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Commentary :: Politics
The OTHER Presidential Primary
04 Feb 2008
As we Massachusetts voters look out on the political horizon, we witness an incredible dumbing down of our democracy. Instead of seeing potential leaders who speak clearly to the real issues that face us, we see games of showmanship, charm and style, and a burying of issues beneath mountains of fluff. Instead of hearing about real solutions to the economic nightmare facing most of us, we get more of the same absurd policies – like one-off tax cuts and magical stimulus packages that will somehow erase our housing, credit card, student loan and medical debts, not to mention crushing federal, state, and local government debts. Instead of hearing about the mounting ecological crises facing our communities, our nation, and the world, and the deep societal changes required to stave them off, and the small time window for action, we hear about technological fixes and consumerist advances that remove the responsibility off of our individual and collective shoulders.
We hear about nuclear, “clean” coal, hybrid and biofuel technologies that are going to reduce our planetary emissions and halt catastrophic climate change without any unintended consequences, and without any change in our behavior. We hear about energy independence as a national security issue, but what about food independence, or manufacturing independence? Some of the most critical issues that face us include food security, economic security, health security, and environmental security – all of which are justice issues. Yet the mainstream candidates are unable to even articulate these problems, let alone solve them. Issues like peak oil -- which is already having a devastating impact on the economics of suburban travel, not to mention world food prices -- are entirely ignored. While our governments from the municipal level on up through the federal level are enacting policies that enrich the wealthy and destabilize and destroy the working class, Americans are being fed a menu with fewer and fewer options, and none of them are worth their weight in corn syrup.

On February 5th, however, Massachusetts voters who were clever enough to register as Unenrolled or Green-Rainbow, will have ballot choices that stand for an entirely different vision. The Green-Rainbow Party – the Massachusetts affiliate of the Green Party of the U.S. – has six candidates on its ballot, which any registered Unenrolled or Green-Rainbow voter can vote for. And it is important to note that Secretary of the Commonwealth Bill Galvin appeared in television PSAs that misled unenrolled voters by pointing out they can vote in the Democratic and Republican primary without getting registered in those parties, and neglecting the fact they could also vote in the Green-Rainbow primary.

Former Democratic Congresswoman from Georgia, Cynthia McKinney, left the Democratic Party last year because she realized the desperate need for building a political alternative outside of the corporate duopoly. Now a Green, she is seeking the Green Party nomination for President. Former Green Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader is also on the ballot because of a Draft Nader effort within the Green Party, and he has recently formed an exploratory committee to decide if he will pursue the Green nomination. The Green Party’s own Kat Swift and Kent Mesplay are pursuing the nomination; Swift is an activist for publicly financed elections and women’s rights, and Mesplay is a Native American environmental activist and engineer. Jared Ball, an African American professor and hip-hop scholar, will appear on the ballot, though he has withdrawn his candidacy in support of Cynthia McKinney. And Elaine Brown, a former leader of the Black Panther Party, will also appear on the ballot, though she too has withdrawn her candidacy.

What is remarkable about these choices is not the skin color of the candidates. Nor is it their gender or their experience. What is remarkable about these candidates is that they are articulating the real problems that all of us are facing as a nation, as a society, and as a people. And while they cannot offer we the voters any promises of easy fixes, they offer us a leap forward towards genuine solutions. The solutions begin with we the people, and until we have candidates that can honestly lay that out for us, we will continue to cling to false hopes, waiting for somebody to solve this mess, and watching the waters rise.

For those who believe that WE need to be the problem solvers, and that the political machinery of the U.S. is stacked against that happening, I recommend you ask for a Green-Rainbow Party ballot on Tuesday, and take that first step on a long road ahead.
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