Long ago I severed my ties with the Democratic Party, though I have always maintained an interest in its affairs. This is in part because I hold dear many of its supposed core values. Too bad the party has long since abandoned the values that distinguished it from the Republicans; values that made the party respectable to all working people and most environmentalists. Until this year, I hadn’t cast a single vote in any election since 1972. While I chose not to vote, I have always been involved in political issues and in my community. Voting is the least we can do; and I have usually opted to do far more than the bare minimum.
The mid term elections of 2002 featured what may be an historic low voter turnout of about thirty percent. That is thirty percent of those registered to vote–not thirty percent of the population. As a percentage of the general population those who voted last Tuesday is certainly a much smaller number.
I’ve been told many times over the years that those who don’t vote have no right to complain, because they are not participating in the democratic process. I disagree. In a true democracy, everyone has a voice in government, whether they vote or not. Unfortunately, the form of government we have in these United States is not now–nor has it ever been–a democracy. It is in fact a Plutocracy; that is government of the poor by the rich. Because of this intolerable situation, I cannot blame anyone for not voting. I do blame them, however, for their apathy.
The average American, while disinterested in politics generally, is perceptive enough to know that their vote means nothing when the outcome is virtually predetermined by special interest money. Why, then, should they waist their valuable time when there are no real choices presented to them? They are wise enough to know that the babbling idiots seen nightly on their TV screens do not represent them. For this reason, voter turnout has continued to dwindle; a situation that, unfortunately, favors the status quo. Contrary to what polished politicians say, they do not want a high voter turnout.
The vast majority of the American public has lost faith in the so called two party system. They see it for exactly what it is–a corrupt method of assuring the same outcome, regardless of who is elected to office. It is not so much who gets into office but how they get there that is the source of the problem.
Every year ludicrous sums of money are wasted putting special interest representatives into government. These politicians do not represent the will of the people; they represent the desires of the corporations whose only motive is profit.
The current two party system is saturated in the corruption of special interest money. Until there is serious campaign finance reform or federally funded campaigns, nothing will change.
There are viable alternatives to despair, however. But in order to make them work they require ordinary people–people like you and I–to run for and win political office. Only ordinary people like us can represent the vast majority of the people. We have to grow a new party from the ground up that represents the people in government, rather than the wealthy. Where I live in West Virginia we are growing the Mountain Party. The Morgan County Mountain Party ran three candidates in last Tuesday’s elections. Not surprisingly, none of them were elected to office. I know each of the candidates personally and have worked on their campaigns. They are without exception good people of impeccable character. They are the kind of people most of us want to see in office.
Our Mountain Party candidates got 28%, 18%, and 10% of the vote respectively in this week’s elections. These are encouraging numbers for a party that is only a few years old. The vast majority of Americans are turned off by the lies of slick, professional politicians. They demand integrity, honesty, and character. And until they get it they won’t vote. Remember that the majority of American’s didn’t vote on Tuesday. It is this deep reservoir of untapped energy that the Mountain Party of West Virginia seeks to activate. On the National Level the Green Party is attempting to do the same.
How are we to accomplish our goals? We will continue to organize. We will go door to door and meet the people. We will talk to them one on one. We will enlist their financial support through many small donations of time, money and energy. We do not accept corporate money; nor will we be beholden to corporations and their fleeting power schemes. We will not accept defeat. We will not allow ourselves to be demoralized by those in power. We will take comfort in knowing and trusting one another; by gathering to discuss ideas while sharing food and drink and working together in our respective communities. Our numbers and our strength will continue to grow every year until we become an irresistible force for change. We are sowing seeds of dissent–seeds of hope. The movement is growing. I can feel it in my bones. The people will rise up and recognize their own power to evoke change. The people have the power; they have only to recognize this fact and to act.
CHARLES SULLIVAN is a veteran wild forest activist, writer and cabinetmaker who resides on twenty acres of land in the rural countryside of West Virginia.
He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org