"V" is for Vote

Not voting simply endorses the status quo ... and why vote for that?

by Robert Nanninga

recently had the pleasure of attending a Green Party gathering in Balboa Park. It was sort of a potluck information thing, complete with dreadlocked drummers and organic grapes. Although it was smaller than the organizers had hoped for, the forty people who attended were part of a conversation about politics and responsibility. Political responsibility - Wow! what a concept.

Of the comments that were made, two stand out foremost in my mind. One of the drummers said that he never voted because prayer was more effective in bringing about change. I had to restrain myself from jumping to my feet screaming, "Wake up you fool, the planet is being destroyed by corporate greed, and unless your prayers are being heard by those setting policy, you are deluding yourself." Luckily, I retained my cool. The Green movement is, after all, a philosophy that includes cultural diversity - faith included.

I admit there is a power in prayer, but sadly that power is not being translated into action. When the Spanish were conquering the New World, they backed up their prayers with the sword. History has proven this to be an effective strategy, time and time again. Please do not misconstrue my intentions. I'm not saying we need to take up arms to protect the planet... yet. What I am saying, however, is that we must pick up the pen and the ballot, and do battle with the multinational corporations currently buying Washington, lock, stock and barrel. Like it or not folks, we are fighting a war of ideologies, profit versus preservation, and currently the profiteers are kicking butt.

The other comment was made by a woman who wanted us all to know she was a property owner. In addition, she said that since human beings have always been controlled by dictators, we should stop fighting and instead try to elect a benevolent dictator. This time all I wanted to do was scream until my head exploded. Could someone please explain to me how one elects a dictator? I am sorry, the last thing the world needs is another dictator.

What we Americans need is a political system that is open to all of the people, all of the time. Currently, this two-party tango is a charade of democracy. Let's face it, Republicans and Democrats are actually the same party, determined to protect the status quo at all costs. If this means excluding alternative views, so be it. Bob Dole is Ronald Reagan, who is Dan Quayle, who is Bill Clinton, who is Jimmy Carter, who is... etc.

The mainstream media is committed to protecting the power structure. This is evident in denying Ross Perot and other party candidates such as the Green Party (Ralph Nader) and the Natural Law Party (Dr. John Hagelin) a place at the debates. Ignoring the big picture, the network pundits and the media elite question the need for other parties. They also question the electability of alternative party candidates. Hello? Censorship usually has a negative effect on campaigning.

Personally, I am sick and tired of hearing the term "third party." Wake up America, it is time we embraced the reality that we have at least 10 organized national parties. Ross Perot is being used to slander the whole concept of moving beyond the two-party monopoly and corporate control of Washington.

To be honest with you, I don't think the issue is really the electability of Mr. Perot. Sure, Bob Dole will have some votes siphoned off, but that's just surface stuff. Bill Clinton has much more to lose if the debates are opened up. Can you imagine what would happen if our boy Bill was forced to debate Ralph Nader? Haven't we been duped by the "Good Cop-Bad Cop" routine long enough.

If things are to change, we must do two things. First and foremost is to demand, not ask, for proportional representation. This means getting rid of the electoral college, which was an idea that worked in 1776, when only white male land owners could vote. Need I remind people that things have changed? As things stand now, a person's vote holds little weight. This has resulted in a decline in voter turnout. And that, by the way, suits the Washington elites just fine.

Second, we have to address the fact that elected officials are merely puppets of laissez faire capitalists, who have little regard for the people they are exploiting. Since money is power, we need to deny them money. Every dollar spent is a vote cast. Consumer boycotts are an effective tool. Have a problem with Jesse Helms and the tobacco Industry calling the shots in Washington? Boycott Nabisco (owned by R.J Reynolds). How many Americans know that the cookie people are also the cancer people? Ladies and gentlemen, now is the time for sweeping campaign reforms (see propositions 208 and 212).

Currently, the people in power are trying to convince us that there are no viable alternatives. I say there are. Why keep in power the political machines that have saddled future generations with an enormous debt, pollution, and enough weapons to destroy the planet a hundred times over? Wouldn't it be a nice change of pace to have the men and women of Congress talking about sustainability as opposed electability? How about the vice president championing mass transit instead of mass communication? Best yet, the President of the United States addressing over-population in the same breath as overspending would signal a true shift in consciousness.

To bring about this change, we must start at the local level. I will be voting this election with the future in mind. For President, I am endorsing Green Party candidate Ralph Nader; campaign financing reform is the foundation of his platform, and for that he gets my vote. In the 51st district, Eric Bourdette of the Natural Law Party gets my vote for his commitment to conflict-free politics and his party's promotion of organically sustainable agriculture. Here in Encinitas, only one candidate will receive my support. My bullet vote belongs to Sheila Cameron with her head for business and her environmental heart.

You might disagree with my choices, but those of you who follow my column know I do not take these matters lightly. I encourage everyone to follow their heart when voting, not their wallet and the politics of greed that has brought us to the precipice where we now stand. To all of you who have decided not to vote, I say: undecide. A revolution is in the process and we need your help to bring about the change future generations need. If they are to have even half of what we have so recklessly squandered, it's up to us to vote for it. Vote as if your child's life depends on it. It does..

Robert Nanninga is an independent video producer, actor, vegan, active member of the Green and environmental communities, and a board member of San Diego Earth Day.