It’s political season again and the airwaves are full of polluted words. Presidential campaigning is a travesty, an official lie. And mainstream media is a diversion, at best. It’s enough to drive a person to drink. Thankfully, there are voices crying in the wilderness. Voices like Arun Gupta’s.
Gupta, a journalist and activist, spoke in Seattle, WA on August 23, 2012. The transcript of his talk, plus the audio file are available for purchase from AlternativeRadio.org. I plopped down my $3 to download the transcript after hearing a portion of Gupta’s talk on KBOO Community Radio, earlier this week.
As a radical independent, I enjoy hearing people eloquently make a case against the corporate, two party Babylon system. Gupta does it well. Let’s listen in…
The Democrats are a firmly right-wing party while the Republicans are a fanatical right-wing party. What we’ve had over the last 30 years or so is the Democrats take the right-wing radicalism and turn it into bipartisan consensus. So the next iteration of the right becomes more and more extreme. We do know, if the right does get into power, if Romney is elected, they will nominate extreme Supreme Court justices, they will viciously attack organized labor beyond what the Obama administration is doing, and they will, of course, viciously attack reproductive rights and access to birth control. So there is an argument to be made, yes, you should just go in the voting booth. But on a whole host of other issues it’s difficult to say who is going to be worse.
Both parties are going to pursue austerity policies on Social Security and Medicare, neither party will address global warming, or, in fact, they will address it—they will make it worse. It’s “Drill, baby, drill.” Those have been Obama’s policies for the last four years. The wars will continue, the Islamophobia will continue, the targeted assassinations will continue, the police and prison industrial complex will continue, the assault on civil liberties, spying on Americans, and on and on and on. We know that it really doesn’t make a difference, because liberals do not provide any sort of oppositional force when the Democrats are in power.
Gupta admits there is “an argument to be made” for voting for the least offensive of the two corporate candidates. It’s an argument I am working over in my head, just in time for our Oregon ballots to arrive via snail mail. I have a history of voting for third party candidates for President, because I prefer to vote my heart. That’s my preference and my right, misguided as it sometimes seems. My problem this fall is I feel as disillusioned with “making a statement” when I vote — which is what voting third party largely is — as I do with voting for a Democrat.
The Dems piss me off in so many ways. As Gupta points out, Democrats are far from a resistance movement. Clinton’s policies — NAFTA, in particular — led to millions of lost jobs in this nation, and unspeakable wealth for those willing to offshore said jobs. The Dems have been an anti-labor party ever since.
Personally, I’m glad that Occupy Wall Street, in combination with Romney’s run, have helped to make class (and opportunity for all) a central topic of the 2012 campaign. Obama says he believes in the middle class. Maybe he does. But here’s what I believe in: I believe in free higher education and health care and well-funded social services of every sort. I also believe in “Made in America” and in remaking America into a dynamic economy driven by native ingenuity and green energy.
A conservative person may ask how we can possibly afford to treat our fellow man and the Earth with the kind of respect we ourselves expect? The answer is not hard to find. Have you seen a pie chart that details what we spend as a nation? The debate this election year is about so-called “entitlements,” but what about the Pentagon’s entitlement to our tax dollars, year in and year out? One in every five tax dollars we pay goes to national defense. Yet, is there a serious person (outside of Bernie Sanders in Vermont) who is seriously considering cutting the defense budget by a third, or God willing, in half? Of course not. There’s too much money (and inside-the-beltway trading) at stake.
In purely political terms, I like former Salt Lake City mayor Rocky Anderson for President, but I think I may vote for President Obama this fall for practical reasons. Change is a slow moving train. My hope is that a second term for Obama means we move the train down the tracks at a steadier pace. We make progress, one day, and one mile at a time. While Obama does not represent many of my core interests, or the interests of other progressives, perhaps he will strengthen the EPA, protect our National Parks and wildlife, enact election reforms, keep us out of foreign conflicts and do, as he says, some nation building here at home.
In 2008, it was all about hope, and it seems I still have some left for this round.