May 11, 2016

Green Party presidential trio debates

Green Party presidential candidates Dr. Jill Stein, Sedinam Moyowasifza Curry and Kent Mesplay debated on RT America on Monday night. If you don’t have time for the entire debate, a 30-minute highlights clip is below. Selected quotes and comments, with smaller clips, are here.

A few quick takeaways.

First, Stein, benefited in part by being a past presidential candidate, seemed to have the most coherent talking points. She's right about "the politics of fear," but, fear is a powerful psychological drug — that's simply realism about human nature. We can move beyond the "lesser evil," but it's neither natural nor easy. Preznit Kumbaya of the Democratic Party showed its limitations.

And, while all three noted that our current bipartisan foreign policy establishment had poked the Russian bear unduly, she seemed a bit more trusting of Russia's Vladimir Putin, and the Chinese collective leadership, of the other too — perhaps a bit too trusting.

(Sidebar — once again, Russia-based RT America [RT being "Russia Today"] likes poking back the American Eagle, while never noting that such a debate, in all likelihood, won't even happen in the next election there.)

Second, Mesplay, of the three, most got lost in the weeds — sometimes of over-detailed comments, sometimes of plain wandering, like talking about how the Directorate of National Intelligence has superseded the CIA, which showed both. His close seemed the weakest of the three. He also seemed a bit too gun-friendly for my tastes. And, having already named a Veep, and going beyond Ted Cruz and making it Roseanne Barr, is off-putting to me. And, yes, I know it's more than a vanity pick, that Barr previously ran for the Green presidential nomination herself. I still find her off-putting.

Third, Curry, while right that the Constitution's "three-fifths compromise," when combined with an electoral college, boosted slaveholding interests, was wrong to say the two were explicitly connected, at least by design. The Founding Fathers had always planned, in Philadelphia, some sort of indirect presidential election, especially after they settled on a single executive. That said, an electoral college, with the three-fifths compromise, did boost the power of slave states.

I do agree with her in part about issues of people of color, but not totally. Call me a white male, fine, but, while "privilege" is good to note as a generalization, it can be pushed too far. And, "privilege" also includes dominant religions, money/poverty and more. At the same time, she's right that the "green" movement, not just the party, but in general, is pretty white.

Oh, and eliminating corporate personhood? That means corporations can't be sued; individual board members or executives can't be tried as corporate representatives, only individuals; and more. Corporate personhood has its down side, as Citizens United indicated, but it also has its upside. Her answer was simplistic.

Overall, though, she was better than Mesplay, who might be somewhere between Green and anarcho-libertarian.

That said, in the bigger overall, I saw nothing to sway me away from seeing Stein as the best candidate of the three.

If you want to see the whole debate, here you go. Click this link if the embed doesn't work.

Fourth, on to some issues in general.

Number One, unlike any of the three, and pretty much the Green platform, I'm not anti-GMO. I am concerned about some of the capitalist issues associated with particular Big Ag companies, but I most definitely do not believe that GMOs are "frankenfoods." That's ... bullshit.

Related, I am worried about sustainability in agriculture. But, improper farming practices, whether or not specifically pushed by Big Ag, are still separate from GMO foods.

To the degree that GMOs have the potential to take the Green Revolution of the 1960s and 1970s into a second phase, and especially the degree they can do that while we learn from mistakes of the original Green Revolution and address the issues I just mentioned, I'm pro-GMO.

I'm also pro-science, and not just selectively pro-science. I've said this as a critique of the Greens in the past. Fortunately, the highlights, at least, didn't get into alt-med, I mean pseudomedicine, or I'd really go off there.

Number Two? I'm not anti-nuclear. I'm not pro-nuclear, either. I recognize building concrete containment domes have a large greenhouse gas cost. I of course know about the waste issue.

However, the containment domes may get better. And the waste can be at least partially addressed with a combination of breeder-type reactors and onsite burial.

If natural gas is to be abandoned as a bridge fuel because of wellhead leaks, pipeline leaks and the problems with fracking, we need something else. Climate change, plus base life expectancy, says that a lot of hydroelectric power in the American West, and elsewhere, is running out. And, yes, Germany has shown that going renewable only for short bursts can be done, albeit on a somewhat different playing board. However, electric cars aren't yet a big thing either here or there, and the playing board, in terms of temperature extremes and more, is a lot different here.

This all said, the Green Party is also concerned with economic issues, with all candidates being at least at Bernie Sanders' starting point on many of these issues. (I'm more of a socialist than Bernie, but disagree with a national $15/hour minimum wage unless, like Oregon, there's an allowance for lesser pay tiers for suburban and for rural areas. I also want more to be said about guaranteed annual income, paid time off, longer and guaranteed annual vacation time, and more.)

So, the Green Party is not perfect, but it's better than the "lesser evil" or "lesser of two evils" of the Democrats.

No comments: