Monday’s USA Today ran a story about our current economic climate and the past 10 years. In the article Standard & Poor’s chief strategist, Sam Stovall called it the “lost decade.” Stovall elaborated, “I’ve lost a bet. I’ve lost my keys. But I’ve never lost a decade — until now.”
I’ve lost some big things. Heck, I lost the vice presidency to a man who shot his friend in the face. That was big, but this is even bigger. The article explains that the stock market lost only 1 percent in the 1930s while the 2000s lost a whopping 10 percent of total market value.
Ten times the overall economic decline after a decade of number averaging might have been worth it if we had spent that wealth on something grand — like peace. But actually, we purchased the exact opposite. And while in December we finally celebrated our first month in six years without a U.S. casualty in Iraq, there were still plenty of Iraqis killed.
And of course our gigantic economic decline wasn’t because we have the world’s best health care system. On the contrary, more than 150,000 Americans died this decade because they lacked adequate access to health care.
But you already know this, don’t you? Unless you’re cloistered in some abbey somewhere, there’s no way you could miss the fact that our government has failed us. From home foreclosures to joblessness, the economic disaster our nation has endured has pummeled our lifestyles and our psyches, since most Americans who haven’t lost their homes or jobs fear they might.
If you exercise your rights to self-government, raise your right hand and repeat after me: “I voted this last decade or I boycotted products or I protested for and against decisions made in this nation and I now know one thing — as long as I have only two parties to choose from, we will not have solutions to our nation’s problems.” I really mean it, I want you to say it out loud.
I’ve been advocating for other options in the ballot box since before this last dismal decade began. So I’ve heard the argument that creating new political parties and a new election process is radical. But it isn’t radical, it’s essential. During these 10 years where our economy fell apart — somewhere between “shock and awe” and “hope and change” — we got little or no difference from our purveyors of political “business as usual.”
The parties in power know that if you have real choices you might finally throw them out. And nationally they don’t have much to worry about.
I love using my line about losing to a guy that shot his friend in the face; I use it every chance I get. But the revelation that the Green party candidates lost the presidential race isn’t the surprise part of that sentence — the knowledge that the American people voted in large numbers for a man who shot his friend and didn’t report it until the next day is the kicker. No, we Greens are expected to lose the big races. But still, we win the majority of the little races in which we run. You can see the official tallies at gp.org. Because of that success, incrementally larger races have to be fixed before they’re begun.
That’s why the Maine Legislature passed so many laws to keep third-party voices silent in the coming governor’s race. The Legislature didn’t just increase the number of qualifying contributions a clean candidate must get to run for public office, it tied that race back to money by demanding a candidate raise $40,000 of in-state seed money as well.
When I ran as a clean candidate for governor in 2006, there was something monumentally just about a little old lady with only $5 to donate having the same voice as the roaring political party machines, but now that voice has been turned back down to a whisper.
To hear ideas that don’t come from the same people who got us into this mess, contact Lynne Williams’ Green campaign. Or consider another outsider. It’s not radical to fire the politicians who lost the decade for us, it’s sensible.
Pat LaMarche of Yarmouth is the author of “Left Out In America: The State of Homelessness in the United States.” She may be reached at PatLaMarche@hotmail.com.