21 01 2018

Our current junta, which took power based on the approval of somewhere around a quarter of the potential voters, seems to be making a practice of doing things that are opposed by at least three-quarters of the adult American public. They repealed internet neutrality. They’ve approved a tax plan that benefits, and is mostly appreciated by, nobody but the insanely wealthy. They’re trying to revive the war on marijuana. They’ve proposed opening virtually the entire coastal US to offshore oil drilling. They’re shredding the Constitution to go after domestic activists of many stripes, as well as Central American refugees who have come here because US policies sucked their home countries dry of all hope and sustenance. They’re expanding their ability to spy on and search anybody they choose. They’re filling the judicial system with right-wing ideologues. And, of course, they’re shutting down every government mention of, measurement of, and response to, climate change and the direct relation between climate chaos and our cultural dependence on fossil fuels.

As we all endure this sh@tstorm as best we can, some people are asking me, “Given this horrendous record, have you repented your refusal to support Hillary Clinton and the Democrats?” That’s a good question, and I’ll respond to it in a few minutes, but the first, “Deep Green,” question I want to examine is, “What is the logic, the pattern, the thinking behind what the GOP is doing?” In order to answer the question about my personal political allegiance and whether it is shifting, I will also examine the question of how things might have been different if Ms. Clinton had been able to turn out a few more voters in a few key states, or if a few more of the votes that were cast for her in those states had been counted, in either case making her the President instead of the guy who’s in charge now, ignoring for purposes of focus the fact that she would have been facing an extremely hostile Congress that, even if they couldn’t manage to impeach her and Tim Kaine and install Paul Ryan as President, would have blocked all of her cabinet nominees, judicial nominees, and anybody and anything else, like her legislative agenda, that needed Congressional approval.

I want to start by discussing “austerity.” You hear a lot about the need for austerity from Democratic as well as Republican, politicians these days. Let’s look at “what we can’t do” because of this supposed need for “austerity.”

Universal single-payer health care in the US?

Sorry, we’re told–not enough money.

Free college education and forgiveness of student loan debts?

Again, not enough money.

Reshape our culture so that everyone lives in energy-efficient housing in walkable communities that produce most of their own needs, or can source them locally?

Wow, you’re really dreaming now.

Guaranteed minimum income?


End world hunger by rebuilding the ravaged ecosystems of the global south, thus ending their endemic poverty and bringing about an end to “terrorism”?

Dude, what have you been smoking? There ain’t enough money for that!

The alleged need for austerity is a load of manure. Well, actually, I’d rather have a load of manure–it would make great compost for my garden. The world is awash in money, or perhaps I should say, clouded over by money, since most of it is kind of floating over our heads, out of reach. In those clouds, it circulates among wealthy investors, who,, among other things, use it as a magnet to suck up even more money from us common folks down below, impoverishing us still further. A very little bit of it trickles, or should I say “tinkles,” back down as wages and salaries. Wealth inequality in the US is the worst  of any country in the world today, and twice the rate of income/wealth disparity of the ancient Roman empire. There is plenty of money, it’s just not available to benefit most of us.

Some of that cloud of money does occasionally rain down quite destructively, in the form of bombs and bullets provided by  mostly US manufacturers and fired, all too often, by the US military or its foreign allies on the brave but unlucky citizens of the planet who challenge the right of the world’s wealthy to vacuum up all the money and keep it for themselves. The US military budget, which is four times larger than the next largest national military budget, China, and amounts to over a third of world military spending, six hundred billion dollars,  IS enough money each year to permanently fix the causes of most of the threats that our government feels the need to “defend” itself from. So please don’t tell me there isn’t enough money to fix all that’s broken. There’s plenty of money. It’s just concentrated in too few hands, and being used for the wrong purposes. Why is this small group of people, some of whom are Republicans and some of whom are Democrats, making themselves so grotesquely wealthy?

–OK, granted there are some very wealthy Democrats, but  why wouldn’t joining with the Democrats be the best way to combat this insanity?

Let’s look at the record.

In 2008, the Democrats held the Presidency, a majority in both Houses of Congress, and the good will of a substantial majority of the American people, drawn in by  Barack Obama’s promises of “hope” and “change.” If the Democrats had wanted to, they could have passed a single-payer health care system, but they didn’t. They passed the GOP’s health care plan, which amounted to subsidizing the insurance companies so they would issue more policies to “riskier,” i.e., less healthy, people. To its credit, the plan was financed in part by taxing the extremely wealthy, but it didn’t do much to get at the root causes of the high cost of low-quality health care in this country, and created about as many difficulties as it fixed.

That betrayal of the people’s’ trust, combined with the Obama government’s failure to help those whose lives were destroyed by the 2008 crash, and its willingness to help the banks who sowed the destruction, set the stage for a widespread change of direction in the voting public. During Obama’s term in office, nearly a thousand lower offices changed from being Democratically held to being Republican. This groundswell of disappointment explains a lot more about the current junta’s upset victory than the oft-repeated mantra of “Russian interference.”

Democrats and climate change? The Democrats could have used their majority to take steps to radically cut this country’s carbon emissions, but they didn’t. The government owned GM, remember? Our government could have sent GM in a whole other direction, but noooo……Faced with the reality that climate change is a ticking time bomb, Obama pledged himself to an “all of the above energy strategy,” boosting US production of oil and natural gas, and the US delegation to the ongoing climate talks took the lead in stymieing any serious steps to reduce carbon emissions worldwide. Obama personally delivered the coup de grace in Copenhagen.

Much of the rest of the wish list I reeled off earlier were proposals made, in one form or another, by Bernie Sanders and The Green Party’s Jill Stein, although the Green Party’s platform goes further than Sanders in getting at the root of the problem, by calling for “workplace democracy,” which is a synonym for “deomocratic socialism.” The Democrats have done everything they can to purge Sanders’ influence from their party, while hanging onto him as a figurehead, and are running a witch hunt against Dr. Stein and us Greens that seems intended to sensationalize us and ridicule our program.

The Democrats’ candidate had traveled the world extolling the virtues of fracking for oil, and had worked hard to get other countries on board for a “trade pact” that would have allowed multinational corporations to ride roughshod over local communities’ environmental social, and financial concerns if those concerns got in the way of corporate profits. While she told the public she had changed her mind on these issues, in private she told the bankers who backed her  that she felt it was OK to say things to the public that she didn’t mean, as long as it would get her elected.

Net neutrality? The Democrats don’t see the need to take the radical route the FCC has just embarked on. It’s much better PR to simply let Google and Facebook route traffic away from sites that criticize the neoliberal agenda.

Ideologue judges? You can be sure the Democrats’ choices for the judiciary would be staunch defenders of the dangerously unbalanced, corporate-friendly, status quo.

And the defense budget? The Democratic “Resistance” to the current administration did not ‘resist” the Republicans on that issue.  All but nine Senate Democrats enthusiastically helped pass a bill that gave our nuke-waving government even more to spend on its military than it had originally requested.

So, based on both their past record and their current performance, I don’t see much relief coming from the Democrats. A Democratic administration would feature plenty of window dressing and great publicity stunts, but what it would all boil down to is that the Democrats would continue to chip away at, or hollow out, all the things to which  the current junta is taking a sledge-hammer, and a great many of those who are horrified by the GOP’s blitzkrieg tactics would nod along in approval of the Democrats’ “realism,” concern for “continued economic growth,” and “inclusion of racial and gender minorities” in the ranks of the exploiters of the planet. Transgender people in the military! Women in combat! Ain’t it wunnerful!

So that’s some of what I see about both austerity and the political center of the Democratic Party. Now, let’s consider another couple of vectors: automation and artificial intelligence. As I discussed a few months ago, technological optimists believe that these trends will soon do pretty much all the “work” involved in maintaining human society, putting almost everyone “out of work.” I think there are sound reasons why this won’t take place, but I understand that there seem to be quite a few very powerful people in our society who believe that it will.

I also think that everybody in the elite ranks of our society, regardless of what they may say in public, understands that climate chaos is a very real threat, and that there is, at least to their way of looking at things, no way to transition our society into a form that would lessen, rather than increase, that threat. I think they figure that, with all the money and other resources at their disposal, they can fashion some kind of safe havens–domed or underground cities–that will shelter them from coming catastrophes, but that there is no way to save most of us–hey, at a level they’re right, there are way too many humans on this planet for its good or ours, but are the most selfish and sociopathic individuals in our society really the ones who deserve to be saved?

To their way of seeing things, now that they have extracted most of our wealth, we, the common people of America and the world, have become a basket of disposables, whether our attitudes about people different from us are “deplorable,” or not. Most of us, according to the thinking of the elite, are going to have to take the risk of perishing in the conflagration that, given our refusal to do anything to stop it, is surely coming. Some of us may survive in this post-apocalyptic world, but the 21st century is going to be no century for old men, or women.  The elite understand that you can’t just say this and expect people to accept it. It would only hasten social breakdown. So, what do you do? There are two approaches the elite can take to this triage situation. Neither one involves telling the patient (that’s you and me) that s/he is going to be allowed to die.

One is to make sympathetic noises, acknowledge there’s a problem, and go through the motions of responding to it, without actually taking the radical steps required to change the situation. That’s what the Democrats are doing.

The other is to deny there’s any problem at all, refuse to give us potentially doomed commoners any aid at all, and stomp your foot on the gas, both literally and metaphorically. That’s what the Republicans are doing.

And that’s why I’m not comfortable with the Democrats, and am holding on to the Green banner I’ve been carrying since long before there was a “Green Party.” I’m losing faith in the possibility of political solutions, although I’d happily reinvest in them if a significant number of Greens, or even anti-capitalist, truly democratic socialist Democrats start showing up and making a difference in our state and national legislatures and executive mansions. But, even absent significant electoral victories, the Green Party offers a comprehensive, inclusive vision of the sane society we could have, a blueprint for social organization that doesn’t depend on winning elections, but that can take root, grow, and spread at the neighborhood level. If, or when, larger units of government become ineffective, we’re still going to have our neighbors, who probably share our Green values more than we, or they, realize. Inclusive, consensus=based decision-making by those who will be affected by the decision is the rock on which our “political church” is built. The other Green values all stem from that. There is no place for “ecofascism” in The Green Party. We work by agreement and education, not coercion.

I don’t know how all this is going to play out. I’m nearing seventy years of age, and I think there’s a good chance I won’t live long enough to find out. But I’m happy to see that the torch of Green vision has been taken up enthusiastically by younger generations. They may not care what “brand” that torch is, but they like Green values because Green values make sense. They’re what any clear-headed, compassionate person would come up with upon taking the time to think things through.

Rev. Martin Luther King said,

if you believe in something truly, if you believe it in your heart, you are willing to die for it.

We’re all going to die, one way or another. Hopefully we won’t have to die for what we believe, but, as I understand it, it’s a whole lot easier to die if you know you’ve lived for what you believe. Living for a vision of a sane, egalitarian human society, and implementing it in any way we can, seems to me like the best way forward.

music: Eliza Gilkyson, “The Great Correction







4 responses

27 01 2018

Right on, Brother Martin! Good to read some sense!!!

27 01 2018

Thank you. I can’t do much, it seems, but I do what I can.

28 01 2018

Well, it’s well thought out and nicely laid out with graphics. I just tend to rant on my blog. Anyway, what you said about living the way you believe is important, even if we can’t get others to do so.

28 01 2018

I’m kinda lazy….one picture is worth a thousand words, they say….and I can create a graphic a lot faster than I can write a thousand words!

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