Sunday, November 11, 2012


In Sandy’s Wake, New York’s Landscape of Inequity Revealed
Michelle Chen, In These Times
The shock of Sandy is still rippling across the northeastern United States. But in the microcosm of New York City, we can already see who’s going to bear the brunt of the damage. As Hurricane Katrina demonstrated, floodwaters have a way of exposing the race and class divisions that stratify our cities.

What Climate-Driven Hurricane Sandy Teaches about Cooperation
Sarah van Gelder, YES! Magazine has a helpful map that shows who won various races by what percent by state:

For those wondering how it is that Obama lost the popular vote, Mark Weisbrot has a good article in The Guardian 

For those wondering where we go next, the Union of Concerned Scientists has the right take 

By Russell Branca, New York, 10/30/2012

There are three fundamental reasons why I intend to vote for Jill Stein of the Green Party for president of the United States.

1]  The time is long past overdue for the progressive voice in this country to be unified.  It must have a clear, distinct voice expressed in a political party from which its ideas can be put on the table for the nation to consider.  How those issues are framed for public consideration is key to success. Progressive ideas are not losing because they lose out in the market place of ideas; they lose because they are being blocked from competing. The leadership of the Democratic Party is part of that blockade and they will never change. 

2] The fundamental dividing line in American (and global) politics is the ideological conflict between private corporate power and the public interest. This “battle” is long range.  Winning cannot be achieved in one election cycle but requires long range planning over at least one or two decades. The Right has been slowly and relentlessly waging an ideological war for decades and now, after many losses, it is reaping the benefits of acting out of a long range strategy.

3]  The Green party is the progressive party that has the largest national infrastructure already in place. At this stage I could care less about the differences between Jill Stein and Rocky Anderson and Gary Johnson or Roseanne Barr or any of the other “Third Party” candidates. Those details just don’t matter at this point.

The goal is simple. If Jill Stein can get  10% of the national vote it will be a stunning shock to the system and it will be impossible for the national media to shut the progressive voice out of the national dialogue. The political environment from which ideas are born would be shifted albeit slightly, to the Left. Even if the Greens get 10 million votes that would be sufficient to do the same thing. A 5% share of the national vote would still be impressive and make a difference.

On all of the issues that really matter, we have those votes.

Questions for Third Party voters:

- What makes running the risk of a Romney victory worth voting for Jill Stein? –

This speaks to the classic  “lesser of two evils” argument. If the Green Party can get 10% of the national vote, that would make a Romney win worth it because Progressives would finally have a tool to fight back with. When an election is over it’s not just who won and who lost that matters. The particular political environment that is created also matters, and in the long range strategy it may be more important.

A main part of the Democratic Party’s strategy is to scare people about the consequences of a Romney win. He’ll end social security and medicare or he’ll make abortion illegal, or he’ll launch a war against Iran etc..  Well he can’t do any of those things if there is an opposition party that puts up a fight.  The reason why the Bush administration got away with as much as it did is because the Democratic Party put up very little resistance.  In 2004 John Kerry was one of the most anemic presidential candidates in memory. The Democrats did not even have the courage to make Iraq’s lack of weapons of mass destruction or links to Al Qaeda an issue. Kerry ran on how Bush had poorly managed the war and allowed Osama Bin Laden to escape at Tora Bora. 

When Saddam Hussein was captured Americans felt triumphant. Plugging into that triumphalism, Hillary Clinton reminded everyone how she had voted for the war. When the war was starting to turn into a disaster she reminded people that she had always placed conditions on her support that Bush first get UN approval. Of course she remained silent when he went ahead anyway without it. When Obama was criticized during the 2008 campaign for his off the record comments that during a crisis Americans “cling to their guns and the Bible”, one would have thought that it was Rush Limbaugh or Andrew Breitbart that broke the story. No, it was Hillary Clinton who initiated the story. She was still in the running for the Party’s nomination and she didn’t hesitate at all to cater to right wing voters and reinforce their perceptions of “liberal elitists”. You can’t make “progress” with people like this.  

I won’t go into the thousands of other examples of disappointments Progressives have lamented about with Obama. You know them all. Other writers have done a thorough job with that. The modern Democratic Party is sick. They have no real beliefs or convictions about anything. They are a generation of politicians who have inherited a great party and have destroyed it. Their signature body of legislation in the  20th century was FDR’s New Deal, a conceptual framework for government action within a capitalist system that enjoyed overwhelming public support. They betrayed it and are now too weak to go back and recapture it even if they wanted to.  

- How about the Supreme Court issue?  

This is the other big argument used against Third Party voters. The Supreme Court is supposed to be above politics but it never has been. It reflects back the political environment from which it emerges. Justices like John Roberts or Antonin Scalia would not have been nominated for the court 40 or 50 years ago. The Right wing has created the political environment where their ideas are now acceptable if not mainstream. Look, there is no such thing as a painless struggle. Some things are going to hurt and if you can’t tolerate that you’re living in a political delusion. Look around the world and see what people really suffer in political causes.

Question for progressives who vote for the Democratic party:

I’m tired of hearing people say “Vote for the Democrats, but after the election keep the pressure on them” or “hold their feet to the fire”. How do you “put pressure” on the Democrats after you’ve already promised them your vote and given away the only possible leverage you have over them? The answer is simple: you can’t. Once they no longer have to do anything to earn your vote they will ignore you and woo corporate dollars. I can’t compete with corporate money. The only thing I have is my vote and my energy. If the Democrats want that from me they’re going to have to try harder to earn it.  

In Conclusion:

In 1992 Ross Perot won about 16% of the national vote in his independent bid for the presidency. He ran on a very limited range of issues, in fact just one; balancing the budget. It’s reasonable to suppose that he took more votes from the Republicans than the Democrats and allowed Clinton to win - his “greater of two evils”.  In 1996 he ran again but only half heartedly, he never really wanted to be president but in 1997, after decades of running deficits even under Ronald Reagan, the U.S. government balanced the budget. A political environment that could make that possible did not exist so had to be created.

I’m not voting for Jill Stein because I’m angry. I have other, better ways of protesting. I’m not voting for Jill Stein because I think she’s a superior candidate. She is a good solid candidate but not a remarkable one. I’m not voting for Jill Stein because I believe that one must always vote one’s true idealistic beliefs. I recognize that there are certainly times when pragmatic compromise is appropriate. I’m not voting for Jill Stein because in New York State it’s “safe”  and the Democrats will win but somehow they’re going to see me and take heed. History teaches us that they won’t. 

I’m voting for Jill Stein for purely pragmatic reasons. It is the best way I can use my vote to achieve the objectives that I want to achieve. I want to halt the progress of a corporate technocracy that is destroying democracy and slowly and deliberately annihilating the memory of a concept called “We the people”. I want to affirm the right of the people in a democracy to act collectively or as individuals whenever they see fit. I want to stop the privatization of education, prisons, the water supply, the military, the post office, the space program, city parks, the airwaves, etc. It is as if the commons have become an entitlement of corporate power. I refuse to be a slave to corporations, instead I want to enslave corporations and make them work for “We the people”.  The only rights that corporations may have are those that we the people decide they may have. 

Under the monopoly of the two major political parties, American elections have become a contest between two advertising agencies. I want to change all that.


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