Sunday, July 27, 2008

UNDERVIEWS: THE PROGRESSIVE PUZZLE

Interesting comments on matters covered in past issues of the Review

Kevin Zeese, Voters for Peace

I appreciated your analysis in "Progressive Puzzle" of the challenging choices that progressive voters face. As the executive director of Voters for Peace (www.VotersForPeace.US) I look at this same question through the prism of "The Peace Voters Puzzle," i.e. those who want to (really) end the Iraq war, no future wars of aggression and a reduced role of militarism in foreign policy.

Some friendly comments and amendments to your choices progressive voters have in the upcoming election:

Third Party/Independent Vote: This is certainly the way to most clearly vote for what you want. Nader and McKinney are not only progressives who oppose the Iraq war, threatening Iran, one-side pro-Israel policy, escalation in Afghanistan but they also want to challenge the military-industrial complex by cutting their budget. They are right on almost every issue progressives care about.

When it comes to the peace vote there are also two conservatives that peace voters can support as well. The Libertarian Party's Bob Barr and the Constitution Party's Chuck Baldwin. These candidates would be unacceptable to progressive peace voters, but there are conservative peace voters. And, having them on the ballot also reduces the so-called "spoiler effect" (a term I hate since I consider the electoral system to be spoiled).

Also, the freedom to vote for what you want is much greater than most people in the U.S. realize. There are only going to be 9 to 11 states in contention in the fall. So, voters in about 40 states are free to vote for what they want. Voters in these states who disagree with Obama are literally throwing their vote away if they vote for him. Not only will their vote have no impact on the result, but it will send a message of support to the Democratic Party when you want to send a message of opposition. I cannot see a legitimate rationale for progressives voting for Obama in non-battleground states.

In battleground states, this may be where the courageous "vote for what you want" voter has the most power. This is especially true if the voter lets the Democratic Party and the Obama campaign know what they are thinking and why they are not getting their vote. And, with the anti-war-conservatives on the ballot they can do so with little fear.

Apathy: I'm also tolerant of the non-voter. Polls of non-voters find that many don't vote because they don't see much difference between the two leading candidates. While there are differences, I can't say they are too off in that perspective. The problem with non-voting is it sends no clear message. What do you want? With the third party and independent choices this year there are choices across the political spectrum. You can send a clear message of what you want. In our limited and manipulated democracy it is one of the few opportunities in a country that is "of, by and for the people" to say where you want the country to go.

The Uncertainty, One Minute and Dental Appointment Approaches: I combine these together because all of them are strengthened if the voter lets Obama know he is not happy with his views on militarism, partial Iraq withdrawal, escalation in Afghanistan and threatening Iran among other issues. Let Obama know what you want and make him earn your vote. This is true for the truly uncertain as well as those who plan to support him one minute in the voting both and those who are likely to vote for him in a painful dental appointment vote. This latter group in particular – why come out for him now? Let him know you have doubts, don't like his expansion of militarism and expanding security state at home. Push him to work for your vote. The more who do this, the more he will listen and respond to the political wind.

Finally, you are right about organizing around issues and not individuals because the latter will disappoint. How many anti-war presidential candidates ended up expanding wars and militarism? I can't think of any who didn't, perhaps the worst case was LBJ who was the anti-war candidate against Goldwater whom he defined as a militaristic hawk. But, you can go back to Woodrow Wilson who opposed the U.S. getting into the European war when he ran, but then quickly got the U.S. into World War I. We should start organizing around issues now.


Advocates for progressive change whether it be opposition to war, in favor of single payer health care or any other issue cannot take the election year off. Organizing does not stop and start well - it needs to be ongoing, consistent and building. So, let's organize around issues now and use the candidates to further that purpose. No matter who is elected we will need an organized citizenry to respond to the well-organized pressure of the corporate powers that dominate government.


1 Comments:

At July 27, 2008 8:33 PM, Anonymous 420 said...

The two fake opposition parties that monopolize U.S. elections have perfected their sranglehold on elections. Sadly, Sam falls right into the psychological trap they have set for U.S. voters. Consider elections as a multiplayer game, with voters as the players. A "win" would occur if the majority of voters elect a candidate they are satisfied with, that values their concerns over those of well-funded special interests. Polls reveal the majority of voters are dissatisfied with both of the two main candidates. In other words, the majority of game players have already "lost" the game even before the first vote is cast, because they will be unhappy even if their preferred candidate wins the election. The same goes for most nonvoting people in the apathy category, except they have already realized it is a rigged game that they will lose anyway, and simply choose not to play. Sam has admitted the same in one of his previous posts titled: The Election Is Over: We Lost.

Yet there is a winning strategy to the game. Playing the game as dictated by the two main game pieces: voting Democrat or Republican ensures a loss. Not playing ensures a loss. That leaves one other strategy remaining to win: casting a vote for a game piece other than Democrat or Republican.

It is essential to analyze the dysfunctional nature of the monopoly stranglehold in such a manner, in order to discern a wining strategy. Otherwise, it is all too easy to get caught up in one of the emotionalized "hot button" issues (gay marriage, school prayer, intelligent design, flag burning, welfare queens, drugs, porn, abortion, teen sex, commie subversion, terrorist threats, etc., etc.) that never threaten Big Money's bottom line.

Although following such a winning strategy may not result in a win during this or any other election, it is the only strategy that stands a chance of winning from the start. Remember, by playing the game on the terms of the 2-party monopoly, most voters have already lost before the game begins.

The 2-party monopoly on elections is a more complex variant of the Prisoner's Dilemma. The main difference is that right now there exist more choices than Democrat or Republican, so there is no need to remain a prisoner of the 2 corporate-owned parties, unlike the Prisoner's Dilemma, in which only 2 possible courses of action may be taken.

 

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