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The following comments were presented to the Gillespie Community Breakfast at the First Unitarian Universalist Church of New Orleans, on August 12, 2000, by John Clark:

The Evil of Lessers

I've come here this morning to conduct a meditation on a mantra. A mantra is a word or phrase that is repeated ceaselessly for the attainment of some purpose. In its strict sense a mantra has as its purpose some kind of spiritual edification.

However the mantra that would I like to discuss does not attain such a purpose. Instead, it produces only moral and intellectual confusion. It deadens the mind that needs to be awakened. And it undermines our fortitude and perseverance in the pursuit of what is good.

The mantra in question goes as follows: "A vote for Nader is a vote for Bush. A vote for Nader is a vote for Bush."

Let us reflect a bit on what a vote for Nader really means. Quite simply, it is an affirmation of the principles and values of the Green Party, and of one's commitment to put these values into practice immediately. It thus means a commitment to a break — a personal, moral, political and spiritual break — with a certain system of power.

If we reflect carefully on this question, we will discover that in reality a vote for Gore is much more like a vote for Bush. For both of them represent the same system of power, and voting for either of them is an endorsement of that system. It is an expression of ones faith that that system is working.

On the other hand, a vote for Nader is a vote not only against Gore and Bush, but against the brutal, oppressive, ecocidal system of power that they both support, defend, and indeed glorify. A vote for Nader, LaDuke and the Green Party is a vote for hope — hope that change is indeed possible. Hope that the growing economic inequality presided over by the world's most powerful leaders — Clinton and Gore — can be changed. Hope that the growing ecological crisis presided over by Clinton and Gore can be reversed. Hope that the growing concentration of economic power presided over by Clinton and Gore can be reversed. Hope that the socially and ecologically destructive globalization promoted by Clinton and Gore can be overturned.

Today the problems of our planet, of our human community and of our community of life are of monumental proportions. We are in the midst of one of the great biodiversity crises in the three billion years of life on earth. We are losing thousands of species each year. We are seriously disturbing global climate. We are in the process of completely eliminating all major tropical and temperate forests. We are devastating ecosystems across the globe. We live in a world of ethnic hatred and brutal economic exploitation. We live in a world of unprecedented affluence and material production while almost a billion people live in absolute poverty and chronic malnutrition. We see more and more countries amass weapons with horrifying destructive potential, as the United State continues to arm the world. We see the growing dominance of a corporate globalism that buys and sells nation-states and political leaders, demands the elimination of environmental and labor standards and protections, and resorts even to cultural genocide and ecocide for the sake of profit.

The system of world domination does not in any way need Bush to accomplish its goals. These goals are all being carried out more and more successfully under Clinton and Gore. The Gores of this world will do nothing to eliminate these problems. They are firmly committed to the system of power and decision making that produces these conditions

My friends, to solve these world historical and earth historical problems we need a deeply revolutionary spirit. We need much more than a tepid liberalism. And it is clear that Gore is not even a tepid liberal. He is more conservative than Clinton and similar to Clinton in his fervent support for corporate power and globalization. He is the kind of environmental hypocrite who can watch his administration rain depleted uranium waste on hapless civilians and make not the slightest feeble whimper of protest. He has the gall to attack Bush as a pawn of the oil industry yet he refuses to say a word as his own family's favorite oil company plunders the lands of native people. And his choice of a running mate who is even more blatant in his role of corporate pawn than Gore himself prepares us for the democrats' next subservient retreat before omnipotent corporate power.

My friends, think very carefully about our place in the history of our planet and of our species. I ask you: Do you really think that the great course of world history or even national history has been determined by the Supreme Court appointments of Millard Filmore, Benjamin Harrison, Warren G. Harding and the other illustrious predecessors of Gore and Bush? Can anyone have such a myopic view of history? The historical periods in which these politicians have acted have been shaped by much larger forces: by the conflict between a slave economy and a developing industrial economy; and later, by the imperious advance of that economy against the obstacles of nature, native peoples, small farmers, and organized workers. And today we are living through the globalization of that process, and seeing its implications for human communities, for communities of life, and for the planet itself.

That is, we are all living through it and some of us are beginning to see its implications. The Green Party's mission is to help us to see, while that of the republicans and the democrats is to cloud our vision with ideology. A particular mission of the democrats is to recruit the more "progressive" and well-meaning people into the process of social and ecological domination through their deceptive yet alluring "lesser of evils" arguments.

But let's get to the stark realities behind the sophistries. If you think that the system of global corporate power and the political system that helps manage its affairs are working well, then take your pick between Bush and Gore. For both Bush and Gore will certainly contribute to its triumphant advance. If you think that unleashing brutal and exploitative corporate power on the world through GATT, NAFTA, and the nefarious MAI will lead to a world of progress and prosperity, then vote for Bush or Gore. For both Bush and Gore support all these tools of corporate domination.

But if you recognize that the system of global domination is inherently destructive and indeed evil, if you recognize that it thrives on global injustice and global ecological destruction, then refuse to endorse its enthusiastic agents, Bush and Gore.

Instead, as Henry David Thoreau suggested, cast your whole vote against a system that is intolerably evil. This means, quite minimally, casting your little vote for Nader and LaDuke as an authentic alternative to the corporate-owned candidates. But more importantly, casting your whole vote means dedicating your whole life to creating a better world. It means spending your life creatively and joyfully working to overturn Bush and Gore's system of domination and exploitation, and striving instead to help shape a world of justice and equity, of peace and non-violence, of democracy and self-determination, of compassion and love for humanity and nature.

So cast your whole vote. Cast your whole vote for the people and for the earth. You have only one life to vote with. Vote Green.

by John Clark

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