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The Avocado Delaration
Write-in "Doug Mann" for School Board
by Doug Mann, 29 Oct 2004, Submitted to the Star-Tribune for publication 28 Oct 2004
To endorse the Avocado declaration go to www.petitiononline.com/avocado
- Note: An Avocado is green on the inside and the outside. Some green party members refer to Eco-socialists and other leftwing Greens as "watermelons, green on the outside and red on the inside."
PETER CAMEJO: THE AVOCADO DECLARATION
The following statement was initiated by Peter Miguel Camejo. He is a life-long fighter for social justice who was the Green candidate for Governor in California in the 2002 general elections and in the 2003 recall election.
THE AVOCADO DECLARATION
January 1, 2004
The Green Party is at a crossroads. The 2004 elections place before us a clear and unavoidable choice. On one side, we can continue on the path of political independence, building a party of, by and for the people by running our own campaign for President of the United States. The other choice is the well-trodden path of lesser evil politics, sacrificing our own voice and independence to support whoever the Democrats nominate in order; we are told, to defeat Bush.
The difference is not over whether to "defeat Bush" - understanding by that the program of corporate globalization and the wars and trampling of the Constitution that come with it - but rather how to do it. We do not believe it is possible to defeat the "greater" evil by supporting a shamefaced version of the same evil. We believe it is precisely by openly and sharply confronting the two major parties that the policies of the corporate interests these parties represent can be set back and defeated.
Ralph Nader's 2000 presidential campaign exposed a crisis of confidence in the two party system. His 2.7 million votes marked the first time in modern history that millions voted for a more progressive and independent alternative. Now, after three years of capitulation by the Democratic Party to George Bush they are launching a pre-emptive strike against a 2004 Ralph Nader campaign or any Green Party challenge. Were the Greens right to run in 2000? Should we do the same in 2004? The Avocado Declaration based on an analysis of our two party duopoly, and its history declares we were right and we must run.
ORIGINS OF THE PRESENT TWO-PARTY SYSTEM
History shows that the Democrats and Republicans are not two counterposed forces but rather complimentary halves of a single
two-party system: "one animal with two heads that feed from the same trough," as Chicano leader Rodolfo "Corky" González explained.
Since the Civil War a peculiar two party political system has dominated the United States. Prior to the Civil War a two-party system
existed reflecting opposing economic platforms. Since the Civil War a shift occurred. A two-party system remained in place but no longer had differing economic orientation. Since the Civil War the two parties show differences in their image, role, social base and some policies but in the last analysis they both support essentially similar economic platforms.
This development can be clearly dated to the split in the Republican Party of 1872 where one wing merged with the "New Departure"
Democrats that had already shifted towards the Republican platform of pro-finance and industrial business. Prior to the Civil War the Democratic Party controlled by the slaveocracy favored agriculture business interests, developed an alliance with small farmers in conflict with industrial and some commercial interests. That division ended with the Civil War. Both parties supported financial and industrial business as the core of their programmatic outlook.
For over 130 years the two major parties have been extremely effective in preventing the emergence of any mass political formations that challenge their political monopoly. Most attempts to build political alternatives have been efforts to represent the interests of the
average person, the working people. These efforts have been unable to develop. Both major parties have been dominated by moneyed interests and today reflect the historic period of corporate rule.
In this sense United States history has been different from that of any other advanced industrial nation. In all other countries multi party systems have appeared and to one degree or other they have more democratic electoral laws and more representation has existed. In almost all other cases political parties ostensible based on or promoting the interest of non-corporate sectors such as working people exist.
STRUGGLES FOR DEMOCRACY AND SOCIAL JUSTICE
In spite of this pro-corporate political monopoly, mass struggles for social progress, struggles to expand democracy and civil rights have periodically explodedd throughout United States history.
Every major gain in our history, even pre Civil War struggles --such as the battles for the Bill of Rights, to end slavery, and to establish
free public education-- as well as those after the Civil War have been the product of direct action by movements independent of the two major parties and in opposition to them.
Since the Civil War, without exception, the Democratic Party has opposed all mass struggles for democracy and social justice. These
include the struggle for ballot reform, for the right of African Americans to vote nd against American apartheid ("Jim Crow"), for the right to form unions, for the right of women to vote, against the war in Vietnam, the struggle to make lynching illegal, the fight against the death penalty, the struggle for universal health care, the fight for gay and lesbian rights, and endless others. Many of these struggles were initiated by or helped by the existence of small third parties.
DIVISION OF WORK
When social justice, peace or civil rights movements become massive in scale, and threaten to become uncontrollable and begin to win over large numbers of people, the Democratic Party begins to shift and presents itself as a supposed ally, always seeking to co-opt the movement, demobilize its forces and block its development into an alternative independent political force.
The Republican Party has historically acted as the open advocate for a platform to benefit the rule of wealth and corporate domination. They argue ideologically for policies benefiting the corporate rulers. The Republicans seek to convince the middle classes and labor to support the rule of the wealthy with the argument that "What's good for GM is good for the country," that what benefits corporations is also going to benefit regular people.
The Democratic Party is different. They act as a "broker" negotiating and selling influence among broad layers of the people to support the objectives of corporate rule. The Democratic Party's core group of elected officials is rooted in careerists seeking self-promotion by
offering to the corporate rulers their ability to control and deliver mass support. And to the people they offer some concessions,
modifications on the platform of the Republican Party. One important value of the Democratic Party to the corporate world is that it makes the Republican Party possible through the maintenance of stability essential for business as usual by preventing a genuine mass opposition from developing. Together the two parties offer one of the best possible frameworks with which to rule a people that otherwise would move society towards the rule of the people i.e. democracy.
An example of this process is our minimum wage laws. Adjusted to inflation it has been gradually declining for year. Every now and then the Democrats pass a small upward adjustment that allows the downward trend to continue but gives the appearance they are on the side of the poor.
Together the two parties have made ballot access increasingly difficult, defended indirect elections such as the Electoral College, insisted on winner-take-all voting to bloc the appearance of alternative voices and opposed proportional representation to prevent the development of a representative democracy and the flowering of choices. The undemocratic structure of the US senate and the Electoral College, that are not based on one-person one vote, but instead favor the more conservative areas of the nation, are supported by both parties.
Elections are based primarily on money. By gerrymandering and accumulating huge war chests -payoffs for doing favors for their rich
"friends"-- most officeholders face no real challenge at the ballot box and are re-elected. In the Races that are "competitive," repeatedly the contests reduce themselves to two individuals seeking corporate financial backing. Whoever wins the battle for money wins the election. Districts are gerrymandered into "safe" districts for one or the other party. Gerrymandering lowers the public's interest and involvement while maintaining the fiction of "democracy" and "free elections." The news media goes along with this, typically focusing on the presidential election and a handful of other races, denying most challengers the opportunity to get their message out to the public.
Corporate backing shifts between the two parties depending on short-term, and even accidental factors. In the 1990s more
endorsements from CEOs went to the Democrats. At present the money has shifted to the Republican Party. Most corporations donate to both parties to maintain their system in place.
NO CHOICE NO HOPE
The Democratic Party preaches defeatism to the most oppressed and exploited. Nothing can be expected, nothing is possible but what exists. Before the people they justify continues betrayal of what could be with the argument of lesser evil. It's the Republicans or us. Nothing else is possible.
DEMOCRACY VERSUS COOPTATION
Democracy remains a great danger for those who have privilege, and control. When you are part of the top 1% of the population that has as much income as the bottom 75% of the people, democracy is a permanent threat to your interests. The potential power of the people is so great that it puts sharp limits on what corporations can do. The ability of the Democratic Party to contain, co-opt and demobilize independent movements of the people is a critical element in allowing the continued destruction of our planet, abuse, discrimination and exploitation based on race, gender, sexual preference and class, and the immense misdistribution of wealth.
As we enter the 21st century there is no more important issue than saving our planet from destruction. The world economy is becoming increasingly globalized. Corporate power is now global in nature and leads to massive dislocations and suffering for most people. The planet is over populated and the basis of human life declining. The greatest suffering and dislocations exist in the third world but there is also a downward trend in the United States as globalization leads to a polarization of income and wealth. This shift is making the United States each day closer to a third world country with an extremely wealthy minority and a growing under class. This polarization adds further fear of democracy for the elite.
THE GROWING SHIFT AGAINST THE RULE OF LAW
The shift away from the rule of law has accelerated in recent years. This process will be a factor in the 2004 presidential elections
especially if a Green candidate is involved in the race. The shift away from our Constitution is proceeding with the complicity of both parties and the courts. The process through which the Constitution can be amended is not used as changes are made illegally through legislation because it would awaken a massive resistance to the changes underway. A similar process is under way regarding the rule of law internationally.
The reason given for these steps since September 2001 is the terrorist attack within the borders of the United States by forces originally trained, armed and supported by the United States government. The so-called "war on terrorism" does not exist. The United States Government has promoted, tolerated, and been party to the use of terrorism all over the world. The United States has even been found guilty of terrorism by the World Court.
The terrorist attacks against U.S. targets are important, but they need to be countered primarily in a social/political manner. That approach is the opposite of the Patriot Act, and the occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq. On the contrary, by aggravating inequality, injustice, disrespecting the rule of law and its military interventions and occupation, the present policies of the US Government add to the dangers faced by US citizens throughout the world and in the United States. Especially dangerous are the promotion of nuclear, chemical and bacteriological weapons, and the open declarations of the intention to once again use nuclear weapons.
This recent shift, while rooted in bipartisan policies over the last decades, has been accelerated by the present Republican
administration. Its ability to carry out these actions has depended on the Democratic Party's support, and its ability to contain, disorient and prevent the development of mass opposition.
Amazingly in December of 2003 General Tommy Franks the recently retired head of CentCom was quoted as stating that he thought the people of the United States may prefer a military government over our present Constitutional Republican form if another terrorist attack occurs. Such a statement is so far off base one most wonder why it is being made. The people of the United States are solidly opposed to any consideration of a military dictatorship in the United States. In fact, polls have repeatedly shown they favor increasing our democratic rights such as limiting campaign contributions and allowing more points of view in debates.
Never in our history have top military leaders or ex military leaders spoken openly of ending our Constitutional form of government. No
leader of the Democratic Party has protested Franks' comments. How many officers in the armed forces have such opinions? If there are any they should be immediately removed from the military.
DEMOCRATS: PATRIOT ACT AND UNEQUIVOCAL SUPPORT FOR BUSH
The Democratic Party leadership voted for the USA Patriot Act. In the United States Senate only one Democrat voted against the Patriot Act. Democrats considered "liberal" such as Wellstone and Boxer voted for the Patriot Act. Huge majorities have repeatedly passed votes in the Congress against the United States Constitution. In one case only one Congresswoman, Barbara Lee, voted against the abrogation of the Constitutions separation of powers in Article One Section Eight. Democratic Party politicians, when called upon to support the Republican Party and their corporate backers, repeatedly comply and vote against the interest of the people and against the Constitution they have sworn to uphold.
The Democratic Party leadership as a whole gave repeated standing ovations to George Bush as he outlined his platform in his January 2002 State of the Union address promoting the arbitrary decision to occupy sovereign nations through military aggression in violation of international law. The ovations given the Republican Platform by the Democratic Party was done on a nationally televised format for the people to see a unified political force. The effect is to make people who believe in peace, support the UN charter, the World Court and the rule of law feel they are isolated, powerless and irrelevant.
A resolution was passed in March of 2003 calling for "Unequivocal Support" to "George Bush" for the war in Iraq. It had the full support
of the Democratic Party leadership. Even Democratic "doves" like Kucinich would not vote against the resolution. Only a handful (11) of congressional representatives voted against the motion for "unequivocal support" to George Bush.
THE ROLE OF THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY
The usefulness of the Democratic Party in its open defense of the Republican Platform and its attacks on our Constitution and the rule
of law internationally would be of little value to those who favor the present policies if it led to the development of a mass independent
opposition. The failure of such forces to exist in sufficient strength permits the Democrats to be more open in their support for
Nevertheless some voices outside the Democratic and Republican Parties are beginning to be heard. Massive anti-war street demonstrations, and the voice of a new small party, the Green Party, have gained some attention and respect. In no case did the Democratic Party as an institution support, call for, or help mobilize popular forces for peace and respecting international law. Yet large numbers of its rank and file and many lower level elected officials against their party participated and promoted anti-war protests.
Many lower elected officials among the Democrats and even some Republicans who defend the Constitution of the United States are
voting to oppose the USA Patriot Act at the local level. Even many middle level Democrats have conflicting views and some time take
progressive stances in concert with the Green Party's platform. These individuals live in a contradiction with the Party they belong to and while we can and should join with them behind specific issues we do not adopt their error of being in a party that is against the interest of the people, pro-corporate and against the rule of law.
DEMOCRATS ATTACK THE GREEN PARTY
The Democratic Party allows its lower level representatives to present themselves as opposed to the war. Some of its leaders have begun to take on an appearance of disagreeing with "how" the policies of Bush are being implemented. The Democratic Party has unleashed a campaign to divide and conquer those opposed to the pro-war policies. On one hand it tries to appear sympathetic to anti-war sentiment while on the other it tries to silence voices opposed to Bush's policies.
Soon after the 2000 presidential election The Democrats began an attack on the Green Party on the grounds that since there is no run off system, that is, since the Democrats in partnership with the Republicans do not allow free elections, the Green Party's existence and its candidate for President Ralph Nader in 2000 should be declared responsible for George Bush becoming the president.
This campaign has been heavily promoted by the corporate media. It has achieved success in part because of the support it has received by the more liberal wing of the Democratic Party and some of the "progressive" journals controlled by liberal Democrats such as The Nation, and Mother Jones.
PROGRESSIVE DEMOCRATS JOIN ATTACK
Their political message is simple and clear: "no voice truly critical of the platform of the Republicans may be permitted; only the Democrats must appear as 'opponents' to the Republicans". They have no objection to rightist, pro-war third party candidates entering the race and promoting their views. They only oppose a voice for peace and the rule of law like that of Ralph Nader in 2000.
Never in the history of the United States has a magazine claiming to favor democracy run a front page article calling on an individual not to run for president -- until The Nation did so against Ralph Nader running for President in 2004. The fact polls show 23% of the people favor Nader running (extrapolated to the total voting population that represents about 40 million people) and 65% favored his inclusion in debates is of o concern to The Nation that seeks to silence the only candidate who in 2000 opposed the premises of George Bush's platform.
THE CONSPIRACY AGAINST THE VOTERS
The Nation's editorial board is free to campaign for the Democratic Party and urge people to vote for the Democrats in spite of their
support for the Patriot Act, their votes for "Unequivocal support to George Bush" etc. That is their right. But they want something else.
They want the Greens to join with them in a conspiracy to not allow the voters a choice.
All voters are fully aware there is no run off in a presidential race. They understand and many who support the platform of the Greens will vote against their views by voting for the Democratic Party. The voters will make that decision. But The Nation along with many others are calling on the Greens not to allow voters who do not agree with The Nation's opinion, to vote Democratic, to have a choice and be able to express their electoral wish. They want to silence their voices, not to allow it to be registered, as a way to try and force them to vote for their party, the Democrats.
The passage of the USA Patriot Act, the undemocratic electoral laws, the manipulation of electoral campaigns by the corporate media and the campaign to silence the Greens are all part of the same phenomena against democracy. It is just another example of how the two party system is set up to repress and silence those who favor democracy.
LESSER EVIL LEADS TO GREATER EVIL
This campaign's effectiveness has penetrated within the Green Party where a minority supports the concept that the Green Party should not run in 2004. Behind this view is the concept that politics can be measured as degrees, like temperature, and that the Democrats offer a milder and thus lesser evil alternative to the Republican Platform. This view argues that to support the "lesser evil" weakens the greater evil.
Such a view fails to grasp the essence of the matter. Political dynamics work exactly the opposite. To silence the voice of the Green Party and support the Democrats strengthens George Bush and the Republican Party because only the appearance of forces opposed to the present policies, forces that are clearly independent of corporate domination can begin to shift the relationship of forces and the center of political debate.
Despite the intention of some of its promoters, the anti Green Party campaign helps the policies pursued by Bush as well as his re election possibilities.
Although some claim that George Bush's policies represent only a small coterie of neo-conservative extremists, the reality is otherwise. Bush and his friends serve at the will of the corporate rulers. His standing with the American people can be crushed in a moment if the corporate rulers so choose -- just by the power of their media, which today is concentrated in the hands of a half dozen giant conglomerates.
It is presently in the interests of the corporate effort to pursue a new colonialism to have Bush re-elected, thereby legitimatizing his government before the world. In order to safely achieve that, the voices that truly oppose Bush's policies need to be silenced.
[Continued in Part Two]