Drive a wedge between people and with a bit of luck they will fight each other and you can get on with your own agenda undisturbed. Choose the right issue and maybe you can fool them into feeling forced to choose a side. People who would normally avoid, or even oppose you, may suddenly support you. Perhaps they will even see you as a champion, not just the lesser of two evils. Create enough fear about a group of people or ideas and you can scare people into supporting your own position.
Make the wedge sharp and clear. Don't leave room for ambiguity. There must be no grey areas: everything must be black and white.
Cultivate an air of being principled. Call people to hold the line of loyalty to their principles- even if it's necessary to point them to principles that are not their primary ones!
Sound sincere. Express just enough pain about the difficulty of standing firm and you'll pull them in before they think. Once they have made an emotional committment to the cause it will be very hard for them to go back. They will be yours.
This approach to politics is antithetical to a Christian political process. Christianity has as one of its major foundations the principle of striving for inclusive unity. It strives for a political solution... for everything is politics at some level... which includes rather than winning at the expense of some others losing. It is in attempting this that the Uniting Church Consensus Decision Making is so powerful, as well as radically Christian. It abandons standing orders and discusses in plenary, with a major voice given to those who are not happy with a proposal, seeking a way for them to be included in the decision, or at least being able to live with it. Only if all this fails does a formal vote come into play.
Political strength and power in this paradigm lie not in being able to win. It lies in being courageous enough to support the consensus proposal. It lies in refusing to subvert the process and live by the structures of the church. It is in this that there is discipleship and Christian faithfulness.
Currently in the Uniting Church we are seeing a process through EMU and the "new" "Reformed" Alliance which is more at one with the politics of the world than of the Christ. It refuses to be inclusive. It refuses dialogue: even the President of the Assembly is refused entry to listen. These people may well win a victory in theology and delay or prevent the inclusion of all people who love God into the church. They will then also have destroyed something of the Uniting Church all on their own. For they will have decided, quite deliberately, to exclude people from the life of the church. They will have said quite deliberately that only their point of view is right and to be admitted. They will have refused to live within the Christ-centred diversity of the church. Instead of the church being the body of Christ, he will be defined in the image of Emu. (Jan)
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