Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Why Do People Leave the ACDP?

The danger of building up any hype around a party like the ACDP is that people's hopes can get dashed when their esteemed leaders don't turn out to be perfection personified as they expected. The ACDP have had prominent office bearers cross the floor to the very parties they fought against in the elections. When it comes time for the next election, it is understandable if some voters feel they've been betrayed once and can never trust again.

Before I present our position, let me say that voters should not have unfair expectations. If the Bible says we are all sinners, then that includes ACDP candidates. There are no perfect politicians, preachers or citizens. But some ARE better than others. Not all parties are the same, and some politicians ARE better than others.

Some people do leave the ACDP in a huff. Let me explain in my understanding why people leave...

Number one, politics is hard work. The ACDP has seen relatively little fruit for its efforts over the years. With each new election there is a lot of hard work involved, and there are pressures throughout the party to perform, and we seldom win a by-election we contest. In other words, you chase the carrot and seldom get it. Who can carry on like that for long, especially when you are supporting the party after-hours and have a family to take care of? Keep in mind that most don't get paid for their efforts either, so contesting an election can be financially draining.

Secondly, politics involves strong personalities. You will not survive in parliament if you don't have nerves of steel and can stand your ground. You also need an opinion - what good are you in standing against injustice if you just go with the flow all the time? Bring strong, opinionated people together and you inevitably get conflict. Actually, the ACDP handles this quite well in my opinion.

Third, some ACDP candidates fall short of the mark. All our office bearers and executive committee members are screened by a guardian committee of pastors, but it's very difficult to detect all the dirty laundry. When the problems finally start surfacing, there is the inevitable backlash, the blame game, the dirty tricks, the accusations. Like any business, it's never easy to fire somebody, and when they get onto the streets, the general public soaks up their recrimination with eager delight, while the party is keen to honour the Biblical code on gossip and not splash out the details.

Then there's the conflict of views. Some don't agree with the death penalty, others don't think the ACDP should be an overtly Christian party. Others feel we aren't Christian enough. And when we lose election, inevitably the guys who disagreed are fully convinced that they were right all along. And off they go and form a splinter party ... and win the national elections immediately. Or not. Somehow the differences in opinion get illuminated when you experience difficulty - this is as true in the ACDP as it is in marriage.

And then sometimes the party makes a bad decision. If I avoided that truth, all of the above would be another session of party propaganda. Yes, sometimes people get hard-done-by and they pack up and leave. Sometimes leaders make mistakes, sometimes policies are drawn up without enough understanding, sometimes candidates are given positions they can't handle. It happens. For me personally, I grin and bear it - I can serve the party and the country better by getting on with the job than by throwing my toys and walking out.

And lastly, don't forget that the public loves bad news. Newspaper reporters will always illuminate the negative and you're more likely to hear about the dissident than the aspirant. Take what you hear with caution and investigate if you need to.

The ACDP have lost a number of people over the years, but the party has stayed strong, continued fighting elections and making a noise in parliament. People come, people go, but some stick around and the challenge for us is always to build the party around the good people and not to get distracted by the flashy new members who will ditch us in a year - a tough challenge indeed.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Logic Failure of Gun Control

One topic that seems to be popping up regularly when we talk with the voting public is the topic of gun control. To be honest, with all the usual noise about abortion, the death penalty, gay marriage and other bedrock issues, I hadn't paid much attention to gun control.

My initial reaction to this issue was influenced by the media, and I suspect that many would feel similarly. There has been new emphasis on increased gun control with every spate of high school attacks in America and certainly that publicity starts to filter through your mindset.

Imagine saying the opposite. Imagine saying that gun control should be reduced and that every man and his dog be equipped with rifles. The image that crosses my mind, and maybe yours, is one of anarchy, of fierce factions empowered to blow each other away whenever their mood goes bad. Back comes policemen killing their girlfriends and all the other folklore attached to the trigger-happy.

Certainly there is a risk that you put guns in the hands of those who don't have the discipline to keep their bullets between the mattresses. The flip side is far worse.

The basic premise of gun control is that you can completely eliminate guns. It assumes that at some point in the near future, you can have total control over the population in your country and that no gun can pass hands without the police seeing it, finding it and eliminating it. It also assumes that the police themselves are perfectly trustworthy and as the only bearer of weapons, if at all, you are completely safe in their hands. If you're a South Africa citizen you'll know this is fantasy.

Here is the reality. Guns get into South Africa across borders, in undisclosed containers on ships, manufactured in backrooms in leafy suburbs and smoky townships. Locals and foreigners organise syndicates that pull off very lucrative robberies using these weapons. They are illegal, traded with little regard for the laws in place, and the good guys in the police and defense force do not have the resources to control them.

Here's the worst part. The government makes a law banning or limiting private firearm ownership, and the citizens most likely to obey the law are the ones least likely to abuse the firearms. The ones most likely to misuse weapons are the ones that are least likely to have their weapons confiscated. And when a murderer walks into a suburban home, ready to steal at any cost, who is the guilty person? Is it the father with a job, his wife of 23 years and his only teenage girl or is it the serial murderer who has killed four already in heists and armed robbery? Who dies now? De-armed by the state, the father is powerless in that moment, the private security companies will never be there in time and the persons who die that day are not the guilty, but the innocent.

What if the father had a gun? What if the criminal knew he might have a gun? If the criminal is shot dead by the father, how is that worse or even the same as the father shooting the criminal dead instead of losing his innocent teenage girl?

The incredible irony is that personal firearm ownership in South Africa will result in fewer deaths and a safer and more peaceful country. For every policeman that shoots his girlfriend over an argument and for every yearly school shooting in America, I'll remind you of the daily deaths in South Africa that no longer make the newspapers. A world without guns is utopia, a dream most of us would love, but reality indicates that the implementation of gun control in South Africa results in exactly the opposite of what we hoped for.

The ACDP supports private firearm ownership, not because we are right wing extremists, but because we want fewer deaths, safer neighbourhoods and families who can rest easy at night. Gun control achieves the opposite.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

"Don't split the opposition"

I was pushing brochures in Howick over the weekend, ahead of the Ward 2 by-election on December 10. To be frank, I'm not fond of putting more "junk mail" in people's postboxes, but you cannot ignore this approach if you really want to get your party's voice heard. We have people saying "where have you been?", and we have to take the risk of using annoying marketing techniques if we're to answer that question.

Either way, I was ignoring the barking dogs at one box and heard a voice: "Why are you splitting the opposition?" It turned out to be an MP from the DA who was canvassing the same area. We had a "heated" discussion for 15 minutes about everything from the death penalty to the DA's so-called "free vote" on anything moral (a mask for their liberal immorality). What irked him the most was that we were splitting the vote in that ward, increasing the chance of a communist ANC councillor being voted in.

The DA love this slogan. Even worse, it seems to work. So I answer it here...

Firstly, which opposition? Why are the DA splitting the ACDP opposition? When it comes down to values, standards, a message that appeals across races, and demographic representation, the ACDP are a better party. The DA are simply not the kind of government I would want to live under as a Christian. The DA MP was suggesting we stand down in the by-election, but I would rather his party stood down.

Secondly, the ACDP are also splitting the ruling party. This was very true in Howick, where we were intensely canvassing the Zulu area with door-to-door visitation. We were in fact working an area the DA are not strong at, reducing the hold of the ruling party. We've also seen huge growth in Limpopo and Eastern Cape, which are strong ANC areas.

Thirdly, how long should the ACDP be standing down? Do we simply keep procrastinating and then stand with a guilty conscience before God when we consider whether we have fought for the unborn, for family values, for safety in our country. The message that the ACDP are not aggressive enough has been heard, and an increase in our marketing aggression includes rivalling opposition like the DA.

I do understand the risk of splitting the opposition, and I would choose a DA councillor over an ANC councillor on most days. The simple question is this: how much splitting are we doing? If the ACDP is content to steal a few votes here and there, then the threat of a split is valid. However, if we push the values we know are strong and purposefully take up the call, we can unseat the DA, replacing them and the ANC. That would split the opposition, but do it effectively. In other words, lukewarm is the worst possible position here. The ACDP needs to go big or go home. In Howick, we went big - the results will be interesting and I'll keep you posted.

DISCLAIMER: This blog serves as a commentary and the views presented are not necessary the official views of the ACDP. For official statements and contact details, visit: www.acdp.org.za