I think a lot of my fellow Americans, regardless of their ideological slant are beginning to realize that the election game is rigged in favor of the whim of the powerful few over the will of the people.
In my last post, Please Don’t Feed The Trolls, Part II, I quoted journalist Chris Hedges and echoed what I understood as his sentiment that voting for either mainstream political party in the U.S. today is an exercise in futility. So what are our options if we choose not to vote for either of the options our fascist oligarchs would have us choose between? Voting for the lesser of evil is still a vote for evil, and I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to vote for evil of any magnitude.
One obvious option is to not vote at all and withhold our endorsement of the un-American electoral process we’ve inherited from our predecessors. I can see the appeal of that choice and must admit that I’m seriously considering it for myself, but despite my disgust and disenchantment with the state of our democracy today, I can’t escape the feeling that to abstain would be to give up without a fight. I’ve always tried to place principles before practicality, so surrender is not the option I want to accept just yet.
Unfortunately, without the ability to raise millions of dollars to compete with the corporate parties it’s virtually impossible to mount any sort of realistic challenge to their power. So what’s a patriotic, progressive minded citizen to do once we realize that the only honest answer to the question of who to vote for is “none of the above”? I think we either have to found or take over an existing movement to put the power back into the hands of the people.
New movements seem to pop up and disappear every week with rise of social networks like Facebook and Twitter, but it seems more likely that we’ll find success by building upon a more established organization. One such organization is the Tea Party, but that one’s already been co-opted by big corporate interests and filled to overflowing with right wing sheep and the easily frightened.
Another is the Green Party; the party that ran Cynthia McKinney as it’s presidential candidate in the last election cycle. Like many progressive minded folks I respect many of Representative McKinney’s ideas, while at the same time recognizing that some of her more radical positions make her an unelectable candidate. I’ve got a few ideas that sometimes get me labelled a nut job or a whack-a-doodle in quite a few places, but I’m not running for president either.
The problem with running a presidential candidate like McKinney is that her radical ideas turn off more voters than they turn on, and that prevents a lot of people from joining the movement. It also costs the party hard fought ballot access in many states when they don’t achieve “viable” percentages in presidential or gubernatorial races. Ballot access reform is an issue we all need to get behind, whether Communist or Teabagger, because the same lopsided rules adversely affect all of us in our efforts to unseat the entrenched parties of the oligarchs, but that’s for a different rant.
In a recent post found on the website of the Green Party of DuPage, Illinois, Scot Hanson had the following to say regarding his decision to join the Greens.
There is a way to get our democracy back from the big money donors that run our legislature. It’s called people-powered politics, and it starts on a local level. That movement is called the Green Party.
When you look around the world today, you see unrest everywhere. From Egypt to Syria to London to Madison, Wisconsin, the people are starting to see the light. The people are starting to recognize that it is you and I that should have the rights, not the corporations and the oligarchs they put in charge. The regular people of the world are standing up and telling those in power that we are tired of the greed. We are demanding social justice and equal opportunity for everyone, not just the rich.
As Greens, we are dedicated to building a true grassroots movement that begins at the local level. We are running candidates in our local municipalities and county elections, building a base of elected officials that are informed, caring, and willing to fight for the people that elected them. As the winds of change continue to blow, more and more of our fellow citizens are recognizing that taking corporate money out of our election process is the only way to get representatives that actually represent the people.
As happens every time I read anything from the Green movement, I wish them well. I agree with much of their platform and I’d like to believe they have a real chance to make a change, but the pessimistic realist residing in the back of my skull screams that it’s an impossible, suicide mission that they’ve undertaken. until they can find a presidential candidate capable of attracting much broader support. Local politics are important, but without sustainable ballot access in the long term, scarce resources will have to be wasted every election cycle to re-establish so-called credibility (even though the Greens have been a recognizable ‘brand’ for decades).
Maybe my reticence comes from my environment – the place where I live – deep inside the belly of the red state beast that is Dixieland. I’ve even considered running for local or state office a few times in the past, but the thought passes quickly when I consider the toll such action would take on my family, my health, and most other aspects of my personal life. Besides, an outspoken socialist leaning free-thinker like me has about as much chance of getting elected dog-catcher around here as Osama bin-Laden’s ghost. In fact, I’d be more willing to bet on the ghost.
These truly are ‘interesting times’ in which we live. They require each of us to make some really hard choices and possibly even volunteer for a good deal of suffering to set things right – if they ever can be – again.