I didn't really have to read this opinion piece from veteran Houston Press contributor Jef Rouner, because I'm pretty sure I remember reading nearly identical columns from him in 2016 and subsequent years. (He provides a link to his piece from that year in Free Press Houston.) The 2020 edition shows that he has learned nothing in the intervening years. Even worse, he doesn't want to learn.
Truth to tell, Rouner made come good points in 2016—e.g., ascribing more blame to Democrats who voted for George W. Bush than to Ralph Nader and his voters for Bush's victory in 2000. I don't find nearly as much redeeming value in his screed published this past Monday.
For a reasonably intelligent human and a more-than-half-decent writer, Rouner flat doesn't get it. He knows that a certain percentage of the US electorate has graduated from grumbling, "We really need another political party, because neither of the major parties represents my views!" to actually voting for existing parties outside the duopoly—and loudly encouraging fellow citizens to do the same. But he can't for the life of him fathom why we would leave the proverbial reservation.
Why would I even care what Jef Rouner says? I have friends (and one or two ex-friends, who probably still blame me personally for Trump's presence in the White House) who consider him a friend of theirs, or at least an acquaintance. A lot of people I know have met or hung out with local media personalities. If you'll indulge me repeating myself, Houston is A Small Town for Its Size.
Let Me Greensplain It to You
Jef, buddy, We the Progressives are not merely dissatisfied with being asked to choose between Joe Biden and the incumbent; we are incensed that, election after election, the corporatocracy can't provide better choices—i.e. candidates who truly represent working people, not puppets with the corporate hands up their respective butts.
It's the system that needs to be changed. That's why we can't bring ourselves to vote for candidates generated by that system.
We won't be fooled again. We have seen through the curtain of lies. We know that another world is possible, and we do what we can to bring it to life.
You argue that voting Third Party is about as effective as "thoughts & prayers." You may as well say that about the act of voting itself in these allegedly United States. This is especially true in the election for president, where the residents of 39 states of various sizes know in advance which way their states' electoral votes will flow (give or take a few faithless electors like in 2016). Their individual votes don't really matter. It doesn't get much better down the ballot, where we have legislative districts gerrymandered within an inch of their proverbial lives.
This is why folks of progressive and radical-left persuasions are cheering on the protestors in Portland, Oregon. They saw an African American elected to that highest office, and after his eight years we still had to remind White-Flight America that Black Lives Matter, not just those of Black presidents. They know that voting is not enough; they know that democracy isn't something you have, but something you do.
Yes, Jef, the aggravated incompetence of Team Trump has resulted in thousands of unnecessary premature deaths right here in the USA. In the face of that, doesn't it say something to you that we still don't see Biden as an acceptable alternative? Perhaps it's Biden assured us that "nothing will fundamentally change" when he's in the Big Chair—because, like Obama, he will continue the grand tradition of killing untold thousands of dark-skinned people abroad. Those dark-skinned people's lives matter too.
As I have said a few times in this space, I will not vote for warmongers. Take that as virtue signaling if you like, Jef, but I find corporate-teat-sucking DC democrats just as morally repugnant as Our Alleged President.
Speaking of Alternatives...
Once upon a time, the Press, Free Press Houston and similar publications were referred to as alternative weeklies or monthlies. They arose from publications that covered music, art, literature, and politics that stood decidedly outside the mainstream. Since their consolidation under companies like Phoenix and Voice Media, and with their dependence on ad corporate advertising revenue, they are just as corporate as the big dailies. The only substantive difference is that the alt-weeklies allow their writers to use naughty words and talk a bit more explicitly about sex.
When columnists at alternative papers become gatekeepers for the status quo and the corporatist system, those papers and their columnists lose all claim to the label "alternative."
Our nation's history is full of people risking their lives and livelihoods to express their dissatisfaction and uproot an oppressive status quo: from the American Revolution to the Populist and Progressive movements to the Suffragettes to the Bonus Army to the Civil RIghts and anti-war movements to ACT UP! to Occupy Wall Street, to name just a few. Eventually, backlash happens, and the establishment reasserts itself, often violently. But thanks to the courageous actions of these people-powered movements, our society progresses some.
Helped along by the re-emergence of Black Lives Matter and calls to defund police forces, we have reached a moment that will not permit going back to pre-COVID normal. Those who see BLM protests as simply about improving quality of life for African Americans are missing the point entirely: This is an intersectional battle, encompassing front-liners from the class, gender identity, and climate struggles.
The two name-brand political parties are not ready for all that: Their leaders benefit too much from things as they are, and their prime directive is to keep that situation going. Our Congresscritters are all-too-happy to show their gratitude by shoveling trillions in public funds to "bail out" their corporate benefactors.
We, the People, are waking up and demanding the alternative: a system that values people, planet, and peace over profit.
Blogging Sporadically since 2014
Here you will find political campaign-related entries, as well as some about my literature, Houston underground arts, peace & justice, urban cycling, soccer, alt-religion, and other topics.