Sunday, October 14, 2007

The Dangers of Wishful Thinking: Drafting Al Gore

Hi Newshackers,

Yesterday, I received an action request message from Democrats.com, a very progressive but unofficial sub-group of the Democratic Party. It asks for support on several activist topics, including two very controversial ones: 1) petitioning Al Gore to run for President, and 2) calling for the impeachment of George Bush for violating the FISA laws starting one month after his (s)election.

Many people consider the prospect of impeaching the President controversial. Personally, I believe Dick Cheney and George Bush should be impeached for the large number of high crimes and misdemeanors they and their cronies have committed, and I signed that petition.

However, I won't sign their petition, or any others now being circulated, attempting to draft Al Gore into the Democratic primary. I find attempting to draft Mr. Gore into the Presidential race controversial, and potentially very damaging to the party's efforts to elect a Democratic President in 2008. Splitting the allegiance of Democratic supporters between Al Gore and the other Democratic candidates is contrary to the party's best interests.

This is especially true since I don't believe Mr. Gore wants to run. His aversion to retail politics is well known. Further, his stature as an elder statesman, and now a prophet of climate change, gives him power to effect positive social change on a global level that he would be foolish to squander.

If I could speak to him personally, I'd urge Mr. Gore to "do a Sherman," to make the definitive statement, "If nominated, I will not accept. If drafted, I will not run. If elected, I will not serve." and put an end to all this counterproductive speculation.

My respect for Mr. Gore is long standing and profound. The Nobel Prize he so richly deserves is only the current public acknowledgment of his many years of visionary leadership and public service. I believe Mr. Gore deserved to be, and should have been, President starting in 2000 and that he would be an excellent President if elected in 2008.

However, unless and until Mr. Gore publicly declares his decision to be a candidate, attempting to draft him by petition seems an exercise in nostalgia and wishful thinking more than a political action, which action we sorely need to regain and secure the future of the American dream. Petitions are admirable indications of public sentiment, but they don't change government policies - winning elections does.

I prefer the election of any Democratic candidate to any Republican because I believe no Republican will work to reverse the terrible precedents for our society and our Constitutional rights that Bush and Cheney have set in motion. They will want to forget the whole shameful era. Frankly, I'm not sure a Democratic administration and Democratically controlled Congress will be entirely successful in reversing this shameful era either, but the odds are much higher that they will make an effort to do so. Therefore, any effort that compromises that goal is unacceptable.

I believe these attempts to draft Al Gore represent such a threat. I see in this effort a wishful frame of mind that suggests that if Mr. Gore is elected we will be safe from the radical right and people can breathe a sigh of relief and return to their daily lives. They want to escape politics. These people think, wishfully, and often unconsciously, that if Al Gore was in charge, they wouldn't have to worry about politics for years to come and wouldn't have to concentrate daily, and often fearfully, on where the republic is headed.

Wishful thinking is the first step on the road to political despair. The desire to ignore messy practical realities. Wishful thinkers don't vote. They leave the mess to other people to fix. "It will never be the way I want it to be, so why bother voting?" This is a terrible trend to support.

Democracy is a messy and sometimes depressing business. I'm convinced that I will have to be politically aware and active for the rest of my life. But I no longer consider this a burden. I consider it an honor and a duty to the ideals of personal freedom first put forth by our Founding Fathers.

I'll be interested in your comments, whether pro or con.

Stay active,

/Dick

Friday, October 5, 2007

Support Food Aid That Helps, Not Hurts

Hi Newshackers,

I've been silent for awhile for a variety of reasons, among them the depressing nature of our political discourse in recent months. Today, however, I received the following request to sign a petition from Care2 and felt motivated to take action and to call on my readers to act on this issue as well.

Quoted From Emily's message from Care2:

"If our "food aid" makes poor countries dependent on international agribusiness companies, is that really helping them?

No! Tell the Senate to support cash for local and regional purchases of food aid! >>

When cheap food mostly purchased from US agribusinesses is dumped at below market costs in hunger-stricken countries, it drives local farmers off the land and out of work.

Fortunately, the Senate is drafting language in the 2007 Farm Bill for a pilot program to purchase food from local and regional farmers in times of food crisis, which would help local farmers feed their families and communities and promote sustainable agricultural practices." http://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/290828030?z00m=10309155

I signed that petition and added my own comments to it:

"Giving poor countries our excess food production LOOKS generous, but in reality does NOTHING to aid farmers in those regions in creating markets that will support their own food production capabilities. This so-called charity assures that those people will continue to need our aid rather than helping them become able to feed themselves. This undermines their human dignity and gives them no hope for food independence in the future. Monetary charity can. This is the charity we owe our brothers, not just the scraps from our overburdened and wasteful tables. End the Codex and give the world's poor the monetary aid that will truly help them."

I urge you all to do the same.

/Dick