Save The Earth - Vote! (Then Organize)

The disappointment that many, perhaps most, progressives feel regarding the
policies of the Obama administration are certainly understandable, and there is
no need here to reiterate the details of the discussions that have been going on
for almost two years now.

Perhaps it was wishful thinking on my part, but when I voted for the President
in 2008, I expected more enlightened positions on war, poverty, and the
environment, to name a few of the most pressing problems that we face.

Nevertheless, it is distressing to see so many moderates, liberals, and
progressives who seem to be willing to allow the Republicans take over Congress
again. Have we forgotten so soon what they (and Bush) did when in power?

Do we not understand the frightening and irrational proposals from the "Tea
Party" types who dominate the GOP?

Republican victories in the mid-term elections would be a disaster, especially
regarding the environment. For instance, as Ronald Brownstein, conservative
columnist for the National Journal, recently noted:

"Virtually all of the serious 2010 GOP challengers have moved beyond opposing
cap-and-trade to dismissing the scientific evidence that global warming is even
occurring. ... It is difficult to identify another major political party in any
democracy as thoroughly dismissive of climate science as is the GOP here."

This ignorant position is hardly surprising, given, among other things, the
millions of dollars being poured into Republican/Tea Party coffers by such
corporate forces as BP Oil and the Koch brothers.

In the face of the environmental threats that confront us, it is imperative that
we develop strategies that will have the greatest impact as quickly as possible.

In the medium term, the most promising approach is to put pressure on
governments by using a multitude of tactics, including the ballot box, to demand
an immediate Second World War-type mobilization to deal with the systemic crises
of environmental destruction and growing poverty (unemployment, home
foreclosures, and so on).

Such "ecological Keynesianism"-- massive government programs to protect the
natural world--could create jobs in sustainable industries and promote a plethora
of ecological initiatives (local food production, public transportation, energy
conservation, and so on) - but only if enough people demand it.

However, even those who understand the seriousness of our situation often do
nothing, due to distractions, despair, and busy lives.

The simple act of voting could make all the difference.

Nothing provides such a direct--and easy--route to politicians as voting does.

As Bill McKibben wrote: "We need to be able to explain to them that continuing
in their ways will end something that they care about: their careers."

In many districts, even a small increase in "environmental" voters would make a
difference. And if everyone gets, for example, just two friends to vote who
otherwise wouldn't, the Republican/Tea Party machine will be dealt a stunning

On the other hand, a Republican/Tea Party victory will shift the political
landscape even further to the fundamentalist right.

We must remember that Tea Partyers, big oil, and the corporate elite in general
want progressives to sit out the vote and allow their stooges to have even more
power. If that happens, the damage that will be done will make it even harder
to build a sustainable and just society.

Obviously, voting is not enough. The key to a successful ecological movement is
the concept of "unity in diversity" - organizing movements that focus on common
values and working together with mutual respect.

Other forms of action must intensify: organizing, letters to the editor,
demonstrations, media reform, and public education - working both inside and
outside of the political system.

There may not be enough time to transform the global economy into one that is
democratic, just, and sustainable. But as Noam Chomsky observed, while we can't
know if our efforts will prevent tragedy, we can be sure that inaction will
guarantee greater disaster.

Cynicism is a luxury that we - and our children - can't afford.

We already have enough wealth, knowledge, and technology to solve the
environmental crises, create a more humane society, end war, and eliminate
global poverty - but only if we take democracy seriously, get organized and take
control of our lives.

Voting is the simplest way to make a difference.

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