Rootsie's European Roots  

The Evil of Two Lessers  
By Rootsie
September 19, 2003

We Americans don't like history much. We tend to have short attention spans and impaired memory, both long and short-term. Sort of a collective Attention Deficit Disorder.

This presidential election we have going is a case in point. The same people who supported Ralph Nader for president in 2000 and embraced the idea that the choice between Democrat and Republican in this country amounts to choosing between "the evil of two lessers," are now insisting that we must, at all costs, "stop Bush.'"

First, I don't think getting Bush out of the White House stops him in any way, especially if we believe, as many of us do, that 'Bush' is simply the figurehead for a bunch of New World capitalists who have been merrily carving up the world and trashing the earth since World War II at least.

People I talk to know this, but it is difficult for us to hold the idea in our minds for very long. It is hard to keep the mind focused on a thousand-tentacled beast of corporate interests that have undone our democracy, if indeed such a thing ever existed here. We fall prey to the accusation that we are a bunch of wacky conspiracy theorists who believe there is a secret society of billionaires carrying out a master plan for their New World Order. Well as my schizophrenic friend Joanne pointed out to me many years ago, "Paranoia is awareness! Paranoia is awareness!"

What I find truly schizophrenic is the idea that electing one of the "hollow men" running for the Democratic nomination (for none but one of them is seen as having a chance to 'beat Bush') will improve life for anyone on the planet, or seriously curtail the actvities of those symbolized by "Bush" in any way whatsoever.

Here is what I mean by impaired memory: Bill Clinton instituted the NAFTA and GATT trade agreements which are strangling the world. He added one million jail cells, 100,000 police. He eliminated Welfare for the poor and gave it liberally to the wealthy. The gap between rich and poor widened to a chasm unseen so far in the history of the United States. In the wake of the Oklahoma City bombings, he instituted anti-terrorism laws which are being used to deny the basic rights of accused terrorists now. And oh yes: he bombed Iraq almost every day for eight years. He bombed Afghanistan. He bombed Sudan. He allowed genocide in Rwanda and Bosnia.

What Clinton and his cronies did accomplish was to blunt criticism by staging an "economic boom" for the middle and upper classes while allowing the floor to drop out from under the poorest of the poor, who effectively became invisible, fallen out of the realm of statistical calculations. And this trick of smoke and mirrors and illusion that people see now nostalgically as 'the good old days' was already unraveling as he left office. Clinton cronies, Bush cronies...they all come out of the same pool and represent the same interests. Clinton's Treasury Secretary Lloyd Bentsen-Texas oilman-Savings and Loan heavy-hitter, is just a small example of the "Democratic difference."

Now we have this band of merry men running for president (apologies to Carol Mosely Braun) who come offering us what they say is an alternative. To what? There has been no true alternative in this country for at least 30 years now. Every candidate except Kucinich says he would vote for the $87 billion to "fix" Iraq. To my knowledge, every candidate except Kucinich says that if the UN had signed on, the incursion into Iraq would have been fine. That is not what the millions involved in the peace movement believed when they took to the streets day after day.

Kucinich says he will repeal GATT and NAFTA the day he takes office, which is precisely why he will never take office. But you know, I just might vote for him anyway, just as I voted for Nader in 2000. I don't know about anyone else, but Nader's "joys of justice" are sounding pretty good to me about now. I have friends who still hassle me about that decision.

But I take those words from The Declaration seriously, "with the consent of the governed." This government is supposed to be constituted according to the wishes of its people. That corporate influence has completely undermined this possibility in regard to the two parties, Demicon and Republicrat, is an idea pretty much taken for granted on the left. The question is how best to take this monster on.

I think we have in this country the government most of us asked for and deserve. Some of us have opted out of participation and allowed this global crisis to develop. Some of us have been brainwashed by patriotic rhetoric or hypnotized by corporate media parlor tricks. Some of us have been narcotized by material excess. Some of us have been systematically under- or mis-educated, while ones who know this is happening and could do something about it stay silent.

I personally refuse to participate in the cynical anti-democratic enterprise of voting for the candidate who disgusts me least. I take this democracy business to heart, maybe because I am a daughter of immigrants. I will only vote for a candidate whom I would actually like to see in office, who represents my views to as great a degree as possible.

I live in Vermont, but sorry folks, no Howard Dean for me. We do not reach toward ideals by engaging in the cynical enterprise of compromising our values for the sake of what in this case is simply cosmetics anyway.

I don't mind having Bush right where he is for now. It is easier to keep an eye on these clowns if they are above-ground, and to engage in subversive activities such as telling the truth. What we need is an informed group of empowered and responsive citizens who refuse to play the game as it has been set up, and who envision a new one altogether.

It's no good for privileged people to behave as if they have none. If we devoted our relative freedom to express ourselves and our excess leisure and excess resources to focus on resuscitating buried historical issues and taking on global white corporate rule, we would be putting our privilege to a good use indeed. We can't just keep saying to the world, "Hey it's not on me. These ones don't speak for me," when we benefit directly from systems that deliver injustice to most.


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