From: Jake Berry
Sent: Sat 11/01/08 12:21 AM
You are indeed in the tradition of Tom Paine. And live up to it with every word. So I voice my support, encouragement and agreement. Like you, I am fiercely independent politically. But this time it's different. If we don't remove the currently entrenched Republican machine from the White House and hopefully the legislature as well then we must accept Corporatism as the established government. We're close. Perhaps a quarter of the electorate have already voted. Tuesday is the day though and we must remain vigilant and encourage people to go to the polls, wait in line and vote, even if you have a nasty cold. You'll get over the cold, but this nation cannot survive Corporatism for another four years. It would be a shame to think that the U.S. survived Civil War, Great Depression and two world wars only to be undone by the half-wit progeny of a political dynasty. We will vote another day for fundamental change, including abolishing the two party system. Tuesday we have to free ourselves of Republican ruin.
Let's get it done.
JAZZMAN CHRONICLES. DISSEMINATE FREELY.
MEMO TO THE IDEOLOGICALLY PURE:
IT’S ABOUT BLOOD
By Jack Random
I have walked among the ideologically pure: the uncompromised, non-partisan and unaligned. I have rejected the politics of pragmatism on the grounds that real systemic change will never come as long as we uphold the two-party system . I have fought the good fight for independents and third-party presidential candidates: Ralph Nader, John Anderson, even Ross Perot.
I believed then as I believe now that the greatest hope for American democracy is the ultimate defeat of a corporate dominated major party system where both sides betray the interests of the people.
As a voter I have to this date maintained my record of ideological purity for decades: I have not voted for a major party candidate since the days of Bobby Kennedy and George McGovern. I had no regrets voting for Ralph Nader in 2000 or Leonard Peltier in 2004. My vote is my conscience and no one is entitled to criticize, condemn or belittle an act of conscience.
However, as a political writer and propagandist (I do not run from that designation but embrace it in the tradition of Tom Paine) everything changed on September 12, 2001. After the initial shock and imbalance, I realized that our government was hell-bent on a mission of revenge that would reach far beyond any semblance of justice. When they published the Bush Doctrine and declared war on Afghanistan rather than targeting the perpetrators of the crime, I understood it was no longer about terrorists or terrorism. When they declared war on Iraq my fears were confirmed: They were using 9-11 to justify a power play for Middle East oil.
In 2004 I swallowed my pride and sacrificed my ideological purity by advocating for Democrat John Kerry. It was not the candidate’s character, charisma or campaign that persuaded me. If anything it was a limp campaign with compromise after compromise on down the line. I was incensed when Kerry declared he would withdraw our troops from Iraq by the end of his four-year term. (It doesn’t sound so bad now.)
What changed for me was the solemn fact that lives were on the line. We were at war with two nations. We were occupiers of foreign soil. As many as a million or more people were already dead as a result of our actions. We were not engaged or even interested in diplomatic solutions. There was no exit strategy in sight.
So I made a choice base on a simple question: Under a John Kerry administration, would lives be saved? You could make an argument that nothing would be different, that only words distinguished Bush from Kerry, on and on, but for me the answer was clear.
If I had lived in a battleground state I would have cast my vote for Kerry. I am not ashamed of it. I am however angry and frustrated that my choices are so limited, that electoral laws and regulations are stacked against independents and third parties, that the system requires massive financial resources that can only truly be supplied by corrupting influences and that the Supreme Court has blocked the way to meaningful campaign finance and election reform. I am incensed that the Electoral College is still in place and election fraud including disenfranchisement is regarded as less than treason.
I am disappointed in an age of growing discontent that third parties and independents have not built a national organization from the ground up. Why do we continue to make quixotic charges at towering windmills when the rank and file loyalists of both parties are so demonstrably weak? If we are unable to muster the resources to defeat a single Charlie Brown or Michelle Bachmann then we do not belong in electoral politics.
Until a candidate moves through the electoral process in a logical progression, from local office to state representative to congress to the US senate or a governorship, no one should feel any obligation to vote for a symbolic candidate.
I understand that Ralph Nader has a role to play. I understand his rationale for continuing his run for the White House to pressure mainstream Democrats to adopt more progressive policies. Out of principle and respect I refuse to oppose him but I have come to believe that he really would have had a greater impact if he had moved up the ladder of elected offices (Jesse Ventura won the governorship of Minnesota!).
There are a number of voices on the left who are so irrationally dismissive of pragmatic politics it is tempting to question their motives. It is no secret to anyone that third parties on the left are functionally Republican just as third parties on the right are functionally Democratic under the current political system.
The ideologically pure ask : What happens to the movements that were sidelined by the campaign? (Answer: They’re still there.) What becomes of the environmental movement? (They will find a more receptive congress and White House.) Will they stand up to oppose “clean” coal and nuclear power? (Yes.) Will the antiwar movement oppose military escalation in Afghanistan? (Yes, in the streets of protest.) Will they oppose aggressive policies and actions toward Syria and Iran? (Yes.)
Respectfully these are not the right questions though they are not difficult to answer. The right questions are: How many lives will be saved by the election of Obama? How much suffering will be eased by blocking four more years of Republican economic policy?
The ideologically pure may answer: None or little. Some might even argue that Obama would make things worse.
That’s their call and they’re welcome to it.
This is mine: I’ll cast my ballot for Barack Obama.
1. The Jazzman Chronicles, Volume One by Jack Random (Crow Dog Press 2003.)
2. “Memo to Progressives for Obama: What Happens After Election Day?” Joshua Frank, Counterpunch, October 31, 2008.
JAKE BERRY IS THE AUTHOR OF BRAMBU DREZI AND LIMINAL BLUE AND OTHER WORKS OF LITERARY GENIUS. SEE HIS WEBSITE. EMAIL: (email@example.com).
JACK RANDOM IS THE AUTHOR OF THE JAZZMAN CHRONICLES (CROW DOG PRESS) AND GHOST DANCE INSURRECTION (DRY BONES PRESS). A COLUMNIST FOR THE NATIONAL FREE PRESS, HIS NOVEL THE KILLING SPIRIT AND NOVELLA NUMBER NINE: ADVENTURES WITH RUBY ARE POSTED ON BUZZLE.COM.