(Swans - October 22, 2012) The 2012 US presidential election has left me so cold that I've turned off the TV for weeks. I've no interest in this horse race, a spectacle in which two candidates represent none of the views I have and none of my core sentiments regarding the socioeconomic system I wish to see implemented. The electoral system is so rigged that one is left to vote for either Coca-Cola or Pepsi-Cola. Both are colas. It's just a matter of taste as to which will be more harmful to your health -- and both candidates are damaging, perhaps destroying, the health of the nation. Incidentally, I've finally kicked my addiction to Coca-Cola, after years of drinking this poisonous beverage several times a day. Perhaps that explains my current disengagement with national politics. At age 62, I do not expect to see this rigged system change in my lifetime.
In the past three presidential cycles (2000, 2004, 2008), Jan Baughman and I supported Ralph Nader -- not that we agreed with all his positions, but for his dignity, honesty, and integrity, and his dedicated opposition to the duopoly -- the bicephalous system. In 2008, we became fully engaged and actively participated in his campaign. Not only did Nader have our respect and support, but we also wholeheartedly approved the choice of his running mate, Matt Gonzalez -- an exceptionally sensitive and eloquent man. We went to exciting meetings, gave and helped raise money, and got materials from the staff that we distributed in San Francisco and the Anderson Valley in the Mendocino County. While I am not entitled to vote since I am not a US citizen, I am, however, legally authorized to support, fund, campaign, and advocate for a political candidacy (strange system...). So we gave it our all, all that our minds and hearts and wallets could afford. We published many pieces on Swans and opened the publication to any pro-Nader individual who cared to write favorably about his candidacy. I recall two pieces that I wrote among many: "Want To Waste Your Vote?" and "Could I Support Obama Instead Of Nader?" that encapsulated my thinking and advocacy (there are many more that can be found in our archives "US Elections & Democracy"). Much was said and written, which I wonder whether is worth repeating at this point.
The results? In the Anderson Valley, Nader received 305 votes among about 1,100 voters in the 2000 election. In 2008, despite all my time and proselytizing -- and it took a lot of efforts -- the Nader-Gonzalez ticket received only 27 votes out of 781 voters. So, Nader went from 27.7% of the local votes in 2000 to 3.74% in 2008. Worse yet, nationally the ticket received some 738,000 votes, or 0.56% of the total, which, hard to believe, placed him in third position after Senators McCain and Obama, who received over 129,446 million votes or 98.59% of the votes (check the Wikipedia entry on the 2008 election). Jan and I went home to lick our wounds. During that period, Swans lost several contributors and almost half of its readership because of our strong stand. We did not regret our involvement. It was quite an exciting time.
Still, I remember that I wrote that we would move on and start working for Matt Gonzalez's candidacy in 2012. I kept in touch with Matt for a while. He had gone back to private life. He promised that as soon as possible he would send some money to help the publication. He never did. He also assured me that he would write for the publication. He did not. The Nader staff never contacted me again. It hurt emotionally, though I can understand the rationale for not moving forward politically. I'm sure Matt Gonzalez did analyze the data as well or better than I have. In February 2011, he joined the public defender office of the city of San Francisco as its chief attorney and chose not to throw his glove into the presidential arena.
Ralph Nader turned 78 last February. It became quickly evident that he would not run again. He has suggested that if one wishes to cast a protest vote one should vote for Jill Stein or for Rocky Anderson. Jill Stein, a physician from Massachusetts and a decent politician, is the candidate of the Green Party. She was recently arrested at Hofstra University, site of the second debate between Obama and Romney, and briefly jailed as she and her running mate were protesting her exclusion from the debate -- another episode in our dysfunctional democracy.
How you should vote is none of my business. Actually, Manuel García, Jr. had a cogent response to that question in "Voting Illusions And Reality 2012," the third part of his analysis regarding this election, which we published two weeks ago. Whatever choice you make we'll end up with a corpocrat in the White House, black or white -- and in four years we'll go through the same malarkey. (Maybe it will be a woman that time around.) Really, it's not worth my time at this point, especially because this household has been going through a series of personal predicaments for quite some time.
Now, I am very fond of Michelle Obama. I think she has as much class and character as Eleanor Roosevelt had, far beyond the glamorous Jackie Kennedy. To see her stay in the White House with her two gorgeous daughters for the next four years would be a pleasing sight. But if it does not happen it won't matter. I'll still remain fond of her.
The outcome of the presidential election may or may not change our lives or yours. The likes of women like Michelle Obama may be kept in binders, or may make a difference. The full impact of the presidential election may or may not depend on the Senate and House elections and the resulting balance or imbalance of power, the potential Supreme Court appointments in the next four years, and the potential awakening of the downtrodden or the further empowerment of the powerful. What is certain is that something drastic will have to take place for change to happen, but I can't tell how it will happen. I can only hope I'll still be alive in 2016 and that you will too.
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