The OTHER Presidential Primary
by Eli Beckerman, GRP Communications Director
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.
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.
Make a difference on February 5
by Nat Fortune and Merelice, GRP Co-chairs
Why do more Americans contribute to charities than show up to vote? Obviously we care about the world around us. And we believe one person can make a difference. And we trust that what we have to offer is not too small. Otherwise, we wouldn’t bother with either charities or voting.
We suggest that one reason so many don’t vote is that the candidates in the traditional parties don’t need to listen to what we think. And the reason they don’t need to listen is because when we do vote — unlike when we volunteer our time or money — too many of us fail to say what we mean and vote for what we really want.
Write all the letters you think of. Attend all the rallies you can. But if you don’t change how you vote, candidates and elected officials can ignore your letters and your rallies. They don’t need to offer a genuine alternative. Indeed, even before the first primary, the traditional parties allowed some of their own candidates to be excluded from their televised debates. Even before many voters have had a chance to weigh in, candidates who fail to raise enough corporate funding are dropping out. Choices are already narrowed.
Do you see anyone you could choose from among the faces allowed to appear on TV, assuming you want a candidate committed to replacing:
* An impoverishing minimum wage with an honest living wage?
* Unaffordable health care plans with comprehensive and affordable publicly funded health Insurance?
* Predatory loans and foreclosures with support for truly affordable housing?
* Tax breaks for the wealthy with property tax relief and fair tax laws?
* Oil company giveaways with support for community-based renewable energy?
Where are the calls to stop fighting a war on Iraq based on lies, a war on our planet based on carbon, a war on our own U.S. residents based on poverty and privatization, and a war on Katrina victims based on racism and warped priorities — and to do it NOW?
To find not one but half a dozen presidential candidates who support all of these ideas, you have to look to those seeking the Green Party presidential nomination.
Those agreeing to have their name placed on the Green-Rainbow Party ballot for the Massachusetts presidential primary, in the order they will appear, included Jared Ball, an African-American journalist, professor, and hip-hop scholar; consumer advocate Ralph Nader, the Green Party presidential nominee in 1996 and 2000 and an independent candidate in 2004; Elaine Brown, a former leader of the Black Panther Party; Kat Swift, an activist for publicly financed elections and open government and former Campus Greens organizer; Cynthia McKinney, an African-American three-term former Democratic Party congresswoman; and Kent Mesplay, a Native-American environmental engineer, activist, and 2004 candidate for the Green Party presidential nomination. (Since that deadline, Jared Ball has thrown his support to Cynthia McKinney, and Elaine Brown has withdrawn from the race, though both names remain on the ballot.)
You won’t see, hear, or even read much about these candidates — the ones actually listening to what increasing numbers of us have to say. But if you want every candidate to take notice and listen to what is important to you, here is your chance to lift your voice and speak clearly by voting for what you really want.
You don’t have to be registered Green-Rainbow to take a Green-Rainbow ballot. Every Massachusetts voter who is registered as Unenrolled (also known as “independent”) can vote in the Green-Rainbow Party preside
ntial primary instead of the Democratic or Republican party primaries.
Make a difference this time around, and vote Green this February 5th.