Once again, the Ann Arbor SUN is bringing you an election special, with information on the candidates and our endorsements of individuals.
This time, the election is the Democrat-Republican primary, held on August 6. The winners of the primary will go on to run in the November general elections for various county, state and federal offices.
As usual, we are urging people to register and vote. Too often, summer elections in Ann Arbor have incredibly poor turnout. and invariably, that means that the more conservative voters are the only ones who go to the polls. That is exactly what happened in the June school board elections, and now the school board has two more super-conservatives stressing "discipline" controlling the thousands of young people in Ann Arbor schools.
It doesn't have to be that way. Ann Arbor is a predominantly progressive town, and its voters can elect radical candidates to office. It is one of the few places in the country with an alternative third party (HRP) that gets candidates elected. It also has one of the most progressive Democratic locals in the country. Washtenaw County was one of the few places in the nation that went solidly for George McGovern in 1972.
Ann Arbor is a unique place in that sense, and because of its progressive nature, changes can take place here that are not happening most other places in the United States. Locally, the government does not need to be controlled by the banks and big business' interests.
If progressive people dominate City Council, power and money can be put behind alternative and radical programs, such as heavy funding for social services to make child care or health care available to anyone who needs it, or to produce cultural events and other activities. Laws can be passed to take power away from monopolistic enterprises, like landlords, through a strong rent-control ordinance. The police and other agencies could be controlled by the community, rather than little dictators like Chief Krasny. A higher minimum wage ordinance could mean that all people in the city are earning an income that they can actually live on, without struggling just to pay for basic needs like food and housing.
Programs like this and much more can exist in Ann Arbor, but only if progressive people are willing to put in the effort to see that positive candidates get elected to office. This means taking the time to get registered, even if it requires a long trek down to City Hall. And, once registered, people must vote in each election. Even though sending a progressive person to Congress may not bring any major changes at the Federal level, people outside of this city can begin to hear new, radical proposals, and understand some of the changes that are possible at all levels of government and society. A major part of changing this country is educating the people, and elected officials at higher levels of government can use their offices as forums for that purpose.
Not everyone is ready to overthrow the society which oppresses them, and many have not even realized the extent to which they are oppressed. But here, through progressive legislation, and with the growth of alternative institutions and culture, those not yet committed to change can begin to see how a new society can be built with a better life for all people. In time, most people will be ready to accept change, especially as capitalism continues to collapse, and the basic elements of a humanistic, socialistic system will already exist for the transition to take place.
We at the SUN urge you to vote, to begin taking control over institutions that affect you, to build toward the inevitably socialist future. Ann Arbor doesn't have to be as bad as everywhere else. At least some changes can be made now through the electoral system.
But while voting can greatly aid the long-term process of transforming this society, it cannot solve the problems that oppress us by itself, Ultimately, it is the capitalist economic system which governs our lives, not the electoral superstructure. Entering the electoral arena can raise conciousness and affect some concrete situations, but eventually the armed might of the corporate state will have to be directly confronted on many other levels.
Of course, there are always those who will try to persuade you that it makes no difference whether you vote or not. This comes particularly from a great many leftist radicals, who take an abstract and highly purist position that since voting can't solve all our problems, it's a total waste of time. They accuse the SUN of sucking people into a corrupt electoral smokescreen, without realizing that concious people can enter that arena to use it against the system, as V.I. Lenin always used to point out.
The other people who don't want you to vote are the reactionaries in power in Ann Arbor, who realize that they are now a minority of this city, and that consequently their days of majority rule are numbered. These are the same people who just voted down the Blues and Jazz festival and have perpetrated much other havoc in Ann Arbor. Their grip on City Council can be broken. and they are nervously making last-ditch moves to prevent that eventuality this April. The "undesirables" they don't want here are the majority of progressive local residents, who threaten the Republican's continued control.
You can not bring about change by merely sitting around discussing abstract rhetoric while the American Empire goes on controlling society and ruining the world. And you certainly can't do it by simply taking up a gun and shooting the people in control, ala the SLA.
The answer lies in building the roots of a new society now, and you can begin with, among other approaches, the simple step of voting. You can make the choice on August 6, by electing the most progressive candidates possible to run in the November election. You can have some say in who becomes your county commissioner, state representative, state senator, congressperson and even governor. Use the Power... VOTE!
-- SUN Editorial Board