My last entry was about the “Don’t Just Vote, Get Active” campaign. I should have more news on the active portion of that equation for you soon. In the meantime, I have the first official endorsement of a political candidate that I’ve made since starting this blog.
In 2008, I encourage you to vote for Cynthia McKinney and Rosa Clemente for President and Vice President. I also encourage you to vote for any Green Party candidates who may be running in your area.
In the past, I’ve been slow to endorse any candidate or party because I believe that party-building, especially at the federal level, detracts from efforts to engage more directly in the political process. In other words, time spent campaigning for a federal candidate could have been spent on other, more direct forms of action such as shutting down coal plants, providing social services to our local communities, supporting local candidates who will change our local power structures, etc.
However, I’ve decided that it’s time to take a somewhat more practical approach to politics. I won’t personally be involved in campaigning for any Presidential candidates, and I do not encourage anyone to devote any length of time to promoting Presidential candidates unless they were already planning on doing so. But I’ve accepted that other people do support political candidates, and I’ve realized that not all campaigns are created equal. Some federal campaigns have the potential to bring direct and positive changes to our local communities and bioregions. And some federal campaigns offer us a way to vote for candidates who actually embrace our beliefs on principles such as social justice and ecological wisdom.
Therefore, whether you are interested in actively volunteering for a Presidential campaign, or someone like me who just wants to spend five minutes in a voting booth officially opposing the idiocy of people like John McCain and Sarah Palin, I encourage you to vote for Cynthia McKinney, Rosa Clemente, and other Green candidates in your area.
Why am I making this endorsement?
First, there are the candidates themselves. Unlike a lot of third party candidates, Cynthia McKinney has the right mix of experience, principle, and character to make her a fitting choice for a national leadership role. She was the first African-American Congresswoman from Georgia, which means that she has experience both at fighting uphill battles and at interacting with the madness that is Washington DC. She also is a former Democrat, and her switch from Democrat to Green is a reflection of her realization that the Democratic Party does not in fact share in her commitment to the rights of the people and the accountability of the government.
Rosa Clemente is a community organizer, workshop leader, independent journalist, hip hip activist, and more. Her in-depth academic studies of liberation movements are matched by her social organizing experience and her talent for creative self-expression and advocacy for the causes she holds dear.
I don’t know either of these candidates personally, but from all that I’ve seen of their work, and all of the people I’ve spoken to who do know them personally, they seem like they offer an incredible combination of experience, dedication, principle, passion, and character to the effort to create true change in our society.
In addition to the candidates themselves, there is the organization that supports them. The Green Party has a long and fruitful history of speaking and acting for the common good, guided by Ten Key Values which are the closest thing to a sane set of principles that I have ever seen embraced by a political party.
In case you’re not familiar with them, these are the Ten Key Values (Illinois Green Party version):
- Ecological Wisdom. The Greens recognize that the Earth sustains all life processes. Green ecology moves beyond environmentalism by understanding the common roots of the abuse of people. Whatever we do to the web of life, we do to ourselves.
- Social Justice. Greens want to replace the worldwide system of poverty and injustice with a world free of all oppression based on class, gender, race, citizenship, age, or sexual orientation.
- Grassroots Democracy. The powerless suffer the most from resource depletion and toxic pollution. Greens believe in direct participation by all people in the environmental, political, and economic decisions that affect their lives.
- Nonviolence. Greens reject violence as a way of settling disputes — it is shortsighted, morally wrong, and ultimately self-defeating. We are working to create a world where war is obsolete.
- Decentralization. Power and responsibility must be restored to local communities within an overall framework of ecologically sound and socially just values and lifestyles.
- Community-Based Economics. Greens seek a new economics based upon the natural limits of the Earth, which meets the basic needs of everyone on the planet, under democratic, localized community control.
- Feminism. The Green movement is profoundly inspired by feminist values. The ethics of cooperation and understanding must replace the values of domination and control over others.
- Respect for Diversity. Greens honor the biological diversity of the Earth and the cultural, sexual, and spiritual diversity of Earth’s people. We aim to reclaim this country’s finest ideals: popular democracy, the dignity of the individual, and liberty and justice for all.
- Personal and Global Responsibility. Greens demonstrate a commitment to global sustainability and international justice through political solidarity and in personal lifestyles based on self-sufficiency and living lightly.
- Future Focus. Greens seek a society where the interests of the seventh generation are considered equal to the interests of the present. We must reclaim the future for our children and ourselves.
Pretty good, eh? No such list can ever hope to be complete or perfect, but I’d say it’s a pretty good start. And what I value most about the Green Party is that on a good day, in a good chapter of the Green Party, the message of “Don’t Just Vote, Get Active” has already been taken to heart.
Naturally, as a political party, they field candidates and run campaigns for those candidates. But when possible, they also work directly on local, regional, and national efforts to create the very same change that their candidates are speaking for.
This mix of “candidate campaigning” and “issue-oriented activism” is rare among political parties, which usually just focus on getting their candidates elected with little or no direct action on the principles they espouse. It’s one of the aspects of the Green Party that first caught my attention, and it’s one of the characteristics that I hope will continue to grow both within the Green Party and beyond it.
As I’ve said before, it will take more than “just voting” to create the change we seek. So it’s good to see that even those who are highly committed to organizing around voting are not losing site of the fact that direct organizing efforts in our local communities are still called for.
So, because of these excellent candidates, and because of the principles and practices of the party that they are involved with, I encourage you to vote for Cynthia McKinney and Rosa Clemente. Voting for them will send a message about what you believe in and bolster support for one of the few political parties that’s actually doing something good in the world.
If you live here in Southern Illinois, I also encourage you to get involved with the Shawnee Green Party and their local efforts to support local and regional candidates and issues.
Rich Whitney, who received 10.4% of the vote in his candidacy for Governor of Illinois, is still involved with the local Greens. He is someone who I’ve been happy to get to know through his active participation in various community groups. To my knowledge, he isn’t currently running for any office, but if you voted for him, now is your chance to join him and other Greens in taking action on the issues raised by his campaign.
Local volunteers gather every Saturday and Sunday to canvass for candidates. These include Charlie Howe, who is running for State Rep; Rodger Jennings, who is running for U.S. Congress, and Cynthia McKinney, who I’ve already talked about above.
If you’re still not convinced after all of the above, I encourage you to meet with members of the Shawnee Green Party sometime to learn more about their candidates and the issues and campaigns that they support.
And in the end, if you still aren’t interested in the Greens, I encourage you to find whatever forms of involvement in the political process you can. The people who support war, ecocide, and other forms of oppression and destruction aren’t going to sit on the sidelines idly hoping that their profiteering agenda comes to pass. They’re going to take swift, decisive, sometimes brutal action in support of their nefarious cause. Therefore, we as concerned members of the general public shouldn’t sit around idly either. Any action you take, however great or small it may seem, can be a part of a broader effort to create a more free and ecological and cooperative society.
There’s no one solution, and no one vision for what a good society can or should look like. But really, that’s a good thing, because it means that we are all free to pursue our own unique visions of what a good life might be like and work together in the areas where we find agreement. That’s what public life should be like — and that’s what public life WILL be like if you and I and our fellow community members take action to make it that way.
As I see it, one way of doing that is by supporting these candidates and the work of the Green Party. Support them at the polls, and take other forms of action on non-election days in the service of freedom, ecological values, and social cooperation. In the meantime, if you have any other ideas, I’m open as always to hearing them.