Friday, March 7, 2014
By William H. Slavick
PORTLAND -- I will vote for neither Obama nor Romney nor U.S. Senate and House candidates. Simply, none addresses responsibly the existential challenges we -- and humanity -- face:
• Stopping a suicidal march to an uninhabitable Earth in the interest of unlimited consumption and short-term profit -- cloaked in contrarian denial and deceit.
• Ending U.S. world domination through nuclear and space weaponry, militarism, war and economic exploitation, at the expense of the poverty and misery or lives of hundreds of millions.
• Changing political and economic policies oriented to individual well-being and greed rather than the common good -- that deny basic food, shelter, health care, and education needs to 49.1 million, including one in four children.
• Erosion of the rule of law and civil liberties through illicit wars, torture, assassinations, murder, renditions, unwarranted surveillance, whistleblower persecution and repression of dissent.
• Ending insensitivity and indifference to deadly abuses of our environment and our neighbors, near and far.
In Maine and nationally, we need, if ever, informed leaders of vision, integrity, and courage -- successors to Frances Perkins, George McGovern, the Kennedys, and Edmund Muskie -- who challenge ideologues and propagandists of self-interest with the elemental truth: we are one human family, a society, not a jungle.
Environment: Neither jobs nor profit can excuse trashing Earth with carbon and now fracking pollution. We need comprehensive energy policy: reduced fossil fuels, carbon capture and sequestration, wise land use, electric vehicles, conservation, green infrastructure. In debates, climate change went unmentioned.
The World: We must join the human community -- eschew empire, embrace nuclear disarmament, end economic exploitation, commit to nonviolent conflict resolution, and promote sustainable economies that respect the dignity of work everywhere. We need fair trade, not free trade.
National and Maine candidates ignore our foreign bullying and havoc, e.g. Honduras, Haiti, save for nodding at Afghanistan, beating up on Iran, which has no instinct for suicide and so no intention of attacking anyone, and groveling in support of Israel's continued flouting of human rights and international law in ruthlessly displacing Palestinians from Palestine.
No candidate seriously addresses the challenge of humanizing laissez-faire globalization. Democrats trust Keynesian stimuli to create jobs. Alchemist Romney would employ his skill in firing workers wholesale to create 20 million jobs and addresses the W. Bush-wars-and-tax-cuts-for-the-rich deficits, not with graduated tax brackets (in the prosperous Eisenhower-Johnson era up to 90 per cent) but by closing tax loopholes -- their identity in a post-election lockbox! Voila!
Having already donned the mantle of demigod that the electorate affords Maine senators, Angus King would continue Bush's bonanza for the rich and tax everybody else's mortgage payments!
Economy and Common Good: Government must both check corporate greed and, in complex modern society, join the private sector in developing policy, strategy, and implementation to assure the common good -- a sustainable environment and work, a living wage, health care, and quality education for all. If other countries can, so can we. This requires needs-based government funding policy for social programs and strict regulation of finance. Utopian market fundamentalism, deregulation, investment tax cuts and stimulus spending are failed substitutes.
Like other developed countries, we must be sensible: We cannot continue squandering $750 billion annually in health care waste and fraud. We must fund, fully, early childhood development, day care, pre-schooling and skills training. Arbitrary spending cuts that deny food, shelter, and health care to tens of millions, including the most vulnerable, to abet greed are unconscionable. Romney's proposal to starve 12 million NAFTA victims into self-deporting is inhuman.
Human rights: Leadership must guarantee human rights and the rule of law -- without exception. Instead, we have numerous markers of fascism and a police state -- and silence, not even a cautionary word that a tipped Supreme Court means corporate political capture.
Candidate inadequacies are not solely to blame. Universities are silent. Catholic social teaching is shelved (save for the nuns) in favor of denying civil rights to same-sex couples. Corporations own Congress and the media and are neutering unions. And Occupy organizing is besieged by Establishment thugs.
But, to survive, organize we must.
William H. Slavick ran as an independent for the U.S. Senate In 2006.