/* */

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Voting our Principles

Voting our Principles
by Don Irish

In Tikkun (Summer 2000) I found an important article by Michael Lerner: "Don't Vote Lesser Evil Politics." In what follows I will summarize by quoting and paraphrasing Lerner, but without reference to specific candidates. Personally, I don't identify any candidates as evil; but the consequences of some of their policies may be evil.

Many political progressives are conflicted about the November elections. Lerner wants us "to encourage a national debate about the morality and social consequences of 'lesser evilism' in politics." By 'lesser evilism' he means choosing the candidate "who will do the least harm rather than choosing the candidate who comes closest to expressing your own views and attitudes" out of fear that a worse candidate may win.

1) Powerlessness corrupts - By "accepting the lesser evil we lose the inner quality of soul that makes it possible to fight for anything against the odds." This can lead us to accommodating evil on other occasions, "a moral and spiritual corruption."

2) Liberal and Progressive forces are disempowered - In accepting the lesser evil argument we weaken democratic politics by supporting a wing of the pro-corporate "Property Party" (our current system) when we believe in neither wing.

3) Winning is abandoned - Actually, you might win! If many operate on a "we can't win" assumption we contribute to a self-fulfilling prophecy. "By not voting your conscience you are giving the media the justification it seeks to ignore significant alternate views," marginalizing yourself.

4) Consequences of the lesser evil winning are unknown - Getting "snookered out" after elections has happened repeatedly to many of us. Supreme Court appointments and international actions may not in fact reflect a lesser evil.

5) Lesser evilism weakens faith in democracy - If we repeatedly vote for candidates in whom we do not believe, we end up feeling we are without representation and "government itself feels less legitimate."

6) Lesser evilists ignore how policies get shaped - "The key factor in determining what happens in politics is the relative balance between corporate power and popular mobilization for progressive ideals." The dominant party will feel little pressure to satisfy progressives as long as they know they can count on them to vote for them as the lesser evil.

7) Voting for a lesser evil means abandoning those who share your perspectives - When "you look around for allies for some visionary idea or moral cause that inspires you, you will find fewer people ready to take risks, because when they stood up for their ideals at election time you weren't willing to support them." Voting for the lesser evil reinforces despair about changing the system. We will "never win a society we believe in unless we are willing to stand up and fight for it, even it in the short run we lose some of our battles."

In sum, Lerner contends that we shouldn't throw our votes away by "authorizing someone we don't believe in" to represent us. However you vote, consider not only your choice at today's polls but how your decision affects the choices all of us have in the future.

NORTH COUNTRY PEACE BUILDER, Vol. LI, No. #, September, 2000
Don Irish

--fwd David Shove

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Leap of Faith

Dear brother in Christ,

Grace and peace to you.
You may be thinking twice about your decision to vote Republican.
Perhaps you feel you got more than you bargained for.
The destruction must be weighing heavily upon you.

As Christians we’re instructed to love our enemies (Luke 6:27), feed the least of us (Matt 25:35), and avoid sexual immorality (I Cor 6:18), and yet we see:

A costly invasion and occupation which now appears to have been unprovoked.
Cruel and unusual punishment of prisoners held without trial.
A slothful response to a levy failure that all could see plainly on television.
Forced abortion and prostitution in the US Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.
Predation of our children serving in the halls of Congress.

…The Republicans were supposed to be the party for people of the Christian faith.
And liberals like the Greens may seem immoral to you.
You may feel as though you have nowhere to turn.
Let me describe where I find refuge.
I don’t expect you to agree with me on much.
But I may be able to explain how a fellow Christian can adopt a liberal worldview.
I pray that we can find some common ground.

You believe in the bodily Resurrection, and so do I.
To me, it’s a leap of faith. I wasn’t there to see it.
Whether or not the other miracles occurred, we can agree that the teachings live on.
I pray that God will find a way to welcome into Heaven nonbelievers whose hearts are in the right place.
If He can forgive His captors (Luke 23:34), He can do that.
Whether or not you agree, we can agree that it is never too late for anyone to be saved.
Therefore, we can and should love and work alongside nonbelievers as if they were believers.
I am open to ideas from other faiths.
If I meditate to calm my nerves, nothing bad is going to happen to me.
If I light a menorah or face Mecca when I pray, nothing bad is going to happen to me.

We are of the body of Christ. We may also have the mind of Christ (I Cor 2:16). You never know where a good idea may come from. All people, even children, are important and may have something of value to contribute. It’s ok to question religious tradition.

You may believe in creationism. I believe that God created evolution. I like the divine watchmaker of our deist forefathers. A thousand years is like a day to the Lord (II Pet 3:8). I believe in the scientific method, to test all things and hold fast what is good (I Thess 5:21).

The old covenant was literally hard to follow. Uzzah touched the Ark and died (II Sam 6:6). Luckily, the new covenant replaced the old. Also, the acceptance of animal sacrifice went away (Hos 6:6), the acceptance of polygamy went away (I Cor 7:2), and the acceptance of slavery went away (Exod 22:21).

I respect the teachings of Paul, but I keep in mind that he himself admitted that he was the least of the apostles (I Cor 15:9). Some of his teachings were homophobic. If there’s a discrepancy in the scriptures, I believe that the teachings of Jesus should take precedence. As Christians I believe that our core mission is to follow the Golden Rule, to do unto others as you would have them do unto you (Matt 7:12). I want the right to marry; therefore I want others to have the right to marry.

If the soul enters the body at conception, then abortion would break the Golden Rule, but I’m not sure of that. You may cite that all of us are conceived in sin (Psalm 51:5), but I am open to the possibility that God might intervene to withhold a sinless soul. As I understand it the Bible says that if men fight and disrupt a woman’s pregnancy, it is not necessarily a capital offense (Exod 21:22), therefore it is not murder. I’m just not sure, therefore I believe that the abortion decision, risk, and responsibility rest with the female carrying the fertilized egg. Whether or not you and I can agree, I hope we can find common ground in reducing the factors that can lead to unwanted pregnancies, and in strengthening families by strengthening their opportunities.

I believe that the warrior Deborah was a great feminist in her day (Judg 4:9).

I believe in encouraging healthy lifestyle choices. The prophet Daniel went on a vegetarian diet and his health was better than those who hadn’t (Dan 1:12)!

I believe it is honorable to pony up and pay one’s taxes. Jesus did so when He instructed His disciple to get a coin from the mouth of a fish (Matt 17:27). If you don’t think your tax dollars are being spent efficiently, work to fix that. But don’t selfishly complain about what can be seen as a positive interfaith mission effort.

And finally, I’m concerned with all this obsession about the end times. If we are adhering to the Golden Rule, then we are doing everything in our power to forestall the end times. I want to live; therefore I want others to live. Even Jesus does not know when the end will come, only the Father knows (Matt 24:36). So let’s identify and prevent potential man-made cataclysms, but for Heaven’s sake, let’s not do anything to encourage or hasten our own destruction!

You may see me in church, but then again, I may opt to pray behind closed doors (Matt 6:6).

There’s a lot to think about.
I hope this has been of some help to you.
You may decide to make a leap of faith.
If you do, we welcome you warmly.

Grace and peace be with you,

Your brother in Christ,
Tom Cleland
Member, Green Party of Minnesota

Friday, October 20, 2006

Democrats enable Republican abuse

The Republicans wiped out half the Bill of Rights, and the Democrats didn’t even attempt a filibuster. They just stood by, like an enabling mother who lets her husband abuse the kids. This national dysfunction must end. Make that emergency call and Vote Green November 7. Below is a press release I wrote for the Cavlan campaign:

Wednesday, October 18, 2006
The Committee to Elect Michael Cavlan
Contact: Michael Cavlan (612) 327-6902 or Dori Ullman (612) 414-9528


Minneapolis, MN ** Michael Cavlan, Green Party candidate for U.S. Senate in Minnesota, has condemned the Military Commissions Act of 2006 as unconstitutional and un-American. In a statement issued Tuesday, October 17, the day President Bush signed the Act, Cavlan blasted Senate Democrats for not attempting a filibuster.

"In a long list of cowardly acts by those who are supposed to serve us and defend the constitution, this one is the most stunning. If ever there was a time to mount an organized filibuster, this was it. Our represented leaders from both parties failed the American people and should be ashamed of themselves."

The bill authorizes the permanent detention of anyone "determined to be an unlawful enemy combatant" by a tribunal "established under the authority of the President or the Secretary of Defense." It states that "the President has the authority for the United States to interpret the meaning and application of the Geneva Conventions" regarding prisoner treatment, and that "No court, justice, or judge shall have jurisdiction to hear or consider an application for a writ of habeas corpus" for non-U.S. citizens. Habeas corpus, the right to challenge one’s detention in court, has origins in the Magna Carta of 1215, the main document which led to the rule of constitutional law.

Constitutional violations by the Military Commissions Act include Amendments Four through Eight. The amendments cover the right of the people to be secure in their persons and houses, the right to due process of law, the right to a speedy and public trial, the right to a jury, and protection against cruel and unusual punishment.

For more information on the Cavlan for U.S. Senate Campaign, see: www.cavlan.org.


Jay Pond on MPR

I enjoyed the GP's Jay Pond in the MPR 5th CD debate today, especially when he took Keith Ellison to task on the draft. Tammy Lee verified what Ellison had said in a forum on Monday.

Jay said, "Vote for me...I won't change my position between Monday and Friday." Apparently Ellison was concerned about the fairness of the current system, recruiting the disadvantaged, and wanted to consider other options. Jay pointed out that drafting the advantaged is not the answer, it's better to get out of Iraq.

Not sure about Tammy Lee's position on the draft. Just noticed she has a photo with her and Martin Sabo on her web site. To me it makes it look like an endorsement.


So much for Sabo being a team player...

Please call Susan Hoyt at 651-645-3849 to ask that Jay be included in the televised WCCO debate.

And tell people that the Greens were right about the war!

Monday, October 09, 2006

Brace for an October Surprise

The Mark Foley scandal broke in late September, perhaps so that it wouldn’t be called an October surprise. It seems that nothing can save the Republicans now, short of a nuclear attack from North Korea. Knowing that the Republicans will do or say anything to get elected, the thought has crossed my mind.

One commentator on our Green Party discussion list had some good observations that the sex scandal might be orchestrated to overshadow the real scandals and provide a convenient excuse for the shifting of power from Repubs to Dems. The real scandals include, but are not limited to, the repeal of Habeas Corpus, the Iraq Occupation, the Levy Failure, the kidnapping of people without trial, the illegal wiretapping, lying to Congress, the dismantling of the New Deal, environmental protection, and the middle class, and on and on.

We really need a list of all the problems we’re facing. We mustn’t forget Darfur and Undepleted Uranium. Let’s not let our priorities be hijacked by an October Surprise.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Cavlan addresses Katrina survivors

A few weeks ago, Michael was invited to a debate put on by survivors of the Levy Failure who now live in the Twin Cities. Click here to see the video footage of Michael.