Last night was really bizarre, Pt. 2

Sent: 3:34 AM 11-10-2000

Thanks Otto,

That was pretty good coverage.

But I don't think it is fair to call me a Gore supporter. I have certainly never considered myself a Democrat and I am sure that I never will, any more than you do. Centerist political organizations leave me feeling at least as out of place as I do in churches or schools or Greg Brown concerts. I wrote the stuff I sent out this month because I honestly believed that I was trying to help the Green party get its priorities straight. You commented " He has seen us campaign but not "Effectively" " and for context, I remind all that that my 11-02-2000 message to you began with the statement "There ought to be a truism about the wisdom of fighting hardest in the battles you have a chance of winning."

I started there because I have seen LOTS of ineffective campaigns waged in this community and I was trying to remind people that in political processes, what matters most are the results of the campaigning, not intentions of the campaigners. If expressing the intentions of the campaigners is the primary issue, then "narcissistic, self-serving, windmill-tilting excursion" truly is the appropriate label for the exercise.

I wholeheartedly agree that ' ...that simply watching the vote come in at the Courthouse is not campaigning ...'. It is how one assesses the effectiveness of one's campaigns and it is the precinct totals alone that provide an accurate indication of where a campaign was waged and where it was effective. Preaching to the choir has NEVER been an effective campaign strategy for growing an organization, although it is probably essential if one is to maintain attendance at services.

Re: "I can't quite figure out ... if he just expects the greens to naturally have a higher standard of cuisine". A little deeper perspective on my use of food as a metaphore; it has been a standing joke of mine that the reason our various attempts at revolution failed so utterly in the '60's was that we simply could not agree what to eat for dinner, let alone what to have on the agenda for the meeting after dinner. And since then, I have watched again and again as the most bitter and mean-spirited personal attacks occur between the most obvious and the most necessary natural allies, preventing the formation of alliances over the finest and most meaningless points of dogma. While huge and important problems are overlooked. You certainly recall the divisiveness that nearly poisoned the purchase of the diesel generator for the Sister City project: so I ask rhetorically, and I believe that this is the crucial question that must be addressed if we are to have a truly effective green party - am I really closer in my world-view to your enemies than to yourselves?

Is it not truly insane behaviour on our part to choose not to discover a level of consensus that allows us to function from a position of collective wisdom and strength and live inside it? That is why the diversity of food at a potluck is such a telling indicator of the diversity of individual political awareness that somehow we have to figure out how to encompass and embrace.

Stating that "The world, and much of America now have reason to believe that the above policies are supported by over 90% of the populace." is an interesting argument - a bit like the doctrine of advised consent. The fundamental error in logic here is the presumption that either of these men set those policies, or that they in any way expected to represent the electorate. This is not a representative government. Government is the mortal enemy of the people. It is a parasite living off the people, against their will. Like the police, it is only allowed to exist because the people are more afraid of one another than they are of the government.

We elect politicians like we hire police officers - knowing that their job, once elected, is to serve themselves, kiss butt to those closer to the seat of power, pander to special interests and craft compromises that either maintain the Status Quo or deliver the Quid Pro Quo. Typically, delivering the Quid Pro Quo degrades the quality of life for the electorate and hence undermines the Status Quo.

But the bottom line is that I am reasonably sure that something like 90% of the population of this country DOES actually support most of these policies, and would vote for them if they were expressed in slightly different language or presented to them by attractive talking heads reading from teleprompter screens. Which is why I am so uncomfortable inside churches and centerist political organizations. Look at it this way: the County's residents pretty overwhelmingly elected Glen Huntingford, and I would be quite surprised to learn that he did not at least privately support all the numbered policies on your list, as written.

Consider this tangent, as it defines the territory of the discussion very clearly: my most widely covered observation from the first day of WTO rioting - a point that was picked up immediately by the French press who interviewed us on the street - was that the majority of the kids who we could see from where we stood were dressed in clothing - from the tips of their toes to the tops of their heads - from shoes to backpacks - that had been made in sweatshops in Mexico, Brazil, Malaysia, Thailand and other 3rd world enclaves of environmental non-regulation and near slave labor wage-scale. Meaning that the protesters were not hip enough to wear their solidarity with union-made clothing, even to a high profile event like a riot that was in fact protesting the unrealistically low prices we all pay for gasoline, food and clothing, directly subsidized by the oppression of the rest of the world, an oppression enforced at gunpoint, if need be.

Because it really appeared to me that the majority of the protesters appeared to be quite willing to suspend their ethical positions when faced with the sticker-shock posed by a comparable backpack, rainshell or footwear made by an artisan in the US - because it would cost 5 to 10 times more money than the 3rd world knockoffs from Nike, JanSport or North Face - and that they were unwilling back up their ethical positions with their dollars. I used the term "made by an artisan" advisedly because there are essentially no factories in the US making such products anymore, not since Wally Smith was hired to turn REI into Sears for the baby boomers.

Which reminds me of a night about 10 years ago, in a public debate we were having for QUAFCO over the meaning of indicator species like Owls and their role in Forest Service policy. Bob Burns, who was then the head of timber sales (euphemistically referred to as Silviculture) on the Olympic National Forest, stopped me cold with the following statement: "Mark my words: when toilet paper costs the consumer over a buck a roll, you will discover that you don't have an environmental movement in this country." And at WTO, I saw that he was speaking the truth.

The "salvage rider" DID essentially suspend the Endangered Species Act. Slade Gorton's language begins "Notwithstanding any other provision of law ..." which clearly ought to be heard as a blasphemy in a democracy and ought to have collapsed under a riot of jeers and flying paperweights. But it did not. It passed.

Just like our County's Comp Plan. And our City's bond issues. And our City Council's lifting of the ban on styrofoam trays for uncooked meat that will allow Safeway to eliminate jobs, outsource its meat packing operations, and open the door to irradiated food. But that should not surprise you; you already know that the politicians serve the government, not the public.

You did not quote what I thought was probably my most important observation "Because these folks are all politicians, first and foremost, and as a result, they feel much closer to their opponents than they do to you and me." So try this for a backhanded analogy: there are people who claim that changing the programming that is presented on television changes television from an evil thing into a good thing. I disagree. Putting ideas on television changes and degrades them through the essentially one-way nature of the medium, and ultimately changes the programmer as well, much the way participation in government, once one has been elected, changes the politican.

But please be very careful about what you expect from the Endangered Species Act. Remember where it came from, and remember that just about every time we have actually USED any of the protections built into the ESA, NEPA, Clean Water Act, they have been taken away from us by the courts - the only reliably effective way we have found to use these instruments is to threaten to use them. Remember the bottom line - they are the cops and we are the kids. As soon as we take the knife out of its sheath, it will most likely get taken away from us.
Joe Breskin
346 Hudson Point
Port Townsend, WA 98368
(360) 385 3771

----- Original Message -----
From: Otto Smith
To: "Vote Nader"
Sent: Friday, November 10, 2000 12:49 AM
Subject: Nader the spoiler

National Elections, RE: Nader the Spoiler

I wrote to Gore and told him how he could win my vote. He never replied.

I have received a couple of letters from bitter Democrats:

>Regardless of the outcome, they said, Mr. Nader's once-stellar
>reputation among liberals has been permanently tarnished, his ability
>to raise money and to work with Democrats forever damaged.
>"His standing has been severely diminished by his actions," said Amy
>Isaacs, national director of Americans for Democratic Action. "People
>basically view him as having been on a narcissistic, self-serving,
>Sancho Panza, windmill-tilting excursion."
>Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware, echoing the sentiments of
>several other Democrats on Capitol Hill, said: "Ralph Nader is not
>going to be welcome anywhere near the corridors. Nader cost us the
>The p-i today says nader sent the 'best and the brightest on a fool's
>errand' and my regret for this is as deep as i can remember since we
>lost the city to MOCCAA. and it may be more tragic, if bush gets the
>white house, for all those things we all care so deeply about, called
>'Nature'. hopefully, this is a farewell to innocence for the Grrens,
>and not the death of innocents, all the innocents of nature, whose
>voice is now more muted than ever.

>but not the end of this story, alas.

It is bizarre to me that these folks consider Nader to be a spoiler.

1. It is an insult to those who did vote for Nader. It implies that they were some how duped by Mr. Nader. It seems
much more likely to me that Gore supporters were duped by Mr. Gore. Few have ever suggested that Nader was not speaking his
heart and his mind, yet there is considerable doubt about Gore. Gore would never have gotten my vote. My vote can not be stolen.

2. Nader polled high in those states that did vote for Gore and where the electoral college votes went completely to Gore. It
is clear that in those states at least, Gore stole from Nader. Nader possibly could have got his 5% if the liberals weren't
running scared. I have yet to meet a Gore supporter who would say that Gore's platform was better than Naders. Who stole

3. The above quote may be from people who are offended about how their cushy relationship with the pharmaceutical lobbies, the forest industry, mining interests, big oil and other large corporations was challenged.

Even with the contest in Florida undecided and likely to eventually go to the courts, I can make some predictions about the next president.

1. Logging of old growth timber will continue in the Tongas and other national forests.

2. We will see continued off-coast drilling. Drilling in the Arctic National Petroleum Reserve, on 2000 miles of southeastern Alaska coastline, and parts of the California coastline, And most probably we will see the allowance of drilling along the Florida coastline.

3. The "salvage rider" that essentially suspended the Endangered Species Act will not be repealed.

4. We will remain members of NAFTA and the WTO.

5. The Taft Hartly act will remain in effect.

6. The Death penalty will remain in effect.

7. Poor people and military personnel will continue to be denied access to abortions through federal medical insurance plans and private doctors will be prohibited from performing abortions on military bases and in military

8. The war and genocide on Iraq will continue.

etc. etc.

These are policies supported by both Bush and Gore, and all my friends who have voted for this pair have given their tacit support to these policies. Some of these folks have spent a lot of time complaining about these policies to the Democratic party, and I respect their struggles with> conscience in an attempt to do the right thing, but I> would point out there were and are other more cynical members of the democrats who have spent and are spending their time attacking the greens rather than reforming their own party. All of the above points are policies that the Gore supporters have voted for, and if they want the world and the country to believe that they do not support these policies, they need to become immediately vocal and write letters to editors explaining why they voted the way they did, and attempt to quantify that proportion of the vote that was a vote for the lessor of two evils. Those democrats who are most vocal in their claim that Nader has spoiled the election are not talking about the draconian aspects of the democratic/republican love-fest listed above.

The world, and much of America now have reason to believe that the above policies are supported by over 90% of the populace. I guess the upshot is we greens will just have to get that $12,000,000 for the next election from somewhere else and work a little harder next time to show America and the world that there really are some civilized Americans.

It is also clear that Nader inspired many to vote, some who possibly would have ignored the election except for the fear that Nader would some how steal it. It is also clear that without the Nader vote, the democrats would not have picked up two and probably new seats in the senate and more in the house.

Here are some excerpts from a considerably more amusing letter from a Gore supporter visiting the green party party on election night.

################### RE: Green party party.

So the few people who actually cared about the national coverage were standing around near the door listening to a little portable radio, and inside the chapel people were talking and eating and playing the typical music people play on guitars, concertinas, fiddles and harmonicas.

(He knows who cares by their attention to the media!)

Even though I was and am convinced that the Nader camp is likely to get Bush elected, and that a Bush administration in this decade, when combined with the> first completely Republican controlled congress (a> demonic convergence not seen in Amerika since 1952) really is likely to prove far worse for the world than a Gore administration. And I am convinced that this is NOT the birth of an effective grassroots> organization anymore than the WTO riots were.

And of course they were standing around the food tables eating a schizophrenic mix of organic hippie- chips from the FoodCoop and prepackaged chip-dip from assorted multinationals and homemade sugar cookies and non-organic nitro-packed apples from Safeway and pasta salad that looked like it probably had MEAT in it

And I went "Wow - here we are again - nothing ever changes! We STILL can't agree on what to eat, after over 30 years."

No one in the room was really up enough on the local issues to even discuss them, and almost no one there had campaigned effectively to control the outcome of critical local level elections.

One of these races is now separated by a hundred votes or less, and the candidates are waiting for absentee votes to be counted, just like the critical swing states in the national elections. But the difference is that these are races that really will control the patterns of develop- ment in this county for at least the next 4 - 6 years. These are not INTERCHANGABLE CANDIDATES like bush/gore.

(see above demonic quote. He has seen us campaign but not "Effectively".)

So instead of playing music, I went up to the Courthouse where the precinct level results are posted as they are counted.>

I have spent election night there every year for at least the past 20 years, watching the balance of power shift - as the individual precinct returns are posted in tidy little rows in green felt pen on the huge whiteboard - issue by issue, column by column. One column for each candidate, side by side. And I watched closely - adding columns of numbers in my head - ...

(Yes, many of us stand around at the court house, but that is not campaigning that is simply watching the vote come in. BTW, my math skills are such that I use a calculator. )

All this effort for what? With less than 10% of it we could and should have owned the county courthouse.

So I dragged my guitar in from the car and played BAD music that never got close to consensus or balance. Never even figured out a single chord change. No one playing would turn down enough to hear anyone else.

(I am glad the green election night party could provide a place for a lost soul on election night.) #####################

Great letter, lets see:

1. The greens are bad because they can't decide on the food at a potluck?? I can't quite figure out if this is support for the jello with marshmallows I was served at the last Democratic barbecue I went to, or if he just expects the greens to naturally have a higher standard of cuisine.

2. I'm sure I was at the same party. Thats me on the concertina?? There were four musicians of varying degrees of accomplishment playing essentially the same blues song with a few variations, always in the key of E (For the harmonica?? No fiddles at this point) They took turns taking solos. About 4 to 10 people would dance including a four year old. It wasn't very GOOD music, it certainly wasn't polished but everyone had fun and no one had to wear ear-plugs, and frankly, if E is the only key they want to play in, or can play in, that is fine with me. At least it was live and real. Later when my wife arrived, we played one polka and by request one tango (neither in E thank goodness.)

3. We put in ear-plugs when the drummer and electric base arrived, danced a bit and left soon after. Kristin tried to fix the balance
by hand signals to the "musicians". I think they might have got a little better after that. The band with the drummer also didn't
play particularly GOOD music, but it also wasn't very BAD music. People were still dancing when we left.

We enjoyed the party, we enjoyed playing, we enjoyed dancing, we enjoyed seeing friends who we had worked with. I would assume that anyone who didn't enjoy the party would leave, and anyone who felt like the other musicians weren't listening would stop playing or try to change things.

In 2002 when we get a couple of green congressmen we can celebrate again and in 2004 when we take 15%+ of the vote (unless the Dems have moved way left by then), we will have another party. I suspect four years of Gore will turn a lot of "lessor of two evil" folks green. Hope to see ya'll then. In the meantime we have a lot of work to do.

All beginnings are small...

©Joe Breskin November 2000 - forwarding is O.K. with me
Link to a list of other journal entries