Self-Defeating Prophecy?
The Tenuous Rise of the Greens: it's in their Hands

by Eli Beckerman

July 29, 2002

What can a revitalized Green Party do in this land of two-party duopoly? For one, by withdrawing all loyalty from the Dems, they can ensure that the Democrats pick candidates that are closer to the Republicans. Progressives in the Democratic Party -- the types of candidates Greens wish were propagating throughout the land -- would not have the grassroots support of many staunch progressives who have made a new home for themselves in the Green Party.

This sets in place a world in which the Democrats move further to the right, and the Greens' accusations of the rightward shift prove truer and truer. Self-labeled progressive Democrats like Paul Wellstone will find their base of support from right-of-Green folks out there -- folks who care about social justice AND "homeland security." Of course, it's not fair to categorize anyone as right-of-Green just because their voting practices tend towards the Democrats. Who could blame anyone for voting for one of two acceptable choices? My question to everyone -- progressive, liberal, conservative, independent, withdrawn, apathetic, whatever -- is EXACTLY WHO GETS TO DEFINE THE ACCEPTABLE CHOICES?!

Surely the Democratic and Republican parties shouldn't get that power... nor should their handpicked Commission on Presidential Debates. What fair criteria could there be to allow the citizens of this nation to decide for themselves that they prefer the two-party game? Is Ralph Nader a traitor for spoiling the Democratic stint in the Oval Office, or did he have something to say about a money-driven Democratic Party?

If Nader was at fault for staying in the race, was Gore at fault for ignoring Nader's platform? And what role did the media play? Should the New York Times have covered Nader's issues in a meaningful way despite editorializing that he and his ego were trivializing the stark contrast between Gore and Bush?

Nader's message was clear, yet largely ignored. The Democratic Leadership Council -- the bastion of moneyed Democrats where it is safe to be on the side of business at the expense of the people -- felt that Gore ran too far to the left. TOO FAR TO THE LEFT?!!!! Where's the righteousness of the Democrats to stand up against that absurd claim? The answer is that it's too busy bashing Nader for handing the election to Bush. Nader's message went like this: the true power of our government has been increasingly gobbled up by the hands of the powerful corporate lobby. Whereas the founding of our nation was a step to giving people the power of their own government, the past decades have seen those foundations eroded beyond belief. Citizen action is the ONLY chance we have to stem the tide of corporate mischief and corporate government. The Democrats, increasingly bought out by the same (or different varieties of) corporate interests, couldn't care less about citizen action. In fact, the less we knew, the less we cared -- and the better off they were.

But I ask any politician what is the point of claiming to represent the people when in truth you pull your weight for the corporate interests that got you elected? Could it be for personal benefit? How selfish do our elected "leaders" have to get before we rise up to put an end to the money game? Why should the working class folks of the Bible Belt elect representatives who sell out their interests to the corporate oligarchy? To put it bluntly, the answer is precisely because they don't know the meaning of the word oligarchy. They care about gun rights, no doubt, and honestly I don't see why the left should care so damn much. So what if Joe Republican wants to shoot deer with his brand new rifle. At least his connection to his food source is closer than most so-called liberals ever get.

My point is this: the divides of left and right in this country are artificial at best, and manipulative at worst. I have no gripe whatsoever with the God-fearing "right," as long as they don't want to shove their religion down my throat. What angers the pro-choice left is that the right wants to control THEIR decisions about THEIR bodies. What angers the pro-life right is that the woman getting an abortion is deciding the fate of a human being. If they feel this human life is so sacred a being that this is tantamount to murder, you almost have to question the ones who would be silent on the matter. HOWEVER, the argument over the moment where this life becomes human is where the lines get blurred. In my own view, there is inhumanity in forcing the birth of an unwanted baby into this hateful world. If a mother feels it would be cruel to go forth with that birth of her child, no one has the right to say otherwise. The same argument could not be made for a fully-developed baby who has experienced the light of day and the caress of its mother's hands.

But what effect should these leanings have on someone's vote? Is it just a side effect that Republicans happen to side more with corporate AND religious interests? The libertarian idea that small government is beautiful is all well and good, but what of the mentally ill individual who has lost his family and does not have the government-paid care to ensure their safety? Would God give him the cold shoulder, or provide a safety net of sorts? Is it such a burden for a tiny portion of our tax dollars to help provide that net? And why do the same right-wingers who abhor government abuse of our tax dollars care so much that the military gets the necessary billions of dollars to guarantee total dominance of our armed forces?

As far as I'm concerned, too many people have hypocritical takes on politics, and most people's politics are based on self-interest. Claims of morality just complicate matters, as the war on drugs has turned out to be one of the largest wastes and biggest abuses of the American people that has ever been carried out. Simply incarcerating drug felons has not helped the fight against addiction; neither will pumping taxpayer money into hypocritical anti-drug ads tied to terrorism. Just as sure as Columbine wasn't about automatic weapons, the problems that are out there are not going to be solved by locking everyone up. Family values means drug treatment, not federal penitentiary. Our schizophrenic take on drugs in the first place leads to serious misinformation, even when it comes to common over-the-counter medications. And who can we trust to lay out the facts? Even our doctors take money and gifts from drug companies zealous to get their product out there.

The two clearest-cut examples of corporate irresponsibility have to be the tobacco companies on the one hand, and Enron on the other. The tobacco CEOs did this nation a great justice by standing up in the halls of Congress and pledging their word that nicotine was not addictive -- they offered indelible proof to every American that it is very possible for greed to destroy the entire human value system. Corporate CEOs, in their own self-interests, are willing to shrug off the known negative impacts of their own doings. Enron engaged in, and more, was exposed for, the same blatant disregard for humanity, albeit with a lower degree of life-and-death significance.

In clear contrast with these corporate thieves and the politicians they buy, the Green Party carries a message of hope. Riding on a wave of growth and enthusiasm touched off by Nader's Presidential run, the Green Party would like to reach every American with its message. The 10 key values that form the basis for the Green Party platform share one thing with each other -- an enduring faith in humanity. Our potential as a species is being squashed by moneyed dynasties, and our time on this planet is being squandered in a shallow, divisive, and overly commercial society.

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Eli Beckerman was born and raised in Queens, NY. He graduated from the Bronx High School of Science and Wesleyan University, with degrees in Physics and Astronomy. He is currently an astrophysicist and computer specialist at the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (since June, 1999). Beckerman is a member of The Mystic River Greens (MRG) in Somerville, MA, a group that focuses on Green issues and is affiliated with the Massachusetts Green Party.

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Published July 29, 2002
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