If a hippie from Vermont and the scumbag host of The Apprentice can come this close to seizing the reins of power over our country, things really must be getting precarious.
This is the time to act.
We can’t just sit on the couch eating microwave popcorn, cringing at the presidential debates and shouting at our Facebook feeds. That’s just consumer culture. Full of sound and fury. Signifying nothing. We can’t just sit around ranting and expect things to change.
If we’re going to make a difference, we’ve got to get serious about it.
And, unfortunately, while Jill Stein’s politics are awesome, the truth is that she isn’t a serious candidate. She’s never led a big organization. Other than a few years on the town council of Lexington, a tiny, incredibly wealthy suburb of Boston, she’s never even been in government.
She’d be perfectly qualified to run for the state legislature, but she isn’t Joan of Arc.
Stein’s a talking head. She’s smart, eloquent and passionate about the right things, but there’s zero chance that she’s going to get elected President of the United States on Tuesday.
Hell, Ken Bone is polling higher than her in some places.
The Internet is full of memes right now saying that America’s biggest problem is that we insist on voting for major party candidates. If only we could break the cycle, they say, real change might be possible.
I believe really strongly that that’s wrong. Dangerously so.
The biggest problem with American government right now is not that too many of us only vote for major party candidates – the problem is that the only political thing that most of us actually do is vote.
I don’t think protesting more will help much either.
Similar to voting for Jill, holding cardboard signs in public spaces is a great way to feel like you’re taking a stand, like you’re a good person on the right side of history courageously striking out against our evil corporate overlords.
You aren’t. We’re all guilty.
We’re all in this together.
You don’t get to be absolved of your share of our collective responsibility to do something about what’s going on in the world just because you make it clear that you don’t like what’s happening. Come on.
I’m asking you to run.
I’m asking you to seek out the good, progressive people in your community who are running and help them get votes.
It’s true that if Jill can get 5% of the popular vote, the Green Party would qualify for public financing. The federal government would then be required to pay toward the Green campaign for President in 2020. That would be huge.
But even if it were to happen, we’d still need people participating at every level. It still wouldn’t be enough to show up once every four years just to vote Green.
This year I’ve seen a number of admirable local leaders enter the political arena as Democrats, often challenging other more conservative Democrats in the primaries. I’ve seen others run with no party affiliation at all.
If anything, I think political parties are a distraction a lot of the time. What matters is the candidates themselves. What’s destroying our country is not the lack of a third party – it’s the dire lack of genuinely dedicated community leaders of any sort.
Until he started knocking on doors and asking people to vote for him, Bernie Sanders wasn’t much more than a carpenter in Burlington, VT with a big mouth. We need ten thousand people across this country just like that, putting themselves out there. We need a million more helping them.
That’s the only way we’ll get new leaders. They’ve got to work their way up from the bottom, winnable race by winnable race.
If we can do that, and I have faith that we can, we can change the face of municipalities and state legislatures across the country.
We can shift the balance of power in Augusta. We can transform DC.
If we can really get organized across the country on smaller, more accessible local levels, there’s no limit to what we can accomplish.
But there aren’t any shortcuts.
Do what you want on Tuesday. Just don’t lie to yourself.