My wish is to see these innovative examples of democracy take root. Empowered with time and diverse experts to interview, a citizens consensus council could perhaps address the important Green Party question of strategy in the 2004 presidential election.
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