We just finished the most recent election cycle and it has caused me to reflect upon elections. What was more interesting to me, though, was our recent diocesan convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Maine.
At the convention we had several resolutions regarding the injustices inflicted upon the Palestinians by the Israeli government. This came up three years ago and was defeated and returns again.
The Episcopal Peace Fellowship had a good issue and obvious injustices that they wanted to address, but the complete defeat of their resolutions caused me to reflect upon how one gets things done and passed in an institution.
The first observation I had is that it is very important to not connect too deeply or personally with the cause. When the cause and its success becomes tied to one's own identity, emotions and well being then one defeats one's own cause. This became evident to me when I watched people become more concerned about people's well being and not about the issue. When the speaker found himself advocating a losing cause he became more adamant and forceful and began to equate a vote for his cause with Jesus and a vote against as a vote against Jesus. I watched around the room and people were immediately shutting down and reacting very negatively with his tactic.
If the process was seen as a long term project, and not simply two attempts at all or nothing, then progress could have been made more effectively.
I found myself reminded that politics on any level is all about compromise and relationship. The issues follow and one has to be in it for the long haul to make effective change.
In Maine when the gay right to marriage was defeated, those working for its passage went local and spent years building a base, building relationships and working step by step and then when it came back, it passed easily. And the people had all the relationships to build upon for further issues that will come up.
The other thoughts I had was that it is always important to find common ground, no matter how thin and start there. And from there to discover the relationships and to find love for those on all sides, people hear better when they feel that the other person cares for them. And I am more likely to change myself when I am in a loving environment and not under attack.
Being right does not cause others to change or vote your way, especially if the argument is airtight as it leave no ability for others to breath.
Being open, even to the problems that will ensue; being willing to engage, even if it means taking longer than planned; being willing to adapt and change as the process unfolds, especially when it leads into new territory - this will bring about change and win any election.