The Political Journey
An essay by Dr. Hannon about his political background and journey.
(Copyright 2008, J. Wade Hannon)
My Political Journey
I was in high school in the later part of the 1960's (graduated in 1971) and went on to college after that.
As a young person, I recall watching the news on TV and seeing the reports concerning the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights Movement, the Women's Liberation Movement, the Student Movement and all of the world developments at that time. There was, since I was a young child the threat of nuclear war, of the Russians attacking- we could all die at any moment!
All these things began to radicalize me when I was a teen. (I also listened to a lot of Rock music back then and was a guitar player in many rock bands).
My parents sent me & my siblings to a country “Christian” church where the “minister” ranted and raved every Sunday morning about the evils of Communism and of Karl Marx. There were Communists behind every bush and under every bed!
When I was a 9th-grader I stumbled across a copy of “The Communist Manifesto” in the school library (remarkable that it was there to begin with!) and read it. It didn't seem that bad to me!
My political journey continued. The 1968 Democratic National Convention was shocking to me. I realized that I could be killed by my government of my country any day of the week. That is, unfortunately, still true today.
I began to see that violence is not the answer to any problem- international, national, social or personal) and became a pacifist by the age of 15. I also had to try to figure out what to do regarding the Vietnam War and the draft. I decided that I would either go to prison or go to Canada. I had become a full-fledged war resister, and remain one to this day.
At the age of 18 I had two major decisions: whether to register for the draft and what political party to register as (my home state required one to declare a party affiliation). I chose to register for the draft- going to prison for 5 years for failing to register and then facing additional jail time when I was released if I was drafted and refused induction didn't make any sense. I also decided to register as a “Democrat”. I believe the first choice I made was correct. The second one was not.
I foundered about trying to fit into the “Democratic” party. I was a pacifist, a socialist and an anti-authoritarian. But I fell prey to the “lesser of two evils” argument. (It is better said as the “evil of two lesser” as Ralph Nader said). I worked on the campaigns of many politicians that I do not feel good having done. Many of them were slim bags. I could have been working to develop alternatives to the two capitalist parties, but I had been duped.
The final straw that broke this camel's back was the way the congressional “Democrats” rolled over and played dead when George Bush the 1st wanted to invade Iraq. It was sickening! I decided then & there that I could no longer support a party that was so spineless!
I had been a member of the Democratic Socialists of America and had read & listened to Mike Harrington's arguments for working in the “Democratic” party to try to push it to the left, being “the left of what is possible” and all that. Harrington was a nice fellow and well intentioned, but he was wrong. He led many of us astray.
For years I was not a member of any political party. Then in 2000, Ralph Nader ran for President and Winona LaDuke for Vice-President on the Green Party ticket. I became involved with that effort and soon joined the Green Party. I helped organize the local Green Party and was active with the state (Minnesota) party as well.
In 2002 I ran for the Minnesota State House of representatives as the Green Party candidate for District 9A (mainly the town of Moorhead). There were many volunteers that helped with going door-to-door. We worked many long hours. I was in all of the debates & forums and did well in representing an alternative to tweedle-dee and tweedle-dum. In the end I received a little over 3% of the vote. Many more votes than people I knew in the district! Again in 2004 I ran and came in at a little under 3%. That summer I was a delegate to the national Green Party in Milwaukee. I cast my first vote in the process to nominate a candidate for Eugene Victor Debs. It made the St. Paul newspaper.