Republicans are less than enthusiastic about their frontrunner, Mitt Romney. Democrats are disappointed with President Obama, who has failed to keep his promises to end wars and protect the environment. The Occupy movement, the self-proclaimed voice of the 99%, is openly critical of both parties, expressing fear that the Democrats and Republicans have actually joined forces to promote corporate control of elections, government regulations, and the lives of U. S. citizens generally.
In the U.S., presidential elections are winner-take-all. The candidate with the most votes in a state wins the entire state. Accordingly, even though 1992 third-party candidate Ross Perot got 19% of the vote over all, he did not win a single state. The winner-take-all system tends to encourage voters to choose between the "lesser of two evils," rather than throw away a vote on a third party candidate. Republicans and Democrats run negative campaigns against each other, attempting to frighten their party members into voting against the other party. On election day, people do not vote for
a candidate, so much as against
There have been exceptions. Abraham Lincoln ran as a third party candidate and won. In times of great political strife, the third party run may be more viable (assuming that the election process is fair and uncorrupted by corporate control). The four leading alternatives to the Obama-Romney ticket are Ron Paul, Jill Stein, Gary Johnson, and Rocky Anderson. In January of this year, a Gallup Poll
reported that a record high 40% of all U.S. citizens identify themselves as "Independents." Therefore, there may be at least a mathematical possibility that one of these four could win, if, that is, he or she has the support and endorsement of the other three. Either a Paul-Stein, Stein-Johnson, Johnson-Anderson, or Anderson-Paul pairing, if not impossible, would draw the most from all sides.
United We Stand, Divided We Fall
Even though Paul, Stein, Johnson, and Anderson hail from four different parties (Republican, Green, Libertarian and Justice parties, respectively), they have much in common. These four candidates generally agree that the political situation is dire: freedoms have been lost, democracy is in great peril, and economic disparity is crippling the nation. If this is so, we might expect the four to put aside their differences for the time being and cooperate—performing political triage—in an effort to stabilize the dying body politic. Long-term care can be decided upon later—by the people, not the president—once democracy has regained its health. A list of ten political issues shows that there may be a great deal of agreement between these four candidates. Where the four disagree about the solutions, their different approaches are noted below in italics. As a compromise, in most cases of disagreement the states or local populations could choose which solution is best for their special circumstances. After all, people don't have to—and shouldn't even want to—agree on everything. Diversity is strength. E pluribus unum.
1. End Militarism Overseas
Bring soldiers home from Afghanistan and Iraq. Avoid conflict with Iran.
Close overseas military bases.
Cut military spending substantially.
2. Restore Civil Liberties
Repeal the Patriot Act.
Repeal the NDAA.
End invasive TSA searches.
Repeal HR 347 Anti-Protest law.
3. End War on Drugs
Stop criminal justice system bias against minorities.
Treat drug use as a health problem, not a crime.
4. Audit the Federal Reserve
Stop corporate bailouts and 0% loans to economic elite.
Returning to a gold standard (Paul), nationalizing the Fed (Stein), or better regulating the Fed (Anderson/Johnson) would be among possible next steps.
5. Repeal Obamacare
Stop for-profit insurance stranglehold on medical industry.
Stop pharmaceutical industry monopolies.
Multi-payer non-profit insurance and cooperatives (Paul/Anderson/Johnson), state-sponsored single-payer (Paul/Stein/Johnson) and Federal single-payer (Stein/Anderson) would be among possible next steps.
6. End Oil and Gas Subsidies
End industry influence on policy.
Allow green energy to better compete.
Paul/Johnson support tax breaks, even to oil and gas industries, which can be considered a form of government subsidy. Stein/Anderson would subsidize green energy.
7. Address Immigration
Make legal citizenship easier to obtain.
End any plans to forcibly and systematically deport illegal immigrants.
Ending birthright citizenship and free/reduced public education (Paul), imposing sanctions on employers (Johnson) would be among next possible steps.
8. Save Social Security and Welfare
Cut military spending in order to maintain social programs (only temporarily for Paul
Some social programs might be more effectively administered by local government. Other solutions include strengthening the role of charities and non-profits (Paul)
9. Address Unfair Debt Held by Students and Homeowners
Let the banks suffer from the consequences of bad loans at least as much as the debt holders, if not much more so.
10. End Corporate Control of Information and Government
End media monopoly. Democracy is impossible without free and diverse speech.
End influence of corporate lobbyists on regulations, which, far from protecting the people, work to protect the corporate elite.
If the first nine problems in this list are addressed, this last, and perhaps most serious, problem may be partly solved. Insofar as additional measures would still be needed, Stein and Andersen would prefer stricter government controls and better-placed subsidies. Paul and Johnson believe that regulations only create the opportunity for lobbyists to buy influence, and they think people and corporations can be regulated by the free market and, when necessary, the rule of law; violators would be prosecuted for fraud, property rights violations, and so forth. These solutions are more or less standard Democrat (via socialism) and Republican (via social Darwinism).
A third way may be yet forthcoming, one that combines both approaches by encouraging a natural migration away from top-heavy Darwinian capitalism, under which unrestrained growth is ultimately self-defeating. Economic theory, which has borrowed metaphors from evolutionary theory, is seriously in need of a conceptual update. According to current-day biological evolutionary theory
, Darwinian natural selection tends to limit
diversity, not encourage it, as was previously thought. The survival of the fittest, i.e. biggest and most efficient, can lead to plague-like mono-species domination and eventually self-extinction. Other mechanisms, biologists say, involving co-operation, hybridization, symbiosis, and gene-swapping (read "information sharing" in economics), are the true sources of creativity and genetic diversity, without which ecological systems cannot adapt or sustain themselves. A bottom-up-top-down feedback capitalism—that focuses on the survival of whole ecologies, not just individuals—would automatically constrain management compensation relative to the lowest-paid worker, promote micro-investment and/or employee-ownership and enable sustainability
, not constant growth. Oligarchical top-heavy control, whether by major stock holders or by government, is simply not viable long-term in a complex world. It's time for multiple parties, multiple solutions.
Pick Your Battles
The generalizations made here in this list are necessarily broad and, consequently, probably slightly inaccurate. The four candidates do not list priorities in the same way, especially after the first five or so. But they have enough in common to have a real conversation and, given the opportunity, they could probably find workable compromises sooner than a Romney or Obama ever could.
The list is by no means complete. There are other extremely significant issues not included, such as public education, inequitable taxation, and personal views on marriage and abortion. The U.S. is a diverse nation, whose people have many different values. Although some may believe, for example, that all life is sacred, and embryos should be protected under the law, others believe that over-population and quality of life are of greater concern and family planning is humane. If one side looses its rights to live its values, there is no a democracy. No government can know what is best for everybody on every issue. At the Federal level, voters might focus on what the 99% have in common, pick their battles, and leave the other, very important, issues for later or for local governments to decide.
Pundits, activists, and politicians openly speaking out against the status quo
include Noam Chomsky, Mos Def, Daniel Ellsberg, Louis Farrakhan, Richard Gage, Nick Gillespie, Mike Gravel, David Ray Griffin, Chris Hedges, Alex Jones, Birgitta Jonsdottir, James Lovelock, Judge Andrew Napolitano, Cynthia McKinney, Bernie Sanders, Cornel West, Naomi Wolf, and many others that make up a very diverse group. They probably would not want it any other way. Already Ron Paul (Republican), Ralph Nader (Green Party), and Dennis Kucinich (Democrat) have formed an alliance
. They do not agree on everything, only on what's most important: democracy. That's a start.
Victoria N. Alexander's recently published work, The Biologist's Mistress: Rethinking Self-Organization in Art, Literature, and Nature
, explores the role of non-Darwinian evolutionary mechanisms in creative processes.