Hello, and welcome to the first edition of my new blog. This introduction will cover what this blog is intended to be, and how it came about.
I have decided to have two sections, THE POLITICAL and THE PERSONAL. What the heck. It feels right to have two separate sections, though I bet I’ll often find it difficult to decide which is which, or where to put what, and so my apologies in advance for the mix-ups. One reason I’m doing a section on the personal is that although I’ve heard the advice to make blogs and tweets personal, I haven’t followed that advice much. I felt self-conscious about doing that, and, to tell the truth, it’s related to my hating the word “vulnerable.” People tell me, and even an author interviewed on public radio KPFA tells me, that there is power and strength in allowing yourself to be vulnerable. To be known.
I don’t mean to be so serious, but I am a Capricorn and they say we tend toward serious, even as children. Supposedly we grow younger as we get older. That always sounded like a good trait and at age 67, I’m ready. (Yikes, I hate to admit my age. THAT makes me feel vulnerable. Of course, being a baby boomer, I’m sure I don’t LOOK 67, and anyway, according to boomers, the 60s are the new 40s). Despite my seriousness I do believe that the ultimate feminist statement is “girls just want to have fun.” I know that’s true about me. We just want to have fun, which leads to the questions: What is all this crap that’s going on and how can we create a more fun world? That’s THE POLITICAL section. It’s all related. Political. Personal.
In the past I have run for state office in California as a Green Party candidate, beginning in 2002, when we ran the first full slate of Green candidates for statewide office. I ran for Controller in 2002, 2006, then Governor in 2010 (a good year to “Follow The Money” I thought, since we had just suffered a global financial meltdown), and then Controller again in 2014.
For the past year I have loved NOT trying to convince anybody of anything. At least I’ve been trying not trying to convince people of anything. It’s really difficult. Sometimes people say the best way to effect change is to model it rather than promote it. Lately I’m thinking that advice is just another way to say, “Shut up.” If we’re just being models instead of advocates, everybody is off the hook. Business as usual. For the past year I’ve been trying to just shut up and live with the way things are. I sometimes hate the phrase, “it is what it is” when it just sounds defeatist.
My last campaign (not just “latest,” but last, I hope) was actually successful in the pathetic terms of our pathetic democracy. As a “third party candidate” I received 5.7% of the vote. Ellen Brown, author of books “Web of Debt” and “Public Banking Solution” got 6.6% in her run for Treasurer of California. We ran as partners, advocating public banking. I expected Ellen to do well, and to break the existing record for percentage of votes received by a Green in a partisan statewide race in California. (That makes me smile: the record she broke was my record from 2002, when I got 5.9% of the vote and it took 10 days to figure out which of the “big two” won.)
The “big two” just reminded me of the “big three” automakers. I grew up partly in Detroit and then went to college there. We all know how the “big three” automakers ultimately trashed Detroit into looking like a war zone, a war zone with some wonderful people with a lot of heart and soul currently staging a regeneration there. We hope. The “big two” political parties have trashed our country. Worsening education and healthcare and environment and justice-for-all and deepening disparity of wealth.
So, is this train of thought personal or political? I think it’s personal. I’ll try to make The Political section more in line with the slogan of my recent campaigns, “There Are Solutions.” As a preview, the main solution is to use every bit of power you have. And we people have a lot more power than we think, and we can have a lot more fun exercising it for a better world than we think. It is a huge irony that the folks who know how much power people have are the 0.1% who have all the money. They know it; we don’t; and they work diligently to keep us thinking we’re powerless.
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After the June 2014 primary, I thought of myself as burned out but after awhile I realized I was not burned out. I had plenty of energy, but I had to back away from politics. For me backing away meant only doing political things that I really wanted to do, and not doing things just because “I should.”
Rather than “burned out,” what I was after the June 2014 primary was disgusted. It reminds me of an interview I read about Michael Moore when he was filming Bowling for Columbine. He saw the site of the mass killings at the high school in Columbine, and realized that people had obediently stayed behind the lines set out by the officials, even after the shooting had stopped and who knows who might have been saved if the parents and others had just said, “Hell no, forget this yellow plastic barrier, I’m going in there!” Michael Moore had to stop filming for a week before he could continue in the face of realizing the passivity people were capable of even when it involved the lives of their children. I’m on a flight right now, and thinking about this makes me feel tears wanting to spill out from behind my eyes. It is said and I believe that one of the hardest things anyone has to bear is the death of a child.
The point (I love Ellen DeGeneres for saying, “My point, and I do have one…”) is that people have so much more power than we use. We have voted for people who are not on our side just because we think they have a chance of beating the “other major candidate” who’s “even worse.” Or we don’t vote at all, chalking it up to voter fraud and it doesn’t make any difference anyway, and it just encourages this system, and, and, and. I always want to excuse individuals and blame the system, but this time I was disgusted with people’s behavior. I needed to back away to get focused again on this destructive system.
This past year friends and family have said to me, “I’m so glad you’re not doing politics anymore.” I tell them sorry, it’s only temporary. Like the song I’ve heard many times since I learned ballroom dancing a few years back, “I’ve got you under my skin.” That’s politics. It’s under my skin: doing whatever it is that’s “on my plate to do” in the world.
P.S. I’m hoping for my sake, and apologizing for your sake, that I just write this stuff and post it without endless rewrites. I do want to make it readable, and I know I need to deal with the stream of consciousness mode that seems to be my innate style. I’m thinking maybe, for the sake of those it bothers — and I’m afraid it may particularly be those of you who’ve been raised as men — I could put the really bad tangents in parentheses and if it drives you totally crazy you can just look for the ending parentheses and I’ll try to have the main line make sense. But that sounds like it would violate my goal to just WRITE it, shape it up adequately, and POST it. You have no idea how many un-posted blogs and un-sent letters I have written in my life. Fear, I think, is the culprit. Perfectionism is mostly fear. Ah well. We’re about an hour from the Atlanta airport and I think I’ll do something else now. By the way, I’m writing this while I’m on my way to Cuba for the first time.