Jim Coplen, Co-chair Green Party of the United States
In 2002 I read Michael Moore’s book Stupid White Men, in which he praised Ralph Nader and recommended his book, Crashing the Party. That book was, of course, about Nader’s 2000 run for the U.S. Presidency on the Green Party ticket. Shortly after reading that, I found the Indiana Green Party’s web site and emailed an inquiry. I have, essentially, never looked back.
I had always voted Independent, but like others found ballot choices increasingly less diverse. The Democrats and Republicans offered little real difference between them. There no longer seemed a “lesser evil,” just more evil everywhere.
Some of us from the Midwest who came of age in the ’60s grew up complacent and conservative, following the lead of our elders. Only later did we find that many of the values upon which we’d based our lives were false, naïve assumptions (Nixon and the Vietnam War helped bring us to that point). We learned to think more carefully about our decisions, both political and personal, and looked to see if they were based on honest analysis, or something we had been spoon-fed by a manipulated media and our own government.
We have largely come to believe this country is being controlled and sold, by and to, big business. Basic fairness has been lost. Cheap power goes to big corporations as the cost for poor families trying to heat their homes goes higher. People die of cancer because manufacturing wastes ex hausted into their neighborhoods has poisoned them. Forests and farmlands are being swallowed at an alarming rate; much of our well water is too tainted to drink. The list of abuses is nearly endless.
Citizens’ freedoms and rights which once made America great are being lost, trampled beneath the feet of right-wing armies of self-promotion. From Teddy Roosevelt’s, “Speak softly and carry a big stick,” we’ve progressed to, “Might makes right.” Americans much less honored and ad mired by foreign countries than we once were.
We also have the grinding unfairness of bigotry and sexism cutting short the life and capability of so many women, blacks, and people who just don’t meet the wasp male profile. No matter their basic abilities, they may never get a chance. Brilliant minds are lost to early death, forgotten in the ghetto, or swallowed by poverty, never to realize the promise that might have been.
Our young people continue to be lost to wars we deplore and protest against. They and innocent foreigners die at the whim of entrenched neoconservatives. Has nothing changed in the halls of power in all those years?
The natural beauty of Mother Earth is being destroyed and, along with it, the sustainability of the planet. We’ve used her and abused her. No argument there among Greens, though we disagree about other, seemingly less important things. I believe that strife too will pass, along with the public malaise, by making our government accountable to the people who are, after all, its electors.
I have faith in the Green cause. One of the main things that drew me to it is the shining example of the forthright, intelligent members I’ve met. They’re certainly not perfect, as none of us are, but most of those comrades in belief have made a real effort to elevate their ideals, and make an honest struggle to live up to them. Their values shine through and make them warm and wonderful people to be with and learn from.
There is a way and we are it. The Green Party can light the path for those not strong enough as individuals. But we must work together. As Abraham Lincoln said, “At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us, it must spring up amongst us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide.”
I await the future with hope.