Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Lesser of Two Evils: Jill Stein and the Need for Third Parties

This is a topic that feels like it needs as many clich├ęs worked into it as possible, since it's a discussion that perpetually needs to be had.  To begin:  the true definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.  My dad was a big fan of that saying, but I always thought it was a bit lack luster. Or at least I did until recently, when politics started to become a whirlwind of tired rhetoric and almost-solutions to major problems.  Both sides of the aisle want to do the same things that they always have done, and yet neither sides' solutions seem to work.  Whether we're looking at the left's "tax mildly and spend a little bit on populist ideas, while continuing the status quo of giving big business a break and turning a blind eye to endless wars" or the right's "slash everything except tax cuts for corporations and rich folks, and continue waiting for the trickle to come down," those of us not at the top are left fending for ourselves, watching wages fall, the minimum wage raise by infinitesimal amounts,  and that only matters if you are lucky enough to get a job. 

Meanwhile, we have an industry that would create jobs, cut down on energy costs, reduce the need to maintain a presence in the Middle East, and reduce emissions, but we pass on it because of one bad bet on Solyndra.  Because, as we know, if a corporation fails, we should let it fail-- certainly not bail it out with billions of tax payer funds.  We waste money on wars abroad and at home that have no end (ask the Russians how they fared in Afghanistan.  Or how stable it was after they left.) We reward failure, but only when that failure bring the entire country to the brink of a Depression, and fall in line when those who ruin the economy give themselves bonuses for all the hard work they did.  We demonize unions and turn a blind eye to them until even those who organize start to turn corrupt while union members drop out in droves.

And we go back and forth, picking between austerity and short sighted spending.

Is there even a difference between the two major parties anymore?  Social issues?  While there are more Democrats supporting gay marriage, social safety nets, and immigration reform that would allow easier paths to citizenship, few are passionate about them enough to gamble the chance of re-election on them.  Economic issues, then?  Besides spending, there isn't too much of a difference either, no matter how many debt ceiling debates we have.  Give the corporations money and tax breaks and they will create jobs, even though they don't and instead stockpile trillions of dollars 'just in case.' War?  Dems are a lot of talk, but even the troop draw down is slow and incomplete.  We look at military solutions as the best solution.

So, it's time to be depressed, right? It's time to give up and vote for the 'lesser of two evils' come November, right?

It's that dichotomy, that permeating idea that there are only two choices, that we can't go outside the norm without wasting our vote that is driving this country into the ground faster than either of the two major parties.  We look at our red vs. blue and we say "ok.  This is ok."  It paints everything black and white, it forces all issues to be yes or no questions and doesn't allow for nuance or grace.  You're with us or against us.  You're pro-life or pro-choice.  You support the troops or you hate America. You hate drugs or you're a hippy.  Bail-outs are good or strangling America.

The only problem is that issues aren't quite like that.  We need to have politicians who understand that, which we aren't getting from the hard line parties.  We need to start taking so called "third party" candidates more seriously.  Third party, fourth party, fifth party… we need to stop hiding behind party lines and start voting for people based on their stance, not their affiliation.

For the last month or so I had decided that I had no intentions of voting.  Neither main candidate represented my views.  I couldn't in good faith vote for Obama just because he was better than Romney.  The only other choice I saw was Gary Johnson, who is just a less obnoxious Ron Paul.  I thought that voting for him would at least show that I supported more choices, but had the moral dilemma of making a symbolic gesture using a politician who would stand aside and allow state sanctioned intolerance. Then, like a ray of sunshine breaking through the storm came Jill Stein.

The Green Party, which is still a thing apparently, is pushing Jill for president against seemingly insurmountable odds.  A woman who eschews corporate support, wants those insane, neo-liberal things like clean energy, economic bill of rights, and to stop "illegal wars," going up against titans with seemingly endless cash.  It's hard for her to even be heard, nevertheless have an impact in the election.  She's still petitioning to get on the ballot in several states.  Her campaign is small, humble, and unabashedly honest, her videos lo-fi and simple, and she lays her platform bare in the most open way possible.  She is earnestly running for president with big ideas and a big heart.  It's like watching your cool aunt try to dance at a night club.

But more than that, she offers us a choice.  A choice to vote with our conscience and not have to pick between two parties that are so barely different that it doesn't really matter.  She's not bringing insane new ideas- as she says herself, her Green New Deal is a platform that dates back to the first new deal and ran through Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream. She's not an extremist in any way, unless you look at breaking the status quo of letting money run our country as extreme.  Jill Stein is just an American who wants to make America a better place, rather than keeping it where it is.

One of the points that got me as interested in Jill as I am was when she put forward her plan to fund and implement a green economy.  Not only does she mention creating jobs and protecting the environment- typical hippy talk- but she mentions that with enough resources, we could lead the world and watch other countries try to catch up.  This was the America of the past, the America that became the strongest nation in the world.  The reason we were the shining shore that people flocked to from all corners of the world.  We were a leader of industry, and over the last few decades we watched as our businesses ran to other shores, as our R&D departments found better funding and more open minds, as we became complacent just thinking that we were the best as we stopped growing and everyone else kept going.  Obama and Romney are trying to bring businesses back, businesses that have found cheaper labor, Stein wants to start a new industry, to cut our losses with the others and show that their outdated practices aren't needed here, that America is resilient and will rebuild, not crawl on our knees to those who wronged us.

That's why I plan on voting for Jill Stein.