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.

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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