By Chris Robinson
Permit me to offer a brief history lesson, which might convince some to see the world from a different perspective. The first election campaign I volunteered in was that of President Lyndon Baines Johnson in 1964. I was then a student at Dickinson College, but I was not yet old enough to vote. During the half century since then, I have been an active participant in politics, and I have learned two interesting lessons, which I plan to share with you if you keep reading.
I can see now that I was a young fool in 1964, when I believed that Johnson was a peace candidate who would negotiate a settlement of the Vietnam War. He was running for president against Senator Barry Morris Goldwater (R-AZ), who claimed he would bomb Vietnam back to the Stone Age. There was no doubt in my mind which was the “lesser evil.” Upon winning the election, of course, Johnson proceeded to bomb Vietnam back to the Stone Age. I have never forgotten this lesson about “strategic voting,” also called the “Evil of the Two Lessers.”
Next, I became an activist in Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and via that organization in the struggle to end the War in Vietnam. During that struggle, I learned a second lesson which would become useful: there is an American Ruling Class. Today it is known as “The One Percent.” It became evident to educated observers that, election after election, U.S. society continued on the same path, no matter which of the two evil parties would control Congress and the White House. Wars continued, prisons became more overcrowded, working people became poorer, and poor people became hungrier.
By way of example, when “peace” candidate James Earl Carter, Jr., won the presidency in 1976 after defeating President Gerald Rudolph Ford, Jr. (another “greater evil”), Carter took the peace dividend resulting from the end of the Vietnam War and invested it in a brand new nuclear arsenal (both submarine-launched and intercontinental ballistic missiles). Carter still tries to protect and project his image as a peace activist, while the whole world (outside the north American continent) knows who Carter still works for. After all, his nuclear arsenal still threatens the rest of the world.
Politically, there has been a consistent monopoly of power at the apex. The One Percent has seized control of the two major parties, and Democratic Party politicians have steadily and persistently promoted policies that have moved to the right. Just look at Democratic Party achievements: the destruction of the labor movement and the de-regulation of Wall Street, the Defense of Marriage Act, and an end to the safety net, welfare, as we knew it (President William Jefferson Clinton); a healthcare system dominated by finance capital and a billion dollar investment in a new nuclear arsenal (President Barak Hussein Obama, Jr.). Democrats have cooperated with Republicans in the exploitation of the Earth: protection of fossil fuel extraction with the most expensive military imaginable, and the repeated use of that military in undeclared oil wars in Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Libya.
One item at a time, the Democratic Party has taken strips from the Republican Party’s political mantle, and stitched together for itself a new, conservative coat. To stay alive, the Republican Party has been forced further and further to the right and into the hands of a lunatic fringe. The Democratic Party is no longer the Party of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and it vigorously rejects any attempt (i.e. Bernard Sanders’) to return control to the grassroots.
For me, these were two important lessons: rejection of the Evil of the Two Lessers and understanding electoral politics as essential to the class struggle against The One Percent. The key question then became what to do with those two lessons.
Fortunately, the Green Party entered U.S. politics in 2000, running incorruptible Ralph Nader for President. Finally, we had a political party that stood for a grassroots platform, which had been unheard of in our country since 1945, the year I was born. Finally, there was a feminist, pacifist Party that had a plan for full employment at union wages, reparations for slavery, an end to climate change, redistribution of wealth from the One Percent, negotiation instead of intimidation, single-payer healthcare, legalization of marijuana and ending the drug war, and free public education through college graduation.
This year, The Evil of the Two Lessers has again become a rat race with Republicans and Democrats running in circles without resolving of any social problems. If you are searching for a political party which is not controlled by major corporations, it is time to look at the Green Party in your locale. Naturally, it will take some time for the Green Party to catch on, especially since it refuses corporate money. Perhaps it is time for you to vote for Jill Stein for President on Election Day. Perhaps it is time for you to join the Green Party and to run as a Green for local office in the 2017 election.
Chris Robinson is the Membership Secretary of the Green Party of Philadelphia. For more information, please contact 215-843-4256 and firstname.lastname@example.org.