The Possibility of Positive Politics – Believe!

July 31, 2009 at 12:24 am 1 comment

The last week or so I’ve been wanting to write a blog entry about the California budget negotiation fiasco that finally came to an end this week.  The problem is, the word ‘budget” is NOT sexy, and more importantly, while it feels counter intuitive to say, getting pissed at decision makers and bitching about how they spend our money is NOT how we’re ever going to make positive change.   All it really does is give us a little adrenaline high meanwhile California continues to spend more per capita on prison inmates than on K-12 students, and the list of problems goes on and on.

What am I trying to get at?  As I’ve been reading over graphs and summaries of the 2009-10 state budget (nerd alert), trying to figure out how to write this, I am realizing that a lot of my beliefs are actually reflected in how these financial figures are playing out.  For example, while the state rehabilitation (prison) budget is still among the largest in the state, it also was the area of the budget that received the largest cuts percentage-wise.

It’s really tempting right now to give you a run down of the budget numbers, but that’s not sexy.  What I am going to talk about instead is the tone of our radical, world changing efforts, and how as fun and personally satisfying as it is for us to get pissed and write angry blogs and call our legislators mean names, that kind of messaging will only further distance us from those whose job it is to represent USIf we want to see our vision for our world, our countries, our states, and our cities implemented, we have to all work as a team and do a better job of keeping it positive.

I try to start from this perspective – everyone believes that they are doing the right thing.  I personally think we in California should raise motor vehicle taxes and repeal Prop 13 to close the deficit, but I still believe that Joe Blow conservative republican in the state assembly truly believes that he is doing the right thing by not raising taxes and making deep cuts to social services, and he believes it because the majority of those that voted for him probably believe it too.

So how does this get us any closer to a solution?  Starting on the common ground that we all believe the other is acting from the heart is huge.  It gives us room to have adult conversations as opposed to 3rd grade arguments.  If we start by believing that our decision makers want to do the right thing, then we can offer our support for them doing the right thing, and not start every effort as a smear campaign.  It allows us to work in alignment instead of in opposition.

In my organizing experience, it’s always been funny to me that when I throw a scenario campaign at someone and ask how they would go about targeting their decision maker, they always give me this elaborate story of how they will get an article written to call the decision-maker out, and get a bunch of petitions signed, and do a big protest etc, without ever considering the option of just asking the decision-maker first and saving themselves all the trouble.  Maybe they’ll just say yes!

It’s been engrained in us to think that our decision makers are evil bastards who only have their personal ambition at heart.  I am not saying that it’s not true in some cases, but the more we can assume the best-case scenario, the further we’ll get.  Maybe we could have preserved more education and social service funds in the budget if, instead of having angry living room conversations and making demanding phone calls to legislative offices, we would have gathered to show support for our legislators in their desires to protect the programs that we value most.

Even if taking a more sunshine-y approach to how we work toward a better future doesn’t yield the specific policies we want right away, it will surely lower our stress levels and help us to all like each other more, and that can only lead to better things.

Anywho, I’d love to hear what you all think about how the CA budget turned out, as well as any ideas as to how we can avoid these drastic cuts next time around!

Tara

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Entry filed under: 1, politics, Take Action, Thoughts Become Things.

Sarah Palin needs a swift backhand. Like, now. Some ill rhymes in some tough times

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