Spoiler Alert: Made you click! This post is about common objections. You should absolutely join the Green Party and participate in selecting your candidates.
I’ve been talking to a bunch of people, asking them to support me as a candidate for City Council by joining the Greens. And so many of you have! Thank you so much – I’m super grateful to you.
I’ve been noticing a few themes among those who are reluctant to join, so I thought I’d go through some objections and ideas here.
I Don’t Understand the Process
I didn’t either just a few months ago, and I consider myself highly engaged, so don’t feel weird about it. I’ll attempt to make it as clear as possible here.
Vancouverites vote municipally for candidates city wide – meaning your representatives aren’t specific to a ward, neighbourhood region, or any other geographical or community area. Many candidates choose to run with a party that is values aligned and work together on the daunting task of informing citizens across the entire city of what we’ll be prioritizing and advocating for.
To choose representatives for each party, the party makes a call for nominations and screens applicants for quality options. In some ways, it’s like a job application process – each candidate submits a sort of resume, references, financial disclosure and more. Then each party internally interviews prospective applicants and decides who they will present to their members as options. This is the part of the process we’re at now. Here are your prospective nominees.
The membership of the party then gets to choose among these options by popular vote. In the case of the Green Party, by signing up to be a member by Wednesday, June 13th and then by attending the nomination meeting on Wednesday, June 27th. Whichever candidates get the most votes on that night will be the ones whose names appear on the ballot in October. These will be your Green options.
I Don’t Believe in Party Politics
This is a tricky one. Some folks prefer to vote for people instead of parties, and I get that.
In Vancouver municipal politics, saying you don’t believe in party politics is a little like saying you don’t believe in gravity. It’s going to have an affect on you anyway.
The city-wide election factor makes party politics way more important. And when more than one party candidate is elected, it provides them with support for initiatives once they’re advocating for you in council or on a board.
While it’s possible that an independent candidate will gain enough support to get elected, it’s pretty unlikely. The more important bit is that independent candidates don’t have to go through a nomination process, so you don’t have to join a party to support them, and being a member of a party doesn’t prevent it either. Joining the Greens means you get more chance to decide whose names (and principles) will make it onto your ballot. Participating in a nomination is a fundamental way to explicitly choose and support the candidates you value.
I’m more of a team person than a solo warrior myself, and with a long history of working on Green campaigns, and lots of good friends already engaged there, joining the Greens was a logical choice.
I Don’t Vote
Ahhhhh where to begin with this one.
Somehow, some people have the perspective that not voting is an act of relevant defiance. Unfortunately, not participating doesn’t change anything. If you alternately put your energy into lobbying for electoral reform, for example, or participate in another way, I have a teeny tiny little bit more appreciation. But not doing anything is not conscientious objection. It’s careless avoidance.
I suspect if you’re the sort who is eager to tell people you don’t vote, you’re someone who has had access to the possibility to vote for some time. We forget that voting is a privilege that has only been available to a huge number of Canadian citizens for a pretty short amount of time. That’s not to say that people in the category of “recently allowed to vote” are all excited to roll on through and support a system that didn’t include them previously. But that’s a different post for another time.
But here’s the thing – if you’re not counted, you kinda don’t count. I don’t mean you’re not valuable, or your concerns aren’t valid – I’m sure they are. But when you don’t take the time to participate, you have substantially less influence over the outcome. And at the end of the day, the bottom line is that your elected officials are holding your wallet for the duration of their term. Don’t you want a say in who spends your money and what they spend it on?
I Can’t Vote
To join the party, you must be eligible to vote in the City of Vancouver. If you don’t live in Vancouver or aren’t a Canadian Citizen and still want to support, considering encouraging a friend who is an eligible voter to sign up as a member. Or even tell your Vancouver friends that it’s an option. Amplification is important.
I Don’t Want to Promise that I’ll Vote Green Before I See the Platform and Candidates
Becoming a party member doesn’t obligate you to vote for the party come election day. It gives you an opportunity to help form the platform by helping to choose the candidates. And it gives the party a greater capacity to let you know about their principles and objectives. Of course, I’m sincerely hoping we’ll win your Green vote over the course of the campaign, and I’m confident we will. But your ability to choose for yourself is not limited by party membership.
One of the many reasons I chose to go for a candidacy with the Green Party is that the candidates really have an opportunity to inform and affect the platform formation. I feel that the Green Party more than any other party is receptive to understanding and representing the values of its membership.
The Green Party Lacks Diversity
This year’s candidate hopefuls include women and people of colour and span a variety of age demographics. If this is a value that’s important to you, the best way to encourage it is by signing up to be a member and participating in the nomination process. And maybe next time, become a candidate hopeful yourself! Movements change because of people. Again – here are your prospective nominees.
I’ll Get Involved in October
Amazing. We’ll need a lot of people to get involved then too. Keep in mind that your candidate options will already be set by then. Getting involved now means you have a say about your choices then – and all it takes, to start, is joining and attending a single meeting.
Have I answered all of your concerns? If not, let me know what I missed! Or give me a call, and I’m happy to talk you through it.
Convinced? JOIN THE GREEN PARTY, and talk to your friends about it. It’s important!