Jill Stein and Cheri Honkala are running the strongest Green Presidential campaign the party has yet seen. While Ralph Nader, it’s true, had greater name recognition, Ralph’s personal style is not very “green.” He is very much a my-way-or-the highway kind of guy, which sharply diverges from the Green value of grassroots democracy. Stein and Honkala have incorporated Green values into their campaign organizing, generating an enthusiasm that has enabled them to raise sums of (noncorporate!) money far beyond what the Party has been able to summon up in previous elections, qualifying the Green Party for Federal matching funds, and even breaking into TV advertising.
Modern media maven that I am, I put Jill’s pitches on my Facebook page, where, sure enough, one of them generated some pushback. A long time friend, whom I appreciate for his thoughtful approach to life, wrote:
“Your protest and donation vote will accomplish what?…..If there’s no one who you like who can win, why not give your dough to some person who is starving or has a life threatening issue or something like that….don’t you think it would have more direct impact….everyone can spin an exciting story if they don’t have to execute the vision….the only difference between a hallucination and an inspiration is the execution.”
To which I replied:
“Why not give your dough to some person who is starving”? Because I’d rather get ahead of the game and end the conditions that allow people to go hungry. “….or has a life threatening issue”…..the Republican and Democrat programs are life threatening, endangering all life on the planet for the sake of short-term corporate profit. Greens have “executed our vision” in numerous governments around the world, generally with positive and popular effects.
As Michael Lerner said, “Realism has been defined by the powerful and the media they control to mean any policy that does not significantly challenge the current distribution of power and wealth. So I say, “Don’t be realistic.” The God revealed to the Jewish people is a God that makes it possible to overcome systems of power and domination, starting with the liberation of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. All people, who are created in God’s image, can aspire to transcend the constant voices from outside and from inside our own heads that insist we accommodate ourselves to the existing reality rather than change it.”
So, friend, why are you such an apologist for the sorry state of the status quo?
I could also have thrown in Dom Helder Camara’s well-known bon mot, “When I feed the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor are hungry, they call me a communist.” Or, in this post-communist era, “they tell me I’m being ‘unrealistic’.”
Let’s talk about this “be realistic” thing a little. Suppose I were a citizen of Germany, and the year was 1943, but it’s a slightly alternate reality–the Second World War is going just about the way it did in our reality, but, in the alternate reality I am postulating, the Germans are having an election. Hitler is stepping down as Reichsfuhrer, and Hermann Goring and Albert Speer are in the running to replace him. Most of my liberal friends are supporting Speer, whom they perceive as much more humane and compassionate than Goering, and they’re castigating me for supporting, let’s say, Martin Neimoller, or Dietrich Bonhoeffer, or even Konrad Adenauer–let’s say that in this alternate Germany, dissidents like them were not imprisoned but simply marginalized and ignored by the media, although treatment of Jews, homosexuals, and “non-Aryans” is just the same–i.e., deportations, concentration camps, and mass murders are going on.
My friends say, “OK, sure, the war in Russia and Africa is not going so well at the moment, but Speer will get the country, and the war effort, on the right path again–be realistic, support Speer! Neimoller, Bonhoeffer, Adenauer, those guys can’t even get a newspaper interview, let alone win an election–what are you wasting your time and money on them for?”
Well, just a few years later, the Germans have lost the war. Goring has committed suicide after being sentenced to hang for his war crimes and Speer is serving a life sentence for his, while Neimoller and Bonhoeffer are heroes, and Adenauer is Chancellor. Who’s the “realist”?
Do you think I’m being extreme? Do you choke on comparing Obama to Albert Speer, or America to Nazi Germany? Maybe comparing Romney and Goring goes down a little easier for you, but….
In my mind, the comparison is not out of line. Like Germany in 1943, the United States’ hold on our world empire is slippery and getting slipprier. Its collapse will be swift and devastating, and take our official corporate media outlets by surprise. In fact, they will do everything they can to act as if everything is fine for as long as they can, but if you want to know the future of America, look at the collapse of the Soviet Union, which was a formidable, threatening monolith until we woke up one day and it was gone. And no, the U.S. isn’t as explicitly racist a society as Nazi Germany. We’ve learned to be far more subtle–instead of confining massive numbers of people in concentration camps, we do our best to confine them in countries, cities, or states of the Union we have robbed blind, places where there is no hope–Palestine, Mexico, Honduras, Afghanistan, Yemen, Detroit, East St. Louis, New Jersey, West Virginia. Only the extraordinary are subjected to “extraordinary rendition” or confined in concentration camp conditions (think Guantanamo, Leonard Peltier, Tim DeChristopher, Mumia Abu-Jamal, or Bradley Manning), or simply killed by extrajudicial murder, whitewashed by our complacent media as “drone strikes against militants.” If you are killed by a drone strike, you must have been a militant, right?
Drone strikes are a war crime, and, as commander-in-chief, Barack Obama is a war criminal for ordering them. To vote for a war criminal is to be morally, if not legally, complicit in his crimes. Obama may be just an errand boy and a stooge for the murderers and thieves behind his throne, but that’s no reason to hold my nose and vote for him. And then there’s his abysmal record on global warming, a subject I will address after the next music break. Obama isn’t just killing dark-skinned poor people overseas in exchange for higher corporate profits, he’s willing to get us all killed for higher corporate profits.
And Mitt Romney is, as Matt Taibbi has eloquently detailed, “Gordon Gekko with better PR,” not a “job creator” but a debt creator, a job destroyer, a liar, and a thief who hides behind a super-moral Mormon persona by grace of the supreme incompetence of our corporate whore mainstream media and the psychopathic denial of what may, or may not be, a working majority of Americans. He will get us all killed just as surely as Obama will. If there is a Hell, he–and Barak Obama–will join Goring and Speer there.
But that’s another lifetime, and we’re still in this one. What is to be done? Once again I will quote Michael Lerner:
“(We need to overcome) the domination world view and instead (establish) caring and kindness as the path to security. And to do this you have to defeat the idea that anybody who believes in generosity is a fool….If we can change the dominant discourse in Western societies, it will have a tremendous impact…”
Jill Stein may not seem, at the moment, to have much of a chance in this election, but, as Albert Bates has pointed out, she’s got a microphone, and, as long as we still have the ability to talk, as a nation and as a planet, there is still a chance to change the dominant discourse, and open the door to a sane future. Surprising things are happening–who would imagine Forbes Magazine would report favorably on the Green Party’s platform?
Surprising things have happened in the past. Between 1856 and 1860, a group with a strong moral, populist vision came out of nowhere to supplant one of the corrupt, well-established political parties of their time, make sweeping changes in the nation’s social fabric, and dominate U.S. politics for the next seventy years. That’s the Republican Party I’m talking about. They’re the ones who ended slavery in this country, y’know?
It’s happened before, and it could happen again, if we have the nerve to persist. This election is not what it seems. The mainstream media maintain a tight focus on the duopoly’s Rombama-Obomney horse race, but just outside the narrow spotlight, a lot is going on. The Ron Paul wing of the GOP seethes about Romney’s purchase of the nomination, and the party, and looks to Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson, or find their values best reflected by the Green Party’s Jill Stein. Protestant Fundamentalists think about Romney and Ryan, and ask themselves, “am I really going to vote for a Pagan and a Papist?” Nobody knows what they will decide by election day. On the other side of the cultural divide, progressives, or “bleeping retards,” as Obama’s Chief of Staff called them, lack the enthusiasm they projected on Obama in 2008, and ponder their dysfunctional allegiance to a party that does little but abuse them, except when it wants some ass–I mean, their vote. Is it DTMFA time?
In short, the 2012 election is far more complex, and far more up for grabs, than the mainstream media would have us believe. Rejecting Obomney does not necessarily mean electing Rombama. Anything could happen.
So,my Facebook friend, I’m sorry if you’re still clinging to Obama,but it’s obvious to me that the corporate system he supports can create poor, hungry people–not to mention an impoverished, polluted planet– far faster than you and I and all our “bleeping retard” friends can bail. So, I’m doing my level best to go upstream and cut off poverty and environmental degradation at their source. I’m voting Green. I’m voting for the planet.
music: Grateful Dead, “Deal“