Ellsberg, Hedges and Me

A lot of times, I’m nervous about sharing who I really am.  For example, when I’m at Cafe Luxenbourg or the bar on the 7th floor at Bergdorf’s, I don’t seem very much like part of the 99%.  If it comes up in conversation with other folks at the bar, or the bartender, I always say things like, “And that is why we Occupy,” and “We are the 99% too, buddy,” because you never know where you’ll find a kindred spirit who strives for Peace, Social and Economic Justice and Sustainability.   Sometimes, though, I feel like I can’t participate in certain political discussions because there’s no denying that I absolutely am a bourgeois bitch at Bergdorfs, having cocktails among other ladies who lunch.  I don’t feel guilty about hanging out in picturesque bars with good lighting because, you know, that’s what I do when I’m not teaching preschool.  I’m a person who happens to be on the Digg Patriots’ list of subversives and the preferred customer list from the Chanel counter at Bergdorf’s.  Subversives need lipstick too, and really, a person can have a little disposable income and still be in the 99% —  especially at my age.

These days, I’m nervous to tell most of my friends that I’m voting Green.  I fully understand that people are alarmed at the prospect of a Romney presidency, but I don’t understand how a few thousand Greens in solid red or blue states will be to blame if Romney gets elected.  Seems to me the millions of teahadists and miscellaneous greedy Republicans coast to coast who actually vote for Romney will be infinitely more responsible for a Romney presidency than anyone else.  Nevertheless, entrenched, fearful Democrats continue to harshly criticize and pressure Greens to vote Lesser of Two Evils.

Obama may very well have been an idealistic young politician years ago in Chicago.  I’m not saying that he’s fundamentally evil or “bad” in any way.  I am saying that both he and Mitt Romney will shoot unlimited drones into Pakistani communities and call the bloody bodies of innocent men, women and children collateral damage.  They’ll both send a shit ton of money to Israel, and neither one will do a damn thing to get corporate money out of elections or to stop lobbyists from writing legislation.  Certainly Romney is a threat to women on many levels, and Obama gave sensible, sensitive answers in the debates – but from where I sit, the only thing that will change if Romney is elected is the rate of decline in this country.  Right now, it’s like we’re being pecked to death by a chicken.  If Romney wins, it will be more like a runaway mine car descending into a pit.  Either way sucks though – and even after the hurricane, Climate Change is not a serious issue to the Uniparty.  The Uniparty gets too much cash from the Fossil Fuel Industry.

Pretend for a moment that you are standing in a grocery store trying to buy peanut butter.  There is only one brand – let’s say, Skippy.  There is no Jif or Peter Pan or even Smuckers.  The only choice you have is Smooth or Nuts.  Both are filled with high fructose corn syrup, miscellaneous chemicals and probably contain rat turds.  The choice is yours.

A few weeks ago, RootsAction sent an email around advocating Strategic Voting.  They referenced Noam Chomsky and Daniel Ellsberg who both take the position that people in swing states should vote for Obama in order to prevent a Romney White House.  Notably, the email from RootsAction included the information that both Chomsky and Ellsberg live in solidly blue areas and both men are voting for candidates who support peace and justice.  This email was sent in mid-October, about the same time as Ellsberg’s article on strategic voting.   A lot of progressives were pissed off that someone with his activist credentials would support LOTE voting.  Granted, it would have been a huge boost to the Greens if Ellsberg and Chomsky had given Jill their unqualified support – but it’s not like a lot people in this country listen to Noam Chomsky and Daniel Ellsberg in the first place.  Few people listen to Chris Hedges either, and he’s come all the way out of the Green closet (http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/why_im_voting_green_20121029/).

It’s annoying when the political organizations and activists you respect come out in support of The Estabishment – but even if Chomsky and Ellsberg themselves sort of whispered their intentions to vote for alternative candidates, RootsAction made this recommendation:

In the nearly 40 non-swing states where our vote has no impact on Obama vs. Romney, voters can wisely send a message of protest to Obama and the Democratic Party leadership — over policies like militarism, Wall Street coziness, abuse of civil liberties, expansion of nukes, fracking and drilling — by voting for a genuinely progressive candidate such as Jill Stein of the Green Party.

Progressives in some states may have been advised to vote LOTE, but these same established activists advised progressives in 40 states to vote for a candidate who shares their values – assuming that candidate is even on the ballot. Election regulations are structured so that third parties can’t even be on the ballot in many states, and we continue to believe we live in a true democracy.

Strategic Voting was still being debated among the far left when Obama’s senior campaign adviser and former press secretary, Robert Gibbs,  said a 16 year old American citizen who was blasted to bits by a US drone while he sat around a campfire with his cousins should have had a better father:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/24/robert-gibbs-anwar-al-awlaki_n_2012438.html

Maybe killing American citizens without due process with drones is an impeachable offense as The Atlantic suggested at the time.  I don’t know.  I just know that pushing the voting button for Obama is the moral equivalent of pushing the drone button killing little kids in Pakistan.   Most Democrats won’t accept this responsibility since they personally oppose killing little kids in Pakistan.   They will still vote for Obama, and many will continue to blame Ralph Nader for pulling votes away from Al Gore and giving us George W. Bush – as if Clarence Thomas (whose wife Ginny, champion fundraiser for the Tea Party, was on Bush’s transition team) and the Supreme Court didn’t have a fucking thing to do with the results in Florida.   Entrenched Democrats only seem to remember the Supreme Court Justices to justify a LOTE vote – as if Obama would appoint a progressive judge instead of continuing his practice of only submitting  people and policies that the Republicans will approve.

I maintain that Ralph Nader wishes he had that kind of influence on American politics. I wish the Greens  had that kind of influence too – which is why I’ll be voting for Jill Stein next week while  all my friends and most of my family will be voting for Obama. They’re voting for him because of wedge issues like Abortion Rights and Marriage Equality.  Those issues are important to consider, but in the end, that’s kind of like putting your own special interests ahead of marginalized and brutalized people in this country and around the world.  When you think about what Cornel West has had to say about the new Jim Crow and Stop & Frisk, it’s pretty surprising he said he’d be voting for Obama even though, to my knowledge, he’s not registered in a swing state and RootsAction says he was among the “initiating signers” of the email about strategic voting.

Some of my friends will vote for Obama because they’re afraid of Conservative Christians.   For the record, I’m afraid of Conservative Christians too especially since so much of their money has gone into US politics, and through the people that money has elected, into a system that puts corporate greed over human need. Obama supporters often say that we have to work within the system to change it.  I say that voting for Jill Stein and other alternative candidates IS working within the system.   Setting explosions around the gates of Monsanto is not – that’s why I gave all my lipstick money to Jill Stein this fall and have chosen tequila cocktails over  Molotov.

Every Democrat I know is so scared of a Romney presidency that they overlook all the ways in which Obama functions as a corporate spokesperson to perpetuate endless war and environmental destruction. Maybe they’re right and a couple of thousand votes for Jill Stein will end in a Romney victory.  Maybe with Romney in the White House, Democrats will finally stop celebrating Incremental Progress and get off of their asses and into the streets with the rest of us.

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  1. Strategy vs Principles has been the problem since Pharaoh choose his son over Moses. Eh? Long before… I c. I choose PRINCIPLES, and I’m in a swing state. As a bona fide lady who lunch’s (raised by same) I feel you here Tricia… and relate.

    ” I just know that pushing the voting button for Obama is the moral equivalent of pushing the drone button killing little kids in Pakistan. ”

    Should there be ANY OTHER CONSIDERATION? says me. I find it heart sickening to hear folks I have genuinely supported and been inspired by, like Michael Moore and Doctor Brother Cornel West sounding off the take the ‘strategic’ voting choice. I too have family and friends disagreeing and saying as much. The honest RETHUG drunk next door is a welcome conversation over the fense for the last few months. My friend, you and I are Black Sheep… in a family circle… we have always done it ‘our way’ and we shall continue to because it would make our hearts’ to heavy to be anything less. I bless your brilliance. It’s a damn fine post and it expresses my own experience … to a large degree.

    Of all the signs that have stood out from OWS, this one stays vivid in my minds’ eye: IF NOT ME, WHO? IF NOT NOW, WHEN? I think there is still a global revolution underway. I ain’t awol. Neither is you.

  2. rick spisak says:

    Ms Nolan
    I voted for Dr. Stein also. My problems with President Obama goes beyond the drone war, casual killings. House Bill 347 criminalizing dissent. and NDAA allowing for not just indefinite detention and extrajudicial killings was just one more bridge too far. Having been an activist since the Viet Nam war days, I have for decades urged progressive and greens and libertarians of my acquaintance to HOLD YOUR NOSE and vote for one corporate shill milquetoast dem after another since they seemed light-years better than the republican’s offering which are demonstrably refugees from the gilded age with strong theocratic support.

    I know many of my liberal friends and many progressives view this decision as a betrayal of what good President Obama’s done.

    I have tired of reminding them this president who promised to walk a picket line in solidarity with Union Strikers, was busy walking somewhere else while the first responders and unionized civil servants were under attack by the ALEC Backed Gov. Walker. That this man of the people who promised to fight the good fight for health care for all, instead ruled universal health care for all. But most all of all the treatment of whistle – blowers, the persecution of dissent and the destruction of the constitutional protections for dissent, was a position that I could not support.

    The fact that again and again we were lectured by sneering Obamanauts that we had no where else to go, and while were selecting progressives to dump on, I was recalibrating what was meant by a constitutional scholar. But the environmental president who mistook a slight delay of support for the TAR SANDS PIPELINE for a strong pro-environmental stance. BUT DONOT DESTROY Habeas Corpus, and call yourself a servant of the Constitution.

  3. osori says:

    Trish, thank you ! All my thoughts and arguments and feelings on the matter are submitted in this post. No need to highlight certain portions that are particularly compelling – the entire post is compelling!
    You have integrity, you don’t just talk the talk you walk the walk. I am so proud to know you and be on the same team as you. You write from conscience. You have it, others don’t – or are only beginning to show flashes of the integrity you have always had.

  4. Stimpson says:

    Excellent, PE.

    If I had to choose, I would say my favourite part was this:
    “They’re voting for him because of wedge issues like Abortion Rights and Marriage Equality. Those issues are important to consider, but in the end, that’s kind of like putting your own special interests ahead of marginalized and brutalized people in this country and around the world.”

    I hadn’t thought of if quite that way before. Thanks for the insight.

    I’m not convinced that Stein is all that and a bag o’ chips. OTOH, as a Canadian maybe my opinion of any U.S. politician isn’t worth even as much as a bag o’ chips. I do appreciate, though, when people actually give some thought to the ethics/morality of what their country has done – and that you have done so very well. Cheers.

  5. elisa waller says:

    what a drag…this article..although very well written, made sense it was very poignant,. in the simpliest ironic example using peanut butter as a metaphor…the question is; who are they to limit all possibilities for human kind???

  6. PENolan says:

    Good question, Elisa – who are they indeed? I especially love the chant I learned from OWS: We are unstoppable; Another World is possible. It’s kind of like we’re a little brook running in the hillside that one day makes a Grand Canyon. It could take 10,000 years of steady work, but one day humanity will get there. Bright shining as the sun.

    Stimpson, I hear you on the US Politician thing. Politicians everywhere, for that matter. But I can support CHIPS any time.

    Osori, I made my kid read your comment just so he’d know that SOMEBODY respects what I say. Thanks for helping me out

    Rick, don’t get me started on the pipeline.

    Gwen – sooner or later, we have to have a three margarita lunch.

    One Love, y’all

  7. Stella Jonsson says:

    Sometimes, the most basic metaphors are the most powerful. Peanut butter: that’s an eloquent simplicity that goes far in explaining why people are voting third party.

    What a wonderful post, P.e. You’ve nailed me: “Some of my friends will vote for Obama because they’re afraid of Conservative Christians. For the record, I’m afraid of Conservative Christians too especially since so much of their money has gone into US politics, and through the people that money has elected, into a system that puts corporate greed over human need. ” I won’t deny it: that’s me.

    The Chris Hedges post, “Why I’m Voting Green,” has me at a loss. P.e., you have written one of the most powerful statements for the necessity for a third-(or fourth- or fifth-) party.

    Beautifully done!

  8. PENolan says:

    Stella, if all of us just reflect for a moment and understand why we’re doing what we’re doing, it’s all going to be okay. You and I have always agreed that thinking, ethical people can come to different conclusions. We’ll see a lot of that this Tuesday.
    We’ll also see a bunch of shit heads, but that’s another story.

    • Stella Jonsson says:

      I needed that, P.e. Thanks. It will all be over after Tuesday. I’m just watching the California propositions right now. We’ve got a lot going on here. Just want to repeat myself: this is a wonderful, well-written, even-handed post. That’s quite an impressive accomplishment these days. Namaste.

  9. mac says:

    Dammit, I don’t like Skippy.

  10. Rick76 says:

    I voted for OBAMA and nothing went “Boom.” It’s far better to use drones than American troops. With either there will be collateral damage, except in the latter case the war will go on and on and Americans will die. Very, very few civilians are killed.

    You lot appear to be disaffected Obama supporters, the worst kind, the haters. You have no real convictions just super liberal nonsense that is propagandized by the extremists on the left. Get a real grip on the world and try to understand what’s really going on. Not voting for Obama is voting for Romney and if he wins you will deserve everything you get. Voting third party is an exercise in futility.

  11. rick spisak says:


    Either you read these statements too fast or not closely enough.

    I wrote – “House Bill 347 criminalizing dissent. and NDAA allowing for not just indefinite detention and extrajudicial killings was just one more bridge too far.”

    My concern is that if we relinquish what used to be our Constitutional Protections – the whole game is up. Because once a “president” can act with impunity, extra judicially [with no check and balance] – THEN there is no constraint on “a mild killing monarch” or a truly “mad one” like just to name a few seemingly viable republicans Ryan, Romney, Jeb Bush, and on and on and on.

    Maybe you have no problem, with the president prosecuting more whistle blowers than any other president. – And if so that’s fine. I see no reason to insult you. But you seem to take our reservations on the activity of President Obama much lighter than we do. And if you have no problem with him ignoring the Constitution, then I guess we think differently.

    You call us haters? If I hated something – I would hate somebody who protects BUSH TORTURERS and calls peace activists IRRATIONAL. I HATE SOMEONE who believes he can take a life with impunity, without JUDICIAL OVERSIGHT. – But if you read my comments or any of the comments of those of us, who expressed reservations – you see clear cogent reasoned ideas. The only one I see talking of hate, Rick76 – is you.

    If America, and the Right and their 13 Million silver pieces, and their corrupted voting equipment doesn’t deliver a ROMNEY into his false spot on the stage – your storing up vitriol for those of us, who share the same goals, but chose a different strategy, I think you need to adjust your target, my brother.

    solidarity & peace

  12. Stella Jonsson says:

    Some vote third party out of conscience; others (like me) are voting for Obama because, as P.e. wrote I’m “afraid of Conservative Christians.” (Not all of them… just the mean ones…) I also believe that an R/R administration would be a nightmare beyond belief. I guess that’s sort of my vote of conscience, even if it might be misguided. What the hell do I really know?

    In my inelegant way, I’m just trying to say what’s most important is that you all voted. As P.e. wrote “… ethical people can come to different conclusions.”

    (That Skippy thing, can I have extra-crunchy?)