FEELING LIKE CASSANDRA

10 11 2012

One of the most popular archetypes depicted in The Iliad is that of Cassandra, daughter of Priam, the King of Troy, who was gifted by Apollo with the ability to see the future clearly.  She accepted his gift but rejected his advances, and so he added a little something to that gift:  she could forecast the future accurately, but nobody would believe her.  And that, my friends, seems to be the fate of the Green Party.

I said two weeks ago that I would be here tonight, “either crowing or eating crow,” and I’m sad to report that I have a well-baked crow on my plate tonight–and I’m a vegetarian!  Yeow!  Despite the best-financed and organized national Green Party campaign since Ralph Nader ran in 2000, Dr. Stein received only about 400,000 votes nationwide–by far the best Green Party showing since Nader’s 2.8 million total, but far short of our hopes and expectations. Her showing in Tennessee–6500 votes, about 0.26% of the total–was typical of her nationwide showing, which was about 0.3% of the national total.  Well, at least we weren’t  way behind the curve here.  But there are other peculiarities about that total, which I’ll explain a little later.

Martin Pleasant’s Senate campaign was our other statewide race.  We had hoped that the fact that the Democrat Party had renounced their elected candidate would result in a big bounce for Marty, but it was not to be.   Either there are a lot of Tennesseans who think Bob Corker is way too tame, or there are a lot of people who just aren’t paying enough attention to know anything more about who they’re voting for than whether there’s a “D” or an “R” after the person’s name.  “G”?  Does not compute!  Putative Democrat Mark Clayton pulled in 700,000 votes, a hundred thousand of them right here in Davidson County, where he nearly beat Bob Corker, while our man Martin Pleasant only got the attention of about 8,000 voters. Clayton actually won Shelby County. Maybe his strong anti-gay stance resonates with socially conservative African-Americans?  According to the Washington Post, Clayton raised less than $300 for his campaign.  A twentieth of a penny per vote.  I’m jealous.  Bob Tuke, the last “real” Democrat to run a serious Senate campaign in Tennessee, raised around a hundred thousand dollars and only got a few more votes than Clayton.

But hey, the Green Party seems to be everybody’s unwanted stepchild.  The Tennessean left Martin Pleasant out of their voters’ guide.  The Nashville Scene left him out, too, just as, nationally, Dr. Stein got nowhere near the level of attention the mainstream media paid to Ralph Nader.  Can’t let that happen again!

Here in Tennessee, we did a little better on our local races.  Bob Smith attracted nearly 3,000 votes in the First Congressional District, not enough to be the difference in our lawyer, Alan Woodruff’s, run against incumbent Phil Roe.  Woodruff lost, 76-20. In District 2, Norris Dryer received about 6,000 votes as incumbent Republican John Duncan was re-elected with 74% of the votes.  Here in Nashville, John Miglietta was the choice of about 5,000 voters, as Jim “Corporate” Cooper swept to another easy win.  In District 6, Pat Riley received nearly 22,000 votes, about 9% of the total, as Republican Diane Black coasted to re-election.  Howard Switzer, in District 7, came in third with 4600 votes.

The good news is, 40,000 people voted for Green Party candidates for U.S. House, and those forty thousand votes came from only five of the state’s nine Congressional districts.  And yet, statewide, only 38,000  voted for Martin Pleasant, and only 6,000 voted for Jill Stein.  Was there a disconnect in the minds of the voters?  Did they somehow think that voting for Barack Obama in this red, red state, would make a difference?  Or were the voting machines programmed to discount Martin and Jill’s votes?  If everybody who voted for a Green Congressional candidate had voted for Martin Pleasant and  Jill Stein, along with even a few voters in the four districts where we had no candidate, we would have gotten the 2.5% of the vote we needed to retain our ballot line in 2014.  Unless the Tennessee legislature relaxes the rules, we’re SOL at this point.  Did somebody monkey with the voting machines? Since there are no recountable ballots, we may never know, short of finding those 40,000 people and confirming that they did, in fact, vote for local Green candidates but not Jill Stein.  That project is simply beyond our reach at this point. However, the statistical evidence is enough to raise eyebrows.

There were six states in which Greens ran U.S. House and Senate candidates.  In about half, the Senate candidate received slightly fewer votes than the total number of House candidate votes, so there’s nothing statistically odd about Martin Pleasant’s vote total, just his falling slightly short of the number of votes necessary for the Greens to keep our ballot line.  But in all, those other states, Jill Stein got more or less the same number of votes as the House and Senate candidates.  Why was the recorded vote for her in Tennessee so very, very low? Were our state’s voting machines programmed to switch Stein votes, and possibly Martin Pleasant votes, to the Democrat column?  There is simply no way to tell, unless somebody gets a guilty conscience.

But assuaging a guilty conscience by speaking the truth can have dangerous, even fatal, consequences.  In the course of an investigation into vote rigging in Ohio in 2004, in which two minor functionaries probably took a fall–and a prison sentence–to protect their bosses, one of the key witnesses in the case died in the crash of his small airplane, after seeking federal protection because of threats on his life.   Don’t mess with Karl Rove.  Could messing with Tre Hargett and Marc Goins prove to be just as dangerous?

OK, back to the election.  Further down the ticket, in races for the Tennessee House of Representatives, we did even better, percentagewise.   Suzanne “Flower” Parker received nearly 4% of the vote in her district, 800 votes out of 20,000.  Calvin Cassady got about 3500 votes for an 18% showing, while Bryan Moneyhun, who eschewed the internet for “campaigning in leather bars” and who promised to push off-track betting if elected, received 3500 votes, about 15% of the total.  And Sue Shann, who did not campaign at all and even went so far as to tell an interviewer that her opponent was  “one of the best Democrats in the state” and that she might very well vote for him, did the best of our whole field, getting 22% of the vote in her district, a total of over 4,000 voters.  Gee…Bryan and Sue, the candidates whose campaign, or lack thereof, we were most concerned about, were the ones who did the best! Hey, we’re a bunch of amateurs!

But again, it’s worth noting that our Tennessee House candidates, in just 4 locales, received nearly twice the votes Jill Stein got from the whole state.   What’s going on here?  Is this baked crow on my plate really what I have coming, or was it foisted on me by computerized chicanery?  We have no way of knowing.

But, whether our vote totals were “adjusted” or not, they were certainly low.  I, and the rest of us in the Green Party, have been sounding a warning for years now, a warning which it seems very few people are willing to heed.  A few years ago, I had a conversation with long-time national Green Party activist, who opined that we had until 2012 to make a significant difference in the American electorate, because after that, things would be too far down the tubes for conventional politics to matter.  The 2012 elections have come and gone, and, from my “Deep Green Perspective,” most Americans are still living on automatic pilot and voting in their sleep.  Maybe it’s time for me to quit exerting so much energy trying to rouse the unwilling millions, and put more attention into getting my own act together.  Maybe I need to be more of an example and less of an exhorter.  I’m definitely considering my options. I’ll look at the bright side of this election–and also the expensive side of it–after this musical break.

music break–Rolling Stones, “This Could Be The Last Time”


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4 responses

11 11 2012
Caz

I didn’t vote. I couldn’t vote. Voting for the “Lesser of the two evils” was out of the question anymore. Evil is evil. Some say if you don’t vote, you can’t complain but that’s nonsense. Some said bad candidates are elected because good people don’t vote. I say that bad candidates are elected because they do vote.
So here’s a list of what I think are some of the things interfering with good government at this time:
Although the War in Iraq that cost the US $11B a month is “over,” 50,000 troops remain there after the genocide of over 1M Iraqis and the US has almost completed the building of a $750M embassy, the largest the world has ever seen, at one and a half square miles, big enough for 94 football fields and Obama is only completing the withdrawal that President Bush began in (year) research
The war in Afghanistan continues with the occupation of 68,000 troops attempting to control a country where even Alexander the Great failed. It’s not Al-Qaeda we’re fighting but Afghani patriots who are fighting to keep their country from being controlled by outside Imperialists.
The economy continues to collapse: more foreclosures, devalued currency, rising cost of goods, with no plan to reduce taxation or spending by the Federal Government
Lost jobs
No Universal healthcare. What a shame that every Westernized country has Universal Healthcare because the governments are paying back the people who have made them so fantastically wealthy, but the medical system in the United States is too wrapped up with the insurance industry to have sympathy for the suffering.
Large profits foe big “pharma” who donated more to the Obama campaign then the they had to the 3 previous presidents combined to repay the favor of Obamacare .
Obama signed a bill allowing indefinite detentions of US citizens without due process. New law signed into effect
Assassinations of suspected terrorists, no questions asked
GITMO still open housing 168 prisoners. Justice Department has taken up the defense of Donald Rumsfeld against a case brought by detainees whose rights Rumsfeld violated.
Nothing for the over 650,000 homeless
Drones over Amerika OK’d for police departments and government agencies
Drone strikes in Yemen. Only a few hours after being elected to the Presidency for the a second term, he ordered a drone strike in Yemen that killed more innocent citizens
No research on the use of fracking by big oil companies and how big oil donated to his campaign.
Supports GMO’s by appointing Monsanto employees to ranking positions in the USDA and FDA
Police brutality in the rise
TSA abuses of human rights continue to be allowed
Continued cover-up of the events of 9/11
Drones have killed over 3,000 civilians in Pakistan
Troops on the ground in Yemen and Somalia
Fake Bin Laden assassination
Continued cover up of massive UFO mobilization
CIA running rampant in Iran, Iraq, Israel, Palestine, Lybia, Syria, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia
Failed to produce “transparency” in the government
Continued support of the illegal Zionist state of Israel, the poison pill of the Middle East
Chemtrails ; the willful pollution of the skies over our cities
Increased military and black ops budget to support troop deployment in 150 countries with over 800 bases, not including “secret “bases
Bailout of American and foreign banks to the tune of $16T
No punishment for Wall St. con-people (not just men anymore) who bilked citizens for million
Using ‘fuzzy math” when estimating unemployment numbers which may be twice the number stated:16%
Total reversal on the marijuana industry; supporting federal attack on dispensaries after promising free enterprise
Cover up of government activity in Antarctica
Warrantless wiretapping program run by the National Security Agency
Supports “sovereign immunity” that protects government officials from prosecution and civil suits when they violate US law and constitutional protections of citizens
Refused to investigate President Bush’s war crimes
The continued threatening and embargos on Iran over some fabricated “nuclear capability,” a conversation that the US, the only country to ever use nuclear weapons, should stay out of
The most bipartisan government ever with the lowest rating in history
Obama’s 20-yr-attendance of the church of the psychopathic preacher, Rev. Wright
Continues the boycott on our neighbor, Cuba, over some outdated, paranoid fear of Communism
The economic rating of the United States is at its lowest in history
Obama took praise for bailing out the auto industry that President Bush started

11 11 2012
brothermartin

Well, Casimir, that’s about my laundry list of complaints about the Big O, too,but SHAME ON YOU FOR NOT VOTING GREEN!!!! IT AIN’T MUCH, BUT AT LEAST IT’S FLIPPING THE BIRD TO THE GUV INSTEAD OF FUTILEY ATTEMPTING TO IGNORE IT!!! Apologies for “yelling” at you like that, but you are the latest in a growing number of friends and acquaintances here in TN who have told me that they didn’t vote, or that they voted for Obama because they “wanted him to win,” in spite of the many times I have patiently explained that the constraints of the electoral college system mean that a vote for Obama in Tennessee would have no effect on the outcome of the election. It’s one thing to inveigh against anonymous-people-out-there who “vote in their sleep,” as I have termed it, but it’s far more dismaying to start finding out that people I kind of depend on can’t be depended on to support me in something as low-pressure as voting in an election–what’s gonna happen when the stakes are higher, as they doubtless soon will be?

12 11 2012
Miriam

Dad,
A couple thoughts:
1. If you think most people are voting in their sleep – that might be why you’re not connecting with them. It seems like a very snobbish, condescending point of view – that anyone with the same information you have would surely think like you do and that you have nothing to gain from others (that you would have to be “asleep” to think like them).
2. Not sure what the Green Party is like there in TN or what you did but getting out the vote and supporting your candidate (and even getting name recognition) is a lot of work so I am not surprised you feel tired and a bit worn!
3. A teacher gave me wise advice recently: when you feel disheartened a tired, look down the mountain to see and celebrate how far we’ve come. When your feeling prideful and full of your own accomplishments, look up the mountain at how far we have yet to go.

4. Not sure how the green party works in TN but the person I know in the Green Party here worked hard, knocked on quite a few doors and the MN party focused strategically ONLY on small races they felt they had chance and would build the party (and they won – we now have two different suburban cities w/ green city council members). I think this approach is key as people are more likely to vote for people they know (or who knows someone they know) with an unknown party. This is likely why so many people vote green in local elections but not in national ones (especially if they feel even slightly more affinity with one candidate than another).

5. Related to point number 4 – Have you seen this critique of the Green Party in Grist?

http://grist.org/news/its-time-for-the-green-party-to-grow-up/

Real change takes a long long long long long time – especially if we want to bring people with us instead of just dictating our view of how the world should be regardless of their opinion. This is why sustainability is so important to me. It is key that as we work for change we do it in a way that rejuvenates instead of drains us (and rejuvenates us because we love doing the work, not because of the “reward” we expect).

6. I try (and often fail) to evaluate success in my life by my progress towards becoming awake and generating merit (through compassion and generosity) in my own lifetime. And maybe I’ll be able to help some other people along the way, if possible, to the best of my ability. My goal is not to save the world or even to avert disaster (way beyond my capability). There is too much identity wrapped up “saving the world” that easily can thwart the first goal and send me on the wrong path working towards the second.

I am glad you are considering and I hope you find something to do that feels more rejuvenating than it sounds like this current show.

Love you!
– Miriam

13 11 2012
brothermartin

I don’t think I’m being “snobbish” or “condescending”–just the facts, kiddo–Bob Tuke, the last Dem to take a serious run at a Senate seat in TN, spent $100,00+ and got 767,000 votes, Mark Clayton spent $300, was disowned by the DP (but still had the “D” after his name on the ballot, because legally they couldn’t take it away from him) and 700,000 people voted for him. If some of those people knew what he actually stood for ( http://http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2012/08/mark-clayton-tennessee-democrats-senate), they were, and I think this is a “relatively objective” assessment, bonkers; if they voted for him without knowing about this, just because he had a “D” after his name, then yes, they were asleep.

We fielded all the local candidates we could. If it had been up to me, we would have concentrated on local races and not run for so many U.S. House seats, but those were the races we had volunteers for. On the other hand, the ballot qualification laws in the state are such that we needed to receive 2.5% of the vote in a statewide race–and there were only 2, U.S. Pres. and U.S. Senate–to keep the GP’s name on the ballot. And, as I said in the story, due to our non-transparent computerized voting system, it is simply impossible to know whether the vote counts as represented are accurate or not, except that Ms. Stein’s is, statistically speaking, suspiciously low.

I read that snotty, ignorant, condescending piece in Grist. The author clearly didn’t know what he was talking about, and most commenters on the page seem to feel the same way as I do. The GP has been around for 20 years and does, in fact, run most successfully in local races. U.S. electoral laws and practices discriminate strongly against any attempt to crack open the 2-party system. This is, in the medium term, going to be fatal to the country, because the Demopublican duopoly is dangerously out of touch with reality. Psychopaths become more unhinged when you try and point out to them that they are acting crazy.

I enjoy writing this blog and doing the radio shows, but there’s other things I’d like to enjoy, too, and only so much time.

As for “real change takes a long long long long long time”–we don’t have that much time. We don’t even have a (just one) long time. We’re about to go over a cliff that will make the “fiscal cliff” seem like a playground slide, and there will be no coming back from it.

Your point #6—not much point in trying to evaluate one’s own progress, although occasional times of self-critique are valuable if one doesn’t overindulge. Occasional course correction is important, but if you spend all your time correcting your course, you’ll never get anywhere, and not because there’s nowhere to go, though there isn’t–my “goal” is to do what I can to awaken sentient beings (including myself) and warning of the perils of continuing our current, long-standing cultural ego trip is part of that–I didn’t cook up the radio show, let alone my current co-chairing of the TNGP–I was asked to do both, and “waiting until being asked” is one of my parameters for whether to offer help or not.

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