Sunday, October 30, 2016

VOTE as if Your Life Depended on it


VOTE as if Your Life Depended on it

In ancient Europe when the Celtic religion held sway, the end of October, beginning of November by our calendar, was known as Samhain (sah'-win) marking the turning of the year when the veils between the worlds of the living and the dead were thin and permeable. Because the spirits of our dead are not always benevolent, the people accustomed to wear frightening masks then to hide their identities and protect themselves scaring away the evil spirits.

This custom has come down to us in neutered form as Halloween when we like to dress-up and wear scary masks and delight in pretended horror escorting our masked children door-to-door begging for sweets.

But this Halloween season, I admit to you, my terror is very real. The politics of the country have torn away the thin veils of pretense to expose the ugly evil spirits of racism, hatred of women, homophobia, fear of the other, greed that deeply haunt the soul of the culture like a chronic infection direly threatening the body politic.

We must admit that both viable candidates for the presidency are what the empire has permitted (notwithstanding that what democracy survives in it allowed us to carry to the very threshold of the Democratic Party nomination Sen. Bernie Sanders who was our voice for justice, peace, compassion, concern for the Earth and life itself.) As such, each in their own way, represent the interests of the plutocratic, capitalistic, corporate-run empire and that is as things stand.

Having said this, the Republican candidate Donald J. Trump is a hundred fold more terrifying than the Democratic candidate Hillary R. Clinton. Clinton as First Lady, as Senator, as Secretary of State has shown herself to be "centrist" (read capitalistic neo-liberal) in support of the U. S. policy of perpetual war to preserve its hegemony and protect the interests of the corporations and the moneyed one-percent. On the other hand, she has supported civil rights, the causes of women, children, and the GLBT community. Furthermore, being a seasoned politician and highly intelligent, she is also capable of modifying her positions under the continuing pressure of us who supported Sen. Bernie Sanders. Since her nomination, she has based her campaign firmly on the planks that we Sanders supporters hammered on the Democratic Party platform. There is little reason to believe that she will abandon these if she is elected — we must be ready to demand that she be committed to her words.

Mr. Donald Trump, to put it bluntly, is a racist, woman-hating, homophobic sociopath driven by greed and a narcissistic megalomania that makes him arrogant, violent, impulsive, temperamental and is totally ignorant of politics much less foreign affairs. To imagine such a one as head of the most powerful empire in the world, in charge of the mightiest nuclear arsenal on Earth, terrifies not only many of us but the entire world. Terrifying is that he gives voice to and legitimizes the fear, the hatred, the racism, the misogyny, the homophobia, the violence that Nazi Germany of the last century came to typify.

Thus the root of my terror — and it is only intensified by the voices of a goodly number of the disillusioned that I hear, self-destructive voices of nihilism that say that they will vote for Trump because "he is at least up-front in his racism" or insist that they will vote for Jill Stein of the Green Party (without the political structure or the base to make it viable) or write-in Bernie Sanders (against Bernie Sanders' own advice) or not vote at all — all choices that ultimately would result in votes for Trump.

Neither Clinton nor Trump are the choices that I would wish, but let us not delude ourselves that they are no different from each other. Clinton recognizes the threat of climate change; Trump denies that it even exists. Trump and the Republicans would be immeasurably more disastrous than Clinton and the Democrats. With Clinton and the Democrats there is at least a chance for change in favor of the Earth and life, of justice. The race is terrifyingly close; we must do all we can to elect Hillary Clinton as the better, immeasurably better, of the two. We must not chance anything else. 

Indeed the veils between worlds grow thin this season and no mask will protect us from the terror to which our history has brought us. We have no choice but to gird ourselves with our resolve, be the healers that the times call for, fortify ourselves with our love and our joy, VOTE — and, once our vote decides, continue our struggle for justice and peace and the well-being of the Earth and the life she bears.

Rafael Jesús González

Berkeley, California

Two excellent pertinent articles by Clarence B. Jones, friend and advisor to Dr. Martin Luther king Jr., and my good friend Jonathan D. Greenberg, Scholars in Residence, Daniel Martin Gould Center for Conflict Resolution, Stanford Law School:

Teachers and Mentors: Who made Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton who they are today?


If Dr. King Were Alive Today


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