I’m sure that there must be at least a few of you out there who remember the frustration, the insult and the pain of trying to move our country out of the grip of the two major parties political stranglehold and the ongoing tug-of- war between the greater and lesser evils of the Democratic and Republican parties back in 2016. As these two parties each decided to offer up their own versions of “most hated candidate ever”, a few voters had the sense and courage to use the moment of failure on their parts to attempt a breakaway by supporting, promoting and trying to elect one of the more progressive candidates ever to run for president, the Green Parties Jill Stein. I sure do. There were many long and bitter arguments that lost some of us more than a few friends when we decided to stand-up for ourselves and our interests and refuse to accept the trash they were handing us for presidential candidates. Here we found ourselves in the vulnerable position of having to explain the horrors of Donald Trump and by no pleasure of our own, we also found ourselves in the position of having to remind everyone who Hillary Clinton was and why we preferred to not be voting for her either. Those were some interesting though unfortunate days, caught between the two evils, as they say and damned by our friends and foes alike for attempting an escape.
The image has been burned into my memory, the famous photo of Hillary, Bill, Melania and “The Donald” at Ivanka’s wedding. This picture told us a little about friendships and a lot about social and political life here in the USA. It told us all we should have needed to know about the relationships and “electability” of these two candidates for president and to who and what they both committed themselves.
But somehow, like the Emperor’s naked body in that story of his new clothes or the fables about natives not being able to see Columbus and his ships arriving off the coast of “the new world”, about half of the country just couldn’t seem to see what was right there in front of their eyes. The Trumps and the Clintons were old friends, besties, birds of a feather and why not after spending such quality time together like those times they enjoyed at society’s best parties, golfing on perfect sunny days and trips to Epstein’s pleasure island.
There in the photo was Donald in his tux, most likely fascinating his guests with some tale of his grandeur, Hillary there in her gold gown, beaming like a school-girl up into his face, Bill and Melania standing by waiting for the after party I suppose. A most elegant foursome of some of society’s most sociopathic people, just on the verge of destroying what was left of the American experiment.
Strange times those were indeed. I had made up my mind about the Clintons years ago under Bills administration and as for Hillary the horrors of “the war on terror” that Clinton wholeheartedly supported, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya…my God, laughing out-loud over the destruction of a man and his nation, I just couldn’t stomach that. Hillary was not my kind of hero.
It was in 2014, I remember how plain it had become to me that there were deals made inside the Democratic Party and that Hillary would follow Obama as the Democratic nominee without the party first doing its job and checking in with the voters. That kind of hierarchal arrangement has always bothered me when I see it. I’m an American and a little old fashioned in that way. I feel that politicians should be elected not anointed. The Clintons, I felt, had become too powerful in their party and besides, they were not good people. So I was already looking towards Jill Stein in the hopes that we were ready for some real change, not some promised hopey change but the real thing, some real change towards progressive governance.
Stein and the Green Party certainly carried the progressive platform many of us had been clamoring for for decades. Jill was one of us, not some politician cultivated by one of the parties and their big donor friends.
t was after this that Bernie caught my attention, after I was already very interested in Stein that Bernie came into the presidential contest. I remember being warned early on in the season’s campaigns to watch out for Bernie, the sheepdog who would herd the disenfranchised and hungry flock back from leaving the safety of the herd for better, greener grass. The sheepdog theory sounded reasonable and there were indications that that might be the case. Bernie wasn’t a Democrat for one thing, why wasn’t he running with the Greens to show solidarity with true progressives and then too he could avoid the Democratic resistance to him that one could only expect, the resistance that eventually brought him down.
Hillary sure came through for America’s ruling class, promoting Trump behind the scenes so he would go on to get the Republican nomination, offending what support she had by constantly moving to the political right with every word and then her terrible choice of Tim Kaine for V.P. which clearly showed Hillarys’ hopes for the future should some accident overcome her in her term as president.
Then after disillusioning what might have been her supporters, Hillary went further, failing to run a sincere campaign, practically ignoring whole states, important states, the ones she would go on to lose in the election.
Bernie came through, too. After the results were in of the questionable and still contested democratic primary, Bernie and his bird quietly exited the stage leaving the promised Clinton endorsement, the political revolution and the hopes of millions falling off behind him like some turd on the floor.
And there we were, some of us that is, with nothing left for us but our now ridiculed and hated morals and principles and to hopelessly defend the old “Russian asset and Trump enabler” Jill Stein against all odds.
I met Jill during the campaign. I was one of only two reporters who showed up at her press conference which she held for a handful of people on the steps of our city hall. Dr. Jill Stein impressed me as a truly lovely woman through and through. Highly educated and refined, obviously as smart as the Harvard educated Dr. that she is. Jill was also calm, focused and never displayed any trace of anger, frustration or bitterness, even when I asked her about the Green Parties offer to Sanders to run on the GP ticket which he didn’t even honor with the courtesy of an answer returned. Jill calmly, professionally and sincerely I might add, laid out the Green Parties platform. A green new deal, free collage, single-payer health-care, ending the wars, legalizing marijuana, voter reform, reigning in corporations, fair taxation, money out of politics, you know, all of those things that progressives claim to love.
Jill Stein was and is as cool as they come. Fearless, hip, revolutionary and full of vitality and “good energy” as we used to say, Stein was the perfect candidate for the boomer generation and relevant right on up to and for today’s new young generation of concerned activists, movers and voters.
It was bad enough having to watch Clinton supporters turn away from the possibility of a truly progressive candidate out of fear and insecurity but it was down-right sad and lonely when they started the smearing of this good woman’s character. I’ve never been more disappointed or ashamed of my generation, the boomers than during those times. That we were not able to rip ourselves away from the trap imposed by the two main parties and forge a path of our own without them, their corruption and their two evils was extremely disappointing and the end of my hopes for the boomer generation. When we had the perfect opportunity for breaking free and living up to our own earlier expectations of ourselves and at a time when we might have shown a light ahead for our children and children’s-children we instead hid behind our fears and doubts and forgot who we were and where we came from.
Here we have the generation that had gone through the social and personal changes and turmoil of rock n roll, the sexual revolution, drugs, spiritual awakening and the birth of the internet suddenly frozen in time unable to move even an inch towards our old vision or a new vision or a new day and freedom from the corruption of the two party stranglehold in US politics, things they had been thinking on and hoping for, for the last forty, fifty or sixty years. The karma of those decisions and actions we live with today in the form of the Trump presidency and the continued splintering of the Democratic Party. After Trump was elected the blame game kicked in immediately with the Democrats blaming Russians, third-party voters, couch-sitters anyone to blame would do better than to honestly consider how we had lost the fight by our collective inability to challenge the system, corrupted as we knew it was with something better.
Caving to the system, the one we so earnestly criticized back when we were young and healthy, was our response to the power and influence of Bush, Obama, Clinton and Trump.
It turns out that the hope and power of the 99% and the “Political Revolution” were nothing but decoys, false flags, distractions, temporary release valves for the frustration and resentment building on the left side of the political spectrum. What we needed, what we really needed was a true escape from the same old politics and one was there, available to us for the taking and my generation chose to leave one of our very own standing there, practically alone, covered in liberal smears. Look at us now, Bill Clintons dream come true, we find ourselves with, as he once so cynically said, with nowhere else to go.
So what now, where do progressives go from here as we struggle for some small bit of political power? Where is Woodstock? Where does the sun rise? What became of the dream, what became of the new age and what became of liberation and freedom from untenable systems of destruction of the earth and its people? Who will be our hero? Where is the party that wants our aid and assistance? Sometimes I just want to howl!
In the last couple days we’ve seen and are now watching the collapse of the checks and balances that we hoped would save us from dictators and a further building of the suspicion and possible demise of what is left of a fair and free election. There is some hope for progressives in a Sanders victory some might say but that hope we know rests not only on getting the votes but also on many things that are outside of our control. As the primaries roll on we will shortly see whether there is any possibility of a fair election within the structure of the DNC and if that is won then it’s on to the gerrymandering, voter suppression and questionable voting machines of the general election. If that is won, then it’s back to trying to push some progressive legislation forward in a country where any attempt by the government to promote the general welfare of its citizens is viewed as bringing the greatly feared and hated socialism to the US.
There is only one thing left now to the vision of the American experiment in democracy, the people. Any experiment in democracy is and always has been about the people. By definition if it’s a democracy it’s about the people but here in America the mass of people have given themselves over to the whims of oligarchs, over-lords, propagandists, manipulators and worn out hopes of change.
We just witnessed the acquittal of Donald J. Trump for High Crimes and Misdemeanors and Obstruction of Justice. The day before that we had the much anticipated first caucus in Iowa which still today is under question and will likely go into history under the shadow of suspicion. Americans are nervous and scared and there’s a question hanging over our heads, what now? Where do we go from here? As much as it is possible there is still the hope that the future that we have will be the future we choose to create but behind every choice there must be an action that supports that choice. What action will we choose to take? Will we continue to wallow in the muck of yesterday’s false and limited choices imposed on us by our rulers and by those friends who support the obstruction of new ideas and possibilities? Didn’t someone say, I see it often quoted, that to do the same thing over and over again expecting different results was the definition of insanity*?
I understand the fear and the doubt, there are remedies for those deficiencies, courage and faith. I understand that hope for a strong and honest leader to save us; it’s not too late to become or find a strong and honest leader, they are out there.
Where we go from here is going to be determined of course by many factors but none so much as to determine who is going to be doing the driving as we move down the road. We have allowed not only the surrender of our system to these rulers but also we’ve surrendered the narrative of our past and present situation and even worse than that we are surrendering the dream to them. This Orwellian outcome is guaranteed in a world where corporations are people, love is a compact car and democracy is left to a handful of sociopathic elites.
In our brave new world where every outcome is pre-determined by our ability to purchase the next trialed and tested product unexpected results have become anathema to American tastes and expectations. We eat at, sleep in, wear clothes, drive cars, go to shows, make love and worship our gods in ways and with products where the pre-determined results are literally guaranteed to us by the sellers and proponents of the unexplored life.
Our job, the task before us from the climate emergency to endless wars to the possibility of families living in relative health and peace will be determined by our unique ability to explore new, sometimes untested, but original and creative ideas and options. We can’t clearly see where we’re going because our destination is over the mountain and around the bend. But as any explorer or pilgrim or pioneer knows, we can’t describe the land until we’ve crossed over it, we can’t see the view from the top of the mountain until we’ve climbed to the peak and we can’t understand the current of the river until we jump in.
If we wish to proceed or awaken the dream or arrive at other destinations or end the repetition of defeat we will surely have to take a few chances, create new paths and go forward fearlessly as those before us were able to do.