Consider the Green Party

TEN KEY VALUES

1. Ecological Wisdom

How can we operate human societies with the understanding that we are part of nature, not on top of it?

2. Grassroots Democracy

How can we develop systems that allow and encourage us to control the decisions that affect our lives?

3. Social Justice

How can we respond to human suffering in ways that promote dignity?

4. Non-violence

How can we, as a society, develop effective alternatives to our current patterns of violence, at all levels, from the family and the street to nations and the world?

5. Decentralization

How can we restore power and responsibility to individuals, institutions, communities, and regions?

6. Community-Based Economics

How can we redesign our work structures to encourage employee ownership and workplace democracy?

7. Feminism

How can we replace the cultural ethics of dominance and control with more cooperative ways of interacting?

8. Respect for Diversity

How can we honor cultural, ethnic, racial, sexual, religious and spiritual diversity within the context of individual responsibility to all beings?

9. Global Responsibility

How can we be of genuine assistance to grassroots groups in the Third World?

10. Future Focus

How can we induce people and institutions to think in terms of the long-range future, and not just in terms of their short-range selfish interest?

Check out http://www.gp.org/

Rethinking the PUMA Position

I’ve been trying on the idea of voting for Obama and I just can’t get into it. It’s not because he’s not a woman; I just don’t have confidence in him. OK, I’ll say it: I just don’t trust him.

Hillary supporters who have gone on record as saying that they will not vote for Obama now that Hillary is out of the running have been accused of hurting the Democratic Party. Their reply is, “Party Unity My Ass!” (hence the name PUMA). I question those who are going to switch parties and vote for McCain, just to keep Obama out of office. Voting against someone seems like such a negative way to use the right to vote.

And besides, I’m leery of John McCain, too, although I trust him more than I do Obama. I can’t quite swallow voting Republican. I don’t know anything about the Independent Party. And I’m morally and ethically opposed to not voting at all. One’s vote ought to make a statement.

Instead of excoriating PUMAs, critics ought to consider the dilemma in which they find themselves. Do they go with the devil they know, the lesser of two (or more) evils, the status quo or the party line? I think they’re frustrated because voting should be about making your voice heard, and when there are no good choices, what means of self-expression do they have?

Discussions about who is betraying the Party are counter-productive. Instead we ought to be asking ourselves if the Party has been loyal to us. Is it worthy of our allegiance or just a concept that we’d like to believe in? I know that I’ve often been uncomfortable with things the Democratic Party has done or not done, said or not said. But because I agree with most of its principles and far fewer of the Republican Party’s, I’ve felt more comfortable calling myself a Democrat. But aren’t I first and foremost an individual? Maybe I ought to be asking what my values are, not my party’s, and then acting accordingly.

Second Wave Outrage

I just read Rebecca Traister’s article on Salon.com about Hillary supporters. The title is “Why Clinton Voters Say They Won’t Support Obama,” and the subtitle is “The Attack of the PUMAs, Or A Dozen Reasons Why Clinton Voters Are Too Angry To Come Home.” I thought she hit the nail right on the head. And then I read some of the comments.

I was appalled at the ones which railed against white middle class Second Wave feminists as if we were a bunch of racists, just because we wanted Hillary to get the nomination. I wasn’t for Clinton because she was white and I wasn’t for her just because she was a woman. But her gender influenced me, sure. Are you going to tell me that Obama’s race doesn’t influence some voters (i.e., black ones) to vote for him? Why else would it be said that he has a loyal voting bloc among African-Americans? Oh, but it’s okay to want to be loyal to your race. What isn’t okay is being loyal to your gender!

I wouldn’t have voted for just any woman for President, although I admit that I would give a female candidate a little more leeway than I would a man, because I think it’s about time we had a woman president. So sue me.

So will I switch my vote to Obama? Yes, because as Traister points out in her article, there is nowhere else to go. There’s no way in hell I would vote for McCain. But that doesn’t mean that I’m happy about Obama, and it has nothing to do with the fact that he’s black or male. I feel that we (white middle class Second Wave fems) are having to settle for second best. I’m not a PUMA (“Party Unity My Ass”), because I will remain true to my party. But I’m still angry. I know I have to get over it in order to give Obama all the support he will need to beat McCain. But for now let me stew in my juices.

Worst Prejudice: Gender or Race?

I’m still in mourning for Hillary. I feel like attaching a black ribbon to my Hillary campaign button, except that I don’t have one. I never bought a button, yard sign or bumper sticker. Partly because I’m cheap, but mostly because I was leery about announcing to the world that I was a Hillary fan. Let’s be frank: it was unpopular to be for Hillary. Especially where I work, which is on a college campus. To be aligned with her is to be tarred with the same brush. You must be a ball-breaking woman, or identify with one. If you’re a feminist, you have to be from the Second Wave, which translates to out-of-touch with the “New World. ” Or worse: you might be a racist, because why else would you prefer a white woman over a promising black man?

There has been surprisingly little written about the debate over which group suffers more discrimination: women or blacks. Most people would probably deny that Hillary’s loss had anything to do with gender discrimination–it just had to do with her. But if you reverse the equation, if a 47-year-old woman was running against a 60-year-old man, who do you think would be elected? There is no way that people would believe that a relatively young and inexperienced woman could have what it takes to be president, the way they’ve been willing to believe it of Obama.

I’m not saying that there’s no racial discrimination. There most certainly is and it may cost Obama the presidency. The Democrats may have waged a historic campaign, but as soon as it became clear that Obama and Clinton were the two contenders for the nomination, it must have made the powers-that-be groan, if not tear out their hair. Everyone has been so hyped up about Obama and Clinton fighting it out, that they’ve neglected to face reality about the effect that either type of discrimination would have on the national campaign. Democrats are put in a vulnerable position either way. There is no question that racial discrimination will play a major role in this election, but it would have been equally touch-and-go if Hillary had won the nomination. Either candidate would have had a handicap against a white “seasoned” male.

I’m fine with backing Obama, but I’m worried that he can’t beat McCain. I think Hillary at least had a shot at it, because of her age and experience, but I would have been just as worried about her. It’s hard to get most people to be honest about their prejudices. Sometimes it’s hard to be honest with yourself. We don’t like to think that we would base our decisions on race or gender. And I’m not saying that we will be, totally. There is also the issue of age–another kind of discrimination. McCain might be seen as too old, Obama as too young.

I think it will boil down to who gives us more hope for the future. It won’t be about gay marriage or abortion, or whether someone was a war hero or not, and ultimately it won’t be about age or race. But those prejudices will be part of the mix, you can count on that.

NARAL Endorsement

I understand why NARAL came out with their Obama endorsement but it’s still a slap in the face for Clinton. If they had waited until the outcome was assured, they wouldn’t have put Clinton in such a bad light. What if she runs again? How will NARAL back up and say that now they’re for her, even though they weren’t back in 2008?

I was glad to see that some of the NARAL chapters pitched a fit about the endorsement and made it public that they were pissed off. That’s something, at least.

What About Mothers?

From “The Mommy Mantra” in the Jan. 19, 2007 issue of The American Prospect:

“History shows that women gain influence when they separate themselves from constricting domestic ideology — not when they internalize it.”

That’s a fancy way of saying that coming across as motherly in any way hurts a woman’s chances in a man’s world. I say: then change that world so that it includes women who are mothers. Feminists who denigrate women like Nancy Pelosi for showing her maternal side are just as bad as male chauvinists. They’re saying that a woman needs to act like a man in order to get ahead.

That’s hogwash. Certainly each woman needs to make her own decisions as to how much she will allow the public or her employers see of her personal life–whatever it is. But why should she have to hide something that matters deeply to her if she wants to share it? And why should she have to pretend that being a mother isn’t important? It isn’t just women who are affected by this attitude. Men, too, are typically taught to not make a big deal out of being fathers for fear of being thought of as weak or sentimental, which is exactly how feminists who show their maternal side are seen (sometimes by other feminists).

Not all women are mothers. But that doesn’t mean that a mother’s concerns shouldn’t be considered. Ironically, when mothers’ needs are being met, the whole world benefits. There is an organization called MomsRising that has a very specific platform of what they think needs to be changed in this world: Maternity and Paternity Leave, Open Flexible Work, TV and After School, Health Care For All Kids, Excellent Child Care and Realistic and Fair Wages. That’s just a broad overview of what they stand for (and a way to spell “Mother” in case you didn’t get that). What man or woman or child wouldn’t benefit from these initiatives?

May 11th is Mother’s Day. It would be a good day to think about what mothers can and do bring to the world at large. Their influence is felt there whether we like it or not. But so far it hasn’t been enough, partly because there aren’t enough mothers in public office or management. Mothers should be more vocal, not less. They should not have to apologize or shrink from the fact that they have had children. That doesn’t make them lesser human beings; if anything it broadens their horizons. I don’t know how many women I’ve met who have said that becoming a mother made them grow up. They now have a broader perspective about what’s important in life.

There is no force in the world like a mother protecting her own. It’s no accident that the most vocal critic of the war in Iraq is a mother. (Cindy Sheehan) But she is often treated like a crank because those in power don’t want to–no, make that don’t have to–listen to women in general and mothers specifically. We have to change that. Join organizations like MomsRising. Write letters to the editor of your local newspaper. Support women running for or in public office and defend their right to be mothers as well as politicians. Run for office yourself. And above all, teach your children that they need to be concerned with the needs of all people, not just people exactly like themselves.