Should I leave the political party I joined?
June 4, 2019 2:05 PM   Subscribe

So I'm really conflicted about this. I joined a new political party because I wanted to help out, build influence and learn but I'm really starting to wonder if there's any point.

It seems like the party is full of snakes, and two faced schemers. Half of the people in there are there to see what they're going to get. I'm sick of having to put my ass on the line and work hard but see a bunch of freeloaders doing nothing whatsoever. I mean seriously, some people joined just to see how they could benefit themselves.

The party is going nowhere. The people who want to do the real work are being sidelined. I tried to help out with event planning, but apparently since my last contribution was to help out with money, then they say I'm not welcome to help themout anymore because they want more than just monetary contributions. I helped them plan their launch event, and contributed some money when they needed, but the guy in charge is resentful of this.

I'm really conflicted, on the one hand if I leave the party will end up in the hands of people like the ones described above. More than anything, I'm also tired of drifting around from group to group not staying anywhere. Been in the party for three months, but honestly, that last comment about my monetary contribution really put me off. It seems like they don't want me around. I was also thinking I wanted to help out an environmental group, always liked the environment, quitting this thing will let me focus on that.
posted by Braxis to Law & Government (11 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
You don't give a lot of detail, but I don't see in what you wrote either (a) any reasons to stay, or (b) any reasons not to quit. Go somewhere where your contributions are welcomed and appreciated.
posted by number9dream at 2:09 PM on June 4 [8 favorites]

This is a hazard of getting involved in any relationship with other people of any kind. Sometimes (almost every time) it doesn't work out. Just like any relationship, if you're not having what you consider to be a good time, you can leave whenever you want.
posted by bleep at 2:26 PM on June 4 [4 favorites]

Do it, put your efforts not only where they are appreciated but where they'll do good. It's like any relationship, chasing after the bad hoping they'll change after they've shown you who they are isn't going to work.
posted by wwax at 2:28 PM on June 4

When I look at a community that's trying to do stuff together, and that I want to help change in some way, here are some relevant factors that make me optimistic:

* people with social capital in the project, whom other participants respect, support my goals in private conversation
* even better: such people have reached out to me, of their own initiative, about it
* even better than that: such people are already taking real action
* I have personal relationships with at least one influential project leader
* I am in the private spaces where project leaders talk
* either the project's still new and the norms are in flux, or there's a new initiative or subcommunity where I can influence norms or even amend the rules of the game before they jell and harden


* the founder of the project exercises charismatic/inertial authority and either does not support my goals, or is too afraid of conflict to take real action
* per Selena Deckelmann's advice, "If someone is treating you with contempt, or you are using contempt in arguments, that's a big warning sign."
* there is a private space where important conversation happens and I'm not invited
* I, or someone else who shares my goals, has been unsuccessful in getting the community to do something small towards my goals. For instance, assuming my goal is improving gender diversity in a male-dominated workplace, I haven't been able to get them to adopt a first code of conduct, or improve a CoC to have real enforcement provisions, or participate in a women-centric job fair, or make a token effort towards diversity in guest speakers.

So a key question here is: do you have personal relationships with any of the people who have influence in this group? And if not, are you interested in trying to make any relationships? Maybe talk with "the people who do the real work" (whom, I presume, you respect) and ask them what they think would help lead to them being able to be effective and happy? If nothing else, that'll help you reach out to them 6 months from now when you want to ask them to help out a bit with your next thing.
posted by brainwane at 2:30 PM on June 4 [10 favorites]

Either these people really are terrible (snakes, etc) or you're perceiving things incorrectly and through a very negative filter. Either way, this match doesn't sound like it's off to a great start on either side.

I'm in a senior leadership role in my nonprofit, and I can tell you volunteer work can be draining and demoralizing even when your team is generally harmonious and you respect each other. I would drop whatever this is.
posted by fingersandtoes at 2:41 PM on June 4

Political parties see a lot of people come and go. Many, as you suggest, join to see how they can benefit themselves. The people who have been active for a long time doing thankless, drudging work are therefore often suspicious of new people who come in with a lot of enthusiasm and can often be a bit gatekeep-y. Not saying that it's right or wrong, but that there's often an unspoken probation period for this type of work, and it's hard to say whether the group is actually ineffective snakes or whether you're just still on probation. Only time will tell.

and, I mean this kindly, it's possible that you might be viewed by the group leaders in the same light as those you categorize as wanting to benefit themselves; after all, your second and third goals as stated in the above paragraph are to "build influence and learn", both of which are actions that benefit you. Something to consider when you evaluate how you're being treated.
posted by stellaluna at 2:47 PM on June 4 [7 favorites]

[Couple of comments deleted. Braxis, AskMetafilter isn't a place for a back-and-forth discussion; you've asked your question, now people will offer answers and you can consider those and decide what you want to take from them. That's it.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 2:57 PM on June 4

Might be worth thinking about whether leaving needs to be a decisive action. Could you just... be less involved for a while? Show up when you feel like it and not when you don't? Help when it seems like your help is welcome and appreciated (and shrug and leave them to it if that ends up being "never")?
posted by nebulawindphone at 3:37 PM on June 4 [2 favorites]

I'm having trouble finding the question here.

If you are looking to act locally, there are organizations other than political parties that get things done. environmental groups, as you've mentioned; volunteer organizations; clubs like rotary, and so forth that might have a better social mix for you.

If you are looking to act more broadly you could join action groups like, or protest groups like BLM or just become an activist and put energy or money into individual events that align with your politics.

None of these will prevent you from voting along with any party you choose, and might give you more options for groups with people who value what you bring to the table.
posted by OHenryPacey at 4:04 PM on June 4 [2 favorites]

I’m going to assume you’re talking about Maxime Bernier and his People’s Party of Canada? If so, you’re probably safe to get out. As far as I can tell, it’s nothing more than a vanity project for Bernier and I’m not in the least bit surprised that into would be attracting a bunch of cretins and grifters. If you care about the environment, consider jumping over to the Greens. They have momentum and are probably starving for more volunteers with an election coming up.
posted by fso at 5:21 PM on June 4 [2 favorites]

I'm also tired of drifting around from group to group not staying anywhere.

This really jumped out at me. When combined with your extremely one-dimensional view of the people who work at that political party, that tells a bit of a story about who you are and how you interact with people.

This is not a judgement on you. I was a very socially inept young person myself. It is not a moral or characterological failing to not know how to belong to communities, to be so full of sharp edges that you seem to rub everyone the wrong way.

But if I'm right that social gelling is your underlying concern, I think it's a fantastic goal for you to stop drifting. Belonging somewhere is an essential life skill... You MUST learn to build and maintain many different types of positive relationships with many different types of people. That's what makes us properly adult humans. Now is the time for you to commit to this goal.

How you start is up to you. Whether you choose to repair the sour relationships within this political party you joined, or whether to join a new group, both are good ways forward. But either way, you are going to have to approach things very differently from what it sounds like you've been doing so far.

As long as your goal is, "Find a cause I believe in, and work to further it," it's very easy to see other people as obstacles standing in the way of you and the cause. People make it sooooooo easy for you to judge them! They are mean, their motives are impure, they're pretenders and liars, they don't do things the right way, they are debasing lofty ideals, they are compromised, they are difficult, and all in all, life would be a lot better if you were on your, own working for the cause all by yourself in some isolated little bubble.

But when you switch your goal to, "Find a way to belong to a community of people," that changes how you react to people who seem impure, self-serving, corrupt, and mean. Ah, this person who is a two-faced schemer... I wonder how they fit into this system. Why did they join this party? What keeps them around here? How do others deal with them? What do they contribute to this place? Whom have they helped? In what manner do they cement their belonging to this community?

Initially, you might find yourself tempted to answer these questions in your usual one-dimensional way.

Why did they join this party? For freeloading and personal benefit only.
What keeps them around here? All that freeloading.
How do others deal with them? Superficially well, because one of their two faces is "nice" enough to fool everyone ... everyone but me!
What do they contribute to this place? Nothing!!! They do nothing!!!
Whom have they helped? NOBODY
In what manner do they cement their belonging to this community? Like a snake! They lie and cheat and grab everything they can for themselves when nobody is looking

But I urge you to dig deeper. Hate to break it to you, but

(1) you are not the only good, pure, honest, hard-working person in the room. (Volunteering in a political party is not nearly lucrative enough to attract all sociopaths all the time.) FIND THOSE WHO ARE DOING GOOD WORK.

(2) nobody who is doing good work can be all-bad/fake/selfish/two-faced without any redeeming qualities, there is no such thing as a human monster. FIND THEIR REDEEMING QUALITIES.

(3) nobody who is doing good work is completely 100% obnoxious, unreliable, useless, or "fake" survives as a long-term team member at a low-(or non)-paid gig as a political party volunteer/staffer; other people who have worked with this person for much longer tolerate them for a reason. FIND THAT REASON.

Your journey of a thousand miles is the goal of belonging to a group. Your first step is to challenge your all-bad opinion of this group of people... or the next.

Keep going to therapy. Talk about this subject. Ask for help from your therapist in changing your pattern of extreme judgement towards others.
posted by MiraK at 10:57 AM on June 6 [1 favorite]

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