Saturday, November 03, 2012

My Choice for President: Dr. Jill Stein (Green Party)

 For those who knew me in my younger days when I was a Republican, all I can say is this: today’s Republican Party is nothing like the GOP I grew up in.  It has been captured by religious extremists, by hateful leaders who train their supporters in academically dishonest sound bites, and by a scary collection of people who parrot an odd mix of mean-spiritedness, cluelessness, and hypocrisy.  Today’s Republican Party is no longer a serious contender for my vote. It is no surprise that they are frothing at the mouth at NJ Governor Chris Christie's post-disaster comments about the President, wouldn't give intellect John Huntsman the time of day, and eventually saw Maine Senator Olympia Snowe leave the party in frustration. End of Discussion.

But for those who know me, and who know I have a Libertarian streak a mile wide and a Liberal soul a mile deep… there might be some head-scratching as to why I can not support Gary Johnson (Libertarian), or, as the vast majority of my friends do, Barack Obama.  

No, I support Jill Stein.

There is no question that the 2012 election will be won by either Mitt Romney or Barack Obama.  And, given my dismissal of the Republicans in the opening paragraph, one could honestly ask me,

 “Why, in a close election year, aren’t you supporting Obama?  Why would you waste your vote on a candidate who can not win, and possibly ‘throw’ the election to Romney?’

Valid questions, and I am prepared to supply what I believe is a valid answer.

Why aren’t you supporting Obama?

I can not support Barack Obama because I disagree with his actions on the issues that are the most important to me.

One ‘collection’ of issues I have been writing about for several years is the growth of the American Police State: the continued loss of civil liberties, the continued shredding of Constitutional protections against the unwarranted search and seizure of Americans’ private lives, and the new surveillance state.  And Obama, in an effort to show he can be as hawkish on security as the GOP, has made that growing police state even worse.  His renewal of the Patriot Act, his support and signing of the indefinite detention provisions of the NDAA, and his reversal on the issue of closing the Guantanamo Bay Prison Camp belies a willingness to sacrifice liberty in the name of political capital. The coordination of his Department of Homeland Security with local police departments in an effort to suppress the Occupy Wall Street movement evidences a view on ‘security’ that is no different than the Republicans.

On  Environmental and Energy issues, the Republicans would have us believe that Obama has squelched domestic development of fossil fuels, thus hurting jobs and our economy. In response, the Obama administration and the Obama campaign have lost a golden opportunity: rather than embrace alternative energy in a real way, they point out that domestic drilling for oil and gas is at an all-time high.  The Obama campaign has taken painstaking steps to insure that all of their literature openly embraces the expanded use of domestic oil, gas, and even coal….in addition to clean energies.  We need to reverse this, not expand it. Fracking must be ended, not 'studied.'

On related issues, Obama has appointed a notoriously pro-genetically modified food Monsanto Executive to monitor our food supply at the FDA, and coordinated raids on small local farms selling raw milk to local customers. Large Agri-Business and the Chemical industry has gained under Obama, while the family farm has been in the bulls-eye.  Obama, as a supposed liberal, is a complete disappointment on environmental issues.

And then there are wars: wars in the Middle East, and the infamous War on Drugs.  This nation continues to fight an unwinnable war, with no defined goals, in Afghanistan – troops (including National Guard members) that could have been better-used at home during times of national disasters.  Suicides among troops now exceed combat deaths, and those who dare to blow the whistle on military operations – such as Bradley Manning - are imprisoned in conditions that have drawn the condemnation of the world.  

In the meantime, Obama has killed more people in one term of office – including innocent civilians – through drone strikes than George Bush did in two. There is NO excuse for this scorched-earth, innocents-be-damned policy.

As for the “War on Drugs,” the United States now has the largest incarcerated population in the world – more than states like China where rights are minimal.  This is due entirely to a federally-fueled, failed war on drugs. Obama has increased – not decreased – this war against those who commit victimless’ crimes.  This policy has devastated families, made young people ineligible for education loans, and has caused more death and suffering than any recent military operation. 

And yet, even while Americans are showing stronger and stronger support for the outright legalization of marijuana – Obama has systematically raided medical marijuana dispensaries in states where this has been legalized.  This is not the liberal President, or the ‘hope and change’ I had hoped for.

Where we *should* declare war is on the Bank Mobsters who destroyed our economy. On the issue of Bank Regulation – an issue that is at the top of the list for me – I must point out that Democrats, as a rule, have been as bad as Republicans.  The bailouts of Wall Street were not Republican schemes – they were bipartisan.  Democrat Chris Dodd in the Senate and Democrat Barney Frank in the House pushed for the bailouts – bailouts Obama supported.  Obama added insult to injury by *stacking* the United States government financial arms with executives from Goldman Sachs, thus solidifying an interest group that has been objectively shown to habitually make money through destruction.  What Romney did at Bain, Obama’s Federal Reserve and Treasury Appointments are doing from their Presidentially-guarded positions of authority.

And today, the Banks that were ‘too big to fail’ are now bigger than they were before the crisis – with no political stomach on Obama’s part to change it.

I’m sorry, but these are not the kind of positions that I can support. 

If a Republican had taken the positions Obama took, I wouldn't consider voting for them for a second.  There is no reason I should vote for Obama just because he has a “D” after his name.

But you’re wasting your vote!  Look, Obama is not perfect, but if everyone did what you are doing, we’d be throwing the election to Romney!

No, they would be joining me in demanding change.

Historically, Third Parties have had an under-appreciated role in the American politics.  It is not just through winning elections that change is secured.

The most important political changes in the last century: Anti-Trust legislation, Women’s right to vote, the right of unionization, the advent of the social security system, the end of the Vietnam War – did NOT happen because the major parties initiated them, or because people continued to vote for the ‘lesser of two evils.’

They happened because people voted for Third Parties. Third Parties have *always* been the engines that have catapulted important change to the forefront of political discourse.

These parties did not ‘win’ the elections – but they raised the issues in ways that were much louder and much more effective.  In each case, minor parties demanded these changes – and when the major parties saw their growing numbers, they finally found the political courage to adopt those positions.

Yes, I will vote for Jill Stein for President.  The Green Party has a platform that demands an end to military adventurism, the development of clean, renewable energy, the recognition of worker’s rights, the end of the Police Surveillance State, and a change in direction on the War on Drugs (including long-overdue legalized industrial hemp).

I take my vote seriously.  When I turned 18, I went to register to vote that very morning.  I have never missed an election since then.

The Green Party (or, in Massachusetts, the “Green-Rainbow Party") supports what I believe in.  It is precisely because I take my Right to vote seriously, that I will exercise that right by choosing Green and Honkala on Tuesday.

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