Monday, October 29, 2012

Guest Post - 90 Million by Michael Cornell

Here is a guest post from my friend Michael Cornell who serves on the Columbia Assocation Board of Directors with me and is also the former Co-Chair of the Maryland Green Party.  I've found Michael to be a conscientious leader and I respect his opinions on matters of local and national scope. 

90 million - a big number that could change the world on Tuesday.

90 million. The number of those who are disenfranchised by the current economic and political state in this country that will leave them at home rather than at the ballot box. The sense of hopelessness and powerlessness combine to leave so many who could vote and make a difference, shuttered, and resigned that politicians simple don’t care, or aren’t able to affect change – “Change you can believe in” being the banner cry of Obama’s run 4 years ago. Then Congress simply refused to participate. The President settled into a “business-as-usual” posture, carrying on with the policies of his predecessor his devotees were certain he was going to change.

Obama-care simply “codified” and made worse everything wrong with the American Health Care system – ranked 37th in the world. Health costs will not be contained. Medical decisions are being made by insurance company bureaucrats interested in maximizing stock-holder wealth. Pledges and plans reduce to reduce Medicare and Medicaid coverage abound.

Environmental reforms, the increase in the vehicle fleet efficiency, for example, means virtually nothing when I can go out today and buy a car whose MPG is twice those being mandated by 2020. The XL Pipeline is coming regardless of the fanfare and celebration when the decision to approve the project was delayed.

Immigration reform? If by that you mean the Latino US citizen who was shot and killed near her home a few miles from the border, or the record number of deportations under Obama that dwarfs the number during the Bush years – then I guess we have that, too.

We have the largest prison population in the world – yes, the US is number 1! With 5% of the world’s population, we are not first by percentage of the population, but in total number! Our prison system is little more than modern day slavery. Many of those incarcerated are serving life sentences for non-violent crimes, or possession of drugs. Our penal system has been privatized, generating huge profits for its owners. Judges have been bribed to help meet inmate quotas. Prison labor is rented for pennies on the hour. Reform is nowhere in sight.

Progressives inside the Democrat party continue to support the party in spite of the disillusionment. The disenfranchised continue to see no hope.

The attack on women’s rights continues. Endless wars in Afghanistan and the Middle East continue, saber rattling against Syria continues. The use of predatory drones has expanded. Innocent civilians continue to die as collateral damage. Embassies are bombed. And yet the world is no safer.

Extremes in weather patterns and record setting heat continue to wreak havoc on agriculture, the environment and health. Disease carrying mosquitoes venture further and further north, the dust bowl has returned with a vengeance, a freak storms whose severity will continue to increase is becoming less newsworthy and alarming due to their frequency. And our leaders refuse to take action. Members of the House Committee on science continue to deny and dispute the science of climate change. These reincarnations of Nero fiddle while the world burns, content and secure with the money they amass from their relationships and contributions from big oil.

The differences between the two wings of the corporate parties falsely peddle wedge issues as the real issues of the day. The vast majority of Americans believe in equal rights for gays and lesbians – including the freedom to marry. The vast majority of Americans believe in a woman’s right to reproductive choice. The vast majority of Americans – even many of the 1% - believe tax reform is needed – not more tax breaks. China, welfare cheats and immigrants are blamed for our failing economy; not the bankers and Wall Street billionaires and many in the 1% whose actions of greed and lust for even more wealth than the reported $31 billion secreted in offshore accounts.

Lies repeated become truths. Orwell’s 1984 is no longer a work of fiction when terms like “job-creators”, “legitimate rape” and “apology tour” do not reflect reality.

90 million disaffected voters.

Those 90 million voting in force for third party candidates could change the world over night. Given a choice – and the media in collusion with the so-called Commission on Presidential Debates – have hidden those choices from the voters. Real choice is on the menu this year. And for those 90 million – they have a third alternative: Rather than staying home, they can say “no” to politics as usual. They can send a message.

(Here in Maryland, a clearly Democrat state, think of the message a small percentage of voters could send without endangering Obama’s electoral count.)

Although under-reported, the lies of Nader electing Bush have been clearly debunked but repeated so often they have become truth.

Here’s the real truth - No one owns your vote.

There is an alternative to either voting for the lesser of evils or not voting at all. In fact there are several alternatives.

Pick one!

At a minimum we can send a message.

90 million making another choice could change the world!