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Ecopsychology of Politics: American Elections in a Brave New World

I’m not usually one to publicly endorse candidates, though lots of friends and family sometimes ask for opinions on the subject. This article is a basic analysis of this current election (since things have gone so haywire) and overall considerations for how America could be voting in the coming age.

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In the Great Turning of human societies, we are faced with great ecologic and social responsibilities, so this election in particular is one to be mindful of as time crunches on and the environmental stakes get higher for us as a species and biosphere. America has been considered for many generations one of the worlds leading superpowers, and so our actions this election I believe do indeed effect the world, effect our environments, and thus the social and ecopsychologic fabric of humanity.

Things I’ve been hearing lately, that I’d like to speak to:

“It doesn’t matter anyway, it’s all rigged”

This election we experienced an amazing breakthrough with socialist candidate Bernie Sanders’ campaign against centralized wealth and power. That DNC emails that revealed deliberate sabotage of his campaign left many of us in a state of disillusionment. Bernie Sanders, in my opinion, would have made a superior choice in candidacy and a superior president than our current choices. I’m not alone in this feeling. Between this and other election fraud I don’t really blame the American people, and especially American youth who have actually never experienced a clean election, for their skepticism or apathy.

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“Vote third party”

I’ll be honest, Jill Stein actually speaks more truth and wisdom than any other presidential candidate I’ve heard so far in my short lifetime. She is the only candidate with a proposition to free American students from 1.3 trillion dollar debt slavery (about 1/10th of the cost to Americans during the financial crisis bank bailouts). And the only candidate who puts environmentalism before war, stating actual plans for deescalation of conflicts in the middle east and true diplomacy. Even Bernie Sanders, who was a comparatively radical candidate, was pro-drone and war on terror. He did not seem to see the larger picture of environmentalism and perpetual war, and how these things are interrelated.

(War, for those of you who were unaware, is the most environmentally hazardous human pastime our species knows, it is the greatest threat to human survival, the greatest destroyer of habitats, and the most needless form of spending our impoverished nations participate in). An end to senseless wars would put over 50% of American tax dollars back into our communities (in a country where 1 in 5 children go to bed hungry). The current war paradigm as I see it is one we as a nation rarely question enough. America has been at war since it’s invention, and since World War II, Americans have struggled to find any other form of economic system and meaning. We have little to no exports, and are simply home to numerous corporations with untaxed overseas accounts and outsourced wage-slave labor; war is the only thing the average American participates in to uphold economic stability, and as we see as ecopsychologists and environmentalists, this strategy is both predatory on the world at large and never a long time solution. Since the cold war, humanity has already built up enough weaponry to obliterate all life on earth. There is no protection from ourselves but diplomacy.

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So what of third party candidates? Figures like Jill Stein –I will say to anyone who will listen– speak truth to power, and should be listened to intently and supported by the masses. But do we vote for her? Personally, I’m not, because I’m a part of the massive democratic voting demographic that fears a Trump presidency. Isn’t it all rigged in favor of Clinton anyway? Probably… hopefully. I’m not going to risk it with a protest vote. For those of you who just want to believe if we all did it it would happen, that’s fine. According to mainstream media Trump and Hillary are polling far too close for that stance to be taken logically.

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I say, if you’ve never voted democrat before in your life, go for it, vote for Jill Stein. She’s the only sane and suitable candidate we have really. Clinton is like a rusty band-aid on an already breaking machine, but I’d rather it be her than a proud bigot with a personality disorder. If you just want to “believe” registered democrats should shift over to green party, I recommend reviewing the cautionary tale of Gores 2000 3rd party campaign, and taking the time to educate yourself in other systems like instant-run-off voting. The truth is, those of us who vote regularly and vote democrat in this election need to keep doing so.

For those of you who don’t normally vote and are jumping in now, I understand. Jill Stein said if all students in debt voted for her she could be elected, but only 1/10 eligible voters in America actually vote, and of that 10% of the population, we can’t afford to pull votes out that would –in a two-party system– end up counting in Trumps favor.

“Trumps great though! He’s the only non-establishment candidate now!”

I can barely address this. The only psychological reason someone could ignore his bigoted anti-American rhetoric is if they are enmeshed in the cult of fame and American reality TV that idolizes rich and famous people, in combination with angst over the status quo leading to ideological desperation.

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“Can Obama just get a third term? He was the best president of my lifetime.”

Just like Bernie was a better feminist in my opinion than Hillary, I don’t think you can judge a book by its cover and be so naive to think Americas first black president was the best thing that ever happened to liberals of our time. Obama spent more American tax dollars on war than the Bush Administration, deported and detained more immigrants than any other president in US history, and neglected to shut down the internationally illegal and shameful Guantanamo bay –a major part of the platform we elected him on. He was not “the best” president. He was an okay president. Charming, and his family was an inspiring beacon of hope to many Americans, but if I hear this one more time, I swear I will scream (and tell you to watch better news). Obama was regular, if not questionable, in terms of some of his policies. But thanks for the health care, and sending our military youth home while switching the war games to automated drone-ware.

It is my hope if and when Clinton is elected, we will not also say the same: “Oh the first [infallible] woman president!” knowing full well she is an establishment candidate who will likely do establishment things. It will probably be an improvement from the status quo in this way, an inspiration to girls and woman around the world, but her physical form should not blind us to questionable policies that are likely to come up. She, like Obama, is human like the rest, and no matter how demographically diverse US presidencies may be, we need to look at policies, not just physical features, to decipher weather or not our society’s leadership is sound.

“I can’t believe you even bother voting”

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Yes, in a country where only 1/10 of people who can vote, while belonging to a millennial generation that votes even less, this is a familiar sentiment. For myself as a green party activist and an anarchist, this indeed seems like a strange symbolic participatory act– does it matter at all?

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The truth is, if you’re even moderately informed it doesn’t hurt. Voting –even within the questionable system we have now– is still an act of participation to believe in (even, if only, symbolically). Women struggled for generations to see other women vote. People of color struggled for generations to vote. Under this context, as an activist I don’t see voting as optional. Even if the system is a bit broken, refusal to participate (when you still participate by buying products and paying taxes) is arguably irresponsible and lazy. To be truly “American” -as amorphous as the term seems- is to be a participant in the workings of the country. To be an effective world citizen living in America, we must acknowledge “super power” status and do our best to wield influence for the best outcomes for all of humanity, for all of our global environments.

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Often people seem to think America is so big that it cannot be challenged, and American citizens specifically seem to behave as if we have no control whatsoever over our governments perpetual wars and corporate bail outs. The truth is if anyone has influence over these things it would be our citizens. Until 100% of eligible voters vote, I don’t think the concept of it being pointless is a valid truth at all.

So, this Tuesday, I’ll be out there, my little third-party-anarcho self voting for establishment candidate Hillary, and I hope to see you out there as well, voting with your hearts and minds however you see fit.

Syncrude Aurora Oil Sands Mine, north of Fort McMurray, Canada.
Syncrude Aurora Oil Sands Mine, north of Fort McMurray, Canada.

And when Tuesday is over, and the sh*tstorm of social media ranting has subsided, whoever our president is, I hope we all remember that its just a small piece of a puzzle of civil engagement, of activism, of environmentalism and human rights work, and that the work isn’t finished there. I’ll be voting –like paying taxes and renewing a drivers license– and going through the motions; but over the course of a lifetime, I know the health of our planet and the work of social justice will never be entirely addressed through a simple ballot. It’s just a drop in the bucket… but a drop nevertheless.

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Indigenous Americans protest outside Clinton’s Campaign office, demanding she take a stance on the Dakota Pipeline

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