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An Activist Chooses to Be Active


By Bernard Weiner

Co-Editor, The Crisis Papers

October 29, 2012


So, despite agreeing with the general thrust of my co-editor Ernie's essay, here I am making phone calls into Wyoming and Colorado and Nevada from Obama headquarters in San Francisco.

What I'm doing may be the electoral equivalent of pissing into the wind, but simply accepting that the game is rigged and giving in to political depression, with a metaphorical blanket of despair over my head, is simply not where I can go in 2012.

One does what one can do, even if the parameters are constricting and lead to a cynical mental state. There's always a glimmer of hope in the democratic process, corrupted though it may be, that the will of voters might prevail in a relatively honest ballot-counting.

Plus, in each state and municipality, there are all sorts of other, important races and referenda and candidates on the ballot other than the presidential reckoning.


So I keep sending out donations to liberal and progressive candidates -- more money than I've contributed in many years -- and to making phone calls into swing states for Obama (even if I have severe policy disagreements with him in a number of areas) and good liberal/progressive candidates, both on a statewide and local level.

The liberal/progressive Left, that which is still alive, lost an opportunity to help build a viable third-party for this 2012 election. If the hard-rightists behind Romney/Ryan are the only realistic alternative to Obama, then, given their extremist, reckless views, Obama is the candidate we have to vote for.

His Supreme Court appointments would be more intelligent and civilized and less-ideologically crazy. His support of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid -- even with his cavils and willingness to compromise -- would help keep those vital programs reasonably alive in a rightist era. His support for environmental laws and financial oversight are at least on record and could become stronger. His centrist foreign and domestic policies often are not the ones I would favor, but they are far and away better than those that would take precedence if the Republicans took power.



For me, it's a no-brainer. A "revolutionary" party is not on the ballot. And there is no way I am going to permit those oligarchical forces behind Rmoney and Ryan to gain total control without putting up a fight.

So I keep sending out checks and punching phone numbers at Obama HQ -- and taking nasty heat from a good share of Republican voters who happen to answer. But I've also "met" so many good Democrats and Independents who realize the stakes involved and are proud to have already early-voted for Obama and also for good Democratic statewide candidates.

As I see it, the next task after November 7 for the progressive left is to start trying to help create a new lib/rad/independent party (the "New Democratic Party"?) that can organize both on a grassroots local level and a statewide and nation level so that the 2014 and 2016 elections will offer something other than the limited and often corrupted two-party choices we have today.

Even if Obama were to win this election, we have a number of years to make something happen in the way of electoral reform, financial reform, grassroots organizing. I'm willing to offer my energies and support in helping make sure it happens -- and I think there are millions of others out there who might be similarly interested.

So, to sum up, my electoral advice at this late stage is to support and work for and vote for Obama and start thinking seriously about coming up with a viable alternative party to the Republicans and Democrats that in the future can capture the progressive/liberal/independent imagination.




Bernard Weiner, Ph.D. in government and international relations, has taught at universities in California and Washington, was a writer/editor with the San Francisco Chronicle for two decades, and currently serves as co-editor of The Crisis Papers (www.crisispapers.org).


Crisis Papers editors, Partridge & Weiner, are available for public speaking appearances