This ran on UPI’s Religion and Spirituality Forum on February 5, 2008.
As a member of the California Green Party I will not be choosing between casting a vote for an African American candidate or a woman candidate when I participate in the great civic event that will be Super Tuesday. I will be voting for Cynthia McKinney, a former member of congress from Georgia who happens to be both African American and a woman. She is the most experienced and the most inspirational candidate on the Green ballot.
For weeks now I’ve been planning to write a column on the eve of Super Tuesday extolling the virtues of membership in a “third party.” I joined the Green Party when Bill Clinton was president. It seemed to me then—as now—that the Democrats had become too beholden to corporate interests, too much like the Republicans in their willingness to sell their corporate soul for the sake of a positive cash flow. Too often, choosing between Democrats and the Republicans is like choosing between Starbucks and Peet’s Coffee. Between the two coffee chains there are some very real differences in substance and style, but in the end they’re both nameless, faceless corporate behemoths, and I prefer to patronize locally owned coffee shops. In coffee as in politics, I like real choice. Two political parties, like two major coffee chains, is not much of a choice. I want to live in an America and to participate in a political system with more options.
But in the last few weeks Barack Obama has changed my mind. I won’t be leaving the Green Party, but I do wish that for one day I was still a Democrat so that I could vote for Barak Obama in California’s primary. There are two reasons for this.
First, if two parties are bad for America, two families are worse. I remember the last time there was an election in which neither a Clinton nor a Bush was on the ticket for either President or for Vice-President. I, who will be forty when the next President takes the oath of office, was in the third grade.
Like several of the Framers of the US Constitution, I am a Calvinist. As such, I share a distrust of and a dislike for the idea of royalty. Ours is a fiercely egalitarian spiritual tradition, and while I am, in theory, happiest when religion and politics are separated, in practice I am glad that America’s founding documents were Calvinist enough to declare that “All men [and women] are created equal.” It is a doctrine that frowns upon the suggestion that it is OK for two families to exercise control over the executive branch for more than ten percent of our nation’s history.
Secondly, I want Barack Obama to be the next President of the United States because the America he represents is an America that includes my family. His parents were born on two continents and were of two different races; my children were born on two continents and are of two different races.
On the face of it, having a personal affinity may seem like a trite and selfish reason to support a candidate, but consider this: the America of Barack Obama and the Daniel family is a beautiful place. It is an America in which families come in lots of different colors, in which some families are multi-colored and blended. It is an America of greater equality, where power is shared across geographical, economic, and racial lines. It is an America whose time has come.
So Barack Obama gets the endorsement of this Green preacher from Silicon Valley. It’s not exactly the endorsement of a Kennedy or Winfrey, but since my Green Party vote will do nothing to fight the establishment of a Bush/Clinton oligarchy or to usher in an America that looks like my family, this endorsement is all I have to offer.