From the publisher… We can do better

by Joe Courter

Here we are in another election year, with various states hosting primaries for President (with Biden unopposed here in Florida), but up ahead is very meaningful primary voting on August 20 for the candidates for the state and local races we will see on the Nov. 5 ballot along with the Senate and Presidential candidates.

“Election stuff … too soon!” you might say, but no, it is important how we think about this flawed but very real process we have in this country. Iguana co-founder and now Labor Notes editor Jenny Brown raised the notion of “defensive voting” to me, and it resonated. You may not be getting what you want, candidate or policy wise, but you are at least salvaging better chances for what you want in the future. It’s a more constructive view than “lesser of two evils.”

I went through a lot of election stuff in the Jan/Feb issue ( regarding the rigged two-party system and the rise of Christo-Authoritarians ready to make this a Theocracy. That is a real thing, as the Alabama Supreme Court has shown us in the past week, pronouncing a fertilized egg a full human being. (Google “Seven Mountains Mandate,” which their Supreme Court Chief Justice invoked in his ruling.) We cannot take lightly these people’s deep-seated antidemocracy motivations. See also the “Fresh Air” reference in the Editor’s Picks on page 9.

Voting is important, and all the other votes we can bring to fruition if we get into the process by working for and supporting candidates matter. Florida did great in getting abortion on the ballot due to a ton of citizen participation, but we are still waiting a final okay from the state Supreme Court. And if they reject it, we need to focus our rage over that at the ballot box, and our further community organizing.

Why be hopeful? Why pay attention? Because nothing is set in stone. Michigan is an example — they have elected a strong governor and are an engaged electorate. The “Uncommitted” strategy caught on and made an impact in reporting. Biden may be very vulnerable if he can’t influence Netanyahu to end his assault on Gaza. That is not good and a should be a wakeup call for Biden and the Democrats. If there is a government shutdown, how will that play? In no way should we allow Trump to win, but Biden does not deserve a free ride on his Gaza policy, despite the economic success. We should always be visible and working for more. Sometimes you need a longer view, because that may at least allow further progress down the road.

We need to be motivated, or at least not paralyzed, by the negativity we see around us. You feel better if you are doing positive things. I have watched as the post-Covid Civic Media Center has morphed into a hub of mutual aid organizing. There needs to be support for organizations that advocate for women’s rights, LGBTQ+ rights, and anti-poverty and environmental causes. We need to be supporting school boards and educators under fire for so-called “wokeness” (I think being woke is good! It means you are awake.) and where we can, support labor unions. We need to reclaim tax dollars to do better as a society. Whether Gaza or Ukraine, or here at home, we should be opposing authoritarian militarized solutions to conflicts.  

I also need to make this observation about the two major military conflicts we are seeing. Ukraine is a country that is larger than Texas. A vast part of the country is not being impacted directly. Gaza is about double the size of Manhattan Island. It is being smashed by a state slightly larger than New Jersey. Both situations are so incredibly tragic, both springing off bad decisions made decades ago. The horrors of modern push button warfare.

Is this really the best 21st-century humans can do? The faces of the kids in Gaza haunt me, but so does the face of Nex Benedict, the 16-year-old nonbinary kid in Oklahoma assaulted in a school bathroom who subsequently died. Intolerance and hate are weapons, too. But as Mother Jones said, “Don’t mourn, organize!” 

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