After several years as a Democrat, followed by more than a decade as an unaffiliated voter, I decided to change my registration to the Green Party for this year’s election. I joined the Greens not because I support every plank of their platform, but because I am tired of voting for the least bad candidate. The response of both major parties to the 2008 financial crisis compels me to join a party that really believes in changing the power structure in the United States.
The Green Party seemed the most reasonable choice. I think it is now beyond arguable that voting for Democrats and/or Republicans is essentially voting to maintain the status quo, which is precisely what needs changing. The personnel in office is less important than the system that personnel serves.
A vote for Obama (not to mention Romney), is a vote for the status quo. I am choosing to vote for a party, and a presidential candidate in Jill Stein, that would actually change things if elected. Like a lot of independents who voted for Obama in 2008, I thought I was voting for change. I was not naive, I knew he was a politician from the Democratic Party Establishment, but I thought a liberal intellectual, our first black president, might change things in important ways, especially in foreign policy.
But I was wrong. He withdrew from Iraq, yes, but on Bush’s timetable; he escalated the war in Afghanistan; he spent a billion dollars intervening in Libya; he continued the “extraordinary rendition” program; and failed not only to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay, but even to prosecute its inmates in our civilian federal courts.
Domestically, I don’t even want to discuss Obamacare, which is not national health insurance by any stretch of the imagination, but we must. I still find it surreal that the Democrats, controlling the White House and both houses of Congress, failed to institute national health insurance, partly because the administration, and the party’s recent vice-presidential nominee (Joseph Lieberman), bowed to the insurance lobby.
On the energy front, the U.S. has not even begun a serious transition to alternatives to carbon fuels. And, somehow, the Democrats have become a party that supports capital punishment, despite massive evidence that it has failed miserably and is applied in a racist manner. Economically, the president extended the Bush-Paulson bailouts and acquiesced in renewal of the Bush tax cuts, despite repeated vows to the contrary.
As for social spending, I expect the Republicans to advocate cuts in Medicare and Social Security, but I’m still trying to figure out how the Democrats can, with a straight face, do the same. Furthermore, in a policy that boggles the mind, Obama brags about having cut the payroll tax, the primary source of funding for Social Security.
The Green Party is on the other side of all those issues, foreign and domestic. I don’t agree with everything the Greens advocate, but on the issues that I consider most significant for America’s future, the Greens are on the right track. They certainly do not represent the status quo. For one thing, Green candidates do not accept corporate donations. Their program, which is called the “Green New Deal,” calls for a cut of 70 percent in military spending, massive public investment in renewable energy, a carbon tax, single-payer national health insurance, tax reform and limits on credit interest rates.
To my friends who argue for economic justice, tax fairness, and true campaign finance reform, I say: you will never see any of that if you continue to support candidates and parties that are beholden to wealthy donors, whether they be individuals, unions, or the financial, defense and insurance industries. The system works as well for the Democrats as it does for the Republicans, and I no longer think being an unaffiliated voter choosing between the two is a viable option.
I know Jill Stein has no more chance of getting elected than Ralph Nader had, but I reject the argument that a vote for her is wasted. Either Obama or Romney will lose the election, so by that reasoning a vote for one of them is going to be wasted, as well. Change has to start someplace.