Damned If We Do?
Damned 'Cause We Didn't!

by José M. Tirado

August 2, 2004   


(Swans - August 2, 2004)  Greens are definitely in a predicament these days. From the Right -- ridicule. From the Left we are excoriated, first damned for supposedly helping elect Bush, and now damned for picking David Cobb as our standard-bearer. From even some of our own supporters we are told to tone it down, swallow our pride, and vote for the Democrats. Well, this Green believes it's time to clear up some confusion.

First of all, we're not just a party, we're a vision, a vision that begins with our name: Green, like the Earth's plants, the source of our oxygen, medicines, foods, and fibers for our clothing and our livelihoods. Our vision is of a system that mimics the processes found in nature, where diversity is not merely "celebrated," it's fundamental to the living organism as a whole. Without this diversity, the entire (eco) system would collapse and we with it. Our vision knows that the Earth and the countless billions of human and non-human inhabitants have succeeded because they worked together, supportively and interdependently.

This vision is holistic, regarding life, including political life as a whole, not just one section of what living in the world is about. Our party is not just about forms of governance (Democratic, Libertarian or Republican), economics (Socialist, Communist) or particular groups (Working Families, Peoples, etc.). Our party is about this huge and wonderful vision, taking as its starting point, and the reference point for all our considerations thereafter, the health and welfare of our entire planet.

Politically, our members share this vision, believing the time has come to see things with new eyes and to struggle in a different way for a different world. We reject militarism and imperialism, commit to non-violence and decentralization, and work for social justice and full equality.

Yes, that may sound quite "Left," yet what is more "conservative" than carefully protecting and preserving the macro-neighborhood in which we all live?

What is more "libertarian" than supporting local communities against faceless, impersonal corporate or governmental domination?

What is more "democratic" than fighting for equal, fair and proportional representation in all our elected bodies?

What is more "republican" than eschewing militaristic adventurism and supporting a fair internationalism inspired by rules of law instead of by fear or the gun?

We are real people who live next door, who you see in shops or on the streets; we are your neighbors and friends, fellow workers and students. We don't accept the bromides of either main political party, parties that continually keep us disappointed and disheartened. We don't deserve the ridicule, the mean-spiritedness or the misinformation being peddled about us. We are passionate people who believe in social, economic and political justice, who work so that our children and their children's children will see that vision become reality.

So please, stop urging us to vote for your party. I have said this many times but it's worth repeating here: we can't get the system we want by voting for people who don't want our system. Each time we push that lever for the Dems, we push ourselves back into the political wilderness. Why? Because the influence of the Dems' "progressive" wing pales in comparison to the power of the moneyed interests they have been cozying up to for the past 20 or so years. They are not now and will not be a "progressive" party. They regularly dilute the progressive influence within their ranks to appease the same financiers and corporate interests that also dominate the Republicans.

This year we are all faced with a serious task. The Republican administration in place is as dangerous as one can imagine, for our civil liberties, our environment and our notions of economic justice. But the Democratic alternative is hardly any better and in some areas even worse. I know that good, honest people are therefore disagreeing about what to do in so-called "safe states." Well the truth is 75% of Americans live in those states so they shouldn't worry. And for those who don't I say this: do what you feel is right, but remember, in the long term, neither the Democrats nor the Republicans will support the expansion of democracy (by junking the Electoral College, supporting Proportional Representation, or Instant Runoff Voting, for example) or abandon their corporate ties or militaristic approach to world affairs.

That we don't have a system in place (Proportional Representation, for example) that would help Greens and other parties put our own candidates in office is no reason to support one of the "major" parties. Why? Because they don't want our system! Vote for people who will work for such a system.

From the Presidency on down, in Federal, State, Congressional and Senate races, along with thousands of other positions on city councils, utility boards, and planning commissions around the country, we will vote for Greens who share our vision of a more truly democratic, truly republican, truly libertarian and yes, truly conservative society.

We might be damned if we do. But after the election, if only Republicans and Democrats are elected and we find once again that we were sold down the river, history will damn us 'cause we didn't.

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The Greens on Swans


José M. Tirado is a writer, poet and Green activist whose articles have appeared in Counterpunch, Dissident Voice, the Gurdjieff Internet Guide, and the Magazine of Green Social Thought, Synthesis/Regeneration. He is also a Shin Buddhist priest teaching in Iceland.

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Published August 2, 2004
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