Carroll County Times

Tom Harbold: Finding a better path to our future

Well, I may have lost my weekly Tuesday soapbox due to my abortive relocation, but thanks to the graciousness of the Times, I haven't entirely lost my voice in these pages. I shall now be writing on alternate Mondays.

The political silly season of this presidential election year nears its peak, with the recent conventions of both the Republicans and Democrats providing a maximum of spectacle and, sad to say, a minimum of substance. Nothing new or unusual about that.

For all its surreality, Clint Eastwood's discussion with an empty chair may be, after all, a metaphor for the political scene in contemporary America, with statesmanship and mature political leadership being largely invisible, if not absent, on both sides of the aisle.

During the last presidential election, unable to decide who was the "least worst" choice between the two major parties, I voted for Ron Barr, of the Libertarian party. It was largely a protest vote, cast for a candidate I knew had no chance to victory, intended to represent the fact that I feel abandoned by both of the major parties.

This year, however, and somewhat to my surprise, I have discovered a candidate - again representing one of the third parties - who I actually feel excited at the prospect of voting for. While I am well aware that she probably doesn't have a snowball's chance in south Texas of being elected, I genuinely regret that, because I believe she and the philosophy and concrete ideas she brings with her would be good for our country. I am speaking of Jill Stein, Green Party candidate for president. If you have not had the opportunity to check out her website, I recommend you do so. What you see there might surprise you.

In the "Green New Deal for America," available in both full and summary form on the website, as well as on video, Stein and her running mate, Cheri Honkala, set out a "four part program for moving America quickly out of crisis into a secure, sustainable future."

"Inspired by the New Deal programs that helped us out of the Great Depression of the 1930s," the website's description notes, "the Green New Deal will provide similar relief and create an economy that makes our communities sustainable, healthy and just."

The "Four Pillars of the Green New Deal" include an Economic Bill of Rights to ensure fairness and equity for all citizens, not just the wealthy; a plan for a Green Transition Program to "convert the old, gray economy into a new, sustainable economy that is environmentally sound, economically viable and socially responsible;" a program for "Real Financial Reform" to stabilize both our democracy and the economy; and a program to restore "A Functioning Democracy," something we have not seen since the de facto takeover of our political system by Wall Street.

The latter includes a plan for repealing the Patriot Act and those parts of the National Defense Authorization Act that violate our civil liberties. How many readers know, I wonder, that since President Obama signed the NDAA into law, American citizens can be targeted for assassination on the authorization of the president alone? I am all for fighting terror, but that is terrifying indeed.

All of these would be enacted with an emphasis on democratic process and, insofar as possible, local communities. I am well aware of the protest that a vote for Stein is a vote for Romney, and there is truth in that statement. But what is the alternative? To continue wallowing in the current system of Redemopublicrat corruption for all eternity? There has to be a better choice than that.