It takes a lot for people to shift their paradigm about how things work or how they should work. For several years leading to the creation of the New Leadership Party (NLP), we have had the vision and the understanding of participatory democracy and have practiced it. We of the NLP believe that this kind of governing works best for all concerned. Deals worked out in secrecy incubate distrust of government in general, and then people just become cynical and drop out of the process, or move away.
Though some of the things that were said about the New Leadership Party made me angry, I realize that in the main the VMA just does not understand where we are coming from.
Diana Carpenter is quoted in the April 6 Wednesday Journal saying about her party, "we are better and more knowledgeable." Such thinking is based on: The belief that things cannot be done unless the "knowledgeable ones" are in charge; the belief that there are and should be elites that the electorate choose to make decisions for them; the belief that those who know how things should be run are the ones who have become wealthy from this knowledge; the belief that all people act only for self-interest (e.g. NIMBY's) and not for the community; the belief that goals like quiet tree-lined streets, without too much traffic, preservation of historic buildings, clean environment, protection of animals, etc. are old-fashioned and will destroy our "competitiveness' with other communities.
These things they really believe. What we have here is a difference in paradigms. When New Leadership Party members exalt our process as being all-inclusive, the others think it is a subterfuge for an agenda?#34;we must be NIMBY's or just against any development.
When people have different paradigms they tend to believe that honest criticism or differences is grandstanding, an inability to get along, or even name-calling. How ironic, it wasn't the NLP that was name-calling. In fact, in his April 6 column ("Win or lose, VMA needs a talking to") Dan Haley recognized that the NLP followed the high road even after Oak Park First's last minute smear sheet distributed to homes and in front of churches.
I am sure Diana Carpenter, Joanne Trapani, Gus Kostopulos, and Ray Johnson have good motivations and care about many of the same things we in the NLP do and in the same way. However, when you have a new paradigm of how people can rule themselves, how they can be a community, and how we can have an open process?#34;those holding the old paradigm just don't understand what we are talking about. New paradigms take time to be assimilated and adopted. We can be proud of how well we exemplified how the process works and how we, an unknown group of people, challenged and prevailed over the VMA's 52-year monopoly on village government in Oak Park.
We in the NLP now have vision, power, and opportunity to put even more of our paradigm into practice. We can hope that we will gently, due to enhancing Oak Parkers' lives, win over many more to this philosophy of open government!
Member of the New Leadership Party