On Monday, October 29, the airwaves were full of news of the storm – imminent – it’s close to noon and NBC news is showing that the Hudson is already flooding the helicopter pad on 41st Street. The pressure was heavy – it was weighing me down – a visiting friend had just left to see another friend who lives nearby and I was hoping she would return in time. Oppressive, menacing storm…generalized sense of foreboding…and into this, Chris Hedges interjected his column for Truthdigs.com, the one I’ve been waiting for, on why he is voting Green.
Who is Chris Hedges? You don’t know? My God, please find out fast. I won’t try to supply you with a full biography here, but allow me to summarize by saying that he is the greatest scholar, writer and spokesperson we have on the left since Noam Chomsky – and a lot more accessible. (The other fabulously accessible, must-read leftist reporter, writer extraordinaire is, of course, Barbara Ehrenreich.) If you don’t know Chris Hedges’ work, I suggest you start with “Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle.” It’s a vivid portrait, a tableau vivant, of our culture now. Harrowing, but you won’t be able to put it down. Then, when you’re feeling brave, read “Death of the Liberal Class.” Chances are you will want to keep reading, including “American Fascists” (great reportage) and the latest, “Days of Destruction Days of Revolt.” His work is transformative. Bear in mind that for longer than a decade, Mr. Hedges ran the mideast desk at the New York Times. This is not a marginal crank, a nihilist, a demagogical cynic, this is someone once at the heart and the height of the establishment who has since opted out, and he’s done so by marshalling every resource, having read, studied, and traveled extensively; there is nothing half-baked about Chris Hedges. Now, he’s entirely devoted to building a movement that will force government to respond, as the 19th and 20th century socialist movements once did. He is primarily interested in rousing us numbed, dazed and passive liberals to organize and act – and his message is that it’s urgent.
I ask myself where would my New Deal grandfather would stand if he were alive today? My grandfather, J. David Stern, whom I wrote about in an earlier issue of WestView News, [‘Roosevelt Called My Grandfather His Hair Shirt, ‘September, 2011] fought all his life for the underdog and against big business. Well, big business is bigger than ever and the causes my grandfather fought for are all but lost.
Chris Hedges’ column, “Why I’m Voting Green”, posted on Monday at 6:41 A.M. on Truthdigs.com, has finally convinced this old school, New Deal liberal that it’s time to opt out of the system. However, before I pull the lever (or whatever it is we do nowadays), I have to come to terms with my decision, make peace with it. I can’t believe how painful it is to even consider not voting for Obama. I have no illusions about Obama, never did. The system doesn’t work. We are verging on a police state, the earth is being systematically ravaged, the poor are neglected and now the middle class too. Intellectually I know, I know.
I’ve read enough, seen enough and I’ve been nickel and dimed enough to know better. It’s the emotional factor that surprises me. In spite of all I know, I have still wanted so much to believe in the difference! My response to Romney is visceral. I can’t stand to watch him debate, it’s too painful. I’m terrified of Roe vs. Wade being overturned. Yet the situation is dire, the planet has been irrevocably harmed already, the poor will go on being ignored. Incidentally, neither Party has plans to defend women in the third world. As Mr. Hedges has pointed out, no one on the Supreme Court is going to save us anymore. The system has failed, and no one participating in it is going to make a difference.
So, it is with a heavy heart, as heavy as the oppressive storm air, that I am nevertheless voting for Jill Stein and the Green Party. Furthermore, I will pray for some of my New Deal grandfather’s moral courage so that I may continue to speak and act in the hope that if enough of us do so we can turn things around before it’s too late.