Sanctimonious in California
Since I am going to be out this afternoon, here is a link to the Rebecca Solnit column that is chapping the delicate buttocks of the Anarcho-Syndicalist Giant Street Puppets Purity Pixie Party.
One manifestation of this indiscriminate biliousness is the statement that gets aired every four years: that in presidential elections we are asked to choose the lesser of two evils. Now, this is not an analysis or an insight; it is a cliché, and a very tired one, and it often comes in the same package as the insistence that there is no difference between the candidates. You can reframe it, however, by saying: we get a choice, and not choosing at all can be tantamount in its consequences to choosing the greater of two evils.
But having marriage rights or discrimination protection or access to health care is not the lesser of two evils. If I vote for a Democrat, I do so in the hopes that fewer people will suffer, not in the belief that that option will eliminate suffering or bring us to anywhere near my goals or represent my values perfectly. Yet people are willing to use this “evils” slogan to wrap up all the infinite complexity of the fate of the Earth and everything living on it and throw it away.
I don’t love electoral politics, particularly the national variety. I generally find such elections depressing and look for real hope to the people-powered movements around the globe and subtler social and imaginative shifts toward more compassion and more creativity. Still, every four years we are asked if we want to have our foot trod upon or sawed off at the ankle without anesthetic. The usual reply on the left is that there’s no difference between the two experiences and they prefer that Che Guevara give them a spa pedicure. Now, the Che pedicure is not actually one of the available options, though surely in heaven we will all have our toenails painted camo green by El Jefe.
Before that transpires, there’s something to be said for actually examining the differences. In some cases not choosing the trod foot may bring us all closer to that unbearable amputation. Or maybe it’s that the people in question won’t be the ones to suffer, because their finances, health care, educational access, and so forth are not at stake.
An undocumented immigrant writes me, “The Democratic Party is not our friend: it is the only party we can negotiate with.” Or as a Nevada activist friend put it, “Oh my God, go be sanctimonious in California and don’t vote or whatever, but those bitching radicals are basically suppressing the vote in states where it matters.”
Presidential electoral politics is as riddled with corporate money and lobbyists as a long-dead dog with maggots, and deeply mired in the manure of the status quo — and everyone knows it. (So stop those news bulletins, please.) People who told me back in 2000 that there was no difference between Bush and Gore never got back to me afterward.
Argue amongst yourselves. I’m sure that, by the time I get back, you will have all have agreed to form an informal committee tasked with coming up with a framework for a non-binding proposal, subject to approval by two thirds of the voters (with special weighting being given to votes of vegans), that will be used to create another committee which will make suggestions on how best to acquire organically-grown hemp paper and cruelty-free ink on which will be written, by yet a third committee, a gender-neutral manifesto stating in no uncertain terms that Shit Is Fucked Up And Bullshit, but in less sexually threatening and patriarchal language while also being respectful of all other languages that are as equally beautiful and valid as colonialist/imperialist English.
I’ll be back about 3PM so you guys better get crackin’….