The Morning After the Elections

The morning after the elections—I keep thinking of Captain Hans Solo signature line in Star Wars:  “I have a bad feeling about this.”  Actually, I have some profoundly mixed feelings:  California, rather than falling into the sea as Edgar Cayce predicted, has been uplifted by our own tectonic forces to perch high and dry above the rising seas of Republican-fueled climatic shifts.  We had a string of major victories (not even counting the Giants shutting out Bush’s Texas Rangers) for—if not exactly progressives, at least the Forces of Sanity:

We defeated a proposition funded by the oil companies that would have blocked our Climate Change legislation from taking effect—not just by a little, but by about 60% to 40%!

We reversed the policy that has kept our state government hamstrung and kept us locked in bitter budget battles every year.  Previously, the state budget required a 2/3 majority to pass.  Now we can do it with a simple majority.

Meg Whitman was soundly defeated in her bid for governor, in spite of spending 160 million dollars of her own money.   Instead, we got Jerry Brown who has, in recent years, become a centrist Democrat but who did some really great things when he was governor back in the ‘70s.  If the country had followed the environmental course he set then, we would not be in the grave climate change crisis we face today.

Carly Fiorina also failed to buy her way into the Senate.   Barbara Boxer retains her Senate seat.  Boxer is a good, solid liberal, and while I don’t always agree with her stands, I respect her.  She’s far, far better than the alternative.

Granted, we didn’t quite legalize marijuana.  Our state’s third largest industry will continue, for the present, as a semi-black-market economy.  A whole lot of pot growers are privately breathing a sigh of relief.  But we got the issue on the ballot as a serious debate, and legalization will eventually come.

On the national scene, of course, not so good.  At best we can now hope for gridlock in Washington—but gridlock will be deadly if it continues for the next two crucial years when we face desperate issues environmentally, economically and socially.  Worse would be the Republicans actually pushing forward their agenda with the collusion of Democrats who are likely to draw exactly the wrong conclusions from this election.

Already the pundits are trumpeting that the country has moved to the right.  In fact, many of us believe the opposite is true—that the country does not really love big corporations, big banks, big weapons manufacturers and warmongers, but is simply disgusted with the lackluster efforts of Democrats and Obama to do anything about them.  Given that the Supreme Court opened the floodgates of corporate cash, that the Tea Party has infinite funding by billionaires and huge megaphones like Fox News to amplify its message, it’s no surprise that people’s rightful anger gets channeled in exactly the wrong directions.

What is the right direction?  Below is my own modest plan for fixing the economy, the country and the world.

Invest in life, not death:

Stop spending our money on war and death.  Instead, spend it on things that improve peoples’ lives and address our grave environmental problems.  Create those new, green technologies that will put more people to work.  Fund education so young people don’t start their lives as debt slaves to college loans.  Fund health care.  Open up the prison gates and stop incarcerating people at one of the highest rates in the world.

Make the rich pay their fair share:

Raise taxes on those who can afford to pay them.  It’s obscene that a Meg Whitman has $160 million dollars to spend on a campaign.  The rich amass their money using the infrastructures we all pay for—they benefit inordinately and they are required to give very little back.  Roll back the tax cuts for the wealthy.  If California taxed the rich and the corporations at the rate we did under Reagan, we would not have a budget shortfall today.  Is this going to hamper investments and prevent innovation?  I don’t think so.  California under Reagan still did pretty damn well, and people who invent things and start companies didn’t exactly wither away from starvation.  Will this bring about ultimate social justice and world revolution?  No, it’s just a modest start in leveling the playing field.  But let’s start to turn the debate—instead of the mindless “No new taxes!” rhetoric, get those who benefit most from the system to bear their fair share of the burdens.

Hold the real criminals accountable:

Executives who sign off on shoddy safety systems that destroy the ecology of a region, companies that cut corners with cut-rate cement, officials who authorize torture, banks that foreclose on the unemployed with ‘sloppy paperwork’ read ‘fraud’, hedge fund managers that do the dirty deals that eat up the pensions of working people—shut them down.  Prosecute them—with criminal, not just civil, lawsuits when they deserve it.  Put a moratorium on foreclosures.

Get big money out of our elections:  Until we do this, until we have true campaign finance reform, those that serve big money will always have a competitive edge over those that challenge the interests of the rich.

I’m sure there are many more points I could add to this agenda but starting with those four would go a long way to fixing things.  I invite you to pass them on, agitate for them, rephrase them more eloquently, add your own.  Repeat them, over and over again.  Remember that the real work of change is always going on—if not in Washington, then in thousands of towns and neighborhoods and communities, if not in the halls of power, then in the streets.  Don’t be complacent, but don’t despair.  All around us are allies working for more justice, more freedom, more ecological balance, more peace.    This is not a time to fall back, but to step up, to be bolder, braver, louder, funnier, more inventive, more outrageous, more committed.  Political winds blow back and forth—hold to your deepest values, and we’ll stay the course.

15 comments to The Morning After the Elections

  • “This is not a time to fall back, but to step up, to be bolder, braver, louder, funnier, more inventive, more outrageous, more committed.”
    Beautifully said and I couldn’t agree more. Sharing this far and wide!

  • Dina Ash

    Nicely & wisely said. Thank you!

  • a wonderful, comforting message of hope.

  • Anthony Barreiro

    These agenda are both moderate and progressive. Here’s one agendum I would add: shift the terms of debate, so that we start thinking of the Tea Party as “radical” and “extremist”, while policies that benefit the majority of the population are “pragmatic” and “middle of the road”.

  • Debi Baughman

    So well spoken. These are words of hope, and the goals that so many of us have thought about dreamed about and then so often forgot about; Iwill come back to this time and again to refuel, reword, and rethink. thank you Starhawk

  • Betsy Schaack

    Again, Starhawk speaks for all of us in her down-to-earth, no-nonsense manner! Bless you for being a voice of reason in a very unreasonable time in the world!

  • Drue Hartwell

    The most worrisome point you make is that the conclusions drawn about the outcome of this election are so misguided. It is not the republican agenda that was voted for, it was that nothing was done to hold back the ‘tyranny’ of big corporations, banks, etc. I do not agree with one of your commenters however. The Tea Party, in it’s mission statement, is not radical or extremists, although many of it’s members are. But the democratic party has many socialists, yet doesn’t make the party advocates of socialism. It states a desire for fiscal responsibility, constitutionally limited government and free market. I am not a member, but I am trying to understand friends who are. The movement has been co-opted by the radicals and I have asked my friends to stand up to them, if what they want is what is stated in the mission statement and say loud and clear……you cannot pick and choose liberties. This article…………….. …………..speaks volumes about what the tea party should be standing for and what it should not……………. “There is no intellectual consistency here at all. If you are against Big Government, you are for liberty. If you are for liberty you are also for free citizens’ right to choose whether or not they get out of their trees on cannabis, or indeed whether or not they have the freedom to terminate unwanted pregnancies or never, ever, go to church and in fact worship Satan instead.

    Liberty is not a pick and mix free-for-all in which you think government should ban the things you don’t like and encourage you things you do like: that’s how Libtards think. Libertarianism – and the Tea Party is nothing if its principles are not, at root, libertarian ones – is about recognising that having to put up with behaviour you don’t necessarily approve of is a far lesser evil than having the government messily and expensively intervene to regulate it.” The first sign of the republicans not listening to the voters (albeit, thank god in this case they are not) is that Michelle Bachmann wants a leadership role, but will not be given it even though it has been recognized without the Tea Party, this election would not have gone the way it did. And this is what I tried to tell so many of my right leaning friends. That the republicans were riding on the coattails of the Tea Party and will only continue on their agenda to rape this planet and make the rich richer. I guess my point in my comments is that I think we will see a clearer vision of what the status quo politicians want in the next two years and it will be us and the Tea Party standing up together against them and perhaps we can find a way to work together to give each of use what we are hoping for?????

    • Michael Moore makes a good point–that the Democrats who were thrown out were the blue-dog quasi-republicans and almost all of the more progressive Democrats won their races. I think people want to see politicians stand for something, and they don’t want Democrats who are simply paler versions of Republicans. The Tea Party seems to be drawing on that good old American anti-authoritarian sentiment which I share–however, they are directing it against the wrong people and policies!

    • Madrone

      Wait. I can’t remember the link, but the info I read was that the Republicans won because Democrats stayed home in droves…especially the blacks and the young. I also seem to have picked up the idea that not as many women voted this time. If that is true, then the Tea Party didn’t accomplish this.

  • Thanks Starhawk! I will pass this on. I have similar plans for the future in my new book, The Korporate Kannibal Kookbook, which will be out in a couple of weeks. I suggest there that when the big die-off comes we start at the top when we have to start to eat each other and we won’t have to eat so many, maybe a thousand, billionaires–and everything will be alright. Brad

  • Elizabeth Block

    Just curious. What kind of bird is that on your letterhead? A hawk, clearly, but what kind?

  • Thank you for keeping on all these years. Your book, ‘Dreaming the Dark’ gave me permission to be who I am, back when I was a lapsed Catholic, ex-Pentecostal, all negatives and no positive vision.
    Thank you for telling truth.

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