The Kind of Politics That Minnesota - and the Rest of the World - Needs
Progressive activist folks all over the nation have become suspicious of, weary of and/or outright angry with the Big Money/Big Business influences that are increasingly corrupting both of the political parties in two party system. These altruistic patriots who remember the era when America was a haven for the down-trodden have become disgusted - almost to the point of despair - by the anti-union/pro-corporate/anti-environment/anti-sustainability right-wing forces that are heavily influencing the elected officials and party bureaucrats of both the Republican (including its Libertarian branch) and the Democratic Parties in Minnesota.
Therefore, many of these progressive activists will be getting together this Saturday (January 11, 2014) at 11 AM at the First United Methodist Church (Copper Top) to discuss what can be done to counter what the cunning, uber-rich 1% (who are in the corporate/investor classes) have been doing to the 99% of those who find themselves underneath them in the un-democratic plutocratic class system (where the elite rule) that has evolved in America.
Following is a list of some of the topics to be discussed at the conference by a variety of presenters, panel discussions and small group discussions:
1) progressive political organizing (all participants)
2) livable wage legislation and full employment for all (Minnesota Greens and Uniting People),
3) universal single payer health care (Minnesota Citizens Federation and Physicians for a National Health Program),
4) issues concerning indigenous people (Idle No More);
5) wolf hunting (Northwoods Wolf Alliance);
6) grassroots political organizing (Minnesota Greens),
7) big money in state and national politics, especially since the Citizens United decision of 2010 (Move to Amend),
8) out-of-state, for profit, extractive mining corporations that are willing to risk the poisoning of the aquifers and the environment (WaterLegacy),
Vern Simula’s Recent Message to His Constituents
Vern Simula, the visionary and primary organizer of the conference, wrote a recent letter to some of his email correspondents. In his lament (and ultimate his call to action) Simula wrote:
“To put it bluntly, we are in crisis.
“We are in crisis with our economy, our climate, our environment, our system of government.
“We’ve tried for years and decades to change things for the better - but the trends only worsen.
“We’ve organized, we’ve demonstrated, we’ve worked on campaigns - and nothing really changes.
“We’ve voted for Democrats who promised progressive legislation - and very little changes.
“We keep on blogging and emailing and petitioning online, mostly talking amongst ourselves - and still nothing changes.
“Except the endless wars continue; the corporate subsidies continue; the corporate domination and corruption of our government continues; the environmental ravaging by mining and oil companies continues; the wealth/income disparities continue. And all the while, human devastation caused by poverty, joblessness, homelessness and inadequate healthcare continues to increase and the quality of life and financial security for most Americans deteriorates.”
“We need to put our heads together . . . to figure out how we can bring our concerns - the progressive message - into the public square in a way that it can’t be marginalized . . . or ignored.
“We, on the progressive Left need “more political clout.” How to build that political clout is the basic agenda for the forum.”
Not Satisfied With Voting for the “Lesser of Two Evils” Anymore?
I personally have long been disgusted with the Democratic Party that has shifted away from many of the progressive political stances it embodied in the years of my early involvement with it. We used to have a surplus of real patriots who truly represented the common person and who were truly progressive, peace-minded thinkers and doers. I remember being proud to actively support Jack Kennedy, Bobbie Kennedy, George McGovern, Hubert Humphrey and Paul Wellstone, all of whom truly stood for peace and justice and the people. Lately however, I have become – at best - only capable of generating luke-warm support for some of the candidates that the Democratic Party bosses (in the proverbial smoke-filled room) have chosen for us to vote for. Too many of those candidates are only the lesser of two evils – and therefore I reluctantly vote.
For most of us altruistic Minnesotans, the assassination of Paul Wellstone was another punch to the solar plexus that was not much different from the blow we took after the political murders of the progressive leaders JFK, MLK and RFK. Part of the reason some of us idealists felt so bad after Paul’s murder was the fact that Wellstone was actually a “green” before his time. (For those who question the assassination assertion above, watch the short preview of the Snowshoe Films documentary “Wellstone: They Killed Him” at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K-bmmpoDndw and http://www.snowshoefilms.com/wellstone.html).
And so, since that last assassination of dangerous liberals (after which the Democratic Left finally got in step with the less deadly NeoCon/NeoLiberal corporate/militaristist agenda), I have come to regard myself as having no major party affiliation. I now regard myself as just a citizen with “green values” and no longer am a contributor to or promoter of centrist Democrats (whether center/left or center/right). During the election season, I only vote for Democrats because there are never any Republicans on the ballot who are even close to having a single “green” value. At least some of the Democratic candidates have a few of those values.
To familiarize readers with what are meant by progressive “green values” (which seems to be a primary motivation behind the conference this weekend) please read the following 10 points, which I obtained at a Green Party Minnesota website. Some readers may realize that they resonate with a majority of these values and want to join the progressive movement.
And perhaps even some members of the Democratic Party might be inspired to try to shift their party away from their deserved reputation of being a “Republican Light” political party.
10 KEY GREEN PARTY VALUES
1. Grassroots Democracy
Every human being deserves a say in the decisions that affect his or her life and should not be subject to the will of another.
Therefore, we will work to increase public participation at every level of government and to ensure that our public representatives are fully accountable to the people who elect them. We will also work to create new types of political organizations which expand the process of participatory democracy by directly including citizens in the decision making process.
2. Social Justice and Equal Opportunity
All persons should have the rights and opportunity to benefit equally from the resources afforded us by society and the environment.
We must consciously confront in ourselves, our organizations, and society at large, barriers such as racism and class oppression, sexism and homophobia, ageism and disability, which act to deny fair treatment and equal justice under the law.
3. Ecological Wisdom
Human societies must operate with the understanding that we are part of nature, not separate from nature. We must maintain an ecological balance and live within the ecological and resource limits of our communities and our planet. We support a sustainable society which utilizes resources in such a way that future generations will benefit and not suffer from the practices of our generation. To this end we must practice agriculture which replenishes the soil; move to an energy efficient economy; and live in ways that respect the integrity of natural systems.
It is essential that we develop effective alternatives to society’s patterns of violence. We will work to demilitarize, and eliminate weapons of mass destruction, without being naïve about the intentions of other governments. We recognize the need for self-defense and the defense of others who are in helpless situations. We promote non-violent methods to oppose practices and policies with which we disagree, and will guide our actions toward lasting personal, community and global peace.
5. Decentralization of wealth and power
Centralization of wealth and power contributes to social and economic injustice, environmental destruction, and militarization.
Therefore, we support a restructuring of social, political and economic institutions away from a system which is controlled by and mostly benefits the powerful few, to a democratic, less bureaucratic system. Decision-making should, as much as possible, remain at the individual and local level, while assuring that civil rights are protected for all citizens.
6. Community Based Economics
Redesign our work structures to encourage employee ownership and workplace democracy. Develop new economic activities and institutions that will allow us to use our new technologies in ways that are humane, freeing, ecological and accountable, and responsive to communities. Establish some form of basic economic security, open to all. Move beyond the narrow “job ethic” to new definitions of “work,” jobs” and “income” that reflect the changing economy. Restructure our patterns of income distribution to reflect the wealth created by those outside the formal monetary economy: those who take responsibility for parenting, housekeeping, home gardens, community volunteer work, etc. Restrict the size and concentrated power of corporations
without discouraging superior efficiency or technological innovation.
7. Feminism and Gender Equity
We have inherited a social system based on male domination of politics and economics. We call for the replacement of the cultural ethics of domination and control with more cooperative ways of interacting that respect differences of opinion and gender. Human values such as equity between the sexes, interpersonal responsibility, and honesty must be developed with moral conscience. We should remember that the process that determines our decisions and actions is just as important as achieving the outcome we want.
8. Respect for Diversity
We believe it is important to value cultural, ethnic, racial, sexual, religious and spiritual diversity, and to promote the development of respectful relationships across these lines. We believe that the many diverse elements of society should be reflected in our organizations and decision-making bodies, and we support the leadership of people who have been traditionally closed out of leadership roles. We acknowledge and encourage respect for other life forms than our own and the preservation of biodiversity
9. Personal and Global Responsibility
We encourage individuals to act to improve their personal wellbeing and, at the same time, to enhance ecological balance and social harmony. We seek to join with people and organizations around the world to foster peace, economic justice, and the health of the planet.
10. Future Focus and Sustainability
Our actions and policies should be motivated by long-term goals. We seek to protect valuable natural resources, safely disposing of or “unmaking” all waste we create, while developing a sustainable economics that does not depend on continual expansion for survival. We must counterbalance the drive for short-term profits by assuring that economic development, new technologies, and fiscal policies are responsible to future generations who will inherit the results of our actions. Make the quality of life, rather than open-ended economic growth, the focus of future thinking.