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Green Party: Alan Augustson for President

Who is a “major candidate” for the presidency? One could say that a “major candidate” for the presidency is one who is a candidate running under the banner of one of the “major parties.” But that simply bumps the question up another step. What is a “major” political force in this country? One that has popular support. This means that appeals to consider only the “major” candidates for the presidency are circular, if public consideration of a candidate is what brings popularity, or corruptly linear, if the use of money from big donors is the source of political popularity.

But what if we got to know about a wide variety of candidates and, armed with that knowledge, we decided for ourselves who was “major” and who was “minor”? If we start with knowledge and move forward to popularity, rather than the other way around, we need to jettison distinctions by party as well, since parties are only “major” to the extent of their popularity. With that in mind, I’ve been looking out and about for information interesting progressive presidential candidates who are not necessarily within the Democratic Party.

One of the candidates of most interest to me is Alan Augustson, who is running for President of the United States under the banner of the Green Party. Augustson’s web site is not spare: he is a prolific writer who has made it a priority to share his ideas about Green Party principles, his principles, and the places in which those two sets do and do not overlap. I don’t agree with all of his ideas, but it is clear to me that Augustson has spent some time in earnest thinking about issues and attempting to arrive at original, unconventional ways of thinking about topics of the day. Augustson’s ideas are represented in a set of twelve briefs regarding the following issues:

  • Abortion:
    I will defend abortion, but I will also encourage preference for other methods, such as contraception, ‘Plan B’ measures such as RU-486, and even adoption. I would also greatly prefer to see medically-necessary abortions done in hospitals, by doctors, with proper pre- and after-care;

  • Gun Control:
    We have been glorifying and freely distributing firearms on this continent for over five hundred years. The number of guns in North America is surely up to multiple units per capita. Can we go from this condition, to a gun-free state? It would be possible if we lived in an altruistic society. But we do not, at least, not yet. We very definitely live in a narcissistic society – one that promotes aggression and nihilism as if they were cardinal virtues.

  • Homeland Security:
    When an emergency strikes, under our present system, FEMA must re-hire all the people it laid off at the end of the last emergency – provided they haven’t moved on to other, more stable jobs. This precludes the development of real, full-time disaster-management specialists in government…

  • The War in Iraq:
    We were lied to about a link between Iran and Al Qaeda.

    We were lied to about WMDs.

    We were lied to about the imminence of an Iraqi threat to America, and its people abroad.

    All for purposes of justifying a war that, as it turns out, was on the President’s agenda long before ‘9-11′ – even before his inauguration.

    Under my administration, this ends. Job Number One.

  • Same-Sex Marriage:
    The arguments against same-sex marriage are essentially religious in nature. In fact, they really originate from one religion. This, in a nation where, under the law, “my” religion is just as good as “your” religion – even if “my” religion is “no religion at all”.

    ‘Christian nation’? No, it isn’t. It never was. Attempts to say so now are just revisionist history (that’s a fancy word for lying).

    Enough of the rhetoric. Here’s the action: under my administration, a same-sex union performed in any state, be it a marriage or a civil union, will be recognized in all fifty states. That’s the way it has to be. Because no one State can dictate policy to any other. If an individual State doesn’t want to perform same-sex unions, that’s their biz.

  • Immigration:
    Some politicians, pundits and proselytizers have been trying to imprint upon us a weird, kind of Nazi-esque notion of exactly whom and what America is. ‘Culture War’? Come on. Does this not sound weirdly akin to ‘ethnic cleansing’ to you?

    Folks, America is a nation of immigrants. The people on the Mayflower, the Godspeed, or the Mothership (if you believe in that sort of thing), were immigrants. Pretending it’s any other way is just more bull, in a country where there’s far too much bull flying around already.

    Wave after wave of Irish, Poles, Italians, Chinese, and others made us what we are. Wave after wave of Latinos, Indians, Thais, Koreans, and others make us what we will be. We are the nation that continually changes, adapts, evolves. What else can we be? I am adamantly against any motion that will deny legal immigration based upon point of origin.

    Now, about illegal immigration. I’m strongly against it, but mostly out of concern for the immigrants themselves. Having no status, flying forever under the radar, we have no way of assuring that they receive protection under the law…

  • The ‘War’ on Drugs:
    It’s fairly easy to tell, when an American government is clueless how to address a problem. They declare a ‘war’ on it.

    More specifically, they announce the creation of a ‘Task Force’ that has no authority, no budget, and no mission. They appoint a promising, young, Rising Star of politics to lead it – thereby safely assuring the death of his/her career. And, over time, the organization snowballs into massive, new levels of bureaucracy, consuming tremendous resources, insinuating itself into people’s lives everywhere… and the problem remains.

    So it was with the ‘War’ on Poverty and the ‘War’ on Terrorism. I’m praying they don’t do a ‘War on War’ anytime soon, or we’re screwed.

    Perhaps most egregiously of all, the ‘War’ on Drugs became a magnificent, impotent leviathan, capable of destroying lives in numerous ways, but incapable of attacking the basic miseries of existence that cause one to seek escape.

  • Healthcare:
    When enough people are without health coverage to form a powerful voting bloc, the Federal government will be forced to act. In other words, single-payer health insurance is an inevitability. My principal worries are not so much “if” or “when”; my worry is “what difference will it make?”.

    Will we create for ourselves a two-tier system like in the UK, where wealthy self-payers treat themselves to the finest care while the masses are herded through the horrific National Health System?

    Will we continue to shirk our responsibility to promote quality of care?

    Will we, as patients, continue to make woefully self-destructive lifestyle choices, that unnecessarily inflate healthcare costs?

    Will insurance companies, the hub of the current medical system, use their massive political contributions to ensure nothing at all happens until we have a dire emergency on our hands?

    Yes, yes, yes and yes. Unless…

  • Church and State:
    Has God become so impotent, that he has to rely on grubby politicians to do his work for him? Whatever happened to ‘divinity’?

    I’ve said it elsewhere; I’ll say it here. America is not a ‘Christian Nation’ and it wasn’t even intended to be. But, even if it were, this modern concept of Christianity would not be what the Founding Fathers had in mind.

    As President I will protect the rights of even those who believe differently from myself. I will defend the rights even of those who despise me. And therein we see the ultimate difference – for the NeoCons will not do the same for me.

  • Afghanistan:
    Afghanistan is a monster of our own creation. In the 1980s, in our sick desire to be ever the thorn in the side of the Soviet Union, we financed, trained, armed, and equipped the mujaheddin to be one of the world’s greatest guerrilla armies. We encouraged their suicidal fervor, and encouraged in them such ruthlessness as to cultivate opium poppies, the products of which would be traded for weapons.

    The experts now say, that no one could have foreseen our actions coming back to haunt us. If so, then clearly we need some new experts.

    There is no logical choice but to leave Afghanistan. We must solicit UN peacekeeping forces to help stabilize the region, and exit. We must fund the rebuilding of the Afghan infrastructure we decimated. And – since Afghanistan was and is a subscriber to the International Criminal Court – we must cooperate fully with any investigations they may care to initiate.

  • Poverty:
    The cure for poverty becomes clear when we see the problem properly expressed. Person A must work one hour to earn enough to buy a particular pair of gym shoes. Person B must work twenty or even thirty hours. And, on the other side of the world lives Person C – the child who made those shoes – who would have to work a couple of months. What justice, or even logic, is there in such an economic system? Do we not claim that there is ‘dignity in all work’? Do we not make ourselves liars when we support such a system?

  • Peace:
    For (I hope) the last time: America is not ‘hated for its freedom’ (or its ‘freem’, if you’re having trouble with the subtleties of the language). There are other democratic countries; oddly enough, we’re not seeing worldwide conspiracies to bring them down.

    America is resented for generations spent with its foot on the neck of the entire world. Especially since the end of WWII and the onset of the Cold War, we have imposed our ideas of government, culture, morality and industry on Europe, Asia, and Meso- and South America, usually at the point of a bayonet, but also using starvation and deprivation as a weapon.

    U.S. hegemony ends under an Augustson administration. Will this make us more susceptible to attack? No, because we will still maintain an effective defense system at home. It will make us less hated; less the world’s preferred scapegoat and therefore less attractive a target.

I am not a fan of all of Augustson’s ideas. For example, his reasoning regarding gun control seems to be backwards; in an altruistic society, gun control would be unnecessary, while narcissists are capricious and more needing of regulation. But I am impressed by Augustson’s earnestness, his creativity, his idealism, and his willingness to move beyond vague invocations of better days, shining cities on hills, soaring clouds of hope and weepy raindrops of terror to build a presidential campaign around policy.

Visit Alan Augustson’s campaign website here to find out more about his campaign. If you’re interested in showing public support for Augustson’s run, visit his online web shop here.

7 comments to Green Party: Alan Augustson for President

  • John Stracke

    So how do reconcile the statement that we should not make our decisions based on popularity, and that we should not limit ourselves to one party, with your regular updates on the relative popularity of Democratic candidates in your shop?

  • Jim

    I, at least, reconcile it by noting that at Irregular Times we’re in a period of transition. We’re starting to talk about third party candidates because we are thinking differently about third parties than we did in previous years. But even when we only wrote about the Democratic contenders, we wrote about the less popular candidates such as Kucinich and Gravel a fair amount. We’re also beginning to offer third party candidate stuff for sale, and after a period for google to find it, we’ll be tracking that too…

    … and your question could be interpreted in a number of ways, but if by it you mean that you shouldn’t note popularity if you think decisions shouldn’t be based on popularity, I disagree. There’s a good reason to want to know who’s popular in the race for the presidency even if one doesn’t want to base one’s own vote based on a candidate’s popularity. I know some people say the presidential election season is too long, but it’s June now, and the Democratic presidential nominee could be pretty much determined within six to seven months. I have an interest in watching the front-runners carefully even if they are not who I’ll vote for, because as a citizen the popularity results tell me who needs extra scrutiny, extra research, extra consideration (not necessarily sympathetic consideration). Even if you want to vote for Mike Gravel (or Alan Augustson), it’s wise to consider what a Clinton or a Gore presidency might look like.

  • John_Stracke

    OK, good answer. Thanks.

  • Iroquois

    You might also want to consider that most of these minority candidates have no illusions about whether they will ever be elected. Their reason for running is ideological–to get their ideas in front of the public.

    The socialist party used to run a candidate every four years. They bragged that although their candidate had never been elected, every single one of their party planks had become adopted by a mainstream party.

    It is the lunatic fringe that keeps the center honest–and in the center.

    IH

  • Jim

    What about Alan Augustson is lunatic?

  • Iroquois

    The problem I have with Augustson is that he isn’t lunatic enough. Unsophisticated maybe–what was that about FEMA laying off people every time an emergency is over and making abortion an expensive hospital procedure instead of a simple outpatient thing. You get the idea he hasn’t thought things through or figured out how things work now. The remarks about the “mothership” and “freem” were a little hard to interpret too. What the country really needs is somone who is wacko on the left the same way Pat Robertson is wacko on the right. Then your ordinary progressives will look…ordinary.

  • Thanks for your honest opinions, all. Please keep ‘em coming.

    If I may clarify, for Iroquois, my comments on FEMA: while I worked there, during and after the Katrina Catastrophe, many/most of the staff I met were “Disaster Assistance Employees” (FEMAspeak for temps), or contractors such as myself.

    Of the contractors, a considerable number were former FEMA employees, with decades of experience, who were laid off in the Bush Administration’s gutting of the Agency following 9-11. Their lives since then had become a cycle of up- and down-sizing — and in the process, many of FEMA’s best brains would periodically spin off, choosing permanent employment elsewhere.

    On the other topic of abortion, specifically regarding the offering of the procedure in hospitals, by doctors: to this position I respectfully hold. Please remember also, though, that I support universal health care — thus I do not at all intend to relegate the poor to their own devices.

    If you’d like to talk further, I’ll make myself available by e-mail or phone. I appreciate the opportunity to exchange views. –A²

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