Hallowe’en With the Greens
by Lori Heine | Posted November 19, 2010
A year ago, on Hallowe’en, I spent a scary day at a Green Party meeting. Some of the attendees dressed up in funny costumes to salute the holiday. Most of the costumes were cute, though the Al Gore mask ended up giving me nightmares.
Yet it soon became apparent that I was actually in fantasyland. And I came to see, more clearly than ever, that the social liberal fantasy of working our will on others needs to die. It is not only as childish as trick-or-treat, but downright counterproductive. It cannot be sustained in reality.
I’ve been a liberal all my life. But I’ve come to the end of my tether when it comes to trusting in fantasies. The pretty dreams held forth by the Obama-bots who have taken over Washington have proven as hollow as those of the neocons they replaced.
Most of those at the Green meeting were public servants. They clearly had no link whatsoever to any larger reality.
To cite one example dear to my heart, there are still more people out there who do not believe that gays should marry than there are those who do. That may well change eventually, and I believe it will. Being gay myself, I also hope so. But it will not change because we force the issue.
Polls clearly show the public opposed to single-payer healthcare. This is something I don’t believe in, but even if I did, I would be part of a tiny minority. Marching down the street and screaming about it isn’t going to change that. Neither will staging “die-ins” in front of insurance company buildings.
Fed up, at long last, with the hypocrisy and ineptitude of the Democratic Party, I investigated the Greens. It was the last gasp of my interest in statist “progressivism.”
I thought that they might understand that the corporate power they feared was caused by big government charity to behemoth companies. My fellow meeting attendees said they did. But then they proceeded to moan about “profits,” as if those were the problem.
I worked in the health insurance industry for well over a decade. All told, I was in the insurance business for 30 years. Most of my coworkers and friends will lose their jobs because of the “progressive” healthcare boondoggle. Most of those at the Green meeting were public servants. They clearly had no link whatsoever to any larger reality.
If they can’t convince most people to see things their way, they are perfectly content to steamroll right over the top of the majority to get it. So much for democracy.
I happened to remark to them that the Dems had played Lucy and the football with me one too many times. In return for our support for “hope and change” under Obama, gays are being shafted once again. My new Green friends wholeheartedly agreed with that, and presented me with a petition to sign so they could get ballot status in our state.
Nine people had joined their party, in 2009, up until then. That told them nothing. They remained highly hopeful. Happy Hallowe’en.
I told them that the standard of treatment, of gays and other controversial minorities, was as low as it is, not because of where the Republicans had dragged it, but because of where the Democrats had kept it. That if the Dems wouldn’t raise it, it looked as if no one would.
Even these bold advocates of a “progressive” alternative looked at me with incomprehension. Once intoxicated with the prospect of power, they would, of course, do exactly the same. Happy Hallowe’en again.
This minority within a minority understands nothing except grabbing more and more power. Unlike gays (who really don’t carry a contagious disease, whatever some might think), they do have at least the prospect of multiplying. But they carry a delusion that is not only contagious, but potentially deadly for a free society. They believe that because they’re “right,” they have the right to force anything they want on the populace.
I will invite you, Elvira-like, into the darkness of their crypt. These people claim to believe, very ardently, in “democracy.” They talk a blue streak about it to anyone who will listen, and even to those who won’t. But if they can’t convince most people to see things their way, they are perfectly content to steamroll right over the top of the majority to get it. So much for democracy.
I wish them luck, but I’m doubtful that cursing “the rich” is any answer. The politics of dependency leaves me as empty as I suspect it will leave them.
Happy Hallowe’en, again and again. Yet the Greens’ party platform seemed to anticipate Christmas. It read like a wish-list for Santa: equality for all, goodies aplenty for everybody. I can’t say I disagree about the imagined results. I just don’t see how their small, brave army of retro-revolutionaries can possibly bring it about.
I’m not willing, I’m afraid, to wait for Santa Claus, the Great Pumpkin, or anybody else to bring me goodies and save this country. In fact, I’m fairly certain that no one can do both. The Democrats and the Republicans have been able, thus far, to contribute to nothing but the problem. Perhaps a third party would work (though not, I believe, the Greens). The November election hasn’t changed my view.
As I consider my own role in the scheme, where does my duty as a citizen take me? It is the road to fame and riches, in this country, to tell people all their troubles are somebody else’s fault, but it’s pretty clear to me we all got into this mess together. We’re like fish who must all swim in the same big pond, every splash we make creating a ripple. Or, like dancers, we must be aware that every step we take contributes to the Busby Berkeley production that is life in America. What is my part in the musical number — or which way goes my ripple?
I work for myself, having chosen not to go on struggling in a troubled industry but, instead, to seek out something new. Since I like nothing better than expressing my own opinions, I am determined, now, to make it as a writer. I want to make it on my own in what I hope is still the land of opportunity.
Many of my friends are also jobless, at least as far as having become untethered from corporate America. I hear much complaining, from them, about those evil rich people who rake in the boodle while they drain the last of their savings on Top Ramen. I wish them luck, but I’m doubtful that cursing “the rich” is any answer. The politics of dependency — of always blaming more powerful others and looking to them for answers — leaves me as empty as I suspect it will leave them.
I also have friends who are Libertarians. In Arizona, where I live — Goldwater country — there are a lot of them — even gay ones. Many of them are actually Republicans who can’t stand being associated with what the religious right has done to the GOP. The more they study the literature of liberty, the better sense they make. For years, now, they have been passing what they’ve read on to me.
As I’ve indulged in the guilty pleasure of libertarian reading, I’ve gradually begun to recognize that here, at last, is a concept that sheds real light and gives genuine hope. Libertarians are the grownups: the ones who aren’t wearing costumes and gobbling candy. They’re the ones keeping the kiddies from killing one another as they squabble over the trick-or-treat bags.
More than merely the grownups, these are the sane people. They deal with human beings on planet earth — not with aliens in some galaxy far away. Their attitude is not “wouldn’t it be nice if people were this way . . . let’s pretend they are!”, but rather, “this is the way we are . . . now let’s make the best of it.” I’m tired of the endless trick-or-treat, the Mardi Gras gone mad that statists, Left and Right, have made of American political life. There is a constant nightmare-funhouse atmosphere to it all — the masks we desperately wear to survive in the make-believe world we have made for ourselves and now, seemingly, don’t know how to escape.
I don’t want to be anybody’s mascot or pet. I want to be a productive citizen in a land where anybody can succeed.
There was a bratty-kids-in-the-secret-clubhouse feel to the Green Party meeting I attended. The partygoers were very impressed with how clever they were, each vying to one-up the other with witty putdowns of those benighted Republicans and Democrats. I didn’t recognize real people in their villains at all. They were huddled there in their treehouse, divvying up their candy and plotting how they’d foil the death rays of the evil Doctor Doom.
Nor did I sense they saw me as anything more than the token lesbian (they already had a token gay man). They had found a puppy, and they wanted to make me their pet. I would make a great new mascot for the treehouse. And next year, maybe they could use me to get more candy. They could make sad eyes and shove me in people’s faces, saying, “How ‘bout a Snickers for little Trixie, too?”
I can’t help believing there must be a better way. I don’t want to be anybody’s mascot or pet. I want to be a productive citizen in a land where anybody can succeed. For years I was afraid to believe I could take off my mask and opt out of the battle over the candy. But I’m ready, now, to try the only way I’ve come to know that stands any chance of working in the real world.
What if we worked for an America where, once again, we can keep most of what we earn, and stop weighing down with oppressive regulations the companies that otherwise would hire us? What if we relied upon ourselves for the answers, instead of always waiting with hungry mouths, like baby birds in the nest, for Big Mama to feed us? Far from making us look hopelessly at life, this attitude would empower us.
We’ve gone out to trick or treat in the guise of a helplessly beached fish, or of a dancer with no rhythm. We scare each other with these costumes, each of us seeing our own helplessness reflected in the mask of the other. What would happen if we ripped away the masks and showed the world the faces of people boldly meeting the future?
We can do this if we commit ourselves to doing all that we each can do. We may even be surprised to find that those we’ve demonized — the ones we’ve been sure held all the power — are as scared, and angry, and overburdened by the cares of the whole world as we are. If each of us shouldered only our own, individual share of the burden, we might find the weight of the world much easier to bear. Atlas shrugged, as we may recall, not because he had to hold up the world, but because he had to do it alone, with all of us on it.
Could the Libertarians hold the key? Their platform remains basic, but it makes more sense than all the declarations and promises of the other parties’ platforms put together. Libertarians aren’t pretending to be the Great Pumpkin. But they aren’t Lucy with the football, either.
They come disguised as nothing other than what they are. Instead of all the costumes and the gimmicks, this may well be exactly what we need.
Lori Heine is a freelance journalist and playwright from Goldwater country. Her work is most often seen in the LGBT Christian magazines Whosoever and The Epistle.
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