Karmic thoughts

Several years ago I was a member of a small band of activists who came together to work on election reform.  The small core group became even smaller when it was decided to break into teams and one of the teams became their own small “in” group and declined to share information with the rest of the group. Let’s call them the “A” team.  Their task was to promote a particular piece of  election reform legislation in the state legislature.

I will not name names here to protect both the innocent and the guilty — but they know who they are.   If any of them ever happens to read this perhaps they will recognize themselves.

There was a secretiveness and paranoia within the “A”  Team group that  was antithetical to the kind of transparent governance we  supposedly were all working toward in the public arena.  Their decision making was a closed process and they sought no input from other members of the group who were not part of the “A” team.   They had a vision of what they wanted and would neither negotiate nor compromise  with other stakeholders — not a useful stance when engaging in the legislative sausage-making process.

Furthermore members of this group flamed legislators (including the co-sponsor of the bill that eventually passed), accused local  election administrators of being “in bed with vendors” and “opposing democracy”, and alienated the state election director.    All in all, the “A” team succeeded in making enemies of just about everyone involved in the legislative process.  Their reputation became toxic among legislators and election officials alike, so much so  that years later activists like me have had to disavow any connection to the “A” team.

Along the way, the “A” team decided to blackball me from the larger group — by majority vote it was decided to terminate my membership.  My crime?  I had sent an e-mail at the request of the group to several legislators regarding the pending bill.  I later testified independently of the “A” team regarding that bill without identifying myself as a member of the group.

Without a chance to confront my accusers (so much for due process!) I was tossed to the curb — because the paranoid thinking was that legislators would remember my earlier e-mail and connect it to my testimony.  This would breed confusion, the “reasoning” went, about the actual position of the group and  make their presentation less effective.

So where does karma tiptoe into this story?

Well, as it happens, I had sent those e-mails flagged for “read receipt” .  Almost two years later I got a “deleted unread” message in my e-mail box for the e-mails that had caused so much angst and paranoia in the breasts of the “A” team members.  It was much ado about nothing, to quote the Bard of Avon.

In addition, the original group has devolved, with certain  individuals moving on to other issues  — and some individuals  migrating to other states.

I remain involved in election reform issues, working with others to influence the legislature regarding these matters, and having some small  success at times — and sometimes not so much.

To be honest, I’m better off without them.  At the time of the blackballing I thought I would be hampered in my work on election reform.  Instead I feel empowered as I  continue to learn about  the issues and become ever more effective as an advocate for open, transparent, verifiable and auditable elections.

Karma.  I’m loving it.

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