On election day I will go to the polls and vote like it matters in Toledo, Ohio. Toledo is ground zero of the electoral circus where millions upon millions of dollars have been spent to hoodwink the serfs and wage-slaves of this foreclosed and toxic city. The voters have been flocking in droves to vote for one of the two faces of our sputtering Corporatocracy’s fully owned and operated political parties. In Toledo it is very important that the game is played until the final bell and that all of the doors are knocked on, even if a good number of those doors have been boarded up or torn down and tenants evicted into another tenement in another part of town, locked into prison, shot, or buried in a cancer ridden cemetery.
Toledo is one of those cities where the recently dead just might turn up to vote if the election is contested enough. Rumor has it that the Chicago Democratic Machine comes here to take notes. I think I saw some ghosts voting for the second time in line at the early voting center just yesterday.
They say it’s a horse race here in Ohio and the turnout in the sickly, industrialized Toledo is key if Obama is to counterbalance the rural white and undereducated populations of the southeastern part of the state. Undereducated seems to be more the rule than the exception when describing the electorate in the buckeye state. Toledo suffers from the highest high school dropout rate in the state and has the fastest growing rate of concentrated economic poverty of any major city in the United States. What a fitting battleground for the corporate establishment to put on its show of partisan warfare.
The narrative for the Democrats here is about how Obama saved some UAW jobs with the auto bailout and stopped this part of the country from falling into an even grimmer reality. This fable leaves out the fact that the auto bailout was paid for by us, the taxpayers, and that those to gain the most from it were the executives at Fiat and the likes of the Elliott financial group, including Barack’s counterpart Mitt, who profited at least 15,000,000 dollars from the bailout through the gutting of Delphi automotive and the shipping of thousands of UAW jobs to China . This narrative also leaves out the fact that autoworkers were stuck with the worst contract that was ever negotiated for them by a bankrupt UAW leadership that actually suspended their constitution to shove a horrible contract down their workers’ throats, a contract that has led to more dangerous working conditions and severe cuts in wages. It is far better to conceal these truths in a fictional tale of an economy on the rebound where the serfs and the slaves will have many more years to toil assembling autos fed by our fabulous oil economy.
Here in the greater Toledo area of northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan the serfs and the slaves are conditioned to consider themselves lucky enough to cling to fewer and fewer good paying jobs in the auto sector. The good serfs and slaves are made to feel oh so lucky to be able to refine Tar Sands oil and will be able to refine even more if that XL pipeline comes through. We have a Sun Oil refinery and a BP/Husky refinery and coal plants and even 2 nuclear power plants within a 25 mile radius. There is now the promise to build a state of the art natural gas fired plant in just 4 years. I guess you could call Toledo, Ohio the all of the above energy voters’ wet dream and Democrats and Republicans alike love to celebrate all the economic promise this bodes for our future.
The Toledo slaves and serfs also consider themselves damned lucky that our wars based on lies have allowed 130 local businesses to get government contracts for making all kinds of useful stuff that contributes to America’s military expansion and occupations abroad. A Toledo company actually makes the razor wire fencing that goes on top of the Apartheid wall that cuts off Palestinians from their olive groves and divides them from the two corporate parties’ closest ally in the world, the state of Israel. Toledo also produces triggering devices for nuclear bombs with some good paying jobs to be sure. The slaves and serfs here are so lucky to be served by their fearless Democratic party champion Marcy Kaptur and others, who do all they can to make sure that the house appropriations committee continues to funnel money into these great boons to our local and regional economy while fighting to keep tar sands oil piping into the region, coal burning cleanly, and nuclear waste piling up nicely and neatly on Lake Erie’s shores.
Like good serfs and slaves most of the citizens of Toledo, Ohio will go to the polls and vote for their corporately selected leader Barack Obama, while a growing number, including blue collar tea partiers, will vote for their corporately selected leader Mitt Romney, either way they will be voting for two sides of the same coin and for a future dictated by the Corporatocracy. Theirs is a choice between corporate rule and corporate rule and most of them know little more about the other alternatives available to them. Like good mass consumers they will choose the corporate product best marketed to them and vote on what they are told to think matters most by the flat screens constantly droning on in their living rooms and bedrooms.
On election day I will go to the polls and vote like it matters in Toledo, Ohio. I will vote like it matters that we may someday have clean water to drink here once again. I will vote like it matters that the air may one day, once again be fit for breathing and that I don’t have to live in fear of my daughter being diagnosed with asthma like so many children here are everyday. I will vote like it matters that we are opening the most destructive scar upon the earth ever created by man in the tar sands fields of Alberta, Canada. I will vote as if climate change exists and that our insane overconsumption has something to do with it. I will vote like it matters that there is no way to safely dispose of nuclear waste.
I will vote like it matters that our education system is the laughing stock of the world and that most people can’t even afford a college education while graduates are now strapped by debt and forced into a life of indentured servitude to pay it off. I will vote like it matters that we fight wars based on lies to continuously feed the military industrial complex that Eisenhower warned us about. I will vote like it matters that we have civil rights and liberties to speak out and protest the greed driven Corporatocracy that defines our existence without threat of indefinite detention or assassination from our presidents.
I will vote like it matters that human beings and the natural world are fundamentally more important than those corporations that are destroying it. I will vote like it matters that the food we eat is healthy and that we know what is in it and on it. I will vote like it matters that healthcare be provided to everyone as a fundamental human right.
I will vote like it matters in Toledo, Ohio that our tax dollars are paying for drones to bomb weddings and birthday parties in far away lands killing innocent people constantly. I will vote like it matters that our tax dollars are used to fund wars based on lies to grab resources across the globe. I will vote like it matters that our tax dollars are generously provided to the state of Israel so that they can brutally and inhumanely decimate the Palestinian people and their ancestral homelands.
I will vote like it matters that everyone has the right to a living wage job doing something positive and productive for the betterment of our world. I will vote like it matters that our tax dollars are spent on human needs instead of bailing out banks and corporations to big to fail or fighting wars without end. I will vote like it matters that people are never discriminated against because of race, gender or sexual orientation. I will vote like it matters that women have the absolute right to reproductive freedom and control over their own bodies. I will vote like it matters that our grandchildren and grandchildren’s grandchildren should have a right to a livable future on this planet.
I will not vote for an illusion of hope or an illusion of change. I will not vote for false promises dangled by corporate marketing experts. I will not vote for change we could believe in. My vote will not be guided by corporate driven fear of supreme court justice appointees to a court dominated by criminals that I view as anything but supreme. I will vote for Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein and vice presidential candidate Cheri Honkala because they represent the change I do believe in and have have been struggling for and the values of a world I envision for my daughter. I will vote as if these values and these changes truly do matter and for a livable alternative to the cult of corporate death that has the American electorate so sadly deceived. I invite you all to join me. These two women are the embodiment of the strength and humbleness in leadership that it will take to heal this planet from the humanitarian and social crises, the ecological crises, the economic crises and the political crises that we face here and internationally. Please learn more about what they are proposing and what they believe in at www.jillstein.org and please, no matter where you are, vote like it matters or don’t vote at all.
Michael Leonardi is a campaign coordinator for the Coalition Against Nukes www.coalitionagainstnukes.org and lives in Toledo, Ohio.