If you can do activism, do it around policies in a principled manner, and steer clear of elections.
If you can do funding, fund principled activist organizations, not political candidates.
If you must divert your energies and money into elections, I have a recommendation for how best to do it (not that you’ll necessarily listen to me, having already ignored my first two paragraphs, but what the heck):
Part of getting better governance out of Washington, D.C., will have to come from shifting power back from the White House to the Congress and putting better people into the Congress.
The coming election for the White House has, as always, an even worse lesser-evilism problem than it had the time before. The lesser evil is a bit too evil for a bit too many people. Some want to pinch their nose and go for it anyway. Others want to try for something better next time by, for once, withholding votes that have certainly not been earned. Others would support lesser-evil voting if not for the fact that so many who engage in lesser-evil voting develop symptoms of lesser-evil thinking and behaving and cheerleading on a long-term basis.
But there’s a way around the tired, rotten, festering debate over lesser evil emperors. This week, Congresswoman Barbara Lee introduced into Congress a resolution to move $350 billion out of militarism and into human needs, and Senator Bernie Sanders promised to introduce an amendment to the National “Defense” Authorization Act to move $74 billion out of militarism and into human needs. If you share my understanding that this is the key policy change needed, first and foremost, leading all other key policy changes, and if you share my belief that positions on this issue are the ideal way to gauge the seriousness of office holders and candidates (if they’ll oppose war funding they’ll back a Green New Deal, education, healthcare, etc.), then this is what we can do:
1) Demand to know right now where your current Rep. and Senators stand on this.
2) Put your electoral activism and funding into the new candidates (what ever part of the country they are in, how ever distant from your own) who are campaigning on this platform and who stand a chance of winning or at least of having a serious impact on the winners. Most, if not all, of the candidates who fit this description are in the Democratic Party. If you help turn out voters for them, you can then, in all good concscience, leave it up to those voters whether to also vote for Joe “More-Police-Funding, Shoot-Em-In-The-Legs” Biden or not.
As always, there are terrific Green Party candidates, such as Lisa Savage (Senate, Maine) and Chris Hedges (House, New Jersey), and Howie Hawkins (President), and countless others I’ve never heard of and most everyone else will probably never hear of. If you’re enlightened enough to be backing those candidates, more power to you. I certainly can’t predict their defeat any more than I predicted the past three weeks of accelerated activism, much less suggest that they won’t educated some people even if defeated.
But there are other candidates more widely viewed as having a chance at winning who would have an impact if they won.
In September 2018, I wrote an article about four women who were running for Congress in four separate districts, each speaking against wars and militarism in highly unusual ways. They later all won their elections, joined together, and called themselves a squad. Since taking office, they’ve all been far superior to the average Congress member, and often been real standouts.
Who are likely to be the big-party, general-election, antiwar candidates in 2020? This time there are more than four. Their way of talking has become a bit less unusual. Here’s the list:
Ilhan Omar, Minnesota’s Fifth District
Ro Khanna, California’s Seventeenth District
Rashida Tlaib, Michigan’s Thirteenth District
Ayanna Pressley, Massachusetts’ Seventh District
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, New York’s Fourteenth District
Barbara Lee, California’s Thirteenth District
Pramila Jayapal, Washington’s Seventh District
Jamaal Bowman, New York’s Sixteenth District:
Bowman has said, “My opponent, Representative Eliot Engel, and I do not share the same foreign policy vision. He voted for one of the worst policy disasters of my lifetime — an unjust and costly 2 trillion dollar war in Iraq. He voted against President Obama’s signature foreign policy achievement which put a lid on Iran’s nuclear program. He went on CNN this past year and said he didn’t want to tie Trump’s hands when it came to strikes on Iran. He was one of only 16 House Democrats in 2016 to vote against an amendment that blocked the transfer of cluster bombs to Saudi Arabia which has been relentlessly dropping them on Yemeni civilians. My opponent accepts donations from corporations and arms manufacturers like Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and Raytheon. He supports a hawkish and costly foreign policy agenda instead of focusing on the communities in our district that have been neglected for far too long. We must dramatically reduce the Pentagon’s budget over the next ten years, end the forever wars, and rebuild a diplomacy-first approach through the State Department. We have been in Afghanistan for 19 years, in Iraq for 17 years, and in Syria for five years. Congress must reassert its authority to bring our troops home.”
Arati Kreibich, New Jersey’s Fifth District:
She proposes to “put a stop to the endless wars and turn the focus of the international community to building peace and fighting climate change.” Kreibich proposes to redirect military spending to human needs, going so far as to suggest that the latter should be be funded more than militarism.
Mckayla Wilkes, Maryland’s Fifth District:
Wilkes proposes using the War Powers Resolution to end U.S. participation in the war on Yemen, and moving at least $200 billion out of military spending, as well as “massively increasing funding for foreign aid programs, especially in regions victimized by unjust American military interventions.”
Michael Owens, Georgia’s Thirteenth District:
Here’s a bit of his platform.
- “Focus on rebuilding trust by partnering with our allies and the United Nations.
- “Strengthen the State Department and take a diplomacy-first stance to solving international conflict with a balanced approach to intervention as a last resort.
- “Immediately end funding to the Saudi war in Yemen.”
Mark Gamba, Oregon’s Fifth District:
Remarkably, Gamba proposes that the United States obey international laws and end its wars. He recommends a major shift of resources out of war profiteering and into human and environmental needs. Gamba connects the issues by pointing out that “the U.S. military is the largest organized polluter in the world,” and noting that investing in diplomacy saves money (as well as lives).
Eva Putzova, Arizona’s First District:
Putzova says, “the invasions and continuing American military occupation of Afghanistan, Iraq, and other countries in the greater Middle East has been a human, economic, and environmental disaster for people here and abroad. Millions of lives have been lost or ruined and trillions of dollars have been wasted that could have been spent on healthcare, education, and a ‘Green New Deal’ here at home. I oppose all undeclared, illegal wars of choice and will work hard to ensure that Congress asserts its constitutional oversight responsibility over the executive branch on matters of war and peace.” She also opposes uranium mining and the transportation of the uranium ore, but supports reaffirming Flagstaff as a nuclear free zone.
Cori Bush, Missouri’s First District:
Her platform includes this:
- “Bring out troops home and Strengthen VA Benefits.
- “Oppose our imperialist foreign policy and the runaway influence of the military industrial complex.
- “Take Power away from military . . . contractors and Pentagon officials.”
Samelys López, New York’s Fifteenth District:
“Fight excessive military spending and redistribute savings to domestic social programs that address the root causes of poverty, divest from financial institutions that invest in the military/prison industrial complex, instituting a universal Participatory Budgeting program at the Federal level as a way of creating a path for our communities to have more decision making power over the budget appropriations process.”
“The United States must cease interference in the democratic processes of other nations, whether through the use of unilateral coercive measures (sanctions), forced imposition of neoliberal austerity plans through the IMF, or through both covert and overt warfare. In every corner of the world, frontline communities are innovating responses to food scarcity, housing shortages, and climate change. These solutions have the best chance of building toward a liberated future since they are time-tested, sourced locally, and implemented through collaboration.”
Mondaire Jones, New York’s Seventeenth District:
“As a member of Congress, I will:
- Push to reduce military spending and reinvest this money in the State Department, to strengthen diplomacy and peacebuilding, as well as domestically, in programs that meet the needs of our civilian population.
- Prioritize investment in human security approaches, which focus on meeting the human needs of people and protecting our environment. . . .
- Fight to finally repeal the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), which has given the executive branch a blank check to pursue foreign wars having nothing to do with the September 11th attacks, including throughout the Middle East and Africa.
- Work to urgently bring an end to existing conflicts, including the war in Afghanistan, through inclusive peace processes that center human rights, including women’s rights.
- Support barring the sale of weapons to human rights violators, including Saudi Arabia.
- Support creating a peacebuilding fund, which would invest in initiatives to build peace worldwide in countries that have been affected by conflict.
- Fight to increase our cap for welcoming refugees to the United States, which the Trump administration has shamefully lowered, so that we can provide a home for people fleeing conflict and persecution like our allies in Europe.
- Support redirecting funds towards conflict prevention, including through development aid to reduce poverty and inequalities and combat climate change.”