14 07 2005

What’s the Green Party’s vision for middle Tennessee?
Did you know that Tennessee used to be among the top ten fruit and vegetable producing states in the country? Right up there with New York, Michigan, California and (at the time) New Jersey?That was in the early part of the twentieth century, when most of the people of Tennessee lived on small, highly diversified farms—highly diversified because the farmers had too much at stake every year to put all their eggs, so to speak, in one basket. Yes, lots of people kept chickens, hogs, and cattle, grew peppers and cabbages and blackeyed peas and strawberries and pears and peaches, back in the day when Nashville had a farmers’ market because there were so many farmers in Davidson County.

We’ve come a long way, haven’t we, now that we bring well over ninety percent of what we eat in from thousands of miles, or even a hemisphere, away, as the price of the fuel that brings it here starts its speeding spiral upwards? But I digress…The downside of Tennessee’s agriculturally and otherwise more self-reliant culture a hundred years ago was widespread poverty with its attendant ignorance and physical and emotional suffering. Tennessee was effectively part of the third world.

The Green Party does not yearn for that past—it’s the Republicans who are doing their best to drag us there, in all the worst ways.The Green Party wants to revive the best part of old Tennessee—community self-sufficiency,whether in food, health care and medicine, fuel, culture, clothing, or decision making. Our current economic structure is basically a siphon that sucks money from individuals and local communities into the pockets of large corporations and their already wealthy shareholders. Our current economy is a treadmill—the faster it goes, the faster we must go, and the faster we go, the faster it goes.

Both major political parties support this, arguing only over how much to siphon and how much to speed up the treadmill.The Green Party proposes to take out the siphon and turn off the treadmill. A great deal of what needs to happen will have little to do with government, except that government needs to be willing to step out of the way and let it happen. Other things will need a strong, coherent government in order to happen. We believe it is the purpose of government to stand up for the people. What we have happening now is government by and for special interests—specifically large, for-profit corporations.

Enough with the noble rhetoric, you say. Give me some details! What can we do? How could we actually, rubber-meets-the-road improve the quality of life in middle Tennessee? We got an automobile plant on the best farmland in the area. Most of the farms that used to feed us have been turned into subdivisions. Most people don’t garden or even live walking distance from a grocery store, and they’ve all gotta drive miles on the same roads at the same time to get to work. Watcha gonna do about it, greenboy?

Well, as one of my favorite frogs once remarked, it’s not easy bein’ green. A lot of damage has been done to the human/ and natural ecology of middle Tennessee. Sometimes I despair about this—it seems like a debate over where to put bandaids on a dying man—and friends, it may be. We may be too locked in to the self-destructive pattern of late-period capitalism to avert catastrophe, but we have got to try.

The Green Party does not, however, have a vast, overarching, detailed program of how to do this. The Green Party approaches things differently from the Democan-Republicrat—“let-us-tell-you what you need and whether it’s working for you” song and dance. One of our primary principles is to give people power over the decisions that shape their lives—so we do not have a top-down solution that we intend to impose on you the people.

What we would do as the party in power is use the government to grow solutions from the bottom up—get people together in neighborhoods and communities and facilitate discussion of issues and answers. As a governing party, we will help people learn what they need to know to make intelligent decisions, and then use government as a tool to implement what the people want, rather than what the wealthy and their lobbyists want, which is the way it works today.

But wait, you say, people in Tennessee are crazy as outhouse rats—they’re against an income tax, even though it means most of ’em would pay less in taxes—they’re for a lottery, which is an increased tax on the (mostly poor) people who can’t do math very well—they’re against gay people being able to adopt children, even though it’s spare-the-rod-and spoil-the-child Christians who are more often in trouble for child abuse. What makes us naïve Green Party people think that turning decision making back to the people will result in intelligent decisions? What is to keep it from resulting in widespread repression—nightshirts and ponies, creationism, cars up on blocks in front yards in Brentwood? AAGGHHH!

Well, I would like to propose that if the y’all are smart enough to put the Green party in charge, y’all are smart enough to figure out your own lives without hurting anyone else. And if y’all keep voting in the same old same old, things will keep going round and round just like always, further and further down the drain, and then we will still have to figure it out for ourselves, only from an even more difficult position than we are in already.

Now, I was a young man back in the 1960’s,(“you made your own amusements then”) when we first had this vision and called it things like “participatory democracy.” and “sustainable culture.” Forty years ago, it would have been easier to take the path we propose. The forces of greed, ignorance, and selfishness have done everything they can to throw roadblocks in our way since then—but they can’t outspin the fact that they are running America over a cliff. We in the Green Party have a better idea. We invite you to take charge of your own future.




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