Frederick B. Mills
Some progressives are divided between those who will opt for the Same ( the duopoly that is beholden to transnational corporate interests), based on a “lesser evil” or “strategic voting” argument, and those who will opt for the Other Project (a long term struggle for social and economic justice) by voting Green. There are also the disillusioned, some of whom feel abandoned by the Sandernista “political revolution” when Bernie Sanders endorsed Hillary Clinton. I am addressing here the still undecided.
I am not convinced we are buying time by opting for a version of the Same when the Same has already put at risk both the survival of the human species and the earth’s eco-systems. For this reason, until last ballot is cast, let us continue the earnest and mutually respectful debate over the “lesser evil” (of the Same) versus the “greater good” (Green Party) options.
Maybe we can agree on some basic empirical realities. The Same, in whatever stripe, is responsible for the police state, social and economic inequality, and the ever nebulous “war on terror”. It does not respond constructively to the worldwide clamor for social and economic justice, nor to the emergency of climate change. Instead, we see an all out effort by the Same to implement the neoliberal gospel throughout the world, even in countries that are experimenting with alternative economic models. Since the Same is exceptionalist in nature, it rejects the diversity of voices of the Other Project, both in the United States and abroad.
The Other Project in the United States to which I refer includes the grassroots progressive movements, and parties allied with them such as the Green Party. The Other Project affirms a praxis aimed at the eventual transformation of the prevailing system into one that puts the common good over private interests and supports environmental defense and restoration.
One version of the lesser evil argument is that a Hillary Clinton presidency will curtail mass deportations, militarized policing, mass incarceration, institutionalized racism, dependence on fossil fuels, free trade, and the project of world domination. To continue the basic line of argument, the greater evil of Trumpism presumably would bring us some form of neo-fascist rule, so we should be scared into voting for a lighter version of the Same.
Can one argue with confidence, based on the past record of Hillary Clinton with regard to her support for the war on drugs, fracking, regime change as a tool of foreign policy; and free trade (now tempered by a newly found change of heart on TPP), that a Clinton presidency would adequately ameliorate the above mentioned evils? I suspect that rather than inspiring confidence, such an argument would require a leap of faith.
There is another way forward that does not require a leap of faith, though it does involve a praxis of co-responsibility for our future. This third way is to build an alternative to the current corporate sponsored duopoly by breaking with the Same in favor of a project built from the point of view of alterity, of those who are excluded by the prevailing system. Such a project does not adapt to, but seeks to transform the Same by means of the formation of a historic bloc that challenges the hegemonic consensus in order to build a new consensus. This transformation is a praxis that affirms the right of all human beings to live and develop in community and protect the earth (pachamama) from which we arise and of which we are part and parcel. From this alterity we can exercise our freedom to build democracy from below and to join in solidarity across frontiers to bring about “a world in which many worlds can fit”.
The Green Party poses an alternative to the corporate duopoly because it stands on these four pillars: peace, ecology, social justice, and democracy. The Green New Deal includes an economic bill of rights, a green [ecological] transition, real financial reform, and a functioning democracy. The message of this New Deal sets up the possibility of achieving something Different from the Same, and suggests that a new world is indeed possible. This is why the Clinton campaign is frantically investing dollars in ads that seek to make Jill Stein and Ajamu Baraka look ridiculous. But these ads only expose the cynical nature of a false humanism.
Some who advocate for the “lesser evil” argue that if the Green ticket is bound to lose the presidential election, why vote Green? Why not just abstain or cast our sorry lot for lesser evilism? Here’s why. Voting Green at all levels will further open the breach in the Same, an opening created largely by a diversity of grassroots pro-democracy movements and organizations (Occupy Wall Street, ecological, immigrant rights, LGBT rights, Black Lives Matter, and others). It is in this space that we plant the seeds of a future dynamic relationship between social movements and progressive allies at the highest levels of the state, something sorely lacking at this time.
The Stein—Baraka ticket, despite the many logistical hoops and financial costs, has managed to get on a significant number of ballots at local, state and national levels throughout the country. If this ticket can reach a five percent (of the popular vote) threshold, the party will have better chances to win a national election in the future, and to participate in national debates which have so far been closed to third parties by the duopoly. Voting Green is not a panacea, but it can help us advance along the path of a broad based progressive third way instead of the dead end dupoly.
Full disclosure: the author is a member of the Green party.