STEIN & HONKALA: Announcing the Green Shadow Cabinet on Earth Day

April 22, 2013

Over the past decade it’s become increasingly clear that the foundations of civilization – even life as we know it – are nearing collapse. The political establishment that created this crisis is making it worse, fostering economic austerity and climate catastrophe while they squander trillions on wars, Wall Street bailouts and massive fossil fuel subsidies.

On the economic side of the ledger, the American people continue to be thrown under the bus by both establishment parties, while the rich get a free ride on that very bus that’s running us over. One of every two Americans is in poverty or low income. 36 million students are indentured servants with little means of repaying their college debt, as 9 of 10 new jobs being created don’t require a college degree and 5 of 10 don’t even require a high school diploma. Meanwhile 5 million Americans have lost their homes as the Wall Street banks – whose waste, fraud and abuse caused the crisis to start with – continue to be bailed out to the tune of $85 billion per month. Thanks to Obama’s expanding corporate “free trade” agreements, jobs continue to be off shored, while wages decline at home. And the President is leading the charge to roll back Medicare and Social Security as part of a Grand Bargain with ruthless Republicans that he has been promoting for years.  

On the ecological side of the ledger, climate catastrophe is well underway, with the last decade being the hottest on record. That 80% of all climate warming has occurred in just the last three decades gives clear notice that the crisis is profoundly accelerating. The Southwest is now in protracted and likely permanent “megadrought”, while 2011 broke all records with 14 extreme weather events costing over $1 billion each. 2012 finished a close second with 11 such events. The Arctic may be nearly ice free in summers within a decade, a development that will further accelerate warming, by replacing reflective ice sheets with expanses of deep blue ocean that absorb more heat. These impacts are occurring with less than 1 degree Centigrade warming. Yet we are now on track for a temperature rise of at least 4 degrees warming as soon as 2050.

This meltdown of the economy and climate are further compounded by expanding wars, violations of human rights, and the rollback of our civil liberties.

The climate and economic inferno we are entering in to is unnecessary and unconscionable. Win-win solutions are available right now – like a Green New Deal that can move us quickly into a zero-carbon, nuclear free, full-employment economy that can put a halt to climate change. A Medicare For All insurance system would save trillions of dollars while providing health care to everyone as a human right. Reducing military expenditures to year 2000 levels would cut costs nearly in half while reining in reckless military engagement and transitioning to a foreign policy based on international law and human rights. Such principles enjoy majority support in poll after poll.

For all these reasons, we - the 2012 Green Party presidential and vice presidential candidates - are launching a Green Shadow Cabinet, to amplify the voices of resistance and transformation. The Cabinet will debunk the exploitative policies of duopoly, provide timely response to current events, and raise the bar for just, sustainable solutions to the crises we face.

We are honored to have within the Cabinet leading advocates in their fields who are independent of the corporate political duopoly and who oppose a government dominated by the interests of big business and the wealthy. The Cabinet will help unite the principled opposition for greater strength and impact than we can achieve as isolated issue advocates. It will bring a broad spectrum of activists into mutual collaboration, and demonstrate our capacity to govern - as Greens and independent allies.

In doing so, we hope to complement and strengthen resistance, direct action, electoral challenge, and organization-building by grassroots progressive networks, including the Green Party and independent allies, Occupy, climate activists, labor, students, the unemployed, immigrants, the poor, the LGBT community and others.

Our ultimate vision is more than a cabinet. In the long run, we seek to spur and support participatory democracy. Working together through social movements and independent politics, we can begin to take back the promise of democracy and the peaceful, just, green future we deserve.