I. Personal Reflections: “Cassandra complex” acknowledged…
Over the roughly 15 years that I have been obsessively (more or less) following news and politics, I’ve gone from being alarmed at the metastasizing corruption and polarization in the American body politic to being convinced that the United States of America is essentially committing economic and societal suicide on the world stage (with easily manipulated/generally misinformed Americans either turned off/tuned out or, conversely, at each other’s throats, spewing “Teabagger” and “Socialist” invective, while trillions of dollars are looted from the U.S. Treasury and our Constitution is overwritten in a way that would make Orwell’s pigs blush into bacon bits: “Two legs awesome — and since when does ‘due process’ require a judge or, you know, charges? JUST KILL ‘EM.” Thanks, Mr. President, now I don’t miss John Yoo at all!).
“This is how corrupt Washington has become… Billionaires are giving very strong support to elected officials who will do exactly the opposite of what the American people want.” — Sen. Bernie Sanders, Independent (VT)
I admit it seems a rather dismal conclusion to “The Great Experiment,” but near as I can tell, our leading institutions are anxious to cede, once and for all, America’s economic future and national sovereignty to a clearly pernicious (habitually reckless, criminal, anti-democratic, and ultimately destructive) global corporatocracy. And why not? It’s the same corporate mob that generations of Republicans and Democrats worked their little, nest-feathering brains out to establish in the first place as the only truly preeminent world power, under the deceptive label of “capitalism” (spelled “F-A-S-C-I-S-M” and predicated on endless violence and ethnosectarian conflict — with millions of dehumanized people filling its prisons, dying in its wars, and toiling in its fields/quarries/factories for pennies a day).
[I’ll take a moment to note the post-WWII road not taken (the empire-eschewing route which would have honored the millions of victims of WWII by making the world a safer place for generations to come): promoting a robust international regime of treaties and inclusive, multilateral institutions -- including a credible, democratic United Nations as the central star in this firmament (one without the rigged, war-mongering “Security” Council). But unfortunately, like Eisenhower’s famous warning -- that Americans needed to vigilantly guard against the Military-Industrial-Complex’s potential to “endanger our liberties and democratic processes” -- such a course was dismissed out of hand by a war-ravenous, unilateralist, MIC-corrupted Washington: always ready for military adventurism (unlike the populace), no stranger to state terrorism, disdainful of international law, and insatiable for corporate advantage/PROFIT$.]
And while our current national catastrophe has indeed been decades in the making, I would say that America’s self-destructive turn began in earnest with GEORGE W. BUSH — particularly in the post-9/11 presidency of Mr. Bush, when imperial overreach and an unmistakable lurch toward fascism both shocked the world and signaled that America’s days of dominance were numbered.
“The more you tighten your grip, Tarkin, the more star systems will slip through your fingers.” — Princess Leia Organa (Okay, I couldn’t resist inserting that quote from my favorite childhood movie… but the principle is sound, no matter the source: Imperial despotism breeds rebels.)
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Returning to my “Cassandra Complex” – so named for the doomed seer of Greek mythology cursed with perfect foresight coupled with the inability to convince anyone of the truth of her prophecies — let’s briefly revisit those heady, carefree days back when I was merely alarmed…
In the year 2000, after a few years of rapidly intensifying interest in “current events,” I was absolutely convinced that NO ELECTION IN MY LIFETIME HAD EVER BEEN (would ever be?) SO FRAUGHT WITH CONSEQUENCE as the race for president that year (and that still seems about right to me). Ralph Nader had made some excellent points, but George W. Bush simply had to be stopped. I’d studied his record in Texas and found it appalling, telegraphing every bit of the nightmare to come.
In short, I had never seen anything as heinous as GWB coming down the pike for the presidency, and I did a fair amount (though hardly enough) to prevent that outcome.
[Here I would like to reproduce a photograph of me in 2000 going door to door in my dorky sweater vest, handing out hundreds of copies of my single-page plea to fellow Missourians (an entreaty amounting to “ANYONE but Bush”)... only I can’t, because that photo belongs to The Columbia Daily Tribune -- which dubbed me the “One-man campaign waged against Bush”. Sigh.]
Regardless, you know how this story ends: I failed to convince enough of my fellow Missourians to change the outcome of that election. I’d gone door-knocking with my literature and lucked into having those efforts written up in the local newspaper. I’d published several letters to the editor and done my best to get my questions asked at the third presidential debate in St. Louis… all to no avail.
AND I HAVEN’T HAD A PEACEFUL ELECTION YEAR SINCE.
II. Practical advice for Nov. 6th, including an ENDORSEMENT (two, actually)!
And now that we’ve taken that stroll down memory lane, my general advice boils down to the following: 1) FIND A WAY TO SIGNAL YOUR DISPLEASURE WITH THE ESTABLISHMENT (as much as your ballot permits) and 2) WORK TO COUNTER THE ONGOING ASSAULT ON OUR DEMOCRACY (including recent efforts that threaten to disenfranchise more than three million legally registered American voters).
A. SPECIFIC RACES, PROPOSITIONS, and ONE MEASURE (I’m only weighing in here on matters I’ve researched — please don’t mistake this blog for a comprehensive voter guide):
(1) Presidential Race, Swing-State Voter: Vote your conscience, my friends — some of the savviest, most principled progressives I know seem genuinely torn over the question of whether Romney or Obama will do more harm over the next four years (yes, my GUT feeling is that Obama is preferable to Romney, but my BRAIN tells me that the CIA’s 2008 choice, Obama, may well continue on as “the more effective evil” on the foreign front, while slashing entitlements at home and continuing to move American courts further to the right (Elena Kagan for John Paul Stevens??? Why didn’t Obama just nominate John Yoo and give the Federalist Society everything it wants?)
(2) Presidential Race, non-Swing-State Voter: Is the outcome of the presidential race in your state a foregone conclusion? If so, please have the good sense to vote for someone other than a Democrat or Republican: REGISTER YOUR DISSENT. My choice: VOTE FOR Dr. JILL STEIN and help the Green Party reach 5% nationally, earning the party federal funds and increased traction in the next election (among progressive parties, I believe that the Green Party is best positioned, politically and organizationally, and has values that comport with mine far more closely than those of the current Republicrat Party). Conversely, if you lean more to the right and you know that President Obama doesn’t have a prayer of winning your “red” state, vote for Ron Paul or Gary Johnson, if you can’t bring yourself to vote for the excellent Ms. Stein — anyone but Mittwit and the Boy Plunder… SIGNAL YOUR DISSENT.
(3) House of Representatives: Since no credible pollster/predictor apparently sees any serious chance of the House flipping from Republican to Democratic control (especially not in the Year of the Super-PAC), I hope that every progressive-minded individual this fall will VOTE for the Green Party’s House of Representatives candidate or, barring that possibility, the next most progressive candidate on the ballot (even if he/she is a Democrat, I suppose).
(4) Senate: If the race in your state is close, vote for the Democrat (that’s my advice; with a far-right House and White House all-but-guaranteed, a Democratic Senate could provide something of a firewall against austerity’s secret partners, Obama and the Tea Party); if the race is not close, vote GREEN (or for your preferred non-establishment candidate)…
(5) California Proposition 30 (re: tax for schools, public safety): YES!!! (It’s imperfect, but BY FAR the best result we can hope for if we care about funding for schools) — all I’ve heard, from multiple, trustworthy sources, is that Prop. 30 must pass and the alternative is too horrible to contemplate.
(6) California Proposition 32 (re: “special interest” money): HELL NO!!! (This one’s an industry-funded ruse to eviscerate organized labor’s voices while leaving corporate electioneering efforts unscathed; it takes an already unlevel playing field and requires the referee to approach the disadvantaged player and shoot him in the face with his starting gun… until he stops twitching.)
(7) California Proposition 34 (repeals CA’s death penalty): Yes! Countless studies have revealed that ending the death penalty would both save money and, in many cases, spare the lives of wrongly convicted innocents (my personal feeling is that it is immoral to kill a detained individual, posing no threat to anyone — and that it’s hubris of the worst sort when human beings convince themselves that they know who should live and who should die).
(8) California Proposition 36 (reforms “Three Strikes” laws): Yes! California is the only state with a “Three Strikes” law that puts people away for life on the basis of non-violent offenses; factor in the massive flaws in our justice system, and it’s an expensive farce with terrible human consequences, particularly for minorities endlessly subjected to racial profiling — END IT!
(9) California Proposition 37 (requires GMO food labels): Yes! Monsanto and friends have a slick misinformation campaign against Prop. 37, but it’s high time for America to join scores of other countries and tell consumers what they’re eating!
(10) Local Measure F (San Francisco; drain/“restore” Hetch Hetchy): No frikkin’ way! This one’s another dog — or should I say, WOLF IN SHEEP’S CLOTHING — masquerading as “progressivism” or “environmentalism” (poppycock; this sucker paves the way for a $10 billion boondoggle that costs the Bay Area 20% of its power (CLEAN power, at that!) and strains our water supply, just as water is poised to become the most prized global commodity in history (I’ve begun a blog devoted to just this issue — Measure F — which I hope to get finished and posted in the next couple of days).
(11) Fremont (CA) City Council: I heartily endorse Vinnie Bacon (Independent) who I have personally met on a number of occasions, and with whom I have discussed local and national politics, each time with the strong sense that he shares my concerns and values.
B. CALL TO ACTION (from the least you could do to the most):
(1) Work to counter the massive effort to steal this election through disenfranchising voters — The GOP has been working to deny voting rights to some 3.2 million legal registered voters, predominantly minorities, simply because they are likely to vote Democratic. Such an effort is clearly pernicious to democracy and should be resisted on principle. At the very least we can promote/disseminate the following tips (courtesy of muckraking journalist Greg Palast) designed to make sure that one’s vote is counted: http://www.gregpalast.com/7-ways-to-beat-the-ballot-bandits/
Beyond that, support the anti-establishment candidates while there’s still time!
(2) Spread the word that every disillusioned voter in a non-swing state should vote for someone other than Romney/Obama in the presidential race (and non-Democrats/Republicans in “down-ticket” races); more votes for the candidates of the Green and Libertarian parties will convey a strong message of disapproval of the catastrophic direction the establishment has been taking the country; again, SIGNAL YOUR DISSENT.
(3) Work as hard as you possibly can to defeat the GOP in every (legal, moral) way possible. Today’s GOP is without question the closest thing that America has yet produced to a bona fide FASCIST mainstream political party, so their defeat should be a moral imperative — as bad as the Democrats are in terms of policy (pursuing the SAME policies as the Republicans, mostly), PERCEPTION COUNTS, and it would be salutary indeed for the world to see Americans reject these openly bigoted, anti-democratic thugs.
In an ideal world, NEITHER PARTY WOULD GET A SINGLE VOTE (this Congress has something like a 10% approval rating (abysmal and appropriate), yet Americans are on the verge of re-electing basically the whole lot of them — because our system is deeply corrupt and because Americans have been successfully divided… and all-but conquered). Right now, the rest of the world is watching us in stunned horror, wondering what the hell happened to our morals and good sense. They follow our establishment-dictated national discussion, baffled as America’s two leading political parties advocate that we shoot ourselves in both feet (with authoritarianism, austerity, deregulation, privatization…) and they KNOW, even if most Americans have yet to realize it, that they’re witnessing the demise of a great nation.
Well, there you have it! It’s a beast, I know, but today’s blog represents my good faith effort to move beyond the ideal and provide some practical advice for the upcoming election (I hope you’ll agree).