With the media-hyped Obama-Romney presidential tsunami washing away everything in its path, it’s hard to know that there are other presidential candidates (there are) whose platforms address vital issues and perspectives, missing from the blitz, that serve well the various constituencies making up the 99% and even, in some basic ways, the 1%.
In his recent op-ed piece in The Morning Call, Gary Olson finds himself swept along by the tsunami. Though actually preferring Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate, Olson gives all the good reasons why he is opting for the “lesser evil” candidate. While it is indeed hard for those interested in sustainability, whether on the local level or globally, to stand up for what they want in the electoral arena, let alone lead, there are third parties out there that give us a chance to take a public stance on what matters to us. Green and Libertarian Party presidential candidates are on the ballot in Pennsylvania and there are other candidates on the ballot in other states. Four were in Chicago on 10/22 for a debate moderated by Larry King, and Democracy Now! has held three Expanding The Debate specials with third-party candidates Jill Stein, Virgil Goode of the Constitution Party, and Rocky Anderson of the Justice Party.
What are some of the issues and perspectives that those of us in the sustainability movement would like aired in electoral debate and public consciousness? Some examples:
1) energy plans that recognize the reality of the global climate crisis;
2) farm policies that support small scale, sustainable agriculture in producing healthful food accessible to all people;
3) an approach to health that focuses on removing the toxins and GMOs we have been adding to our food and to the environment;
4) local and regional economies that provide needed goods and services and meaningful work;
5) analysis of socio-economic classes and status hierarchies to suggest ways of helping those currently discriminated against;
6) support for cooperative modalities (worker cooperatives, buying clubs, cohousing clusters, community banks, local currencies);
7) education that enables people of all ages and learning styles to learn, think, become skilled, work together, and participate in decision-making;
8) honoring our nation’s diversity of traditions, life-styles, and beliefs;
9) addressing our current debilitating and disenfranchising taxation-without-representation system — the public has little to say about what is taxed, how much tax is taken, and what the taxes are spent on;
10) reigning in our enormous military, now present in hundreds of bases in many nations all over the world, as well as active in wars, and serving as an instrument of U.S. political policies.
11) how to engage the public in decision-making and enable the government to represent the public interest, from community rights and rights of nature matters to regional, state, and national matters — not how the president can be a “stronger leader” (read “better representative of the vested interests of the 1%”), not greater centralization of power.
The Obama-Romney debates have carved channels around all of these matters, missing them completely. A glaring example is provided by their exchange in their second debate over who’s the better defender of the coal industry. Obama’s zinger was, “. . . when you were governor of Massachusetts, you stood in front of a coal plant and pointed at it and said, ‘This plant kills,’ and took great pride in shutting it down. And now suddenly you’re a big champion of coal.” Wouldn’t that have been a perfect lead-in to a discussion about why we need to reduce reliance on fossil fuels, whether foreign or domestic, because of the ways they undermine health, degrade the environment, and contribute to global warming?
In the third debate, the point was American military power, viewed positively as a way to resolve conflicts around the world and to protect the American people. Not addressed were the underlying American foreign policies, from our military bases to our flouting of international law (drone strikes, hit lists, and other of our terrorist actions) to economic control of foreign economies (“free market”, banking, and corporate intrusions).
With third parties on the ballot, we can use the electoral process to give voice to our many concerns. And to stand our ground.
– Martin Boksenbaum, 10/25/2012