Ask Auntie Establishment

Dear Auntie E.,

I really hate Bush and want to feel good about myself voting for John Kerry. I really do. But Kerry has been such a jerk lately that he is totally turning me off to his whole campaign. I participated in the MoveOn bake sale, but I'm not sure I can vote for someone who seems so willing to echo Bush's policies. What do I do?

Confused and Angry

auntieMy Dear Conflicted One:
Auntie certainly understands the frustration of wanting one's candidate to have at least an inch of integrity, a dash of decency and a smidgen of righteous indignation. But whomever you vote for in November, she cautions you to remember that (as conservatives have long known) voting is part of a long-term strategy of mobilizing a grassroots base. This means that while Auntie insists you vote, it is not enough to just vote. One must also push the candidate in the direction one wants by showing--through protests, letter-writing, calls, etc.--that there is a general progressive consensus.

Think about how one could have a candidate that one would actually be inspired to vote for. This means working for electoral system change, working within and outside party politics, and encouraging progressives to run for office; not just waiting to see what the last minute choices are and going with the one the media says is most likely to win. Keep focused on why you are voting. Is it to send a message about your approval or disapproval of the last four years? Is it to push a particular issue? Is it because of concerns about human rights, civil liberties, or reproductive rights?

Auntie feels your pain. We can do better. At the same time, we must do what is necessary.

Dear Auntie E:

I'm lonely! I have a girlfriend and a few close friends, but there are many days when I want to run off and live in a small tribe where everyone knows and takes care of each other. Is this possible anymore? Am I idealizing some other way of life, or is it true that as social animals we're just not supposed to be living so separate and alienated from each other?

Isolated in Indiana

Dear Island of One:
Unfortunately, we live in a modern capitalist society, and capitalism and community are like oil and water--they can mix, but they need a lot of shaking up. There are thriving intentional communities in the United States, both in urban and rural areas. The best way to find them is on the intentional communities website. Communities and their personalities vary widely. There are at least two listed for your state, and you could probably find others by putting the word out at your local community center or natural foods store.

Just a forewarning: living communally or even just more cooperatively has its advantages and disadvantages. If you can't stand other people's messes, chore wheels, or long meetings spent processing disagreements, you may want to rethink your commitment. If, however, you don't mind these things, and like the idea of a network of people figuring out alternative ways of interacting, what you seek is definitely out there.

Dear Auntie Establishment:

I have been hearing stories that if a terrorist attack happens here before the November election, Bush may declare martial law and the election would be postponed.

Wondering In the West

Dear Wonderer:
Trust Auntie, that isn't going to happen. Instead, she forsees a sneaky expansion of the Patriot Act that could make martial law obsolete and calls for "patriotism" that would silence potential dissenters. Sound icky? Then start mobilizing others to get out the vote.

Politically confused? Auntie wants to help: Letters may be edited for clarity and space. Missed last week's Auntie? Find her columns in the archives.

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