Divide & Conquer, Part 4: VBNW v. MAGA

This installment in my series examining how our corporate overlords stoke the flames of civil war in the hopes of avoiding a revolution will focus on the two corporate parties.

After a divisive speech in Philadelphia with the inflammatory title “Remarks by President Biden on the Continued Battle for the Soul of the Nation,” I was inspired to do some compare and contrast on this topic. Rather than a Venn diagram which offers a very small space for similarities, I used a “top hat” graphic organizer from my teaching days. Not exhaustive by any means, but here’s what I came up with:

Why such divisive, inflammatory rhetoric on the eve of midterm elections? Because, with the scene below repeated all over the planet, the ruling class in the U.S. fear they are next.

One of the huge differences we were supposed to believe distinguished red from blue was a scientific approach to the SARS-CoV-2 epidemic. The demogogue with bad hair that leads the MAGA cult disinguished himself in the White House spouting unscientific nonsense about a disease the public knew almost nothing about at that point. Oddly, his administration still delivered more “covid relief” at least in economic terms than has Biden’s. 

Once the current administration came to power, we got plenty of vaccines and boosters that didn’t actually keep us from getting infected but no mitigation effects like N95 masks for all to protect the vulnerable, nor high quality air filtration in public spaces like classrooms. Science became “the science” which is science in the service of commerce — not the same thing. And economic relief from the effects of layoffs, illness, lack of free public school daycare? Fuggidaboudit.

I think history will conclude that, if not for the pandemic, 45 might very well have been a two term president. But never mind about the current ~400 deaths per day. It’s pretty clear that our rulers of either color have lost interest in protecting us from premature death. Neither party supports the universal health care fundamental to success in adressing public health elsewhere.

But what about January 6?

It’s clear that the outgoing president incited his followers to stage a riot at Congress on the day the election results were to be certified. The legal fallout from that is pretty intense for said followers who are receiving hefty jail sentences for their participation. The fallout for 45 remains to be seen. It would, however, be unprecedented for him alone among presidents to be held to account for any of his crimes, including a new possibility, that of mishandling classified documents.

The war crimes of each successive president are never called to account, no matter whether the man in the White House has a D or an R after his name.

The other science topic that was once supposed to be — and is still heavily sold as — a HUGE difference between blue and red was protecting access to reproductive health care, including abortion.

I say supposed because Democrats for decades did nothing to codify Roe v. Wade into law. They were able to fearmonger and fundraise so successfully off the prospect of it being overturned that they didn’t want to give it up.

The fact that the Supreme Court is now a swamp of sex offenders and religious zealots was the fundamental reason used to promote the need to Vote Blue No Matter Who. But this argument doesn’t hold up. The Obama administration failed to insist on hearings for their 11th hour nominee Merrick Garland, and failed to block the 11th hour confirmation hearings of Amy Coney Barrett. For that matter, the Democratic Party failed to convince elderly, ailing Ruth Bader Ginsberg to step down in time for Obama to replace her.

Once upon a time, we were able to distinguish the two parties by their differing aesthetics. When the GOP was in the White House, we were embarrassed on the international stage. 45 pandering to his base had to stoop pretty low, and George W. Bush was the most inarticulate president since the advent of television.

Those days are gone. Or maybe the White House just kept on the same art director?

I’ll end with a few of the zillions of tweets commenting on Biden’s speech.

Onward, to Civil War 2.0. 

Annals Of False Dichotomy: Maine’s 3rd Party Ballot Access Rules Deemed Unconstitutional

Last Friday I received a message from the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) whose actions on behalf of peace, nuclear disarmament, and social justice I have often supported.

This one shocked me, though, because they were teaming up with one of the worst sh*t lib organizations I can think of, Daily Kos. Furthermore, they were urging me to contact the Senate to “protect our freedom to vote” which is code for “vote for Democrats” or, in its more inane version, “vote blue no matter who.”

I shouldn’t have been surprised because AFSC folks I know declined to support me as an antiwar candidate in 2020 and one of our campaign managers said, yeah, AFSC takes big money from the DNC and has for years. 

I’m not a sucker for false dichotomy so I don’t accept the unspoken premise that, because I dislike Republican policies and tactics, I must therefore support Democrats. Both parties work for the same corporate sponsors and the bill for voting “rights” makes this clear if you read the fine print.

The Green Party US has a useful information page on why the “Freedom” to Vote Act is a bad bill as written and must be revised to earn our support. Signing the Green petition is an action on behalf of voting freedom that I was happy to take, and I invite you to join me.

Back here in little old Maine we’ve had our two-corporate-party ballot access system declared unconstitutional by violating the 1st and 14th amendments after the Libertarian Party took the state to court over it. Again, not a surprise to me as the former Secretary of State Matt Dunlap admitted to Michael Shepherd of the Bangor Daily News that it was “much harder for a statewide third-party candidate” to gain ballot access in Maine.

Sam Pfeifle of our U.S. senate campaign wrote this great op-ed asking why the current Secretary of State, Shenna Bellows (a Democrat) has not taken steps to address this for all the parties disadvantaged by the rules now in place. 

There are some pretty extensive remedies that she has been ordered by the court to extend to the Libertarians. 

From Sam’s article:

  • The Secretary of State has to reinstate the Libertarian Party and treat them as a ballot-qualified party for the 2022 election cycle. (My note: An election cycle that is already underway).
  • The Secretary of State has to let Libertarian candidates qualify for the ballot using both Libertarian and unenrolled voters’ signatures (instead of just one’s own party’s signatures, as is the current law).
  • The Secretary of State has to send a letter, containing a self-addressed stamped envelop, to all of the Libertarians the office unenrolled, offering them the chance to re-enroll with the Libertarians over the course of 45 days.

If you followed my campaign at all you’re probably aware that we spent months trying for ballot access as a Green candidate until we saw it could not be done. Then we got all the signatures we needed in one day (Super Tuesday) at the polls because we could collect from all registered voters once I unenrolled from the Greens. Seems fair, right? Wrong.

False dichotomy is going to be the death of us, probably literally. 

People who rightfully distrust Anthony Fauci and the CDC for serving capital before human health then erroneously conclude that they shouldn’t get vaccinated. And they often get really sick and even die and now our hospitals are on the verge of total collapse which impacts health care for everyone in ways that have nothing to do with the rapidly mutating virus.

False dichotomy will be strongly in play here in Maine when neoliberal Democrat Governor Janet Mills is up for re-election. She deserves to lose, because she has vetoed a raft of good legislation supported by the actual people — most recently a bill allowing agricultural workers to organize unions. Democrats in Maine think they can thumb their nose at labor interests because of the boogeyman of our former GOP governor who will be back from term limits to run against Mills. There is no ranked choice voting in state level elections (more’s the pity) so we will be told that voting for Green candidate Michael Barden might split the vote for Mills to hold on to her seat. I will be vilified if I admit that I will vote for him anyway. Oh well.

The hysteria over January 6 isn’t super useful in Maine so here comes a state level Equal Rights Amendment. I guarantee you we’ll be told by the pink pussy hat Democrats that we HAVE to re-elect Janet Mills because Paul LePage would not support the bill.

The Dem v. Repub false dichotomy is increasingly threadbare as the Biden administration mismanages the pandemic at least as badly as the GOP bogeyman before him, passes the largest military spending bill ever, continues the bipartisan plan to (secretly) privatize Medicare, and continues to keep migrant children in cages at the border amid record breaking deportations. There are a lot of great memes about this but I’ll just end with one:

EDITED 1/12/22: To correct my misunderstanding that a governor’s veto would play a role in a constitutional amendment. Hat tip to former Maine legislator Ralph Chapman for the correction.