"P" is for politics: another stump speech

Our resident eco-radical battles The System ... the winner or loser may be You.

by Robert Nanninga
here are are many things human beings excel at, such as greed, arrogance and making simple tasks exceptionally difficult. We are good at living in an illusion, slight of hand, contact sports and word games. All of which can be summed up with one word ... POLITICS. The tone and issues of politics today are centered around issues politicians can't solve and promises they can't keep nor pay for. And the last thing we seem to want to pay for is a clean, healthy environment.
I find it rather amusing that before the onslaught of our so-called civilized democracy, this continent was truly a land of the free and home of the brave.
Native Americans of the Iroquis Confederacy, living here at the arrival of Europeans (the beginning of North America's illegal immigration problem), had a system of community decision-making that is used successfully to this day and became the basis for the democracy inculcated in our Constitution. Unfortunately, although Benjamin Franklin was able to put some of these radical, consensual ideas into our culture 300 years after the cultures began to mix, he was not able to provide the network of accountability and community context that allowed for those tribes to deal with liars and thieves.
The current state of affairs is far from civilized. In this time of elections, it is perfectly clear how far off we've strayed. Instead of discussing the root causes of some of our current problems, the Republicans and Democrats - protectors of the status quo - are content to point fingers at each other. They hope that their posturing and gesturing will divert our attention long enough for them to milk as much from the system as they possibly can by serving the interests that have the time, money and education to fund the campaign system.
So it makes a weird kind of sense that issues which effect most Americans are always avoided at election time. Instead of candidates discussing air quality and transportation, most are to content with slinging mud at each other over issues such as the death penalty and abortion. Well, if you ask me, if we don't do something about the toxins our society continuously pumps into our air, we will all be ordering our last meal, with little hope for clemency.
Which candidates are speaking about biodiversity? If Democracy is a representative system, who represents the California gnatcatcher, mountain lions, and the desert tortoise? The Endangered Species Act is under assualt by extractive industrial interests and federally subsidized (i.e. welfare) ranchers on public lands, most of whom seem to claim that their congressionally bought-and-paid-for subsidies are actually their God-given personal property rights. That once the government has put you on the dole, you deserve to stay there forever, regardless of the desires of other members of the public and the need to protect groundwater and maintain the health and cleanliness of other ecosystem components.
We live in a society where elected officials care more about protecting factory farmers and their arsenal of chemicals than the children who risk their lives eating hamburgers. The reason for these twisted ethics is clear. The giants that have blessed this planet with the wonders of DDT, thalidomide, bovine growth hormone and prozac find it easier to buy politicians than to take responsibility for the consequences of their decisions - decisions ultimately based on who stands to gain the most financially or politically. Greed for money or power is still - and is likely to remain - the driving force of political culture and environmental decline.
If greed is not the answer, would someone please explain to me why the United States of America, in all it's infinite wisdom, feels the need to spend billions of our tax dollars subsidizing non-renewable processes that choke our biosphere when solar, wind, and other less polluting alternatives would be competitive with the same subsidies?
If greed is not the answer, would someone please explain to me why we allow developers to destroy irreplaceable wild spaces to make way for the temples of consumerism? How many strip malls does this planet need?
Anyone who thinks America has a healthy multi-party system should look again. The Republicans and Democrats are different sides of the same coin. How do we, as environmentally concerned voters, make a difference in the political arena, where the message only matters as much as the money supporting it? Environmentalists can't possibly accumulate enough money on behalf of natural systems to buy it all at developer's prices.
The politicians who succeed within the political establishment have too much invested in the way things are done to actively take part in bringing about significant change. And since politicians are just puppets to fundraisers, they can't be counted on for anything more than lip service and sound bites. It is time for the grass roots movement to produce viable candidates that can address local issues and work towards a substainable future.
As more and more Green Party members seek office (and I am not talking about establishment types mouthing green speak), we must get behind those candidates of change. This shift in politics will not be done with money, and it will take time - like most successful evolutionary processes. The change will be one of conscience, with people talking to their neighbors, families and friends; whole communities deciding what is best for them. Green candidates will need to look to the future, for that is where the answers lie, not the past where the policies of acid rain, Superfund sights, and Persian Gulf wars still fester.
I ask all who read this to make a stand for the future. By registering and voting for the California Green Party , we can let all the career politicians know that it is time we stopped playing politics, and begin the road back to a place where men and women live in balance with the biosphere that supports us. For those of you worried that a vote for a dinky, poorly organized group without a chance to win is a wasted vote, convice me that your votes for the status quo actually aren't wasted. For those of you who don't vote at all, regardless of your reason, please refrain from complaining about how things turn out and how you want the future to change. Better to just get your act together and do what you need to do to get to the polls. Vote as if your life depends on it. It does.

Robert Nanninga is an independent video producer, actor, vegan, and active member of the Green and environmental community.