"P" is for politics: another stump speech
by Robert Nanninga
Our resident eco-radical battles The System ... the winner or loser
may be You.
here are are many things human beings excel at, such
as greed, arrogance and making simple tasks exceptionally difficult. We
are good at living in an illusion, slight of hand, contact sports and word
games. All of which can be summed up with one word ... POLITICS. The tone
and issues of politics today are centered around issues politicians can't
solve and promises they can't keep nor pay for. And the last thing we seem
to want to pay for is a clean, healthy environment.
I find it rather amusing that before the onslaught of
our so-called civilized democracy, this continent was truly a land of the
free and home of the brave.
Native Americans of the Iroquis Confederacy, living
here at the arrival of Europeans (the beginning of North America's illegal
immigration problem), had a system of community decision-making that is
used successfully to this day and became the basis for the democracy inculcated
in our Constitution. Unfortunately, although Benjamin Franklin was able
to put some of these radical, consensual ideas into our culture 300 years
after the cultures began to mix, he was not able to provide the network
of accountability and community context that allowed for those tribes to
deal with liars and thieves.
The current state of affairs is far from civilized.
In this time of elections, it is perfectly clear how far off we've strayed.
Instead of discussing the root causes of some of our current problems, the
Republicans and Democrats - protectors of the status quo - are content to
point fingers at each other. They hope that their posturing and gesturing
will divert our attention long enough for them to milk as much from the
system as they possibly can by serving the interests that have the time,
money and education to fund the campaign system.
So it makes a weird kind of sense that issues which
effect most Americans are always avoided at election time. Instead of candidates
discussing air quality and transportation, most are to content with slinging
mud at each other over issues such as the death penalty and abortion. Well,
if you ask me, if we don't do something about the toxins our society continuously
pumps into our air, we will all be ordering our last meal, with little hope
Which candidates are speaking about biodiversity? If
Democracy is a representative system, who represents the California gnatcatcher,
mountain lions, and the desert tortoise? The Endangered Species Act is under
assualt by extractive industrial interests and federally subsidized (i.e.
welfare) ranchers on public lands, most of whom seem to claim that their
congressionally bought-and-paid-for subsidies are actually their God-given
personal property rights. That once the government has put you on the dole,
you deserve to stay there forever, regardless of the desires of other members
of the public and the need to protect groundwater and maintain the health
and cleanliness of other ecosystem components.
We live in a society where elected officials care more
about protecting factory farmers and their arsenal of chemicals than the
children who risk their lives eating hamburgers. The reason for these twisted
ethics is clear. The giants that have blessed this planet with the wonders
of DDT, thalidomide, bovine growth hormone and prozac find it easier to
buy politicians than to take responsibility for the consequences of their
decisions - decisions ultimately based on who stands to gain the most financially
or politically. Greed for money or power is still - and is likely to remain
- the driving force of political culture and environmental decline.
If greed is not the answer, would someone please explain
to me why the United States of America, in all it's infinite wisdom, feels
the need to spend billions of our tax dollars subsidizing non-renewable
processes that choke our biosphere when solar, wind, and other less polluting
alternatives would be competitive with the same subsidies?
If greed is not the answer, would someone please explain
to me why we allow developers to destroy irreplaceable wild spaces to make
way for the temples of consumerism? How many strip malls does this planet
Anyone who thinks America has a healthy multi-party
system should look again. The Republicans and Democrats are different sides
of the same coin. How do we, as environmentally concerned voters, make a
difference in the political arena, where the message only matters as much
as the money supporting it? Environmentalists can't possibly accumulate
enough money on behalf of natural systems to buy it all at developer's prices.
The politicians who succeed within the political establishment
have too much invested in the way things are done to actively take part
in bringing about significant change. And since politicians are just puppets
to fundraisers, they can't be counted on for anything more than lip service
and sound bites. It is time for the grass roots movement to produce viable
candidates that can address local issues and work towards a substainable
As more and more Green Party members seek office (and
I am not talking about establishment types mouthing green speak), we must
get behind those candidates of change. This shift in politics will not be
done with money, and it will take time - like most successful evolutionary
processes. The change will be one of conscience, with people talking to
their neighbors, families and friends; whole communities deciding what is
best for them. Green candidates will need to look to the future, for that
is where the answers lie, not the past where the policies of acid rain,
Superfund sights, and Persian Gulf wars still fester.
I ask all who read this to make a stand for the future.
By registering and voting for the California Green Party , we can let all
the career politicians know that it is time we stopped playing politics,
and begin the road back to a place where men and women live in balance with
the biosphere that supports us. For those of you worried that a vote for
a dinky, poorly organized group without a chance to win is a wasted vote,
convice me that your votes for the status quo actually aren't wasted. For
those of you who don't vote at all, regardless of your reason, please refrain
from complaining about how things turn out and how you want the future to
change. Better to just get your act together and do what you need to do
to get to the polls. Vote as if your life depends on it. It does.
Robert Nanninga is an independent video producer, actor, vegan, and
active member of the Green and environmental community.