Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Spring Fund Drive: Keep CounterPunch Afloat
CounterPunch is a lifeboat of sanity in today’s turbulent political seas. Please make a tax-deductible donation and help us continue to fight Trump and his enablers on both sides of the aisle. Every dollar counts!
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Politics of Fear

“This politics of fear has actually delivered everything we were afraid of.”

Well, OK, let’s think about these words of Jill Stein for a moment, as the 2016 presidential race enters, oh Lord, its final month — and the possibility still looms that this country could elect a hybrid of Benito Mussolini and Jim Crow its next, uh, commander in chief.

Politics of fear, indeed! Most of the people I know are going to vote for Hillary Clinton, and I get it. The other guy is the most unapologetic “greater evil” the Democrats have ever been blessed with.

Everybody’s scared. Bernie Sanders, my guy, the force behind the Bernie Revolution that almost transformed, or reclaimed, the Democratic Party this year, said: “I know more about third-party politics than anyone. (But) this is not the time for a protest vote.”

And Michelle Obama, speaking at a Clinton rally a few days ago, equated not voting at all with voting for a third-party candidate. She told the crowd, according to Bloomberg.com, that they could “help swing an entire precinct for Hillary’s opponent with a protest vote or by staying home out of frustration.” (And the headline on the Bloomberg story neatly summed up the media consensus on how democracy works: “Which States Can Gary Johnson and Jill Stein Spoil?”)

A month to go and I find myself skewered with something bigger than frustration. It begins with the false, dead enthusiasm I hear in Hillary’s attempts to rally her base, the tepid “USA! USA!” she invokes as she praises America’s generals and its wars and its moral righteousness. She and Trump are running for president of the same illusion, and there’s something seriously wrong with this.

It’s no accident that most of the focus this election season is on how bad the other candidate is. The rallying cry from both sides is: We have no choice. And I agree with those words, but attach a different meaning to them. We have no choice because we’re given no choice. We live in a permanent state of Democracy for Dummies: a complexity-free democracy, reduced to a game of winning and losing. The voters are spectators, not co-creators of the national future. No, the future is already predetermined, and it’s one of unquestioned military budgets and endless war.

Andrew Bacevich, reflecting on the lameness of the first presidential debate last week, pondered a different scenario: a debate in which real questions are addressed. “Consider it,” he wrote, “the question that Washington has declared off-limits: What lessons should be drawn from America’s costly and disappointing post-9/11 wars and how should those lessons apply to future policy?”

Can you imagine an actual, serious discussion of such a question? Can you imagine that the point of this discussion wasn’t to clobber and humiliate the other guy but rather to address a deep, unacknowledged national (and global) wound and begin the work of healing it?

Such questions have been missing from the U.S. presidential elections since 1972 when George McGovern ran on a platform of ending the Vietnam War. In the 44 years since, we’ve gotten grotesquely used to campaigns about far, far less than that — with the mainstream media acting as the bouncers, keeping impertinent questions, and candidates, out of the pseudo-news. This year, with two extremely unpopular major-party candidates vying for the job of president, the media have been more cynically dismissive than ever of third-party intruders, a.k.a., spoilers. And of course, any third-party vision of the future is idealistic treacle, not something to actually talk about.

So it is in this context that I bring Jill Stein and the Greens back into the discussion: “All the reasons you were told you had to vote for the lesser evil,” she said last June, in a Democracy Now interview “— because you didn’t want the massive Wall Street bailouts, the offshoring of our jobs, the meltdown of the climate, the endless expanding wars, the attack on immigrants — all that, we’ve gotten by the droves, because we allowed ourselves to be silenced. You know, silence is not what democracy needs. . . .

“It’s time,” she said, “to forget the lesser evil, stand up and fight for the greater good like our lives depend on it, because they do.”

If you’re not a Trump supporter, you may well be someone caught between the fear of Trump and the longing for a political process truly engaged in the creation of a compassionate, sustainable future. Is voting Green the way to go? I don’t know, but I definitely do not believe shutting the Green Party’s presidential candidate and platform out of the discussion is the way to go.

The Green platform, as outlined recently by David Cobb, Stein’s campaign manager and 2004 Green Party presidential candidate, includes such items as: transitioning to 100 percent  renewable energy (and creating millions of jobs in the process); ending mass incarceration; creating a Truth and Reconciliation Commission “to understand and eliminate the legacy of slavery”; ending our current wars and drone attacks, closing our 700-plus foreign military bases and slashing military spending by at least 50 percent; taking the lead on a global treaty to halt climate change.

There’s plenty more, but this cuts to the heart of it. The media consensus on such a platform begins and ends, no doubt, with rolled eyeballs. The unspoken message is: This stuff’s for later. We’ll start addressing it in 2020.

More articles by:

Robert Koehler is a Chicago award-winning journalist and editor.

May 23, 2018
Nick Pemberton
Maduro’s Win: A Bright Spot in Dark Times
Ben Debney
A Faustian Bargain with the Climate Crisis
Deepak Tripathi
A Bloody Hot Summer in Gaza: Parallels With Sharpeville, Soweto and Jallianwala Bagh
Farhang Jahanpour
Pompeo’s Outrageous Speech on Iran
Josh White
Strange Recollections of Old Labour
CJ Hopkins
The Simulation of Democracy
Lawrence Davidson
In Our Age of State Crimes
Dave Lindorff
The Trump White House is a Chaotic Clown Car Filled with Bozos Who Think They’re Brilliant
Russell Mokhiber
The Corporate Domination of West Virginia
Ty Salandy
The British Royal Wedding, Empire and Colonialism
Laura Flanders
Life or Death to the FCC?
Gary Leupp
Dawn of an Era of Mutual Indignation?
Katalina Khoury
The Notion of Patriarchal White Supremacy Vs. Womanhood
Nicole Rosmarino
The Grassroots Environmental Activist of the Year: Christine Canaly
Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin
“Michael Inside:” The Prison System in Ireland 
May 22, 2018
Stanley L. Cohen
Broken Dreams and Lost Lives: Israel, Gaza and the Hamas Card
Kathy Kelly
Scourging Yemen
Andrew Levine
November’s “Revolution” Will Not Be Televised
Ted Rall
#MeToo is a Cultural Workaround to a Legal Failure
Gary Leupp
Question for Discussion: Is Russia an Adversary Nation?
Binoy Kampmark
Unsettling the Summits: John Bolton’s Libya Solution
Doug Johnson
As Andrea Horwath Surges, Undecided Voters Threaten to Upend Doug Ford’s Hopes in Canada’s Most Populated Province
Kenneth Surin
Malaysia’s Surprising Election Results
Dana Cook
Canada’s ‘Superwoman’: Margot Kidder
Dean Baker
The Trade Deficit With China: Up Sharply, for Those Who Care
John Feffer
Playing Trump for Peace How the Korean Peninsula Could Become a Bright Spot in a World Gone Mad
Peter Gelderloos
Decades in Prison for Protesting Trump?
Thomas Knapp
Yes, Virginia, There is a Deep State
Andrew Stewart
What the Providence Teachers’ Union Needs for a Win
Jimmy Centeno
Mexico’s First Presidential Debate: All against One
May 21, 2018
Ron Jacobs
Gina Haspell: She’s Certainly Qualified for the Job
Uri Avnery
The Day of Shame
Amitai Ben-Abba
Israel’s New Ideology of Genocide
Patrick Cockburn
Israel is at the Height of Its Power, But the Palestinians are Still There
Frank Stricker
Can We Finally Stop Worrying About Unemployment?
Binoy Kampmark
Royal Wedding Madness
Roy Morrison
Middle East War Clouds Gather
Edward Curtin
Gina Haspel and Pinocchio From Rome
Juana Carrasco Martin
The United States is a Country Addicted to Violence
Dean Baker
Wealth Inequality: It’s Not Clear What It Means
Robert Dodge
At the Brink of Nuclear War, Who Will Lead?
Vern Loomis
If I’m Lying, I’m Dying
Valerie Reynoso
How LBJ initiated the Military Coup in the Dominican Republic
Weekend Edition
May 18, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
The Donald, Vlad, and Bibi
Robert Fisk
How Long Will We Pretend Palestinians Aren’t People?
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail