By J. Glenn Evans
Below is the address I made at the University of Washington the 30th of January 2013 before a meeting of the Socialist Alternative Party. It reflects my thoughts on where we are today and what we must do to redeem the dream of a true democracy that our founding fathers set out to create for us. I strongly feel that more of our citizens must run for public office and replace the corporate toadies that have come to rule us. Power lies within the political offices to make the necessary changes. Our neglect to monitor the actions of our elected representatives and demand less secrecy is why we have lost our government. We must began to reclaim our government starting at the local scene with city councils, school boards, county and state offices.
A group of political activists and friends have strongly encouraged me to run for Seattle City Council. I must confess I was tempted, because for years I have been preaching that it is a citizen’s duty to serve his or her community. But at the age of 82, the thought of hustling my friends to support me financially and to devote volunteer time to help get me elected, I believe would unwise and not fair to them. There are younger, mature and well-qualified people who better deserve this support. With the deck stacked against us by the two-party system, we need people who can try for election more than one time. It may take multiple efforts to achieve success. I am a writer and political activist and at my age I can be more effective by being a burr ITA and help build a movement to replace these corporate toadies. What do you think? I would appreciate your opinion. — J. Glenn Evans
ALTERNATIVE TO THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY
SPEECH by J. Glenn Evans
(Delivered the Univ. of Washington, Smith Hall 30 Jan 2013-Socialist Alternative meeting)
I am a recovering stockbroker. I voted for Reagan and was invited to the White House. I grew up in a small town in central Oklahoma back when we still drove a team and wagon to town on Saturdays. We used an outhouse. My early ambition was to be a writer, but I had a very rich uncle who told me I should become a stockbroker. I asked, aren’t those the fellows who jump off of buildings because they don’t want to be poor? He said no, they learn how to make money on other people’s money. If you want to make real money, Son, you go where the money is. Well, I thought since I wanted to become a great rich writer, I might as well try to get rich first. So I spent over 20 years as a stockbroker and investment banker. And I was making money!
You know, events and circumstances can change people’s thinking. For me, it was Reagan’s dirty wars in South and Central America killing civilians that turned me away from the Republican Party. Even back then the mantra was that we must globalize the economy. You don’t need a lot of factories to make things, because if you make the money, you can buy what you need. It will bring us peace; you don’t bomb your customers and suppliers. Well, how much peace do we have, and how much do people out of work buy what they need?
I left that business in 1984 and never looked back. The Democratic Party, once billed as the people’s party, has pulled away from supporting the best interests of the people of this country whom they are supposed to represent. The major changes started when Clinton set out to pursue the corporate dollar for the Democrats. Since that time, the whole system has become so corrupt we have no choice but to develop an alternate party to the Democrats and the Republicans. I did not become a great rich writer but I did become a struggling poet, novelist and political activist. And I am much happier for it.
The failures of the two-party system are pretty obvious. The current administration is George Bush on steroids. It was a Democratic administration that repealed the Glass-Steagall Act separating commercial banking from speculative investment banking that caused the economic crash. Just like it did back in the thirties before the Glass-Steagall Act. It was a Democratic administration that enacted NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) that has been responsible for the growing exploitation of workers and unemployment. President Obama campaigned on a promise to withdraw from NAFTA but did nothing after he took office. Then its expansion in 2005 with CAFTA (Central American Free Trade Agreement). The continued retention of people imprisoned at Quantanamo even after they have been declared innocent. The Democrats, even if they did not pass all of the laws, they continue to support them. Illegal wiretapping. Torture. The privatization of prisons into a profit-making business. The passage of unconstitutional laws, that the present Supreme Court fails to act on such as Homeland Security Act, the Patriot’s Act, the Military Commissions Act, and now NDAA that allows the president to maintain a kill list that even includes American citizens. The suppression of voter’s rights. Extra judicial murder with the use of drones. The ongoing illegal predatory wars. Corporate crimes. Not one Wall Street bankster has been indicted or prosecuted for their crimes. Patriots imprisoned for exposing state crimes. Here is the most blatant example [read Bradley Manning poem]
A LONELY SOLDIER
A soldier of low rank
Ponders the night
What should he do
Be like his comrades
His fellow citizens at home
Be promoted like those who go along
His eyes had rested upon messages
From higher powers over him
That disclosed crimes committed
Under our flag in our country’s name
That trashed our Constitution
Heinous crimes against other peoples
What could he do
How could he expose those crimes
He could not trust his senior officers
He could not trust the corporate media
He could not trust the corporate congress
He could be charged with violating national security
He could expect life imprisonment or death
If he exposed those crimes
What would we have done if we were Bradley Manning
If we were privy to such disclosures
Crimes our government hides from us
War crimes against other people
We go about our business
We vote for the same politicians
Who put this patriot in prison
Who trashed our Constitution
Who act like dukes earls and monarchs
When will we storm the Bastille
J. Glenn Evans
When will they come for us?
Greed and exploitation of the world’s resources and its people have brought us to this point. The resources of the earth are here for all life, not for just a few grabbers. Why should one person accumulate enough for a thousand lifetimes while a thousand people go hungry and unsheltered?
We need a new vision and a new way of life. We can have a world where everyone has food, shelter, health care and public education. It is unconscionable that buildings sit empty while people sleep on the streets. We must change the thinking that property is more sacred than people. City government has the power to negotiate with the owners, giving them a grace period on taxes while the property is used for shelter. The property can be returned to them in as good or better shape than when sitting empty.
Neither the Democrats nor the Republicans provide the vision that is needed. We must build an alternative to the two Wall Street parties by providing and working toward this new vision, a society where we cooperate and share, rather than compete and beat. We must build an alternate economy and withdraw our support from businesses and organizations that exploit and enslave people, whether here in the US or anywhere on the planet. That includes places like Wal-Mart, McDonalds, and the mega banks. We should move our money to credit unions and local banks.
We must develop new leadership to gain political power to correct the inequities and corruption that have developed, particularly since the Reagan era. If corrections are not made, it may ultimately lead to another French revolution. It starts right here in our own city. We need to get new people, besides Democrats, on the City Council, on the School Board, on the County Council, and in Olympia. We need similar citizen political participation in all parts of the country. We must have direct run-off of elections and secure the right of all citizens of legal age to vote. We must build a movement to engage people, especially the young, to take steps to restore those civil liberties that have been eroded. And that means education on civil rights.
We must strengthen our communities by rebuilding the commons and start taking care of people’s needs. This can be done jointly through government agencies with the personal initiative of individuals and small firms to provide the needed goods and services.
We must quit doing only what is expedient and start doing what is right. For example, give the Duwamish tribe one of our parks as a reservation promised them 150 years ago.
We live in a world that is crumbling and where all life is at risk. You know it is quite possible that climate change will be the single most critical factor in determining events and actions in the future. We must bring this issue into public discourse and this discussion must include reductions in the bloated military budget and investment in the deteriorating infrastructure, alternate energy systems, public works, and public transportation.
I’d like to end on a positive note. There are winds of change in the air. We saw this in the unprecedented vote that Kshama Sawant achieved as a member of the Socialist Alternative Party in November, winning 29% of the vote against Frank Chopp, Speaker of the House. We see young people engaged in political discourse on all these issues. We see them thinking outside of the two-party system. We see them studying and articulating their thinking. We want to see young people run for political office. It is creativity that makes us human so let us raise our voices in music and song, poems, and stories.
Copyleft 2013 J. Glenn Evans (Feel free to copy and distribute as broadly as possible)
Former card-carrying Republican and stockbroker-investment banker. Part Cherokee and native of Oklahoma. Earned a BS in Business from East Central University (Ada, OK). Has lived in Seattle since 1960. Worked in a lumber mill, operated a mining company and co-produced a movie, Christmas Mountain, with Mark Miller starring Slim Pickens. Award-wining poet and founder of PoetsWest and Activists for a Better World, hosts PoetsWest at KSER 90.7FM, a syndicated weekly radio show through Pacifica’s AudioPort.org. Author of four books of poetry: Buffalo Tracks, Deadly Mistress, Window in the Sky, Seattle Poems, two novels, Broker Jim and Zeke’s Revenge, essay book, Uncommon Common Sense and several local community histories including Seattle’s Pike Place Market. Widely published in literary journals. Listed in Who’s Who in America and Who’s Who in the World.
- Maine lawmakers can’t get away from ‘Washington-style politics’ (bangordailynews.com)
- Hoenig: Glass Steagall II “Absolutely Necessary” (ritholtz.com)