Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Principled Resistance To Holding Your Nose While Voting

Guest post today from Pat Taub, my friend and sister blogger and now a CODEPINK Local Coordinator in her own right. 

Here she answers a family member who chastised her for stating that she intended to vote for the Green Independent Party candidate for president.
My own political outlook has changed rather dramatically over the last ten years.  It has a lot to do with my engagement with progressive groups like the ACLU and Amnesty International, Codepink, Veterans for Peace, conversations with peace workers and friends who have lived and/or spent time in Afghanistan, Palestine and other hot spots and the internet.  Some ten years ago I would read the NYT regularly and listen to NPR regularly.  Most of my political views were informed from their reporting and editorials.  But as I spoke with civili liberties lawyers, international peace workers and read reports online that don't make it into the mainstream publications, my former views were contradicted. I was getting information about Palestine and Afghanistan and other international places along with stories of congressional corruption that were being ignored at home. Today I rely on Amy Goodman of Democracy Now, Al Jazeera (who had an excellent report today on volunteers coming to Palestine to help with their olive harvest--a report that would never make into the pro-Israeli US press), Chris Hedges of Truthdig, the Black Agenda, Glen Greenwald of the Guardian, Robert Fisk of the Independent. among others.  

I don't regard a vote for Jill Stein as a protest vote but as a clear difference.  While there are, to my way of thinking, minor differences between Obama and Romney, neither man represents the interests of the average American. They are both beholden to corporate America.  I don't think I will ever again vote for a major party candidate. Real change in America has always come from outside movements, like the Suffragettes, the Socialists, labor organizers, etc. It has not come from within either party.  For example, the Socialists pressured FDR to implement New Deal legislation. I want to be part of such a movement and will resist and work for change until I die.  Occupy held some of this promise.  It's not dead but reforming.  I take heart from the young occupiers I know and do all I can as an elder to support them.

I voted for Obama and even worked for him, but, for me, he has proven to be a tool of Wall Street and the Pentagon.  Not one Wall St. executive has been arrested while Bradley Manning has been in detention, including months of solitary confinement (tantamount to torture), for almost two years without due process.  All he did was exercise freedom of speech.  Obama's foreign policy is much more aggressive in many ways than Bush's.  Obama only left Iraq because the Iraqi govt. insisted on prosecuting soldiers and contractors if they continued to break the law--no immunity.  Obama has many Bush cronies working for him in the CIA and the State Dept.  John Brennan, the architect of the new "permanent war" (a playbook for targeted assignations and increased surveillance without habeus corpus) was one of Bush's right hand men and is reported to be Obama's main confidante.  The NDAA is both highly illegal and immoral.  I don't think any legislation Bush passed even compares on unconstitutional grounds to the NDAA.

The report issued two weeks ago and compiled by a joint research team from NYU and Stanford law schools found that the drone attacks in Pakistan (which have increased ten fold under Obama compared to Bush) leave the residents in a permanent state of terror.  Drones hover in the background 24 hours a day.  Residents never know when they will strike. Out of fear they keep children home from school and have stopped holding weddings and funerals.  What's worse, the Obama team practices "double tap," which means when villagers try to go to help injured drone victims they are targets.  Civilian casualties were found by this report to be in the 1000's while Obama claims under 15.  I can't support a man who kills women and children so casually.  I don't see how our foreign policy could be any more horrific under Romney. Additionally the consensus from the Stanford/NYU report was that the drone killings of innocents are fueling anti-America hatred world wide.  (Drones are being used extensively in Yemen and Somalia as well.)

Your concern about Social Security benefits is legitimate.  I still don't think Obama will offer you the protection you need.  Again, as I said before, I hope I'm wrong.

I could go on and on.  Quickly: I am troubled by the fact that Obama has deported more undocumented workers in his 4 years than Bush did in 8 years.  The argument that a Romney Supreme Court appointee would be devastating doesn't hold much ground with me.  I ask myself,  "How will a Supreme Court appointment make a difference with the financial implosion and climate change and economic inequality?"

So, there you are.  I will vote for Jill Stein because I see her as morally and ethically reflecting views I can support.

I didn't write any of the above to change your mind but rather to give you a fuller sense about what's behind my thinking.

I hope I can do my small part to make the world a better place for my two grandchildren.  They drive my activism.


chrisrushlau said...

This is an engaging argument but it seems to quit too soon. We have our work cut out for us. Let me propose a term: healing. We've been lying ourselves to death for Israel's sake my entire life. My friend Jim Kamin down the street in Brunswick. I can practically pinpoint the '67 war in terms of its effect on our friendship. Suddenly he was an "either you're with us or against us" guy. He told me about a city councillor who was a notorious anti-Semite, he said, and who was gotten off the council by nefarious means, as it seemed to me in my habitual semi-comatose condition (which may have insulated me in the long haul, like a mad fool in a Shakespeare play). Already that seemed like aggression disguised as defense, which is the entire history of modern Israel. And I became the sycophant, afraid to ask why. I think I knew I had become this. I wrote a curious essay in eighth grade English class about US "apathy" in financing both Egypt and Israel (I doubt my facts were right), but it had a hollow tone (the English teacher was also the guidance counselor) and I think now I was asking someone to rescue me from my fear of asking what the hell is this war, this Jewish state, all about--where the hell did Israel come from all of a sudden like an Israeli tank on a beach in "Exodus", a movie which I knew had affected my mother deeply (but which I was somehow unable to ask her about)? One minute you have law and order, Arabs, Byzantium, sand, Danny Thomas who came from Lebanon, the great unfulfilled promise of democracy, Sunday school, this huge cancerous blot of the Vietnam War emphasizing how otherwise we were supposed to be the good guys and the Civil Rights movement which showed we hadn't entirely lost that, and then the next minute we're back in King Arthur's court or the Prince Val cartoon strip and the good guys are slaughtering the barbarians and yet everybody acts like it's real and there's no need to ask...anything.
Shame. We need to heal from the shame of not asking

chrisrushlau said...

You might find this interesting, sent along by "The Other Israel", aka, Gush Shalom.
US Democrats and Republicans increasingly diverge on Israel
Martin Sherman - Jerusalem Post - Israel has largely been a bipartisan matter in the US, but in the polarized campaign towards today`s elections, evidence emerged of a deep divide beginning to develop. A recent Pew Research Center poll found that “[v]iews on US support for Israel are deeply divided along partisan lines.(...) 46 percent of Republicans say the US is not supportive enough of Israel, compared with just 9% of Democrats.” Conversely, the proportion of Democrats who feel that the US is too supportive of Israel (25%), is almost double that of Republicans (13%). (Note: this article, written from an extreme-right perspective, provides some interesting data and insights. Ed.)
I just read some of Sherman's piece, with Adam Keller's warning in mind, and it is really rank racism and imperialism. Viz.: "Dissension may also stem from factors largely unconnected to Israeli policy itself [such as] changes in the American domestic power structure and in the relative influence of various pro- and anti-Israeli power centers and/or pressure groups fueled by problems of burgeoning ethnic diversity that challenge the prevailing definition of American national identity. – Strategic Assessment, Institute for National Security Studies (INSS), Vol. 1, No. 4, 1999.
"I wrote this caveat almost a decade and half ago in a policy paper for what was then Tel Aviv University’s Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies (JCSS) – today the INSS"
Two points: Israel has been making the case for itself in person lately, accelerating its loss of (???) legitimacy. And the Republicans are not a party anymore, it is a collection of hacks such as you would buy at a lawn sale in a political fable. Rent-a-cops//rent-a-hacks? But that might be an advantage, given that the only thing holding the Democrats together is the Israel movement, which is to say, holding them in a state of utter disarray.