It’s that time again in the United States, when politicians of various stripes vie for the Oval Office to become the next president. With the election cycle comes the 24 hour news network’s soundbites, debates, attack ads, lies, obfuscations, and sometimes skeleton in the closet revelations. The electoral process in the United States is severely flawed with gerrymandering, corporate candidates, a two party system that often fails to be distinguishable in many policy decisions such as “where do we bomb next”. Then there is also the not so hidden fact that the U.S. government has become a bloated oligarchy. All too often we are forced to vote for the lesser of two evils which logically means we are still voting for something evil. Voting is something I have done in the past and have since stopped doing due to my anarchist leanings and the fact that a supposedly liberal candidate (Mr. Obama) turned out to be just another Empire builder who as commander in chief is responsible for the deaths of many innocent people in far away lands and the continued destabilization of the world. He continues the U.S. policy of being allied with Israel and Saudi Arabia, two nations notorious for state sponsored terrorism (which is also sadly the calling card of the United States). It seems like a catch-22. Vote and one often tacitly accepts empire, human rights abuses, war, and corporate greed. Or, don’t vote and lose the opportunity to effect change from the top down and the bottom up. This time around another liberal leaning candidate with a long history of rabble rousing and activism that stretches back to the the 60s Civil Right movement is running and tempting me to vote and perhaps “get fooled again”.
Bernie Sanders is making a lot of noise right now and surging in the polls against the perceived Democratic front-runner, Hillary Clinton, the overwhelming choice of the oligarchy. She is of course an old hand at political campaigning, is totally an establishment politician and is about as trustworthy as a known pathological liar. From a policy stand point it is clear that she is completely beholden to large financial institutions, multinational corporations like Monsanto, and the fracking companies responsible for so much pollution. She’s a queen of political expediency as has been shown by her former support of the idiotic Defense of Marriage Act, a piece of garbage legislation that the government of an ostensibly “free nation” had no business enacting. She started her career as a Republican and remains one in terms of policy decisions if no longer in name. A Clinton presidency would likely mean more war, more corporate handouts, and further movement towards the right as she attempted to mollify Republicans and helped pay back her campaign donors from Wall Street. Her smarmy act doesn’t fool me in the least.
Sanders on the other hand is touting his plans to provide single payer health coverage for all Americans, wants to raise the minimum wage to at least $15 an hour, and provide higher education for free. He acknowledges that truth of global climate change and his website details his plan to hopefully mitigate the worst case scenarios of that impending reality. His plan includes a summit with leading climate scientist, engineers, and indigenous communities to create a strategy to move towards a fossil fuel free future with peaceful transition at the forefront of any policy decisions. Senator Sanders has policy plans to help small and mid-size farms and move American farming away from factory farming to a more regionally based ag system. Factory farms receive the bulk of the subsidies paid to farmers and Sanders plans to reverse that trend. According to his website, he wants to engage in diplomacy and use war/force as a last resort. This is the polar opposite of the U.S.’ strategy since before Bush and Cheney were in office. His plans are ambitious to say the least and won’t happen without a continued putting of pressure upon other elected officials. His credentials as a liberal politician fighting for everyday folks are incredibly strong. Personally, I feel he could do better in some ways on foreign policy, such as truly denouncing Israel’s apartheid and attempts at genocide. He also talks a great deal about helping out the middle class while never addressing the fact that it is the middle class that is largely responsible for over consumption and the enormous ecological footprint that goes with it.
There are those who feel that Sanders is just a sideshow act being used to energize voters who will then drop out of the race like other liberal candidates before him thereby ceding the nomination to the oligarchy’s choice, Hillary Clinton. In my own mind, I wonder should Sanders get elected, will he truly be able to create the political climate in D.C. that will enable him to enact his policy initiatives such as overturning NAFTA and other free trade agreements in favor of fair trade. Would he face an obstructionist Congress that attempted to thwart him at every turn thus ensuring the furtherance of the status quo? President Obama has done some good things at times. He’s also tarnished his legacy with the aforementioned killing of innocents with drone attacks amongst other holdovers from the so called “War on Terror”. Would Bernie have to follow a similar path or could his change of inputs alter the system substantially so that it actually serves the greater global good?
The Republican candidates are barely worth mentioning due to their overt worship at the altar of the Golden Calf, their war mongering, fear mongering xenophobia and bigotry towards people of color and the LGBTQ community. Their use of the Christian religion as a campaign tool is tragically comic because all too often they completely disavow the teachings of Jesus when enacting policies that are literally polar opposites of what he taught. The less said about the likes of Donald Trump and Ted Cruz the better. Yet there are still people who vote for these types of candidates even when it is easy to demonstrate that doing so goes against their interest. For example, many people who enjoy hunting and fishing vote Republican because they inexplicably fear that the government will take their guns away. Meanwhile, these same voters ignore the fact that Republicans often gleefully put forth legislation that when enacted destroys the habitat of the animals they want to hunt and the fish they want to catch. Conservative women vote Republican despite the fact that every single Republican voted against equal pay for women in the workplace. Absurd! A large number of ostensibly Christian people vote Republican despite the fact that the Republican party does all it can to hurt “the least of these” by eliminating social welfare programs and perpetuating systemic racism which is a direct violation of the Greatest Commandment. I don’t recall Jesus praying that only those who can afford it be given their daily bread.
As a permaculturist, I think that bioregional autonomous zones make the most sense in terms of governance. People who live their lives in a particular bioregion should be the ones making decisions about what happens in that region. If that were the case, polluting industries would likely never gain a foothold despite promises of jobs and “prosperity”. This is of course, a long time from happening unless some unforeseen event takes place such as the devolution of the United States. One of the principles of permaculture is to “make the least change for the greatest effect”. In terms of the political process I think that it means I have to vote in this election for Bernie Sanders. I tried not voting, decrying the political system as rigged, and therefore illegitimate, which is true in so many ways. Yet, my non-vote and attempt to get others to follow suit did nothing. Zero. Nada. Why? Because there was no groundswell of support behind it. No belief in it. No perceived need for it. Bernie Sanders though has a momentum fostered by need, he has energized younger Americans, and has impeccable credentials as a liberal activist, which is in alignment with my own views as informed by the teachings of Jesus and my education. If he is able to get into office and enact election reform then the candidate and party that I more fully support may finally have a real voice at the table (Green Party). Millions of people within the arbitrary borders of the U.S. and globally will be positively impacted. That’s simply too much for me to ignore at this moment in history.