Granny D at Penn State
November 2, 2002
Peace in any family requires fairness, kindness, honesty, shared financial and physical security with a positive and creative view of the future for each individual and respect for the land that sustains us. When those basic conditions are not present, happiness fails and bad things begin to happen. Bad behavior begins to happen.
Peace on any planet requires fairness, kindness, honesty, shared financial and physical security with a positive and creative view of the future for each individual and respect for the land that sustains us. When those basic conditions are not present, happiness fails and bad things begin to happen. Bad behavior begins to happen.
In other words, peace is not the product of force, no matter how well-meaning may be its 500-pound bombs, no matter how enlightened may be its cruise missiles, no matter how sensitive and caring may be its antipersonnel cluster-bombs. Peace is not the product of war. Death and dismemberment, orphans and angers are the products of war. Peace is the product of fairness, kindness, honesty, shared financial and physical security with a positive and creative view of the future for each individual and respect for the land that sustains us.
I say all this, and I repeat myself intentionally, because our warmongering White House and our rollover Congress have it all wrong, and because you have been hearing that wrong message over and over from nationalistic news organizations that would have had very little trouble adapting to the controlled news conditions of pre-war Germany.
Let me say it one more time, in a way that our president might understand: If you want peace and safety in America and the world, work to make fairness and kindness and justice and economic security the common condition of the world. If you want terrorism, then drop bombs, support dictators, steal resources, use all your weapons, whether or not you can even pronounce their names.
"The ultimate weakness of violence" Dr. King taught us, "is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it... Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate.... adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out hate; only love can do that," he said.
For here is our new reality: The world is too small these days for us to do harm over there and hide over here. The world has found us. We have to base our international policy now on fairness, kindness, honesty, shared financial and physical security with a positive and creative view of the future for each individual and respect for the land that sustains us. We don't have a choice, and thank God for that. Thank God we are constrained to now have to do the right thing to others in order to survive ourselves.
We know morally what we must do.
But how to do it politically?
Both of our major political parties need saving. We must save them, even though we might like to let them go.
The Democrats are useless because they have learned from Mr. Clinton that victory is in the mushy middle, and so they stand now for mush. They stand for mush in a time when real leadership and real courage is required to save the very planet and to preserve our free democracy. They do not have it in them, as we saw most recently in the Iraq war vote, and as we see every day that C-Span broadcasts their sorry asses and their useless gasses to us.
The Republicans are useless because they have forsaken their honestly conservative rank-and-file members and forced down their throats a brand of right-wing extremism that we must call the American Taliban, it is so virulent. It has nothing to do with authentic conservatism. It has nothing to do with Lincoln the Republican, Teddy Roosevelt the Republican, or even Barry Goldwater or John McCain the Republican. It is a kind of fascism, if fascism is the merging of state and corporate control to extend, by force, their narrow interests worldwide, subjugating the people of the world into sweatshop workers, McDonald's feeders and Wal-Mart greeters, and all of it fueled by oil and coal ripped from a gasping and ill planet by an ever-growing, every more corporatized military.
How are real Republicans to be saved from this --Real Republicans who believe that government should be less powerful, not all powerful; who believe that government should be out of our lives, not in our bedrooms, and not spying on us from every streetcorner camera?
Both parties need the same medicine. They need competition.
The Republican Party will not straighten out until they have to face John McCain, running on the Reform Party ticket or as an independent and splitting the vote.
The Democrats already know what's in store for them with Mr. Nader and the Greens splitting their vote.
Now. Let's be Democrats for a moment and find our way to happiness.
Here's our problem. If we adopt all the Green Party positions, we may lose the middle voter. If we don't adopt sensible Green positions, however, the Greens will split our vote again. What should we do? And what should the Greens do, now that they may have in their hands the ability to grant or deny Mr. Bush a second term?
I happen to love Ralph Nader. He is a friend of mine. Another friend of mine, historian and founder of the Alliance for Democracy, Ronnie Dugger, recently went over to Ralph's office in Washington to ask him to not run in 2004. Ronnie, whom I first met in jail, is of the opinion that we are facing a national emergency and that our nation is at risk of losing its free democracy. I fully agree with him. (How could I not agree; I was in jail with him for reading aloud from the Declaration of Independence in the Capitol Rotunda.)
Ronnie supported Ralph in the last election, but he does not want to see a second Bush term. I'm sure Mr. Nader would not like to think of a second Bush presidency, either.
It is not for me to say what Mr. Nader said in confidence, but let me put it in astronaut language: Houston, we have a problem.
The American left may be so fundamentally cracked in half that the Democrats will suffer a long string of defeats to the unified Right.
What would you do if you were, say, Terry McAuliffe, the national chair of the Democrats? (I first met Terry, by the way, by crashing a very fancy fundraising party were they were raising millions of corporate dollars. I told him that I was opposed to corporate campaign donations. He said he was too, and then offered me some hors d'oeuvres, which were delicious. You know, Gandhi and King taught us that we must sometimes put our bodies in the way of injustice, and I think we must all do more to crash these parties and eat these hors d'oeuvres before they reach the mouths of our elected representatives.)
Now. You are Terry McAuliffe. Dab your mouth with your napkin and think how you might avoid another split vote in 2004.
Well, what do you do in an impossible conflict? You negotiate a truce.
As Mr. McAuliffe, you call up Mr. Nader and the leadership of the Greens. You offer a four year truce, during which two things happen: One, the Green Party members are welcome at the Democratic convention and at local and national Democrat meetings, to make their case and influence the party planks. Two, the Democratic Party agrees to push Instant Runoff voting though as many state legislatures as possible, and even through Congress.
With instant runoff, you vote for your first, second and third choice candidates. If your first choice candidate is not elected with a majority, your second choice applies, and so on. With instant runoff in place, the Greens can build their party because people will not fear that a vote for Greens is a vote for Republicans. The true strength of the Greens can finally be measured at the polls, and that will dramatically influence Democratic and national policy.
And the Democrats will prosper because, in the final tally, the vote will not be split.
Now, will the Democrats be able to deliver instant runoff during the truce? Can they get it approved in the statehouses and perhaps in Congress? Only with the help of the Republican Party. And why will the Republicans want to see instant runoff voting enacted? Because John McCain, we'll now imagine, is running as a Reform Party or independent candidate. Let's further imagine that Colin Powell is his running mate. That's why the Republican Party would suddenly love instant runoff voting and help to get it passed.
And then, by God, we'll have something of a democracy back. Or a chance for it.
So I take this occasion to ask Mr. McAuliffe to please call Mr. Nader and set up a little meeting with nice snacks.
And I urge Senator McCain to see what the Reform Party folks are up to these days, and to have a little sit down with Ross Perot and company, or start to put together your independent campaign committee.
Otherwise, we are in for it.
But have no fear. We will never say die until we are dead. This is our democracy and we know how to fight for it.
We the people will someday know again the feeling of having a president that a majority of American actually voted for. We will see our highest values and human aspirations, not our lowest needs and greeds, reflected in the policies of our government --locally, nationally and internationally. We will live on a peaceful and civilized earth because, over time, we will have created a world of fairness, kindness, honesty, shared financial and physical security with a positive and creative view of the future for each individual and respect for the land that sustains us.
We will have thrown the moneychangers out of our temples of democracy. We will have put the military-industrial complex into the psychiatric hospital where it needs keeping. We will be able to look at our children and our grandchildren and say that the world is run by grownups who have put away the things of childhood, the selfishness, the anger, the cruelty.
You, personally, have an important role to play in this greatest drama of our times. I hope you enjoy the fight. It is a grand thing for all of us to be doing.