Sunday, November 02, 2008

Engines of Change: 308

For the last few days I had been doing some thinking about how to make the Liberal Party better, until I realized something; I realized the priority should not be how to make the party better, but instead how to make us better. And as rhetorically empty as that sounds, I've concluded that though certain party structures need to be fixed or abandoned entirely, the first focus must be on the members. Not in a top-down focus where party bureaucrats listen to the grassroots members, and not in some horizontal focus, where Liberals discuss and debate with other Liberals. What is needed is the recognition that the engines of change within the Liberal Party exist, not outside of each member in policy conventions or through its caucus or in our Leader, but within each of us; that within each of us is the ability to change the party and to change Canada.

Admittedly I was first motivated to write a post on reforming the party, some policy proposal that could be incorporated into the 308 platform. My intention was to advocate for greater participation of Liberal members in formulating party policy; arguing that such a strategy would create more representative policies and subsequently, by giving members a greater opportunity to become involved and thus become more closely associated, it would induce more members to join, more donors to donate, and more volunteers to volunteer.

The idea would be to introduce a lower level in policy conventions, a riding or a regional forum that would be more inclusive and open. However as I reviewed numerous constitutions within the Liberal Party to see what specifically needed to be changed, I realized there was nothing structurally within the party preventing these types of conventions from taking place already. What prevented this idea was not the existence of some rule or of some party bureaucrat, it was the absence of Liberals wanting and creating change.

And it was on that point, that more frequent policy forums/conventions were not being held simply because there were no Liberals engineering that change, that I realized the priority of any renewal must focus on the members. The Party does need to change and be reformed, but Liberals must recognize their ability to act, to be so emboldened to create the change the party needs on their own.

The failure to hold more policy conventions among ridings and regions is not due to the Liberal Party's actions, it is due to Liberals not acting. It is perfectly imaginable that a leader of Liberals in a riding or a region so fueled by change could organize such a policy forum or convention. That just that one leader could inspire other Liberals to recognize their potential and force, and begin the exponential gears of change. But alas through whatever events or processes, Liberals have become sedentary, reactive instead of active; they have become followers instead of leaders.

Before structures of the Party are to be changed and improved, it is of foremost importance, that Liberals across our country recognize that change is not some process that occurs when we lose an election, it is not generated abstractly in some external process, it is created by individuals. In each of us, in each of our potential, lies the engines of change that will better our party and our nation. Liberals must recognize this, Liberals must believe this, and Liberals must act.

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