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Why I'm going to Florida

This weekend I’m traveling to Florida to help beat Bush on Tuesday, November 2nd. I’ll be volunteering with America Coming Together, one of a number of nation-wide organizations that has mobilized thousands of volunteers to convince undecided voters in critical swing states to vote against Bush.

Notice that I haven’t said I’m going to work on the Kerry campaign. I’m not a big fan of John Kerry, or the Democratic Party for that matter. I wanted to be in Boston in July to protest the Democratic National Convention, where war-mongering speeches drowned out the few voices of dissent allowed inside (the Mainers for Kucinich, for example), and a massive police presence squelched protests outside. I disagree with Kerry’s stance on the war in Iraq (he voted to give Bush the authority to wage war, and he now wants to “win? an unjust war), the so-called war on terrorism (he doesn’t address the root causes of terrorism, instead spouting violent rhetoric about “rooting out? and “destroying? the “enemy?), and military aid to Israel (he does not oppose the Apartheid Wall and ongoing oppression of Palestinians). I wish I could vote for a candidate I feel good about, and I firmly believe in the importance of breaking out of a two-party system controlled by corporate interests (yes, I voted for Nader in 2000). But this time around, there is too much to lose. Yes, I have joined the “anybody but Bush? campaign.

Miami Journal [ Why I'm going to Florida (10/30/04) I Touchdown (10/30/04) I One City, Many Worlds (10/31/04) I Mounting Frustration (11/1/04) I Why the long face? (11/3/04) ]

see related: Florida's Palm Beach County Bracing for the Electoral Storm

Why I’m going to Florida
(Miami Journal #1)
By Ingrid Bauer
10/30/04

This weekend I’m traveling to Florida to help beat Bush on Tuesday, November 2nd. I’ll be volunteering with America Coming Together, one of a number of nation-wide organizations that has mobilized thousands of volunteers to convince undecided voters in critical swing states to vote against Bush.

Notice that I haven’t said I’m going to work on the Kerry campaign. I’m not a big fan of John Kerry, or the Democratic Party for that matter. I wanted to be in Boston in July to protest the Democratic National Convention, where war-mongering speeches drowned out the few voices of dissent allowed inside (the Mainers for Kucinich, for example), and a massive police presence squelched protests outside. I disagree with Kerry’s stance on the war in Iraq (he voted to give Bush the authority to wage war, and he now wants to “win? an unjust war), the so-called war on terrorism (he doesn’t address the root causes of terrorism, instead spouting violent rhetoric about “rooting out? and “destroying? the “enemy?), and military aid to Israel (he does not oppose the Apartheid Wall and ongoing oppression of Palestinians). I wish I could vote for a candidate I feel good about, and I firmly believe in the importance of breaking out of a two-party system controlled by corporate interests (yes, I voted for Nader in 2000). But this time around, there is too much to lose. Yes, I have joined the “anybody but Bush? campaign.

For the past five years I’ve been active in large-scale demonstrations against corporate globalization in its various manifestations, from the WTO in Seattle and Cancun, to the RNC in Philadelphia and New York, to the FTAA in Québec. I have protested because I have felt it to be the best way to make my voice heard against undemocratic institutions (including the Republican Party). I have supported other protesters by running as a street medic and volunteering in wellness centers set up by fellow activists with various medical skills. Doing this work, I have identified more and more as an anarchist, critiquing the inextricable link between the state and capitalism in corporate and military dominance, rejecting all forms of oppression, and searching for alternatives to party politics to build a more just society. Engaging in direct action—using people power to immediately affect social change, rather than waiting for politicians to do it for us—has been a form of praxis, a strategy of engaging anarchist theory with practice.

Strategies must be reexamined, however, when they fail to produce results. In the past few years the numbers of people engaged in anti-globalization direct actions in the United States has declined to almost pre-Seattle numbers. Yet neoliberalism has yet to be defeated, and many anarchists are re-examining their roles as activists, and questioning the efficacy of direct action. The most effective resistance to the institutions and agreements that rule international trade has taken place inside multilateral meetings, where Southern countries have blocked decisions that would have benefited the wealthiest nations. At the same time, mainstream Left organizations have mobilized hundreds of thousands of Americans in symbolic protests against the war in Iraq. We did not stop the war, however. Now, many of those organizers are bottom lining the get-out-the-vote effort I’m about to join. Instead of being as radical as they can, these Liberals and Progressives are trying to reach out to all kinds of people to get them to vote Bush out of office. This means getting behind a candidate that many find less than desirable.

I’m not going to Florida because I’ve abandoned my radicalism, or because I now think voting is the end-all, be-all of a democratic society. I am going to explore how voting works as one tactic among many in a long, drawn out struggle for social justice. I am going to explore what it means when voting, a privilege many anarchists discard as useless, is denied, as it was to thousands of incorrectly identified felons in Florida in 2000, and may well be corrupted this time by missing voter registration forms and malfunctioning electronic voting machines.

I am also going to learn about a different kind of organizing than the scrappy low-budget wheat-pasting Indymedia-posting spokescouncil-meeting direct action anarchist organizing I’m used to. What is it like to organize a nationwide campaign? What is it like to have an operating budget and money pouring in through the internet? An office and a staff and volunteers (such as myself?) To be endorsed by scores of labor unions and nonprofits?

I’m not usually a joiner of causes I’m not fully convinced of. I don’t often chant or carry signs or dance to the drum beat. I stand on the sidelines and remain the observer, the critic, the occasional helper (as a street medic). Flying halfway across the country to convince other people to vote for a candidate I can barely stomach is quite a stretch for me. But I’m pissed off enough at the Bushies, and I’m hopeful enough that we might get them out of office, that I’m willing to try anything (but Bush).

 
 


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Re: Why I'm going to Florida

I forgot to reference an excellent article that influenced much of my thinking about voting and anarchism and activism. Check out Chris Crass's article " Beyond Voting" at www.infoshop.org/rants/crass_voting.html
 

A vote for Kerry is a vote for war.

In 1873 Friedrich Engels polemicizing against the Spanish anarchists said:

“As soon as they were faced with a serious revolutionary situation, the Bakuninists had to throw the whole of their old program overboard. First they sacrificed their doctrine of absolute abstention from political, and especially electoral, activities. Then anarchy, the abolition of the State, shared the same fate.... They then dropped the principle that the workers must not take part in any revolution that did not have as its aim the immediate and complete emancipation of the proletariat, and they themselves took part in a movement that was notoriously bourgeois. Finally they...sat quite comfortably in the juntas of the various towns, and moreover almost everywhere as an impotent minority outvoted and politically exploited by the bourgeoisie.?

One of the fundamental problems of political Anarchism is that, in general, it does not seek to build a political alternative to the government in power, but instead seeks to influence that government by scaring it to the left through street actions.

Yet it is an illusion to think that that any capitalist government, Democrat or Republican, can be moved to the left. This goal, when it fails, often leads to the type backward movement into liberal thought that we see here expressed by Ingrid. Our goal should be to move the people to the left of the Democrats, through street actions and other forms of education that expose the truth. In bringing more people to the left you build more resistance to the war and the other capitalist crimes of the Democrats and Republicans as well as planting the seeds for building a revolutionary party. In building that movement and political alternative we may either force concessions from the politicians or be met by more repression, but you will never force the Democrat Party to the left, nor will you ever gain anything by getting them elected.

The goal should not be to move people back into the Democrat Party of war, racism, sexism, homophobia, racism, etc. Ultimately the goal must be to build a political alternative to both the Democrats and Republicans that is capable of transforming our entire society. We will never get that by campaigning for the Democrats.

Tell the people the truth, say it loud, and say it clear: A vote for Kerry is a vote for war! If Kerry is elected we will be struggling against Kerry’s war policies for the next four to eight years.

For more see:

Liberation News Voter Recommendations:
santacruz.indymedia.org/newswire/display/12347/index.php

YOU CALL THIS A DEBATE? By Mumia Abu-Jamal
santacruz.indymedia.org/newswire/display/12436/index.php

Liberation News:
groups.yahoo.com/group/Liberation_News/
 

Re: Why I'm going to Florida

It appears you would have been better off going to Ohio.
 

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