We Won the Write-in! Let’s have a debate.

Our democracy is based on GOTV, Getting Out The Vote, and we did it! Most of the grand total of 5,239 write-in votes went to cartoon characters, dogs, or others who did not do the paperwork. Of those who did become “qualified” write-in candidates, I received 832 votes, followed by a Republican with 178 votes, Libertarian 39, No Party Preference 26, and American Independent 3.

The best news is that California will have three Green Party no-corporate-money candidates for Congress on the November ballot: Kenneth Mejia in District 34, Rodolfo Cortes Barragan in District 40, and Laura Wells in District 13.

We need a real debate in California, not between the corporate Democratic and Republican Parties, but a debate between a Democratic Party team player and a Green Party no-corporate-money candidate. This will give people a chance to really dig into the issues, and the options that we have. There are solutions.

The problem in our government is that it is way too easy for the billionaires and their corporations to run our country by buying both parties. Even the best candidates act as “team players” in those two parties. The Democratic Party is the more “liberal” of the two, and yet judging from the policies they enact when in power, the Democratic Party is more conservative than the conservative parties of Europe!

We have the power — voting power, wallet power, rally power — to apply pressure and make needed changes for ourselves and our next generations

Another world is possible. Let’s debate, and move forward on real, Green New Deal solutions.

Write in Laura Wells for Congress, District 13

Please consider writing in “Laura Wells,” and connecting the arrow, in the race for U.S. Representative, 13th Congressional District. The district has the Alameda County cities of Alameda, Albany, Berkeley, Emeryville, Oakland, Piedmont, San Leandro.LW smile fwd light jkt - Version 3

This seat is currently held by Barbara Lee, a Democrat who is running unopposed for re-election. The write-in candidate who receives the most votes in the June primary will be on the November ballot. Please write “Laura Wells” in the blank square under United States Representative, and draw a line to connect the arrow on the right so that your vote will be counted.

The odds that Barbara Lee will win in November are about 99.99% and so the question is, “Who do you want to be in conversation with Barbara Lee in the fall campaign season?” In other words, do you want someone who is pressured by the billionaires, or on the side of the rest of us?

By writing in “Laura Wells” (and connecting the arrow!) we have a chance to provide some counterbalance to the huge pressure everyone in Washington gets from the billionaires and their corporations. Green Party candidates never take corporate money, and that idea is catching hold across the country.

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We will have a November ballot statement, sent to all voters in California. Here is the initial draft:

Vote for a vibrant democracy, medicare for all of us, clean environment, and meaningful educational and employment opportunities for our next generations.

There is no excuse for the U.S. not to have these things already.

What stands in the way is a two-party system sold out to the billionaires and their corporations. Now, every four years, things are not better, they are worse. We can change that.

Tax the rich to reduce their power over our lives.

Stop military greed and the incarceration mania.

Your vote for a Green Party, no-corporate-money candidate pulls Congress away from the billionaires, toward the people. THERE ARE SOLUTIONS. We can have better social, economic and environmental justice, and a real democracy. Vote Green. LauraWells.org. cagreens.org. gp.org.

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When it comes to Congress, polls show an odd fact: Congress as a whole has a very low approval rating, and yet people in congressional districts across the country approve of their own representative. This creates a huge incumbent advantage. In Congressperson Barbara Lee’s district, no one else even tried. Her name will be the only name on the June primary ballot. On the November ballot, however, there will be two candidates, and one of them could be Green!

How can we explain that odd fact of hating Congress but loving your congressperson? The problem is “the system.” It is a system where even the “good ones” like Barbara Lee take money from the corporations and the billionaires who back them. Congress is bought and paid for. See below for the list of money Lee has taken. Barbara Lee, who consistently gets vote counts of over 80%, doesn’t need all that money for her campaign, and so she donates it down the line for her “team.” Meanwhile, the system, and Barbara Lee, push the idea that in the United States all you need are two parties, and others “can’t win.” The Democratic and Republican players get elected and re-elected; and they trade back and forth. The result for the 99% is that after every election cycle, no matter which team gets in office, our schools, healthcare, justice, environment, and democracy just get worse. Generation after generation.

What can we do with our votes to affect this system? Stop playing along. Use every opportunity to both protest the system, and to support a growing alternative: candidates and political parties like the Green Party that take no corporate money. On your June ballot, write in Laura Wells.

In the terrible Top Two primary, the top two vote-getters advance to the November general election. Barbara Lee will be one of them. Write-in candidate Laura Wells could be the other.

Laura Wells has been a Green Party activist since the party became ballot-qualified in 1992. She has participated at the local, state and national levels: acting as a media spokesperson, editing newspapers, and serving on committees with the goal of building the Green Party so that it can be the strong new political party that people in the United States want. Her employment has been in financial systems, Pesticide Action Network, Women’s Economic Agenda Project, SEIU United Healthcare Workers staff, and in Alameda County healthcare departments.

Laura Wells ran as a statewide candidate for Governor and State Controller between the years of 2002 and 2014. In her campaigns, she helped introduce Public Banking to the state and nation. She has continually pointed out the detrimental effects of California’s old Prop 13 and the need to tax the rich, both to increase funds needed for essential infrastructure and services, and to reduce the power of the billionaire class..

Why should we not vote for Barbara Lee? Because that vote would perpetuate the system, where even “progressive” candidates like Barbara Lee do not align with their constituents. Here are five ways in which Barbara Lee is not aligned.

(1) First, follow the money. At the same time that voters realize more and more how important it is to know where candidates’ money comes from (“if you take their money, they are your boss”), the available FEC records make it harder and harder to find out. By poring over disordered records, researchers created the following partial list of
Barbara Lee’s funders: Jordan Wayne RE Developer from Oakland, $5,400; American Dental Assoc., $5,000; Covington & Burling LLP, $4,250; Microsoft, $3,000; Johnson & Johnson, $3,000; Gridiron PAC, $3,000; Google, $3,000; American Healthcare Assoc., $3,000; PG$E, $3,000; Ravi Patel of Patel Enterprises, $2,700; John P. Gooding (who fought the Hotel Workers’ Union in Emeryville), $5,400; JStreet PAC, $11,100; Willie Brown, $2,700; T-Mobile, $2,500; Intellectual Ventures (a cover organization that raised $5.5 billion from corporations like Microsoft, Intel, Sony, Nokia, Google, Yahoo, American Express, Adobe, eBay amongst others plus some Investment Firms. Double dipping?), $2,500; American Society of Anesthesiologists, $2,500; Gilead Sciences, $2,500; American Academy of Family Physicians, $2,500; Pfizer, $2,000; Motorola, $2,000; General Motors, $2,000; Clorox, $2,000; Viacom, $1,500; BioMarin Pharmaceutical, $1,500; GlaxoSmithKline, $2,000; Lockheed Martin, $2,000; Bayer, $1,000; BNSF Railway, $1,000; Safeway, $1,000; StateFarm Insurance, $500. Where does the money go? To things like catamaran fundraisers in Martha’s Vineyard Massachusetts, and down the line to other “team players.”

(2) Second, Barbara Lee does not endorse the best candidates for local and state office; she endorses team players! In some cases that has meant Republicans who recently switched to Democrat. In other cases that means she withholds support from Green candidates even though they are by far the best candidates (Dona Spring for Berkeley City Council). The second-rate candidates that she does endorse receive the benefit of her ability to raise funds, from dubious sources, beyond what her campaign needs.

(3) Third, speaking of endorsements, although Lee had spoken in favor of Instant Runoff Voting, she held back her endorsement until a couple weeks before IRV was up for voter approval in Oakland. The League of Women Voters and other activists could have used her powerful endorsement months earlier when other endorsers were being approached. Later, there was a celebration of IRV’s victory and who was the keynote? Barbara Lee.

(4) Fourth, whose side is she on? Barbara Lee sat on the sidelines in the 2016 Presidential Primary between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton — Lee refused to endorse either Sanders or Clinton during the primary season. True, the vast majority of Democratic Party Congressmembers did endorse Clinton, but Sanders received endorsements from 9 Congressmembers, including Keith Ellison (MN), Tulsi Gabbard (HI), Alan Grayson (FL), and Raul Grijalva (AZ). This was despite the fact that there was very strong support for Sanders in Lee’s Congressional District, and Sanders did end up winning more primary votes in the district than Clinton! So in other words, unlike the 9 Congressmembers who did endorse Sanders, Lee declined to be a progressive leader in the primary contest. (For more information, search for “Bernie Sanders presidential endorsers 2016.”)

(5) Fifth is her failure to take a strong stand on trade, and on Palestine — Lee voted against including strong language in the Democratic Party national platform regarding opposing the TPP and regarding supporting the Palestinians — for more info, please see: https://www.counterpunch.org/2016/07/12/failure-of-nerve-why-barbara-lee-doesnt-speak-for-me-on-tpp-and-palestine/ Seventeen years ago, after 9/11, Barbara Lee did represent her district in voting against giving George Bush extraordinary war powers against Afghanistan. Yes, that took courage, and it was also politically savvy. She represented the most progressive congressional district in the country, a district that might have voted her out if she voted with the crowd in Congress. A button at the time was “Barbara Lee speaks for me.” We need our representatives to act for us when it’s not so visible as well.

(6) Sixth, Barbara Lee gives occasional support for unnecessary military spending. The pattern is that when the Republicans control the House, Lee votes against their proposed Defense budgets. But when the Democrats put forward an excessively large military budget, she has supported it. For example in 2009, Lee was part of a 281 to 146 majority in support of the Department of Defense Authorization. Lee did NOT join in with the 15 Democrats who opposed that bill, including Dennis Kucinich and next-door (Hayward) Congressman Pete Stark.

There are solutions. The billionaires will not fund those solutions, and their paid-for representatives will not do what it takes to implement those solutions. There are alternatives.  Imagine a ballot in November 2018 with a Green Party candidate listed on the ballot. Write-in Laura Wells, and we have a chance.

Looking for the Courage to Continue

The billionaire class won again. Shocking, depressing. So I look for some news to give me courage to continue, and here’s what I found:

  • Richmond Progressive Alliance achieved its first ever majority on the Richmond City Council, a government formerly run by the largest corporation in California, Chevron. RPA takes no corporate and no developer money, and they beat the billionaire class. They now have 5 seats out of 7.gayle_ben_melvin
  • Maine voted in Ranked-Choice Voting, also known as Instant Runoff Voting, for electing the governor and state and federal legislators. This was a positive reaction to the negative reality of their terrible governor Paul LePage.
  • Jesse Arreguin beat the machine and was elected mayor of Berkeley.
  • Oakland voters beat Big Soda by more than 20 points, despite the industry’s huge number of lying ads and mailers.
  • Oakland needed 2/3 and got more than 70% to pass rent control and affordable housing.
  • Marijuana was legalized in California; now we just need to make sure it’s not GMO’d and corporatized.
  • “Citizens United” was rejected by California.
  • And I know there’s more decent election news out there.

Meanwhile, it’s time for the “real political revolution” to begin.

I’m excited by the energy the millennials are bringing into the no-corporate-money Green Party. Many Bernie Sanders’ supporters switched to Jill Stein and Ajamu Baraka when they saw the dirty tricks pulled by the Democratic Party in the primaries and Philadelphia convention. In all likelihood, no-corporate-money Bernie would have beaten billionaire Trump.

I’m encouraged by the wisdom I’ve seen in our next generation. That’s the main thing that gives me the courage to continue.


Political Revolution? Use Voter Registration Power!

Here are eight reasons to register yourself and others Green:  

(1)  Four years! Not until the 2020 presidential primary will your voter registration affect what ballot you get for public offices and initiatives. The freedom to register Green is one good thing in California’s generally horrible Top-Two Primary system. Laura Wells at gov debate 4k

(2)  Use your power to pressure politicians. Use all the political power you have to the max, including your votes and your voter registrations. Pressure Sacramento and Washington to come to the people, instead of moving evermore toward the money!

(3)  Support Bernie’s and Greens’ solutions. Be a strong counter-balance to the oligarchy. Let the Democratic Party know they can’t ignore us and take our votes and voter registrations for granted as they have for years. They have to do something for us, not just talk. A surge in Green Party registrations between the primary and convention and beyond will create much more pressure than staying Democrat or “No Party Preference.”

(4)  Build a strong third party. Help build that strong third party so many Americans want. The Green Party is the strongest independent no-corporate-money party we have for working families in this country. It’s hard to eradicate the Green Party since it’s also international. You can bet the U.S. political system doesn’t make it easy for third parties to become strong — that’s where people power comes in: votes and voter registrations.

(5)  No more “back pocket.”  Let the Democratic and Republican parties know that we are not in their back pockets. From millennials to seniors, we do have somewhere else to go! Don’t give the parties of the 1% your seal of approval via your voter registration.

(6)  Electoral arm. Register your values and build the Green Party as a strong electoral arm of the social, environmental, peace and justice movements!

(7)  Greens are alive and growing. Staffing a voter reg table lets the public know the Green Party is alive and growing.

(8)  It’s fun!   … and engaging, getting to know folks behind the table, and the folks who come up to the table.

Please let me know if you’re ready, willing and able to help with the biggest Green Party voter registration drive in 20 years! RSVP in a comment or otherwise. We do need a political revolution!

Richmond Progressive Alliance in 500 Words

Richmond Progressive Alliance (RPA) is at the forefront of showing that people power can beat money power. People can make their lives and their communities better, healthier, and happier.

RPA began in late 2003 when a group of community activists in Richmond, California became tired of having their goals thwarted by people in decision-making power. They decided to run for City Council,

Rather than individual campaigns, they ran a slate of candidates. Greens, Democrats, and independents ran together as candidates struggling for the environment, for equality, for justice, against police brutality, for immigrant rights and many other great causes.

Richmond nomore checkpoints 238pxRichmond was a “company town” and the company was Chevron, the largest corporation in California. Chevron had established an approach of funding candidates, and a habit of not being held accountable for pollution, or for paying its fair share in taxes. The corporation’s relatively small charitable contributions to the city did not offset what it should have paid in taxes. The RPA ran for office, and shook up Chevron’s cozy relationship with city government.

Chevron money was of course out of the question for the new brand of candidate that the RPA nurtured, but they went even further. They rejected contributions from all large corporations. Some rejected contributions even from small corporations, and that policy evolved over the years to the higher bar which required that candidates pledge not to accept any corporate donations at all, not even from small corporations.

Becoming candidates did not stop them from remaining activists. RPA supporters believed in and built both council/board/decision-making power and grass roots/neighborhood/street power. They developed structures, organization, and a platform of ideas that resonated with residents as well as with several concentric circles of general support.

Two candidates ran in 2004 and one won a seat on the City Council. This victory demonstrated how important it was to have even a single person at the table who represented people power rather than money power. Ideas were brought forward that in the old days would not have made it to the council’s agenda. Other resolutions that had stalled moved forward, especially when Richmond residents attended the meetings and rallied in the streets. The decision-making of all councilmembers became more visible and accountable. For its first dozen years, the RPA never had a majority on the city council, and yet major shifts happened, such as decreasing pollution, and making Chevron pay more of its fair share in taxes.

All in all, from 2004 to the present, the RPA has run candidates in 13 races for city council and mayor and won eight of them. They took strong positions on three measures and won two.

The most inspiring win of “people power” over “money power” was the election of 2014. Chevron poured $3,000,000 into the race — unheard of in a town of 100,000 people — against three RPA candidates and two other non-Chevron candidates. In those five elections, Chevron money lost, lost, lost, lost, and lost.

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And that is the “Richmond Progressive Alliance in 500 Words.” Read more below, you’ll be glad you did. RPA website is HERE. Also, Gayle McLaughlin is writing a book, so watch for that!

(1) “How did the RPA get started?”, by Juan Reardon, an article about the first years of the RPA, with initial organizing documents, and campaign and event flyers.

(2) “Communities Fight for Community Control Over Corporate Power,” by Mike Parker, published in Social Policy magazine, details RPA history from 2003 to present.

What I Like About Trump

I do NOT endorse Donald Trump. I am Green. I hope and expect Jill Stein to be the Green Party’s nominee for president, and I heard a hashtag idea I like, #BernieOrGreenIn2016.

I despise Trump’s (and anyone’s) blaming of immigrants for everything from terrorism to bad schools to lack of jobs and lousy economic conditions. If this causes you to ask, “Why are you writing this blog?” you will see that addressed further down.

What DO I like about Donald Trump?Donald Trump from website

Social Security and Medicare. Unlike Republicans who have gone off the deep end after Democrats drifted into their conservative waters, Donald Trump does not attack Social Security and MediCare. He has said, “It’s not unreasonable for people who paid into a system for decades to expect to get their money’s worth — that’s not an entitlement, that’s honoring a deal.”

Wealth Tax. Once upon a time Trump said, “I would impose a one-time, 14.25% tax on individuals and trusts with a net worth over $10 million.”  I like that, except for the “one-time” aspect. Since then, however, Trump has dumped the wealth tax idea into the same trash bin he placed estate tax. How then can we stop the stupefying inequality of wealth that we can’t even fully grasp, no matter how many staggering statistics we see and hear?

War in Iraq. In the South Carolina debate in February, Trump said, referring to the George W. Bush administration, “They lied. They said there were weapons of mass destruction and there were none. And they knew there were none.”

No Corporate Money. Whether I agree with a candidate’s values or not, I am happy whenever they reject corporate and PAC money. If candidates take that money, what they SAY to people to get their votes will be “trumped” by what they DO for corporations and the super-rich to get their money. A no-corporate-money trend has begun that includes presidential candidates Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders, and Jill Stein as well as all Green candidates, Richmond Progressive Alliance, Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant, and others.

“Why are you writing this blog?”

I am fed up with our two-party system and so are a majority of Americans. My biggest wish for this 2016 election year is that the two-party system breaks up. Sickening swirls of enormous campaign contributions, reductive if not ridiculous debates, and unaccountable super-delegates are demonstrating the corruption of our elections.

Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders are surprising a lot of people with the strength of their “populist” positions, and they are not fully toeing the line in their “corporatist” parties. I expect that Green Party candidate Jill Stein will also surprise a lot of people before the year is out. These candidates are questioning such things as Democratic-Republican support for the Iraq war, capitalism, and private-over-public banks, education, and healthcare, and the list goes on. There are alternatives.

Maybe this will be the year that we do not let the 1% and their corporations dictate to us the all-important list of “who can win.” Maybe this time we’ll vote, in the primaries and in the November elections, for what we want and need to make our lives and our communities better, healthier, and happier.

No, I do NOT endorse Donald Trump — immigration, inequality, foreign hostility — but I welcome the opportunity to truly look at his and all candidates’ positions, and see if they match what we want and need.

Presidential Elections 2016, with Bernie, Jill, and Plan B

This is the written and expanded version of remarks I delivered at two well-attended and engaging events. The debate/panel “Debating the 2016 Presidential Elections and the Key Issues of Our Time” took place on February 5th and 6th in Oakland and San Francisco. Speakers included:BLOG IMAGE 4 party logos rectangle

Black Agenda Report, special guest Glen Ford
Democratic Party, for presidential candidate Bernie Sanders: Tom Gallagher and Peter Olney
Peace and Freedom Party, and its presidential nomination process: Marsha Feinland
Party for Socialism and Liberation, presidential candidate Gloria La Riva
Green Party, for presidential candidate Jill Stein: Laura Wells
Socialist Action, the convener of the events, Jeff Mackler.

Before I start I want to extend an invitation to all who agree corporations and the 1% should not rule our country. You are invited to declare your intention to vote for people who take no corporate money. Here’s the link: https://www.nocorporatemoney.org/.

It is fitting that I am representing Jill Stein. Many people have come up to me and said, “I know who you are! You’re Jill Stein!” No, but thank you. Jill and I have something in common. We were both arrested outside debates for offices for which we were candidates, presidential and gubernatorial. The specific charge against me in 2010 when I ran for governor pretty well described what I was doing — guilty as charged: “trespassing at a private party.”

Jill Stein is working to make it a “public party.” Her campaigns in 2012 and already in 2016 have helped to smash a chink in the armor of the private parties, and helped make debates and elections more public.

The big question about the 2016 election is this.

 “What are the supporters of Bernie Sanders going to do when the Democratic Party does not nominate him?”

The institution of the Democratic Party has very different values from the people who register as Democrats and who vote for Democrats, and that institution has all the power it needs to push Bernie to the side. They instituted superdelegates who will not be on Bernie’s side, and they have big media. Added to that, I learned tonight about Glen Ford’s prediction that the huge voting block of black Democrats in the South are enough to derail Bernie. Blacks want to back whoever is most likely to defeat the “White Man’s Party,” namely, since the 1970s, the Republican Party.

So, what are Bernie Sanders’ supporters going to do when he endorses the Democratic nominee, likely Hillary? She is the embodiment of all the lousy domestic values Bernie has been attacking so effectively. People may go from feeling the Bern, to feeling burned.

People Power: we have more power than we realize

I have a recommendation for people who are feeling the Bern, and who want very much to reduce the power of the 0.1% and maximize their own power and the power of the 99%. My recommendation is based on maximizing people power.

Ironically, the 1% knows better than we do that our votes are a big power they don’t have. They are happiest when we don’t vote at all, and happy enough when we vote for the two parties they fund and control. Don’t make them happy.

People power means we can organize in solidarity and take to the streets. People power also means we can vote, and change our voter registrations. Yes, voting is important. That’s why they change laws and elections to create more hurdles and restrictions for voters and for independent political parties. That’s why they arrest us. That’s why they flaunt their financial power to make us back away of our own volition.

My recommendation if you’re feeling the Bern

(1) NEVER REGISTER DEMOCRAT OR REPUBLICAN. In California, registering “No Party Preference” allows people to vote for Bernie in the Democratic Party primary.

(2) WAIT as late as possible to switch to No Party Preference. MAYDAY, May 1, is safe. The California deadline is May 23. Why wait? Because if Bernie has already been pushed aside, stay in your independent party, Green Party or Peace and Freedom.

(3) AFTER THE PRIMARY, change your voter registration to an independent party, like the Green Party or Peace and Freedom. By Independence Day, be independent of big money. A majority of people want strong parties outside of the Democratic-Republican Party. Here’s how third parties get strong: you vote for them, and you register in them.

(4) IN NOVEMBER, VOTE, but do not write in Bernie Sanders! He is not a movement, he is an individual. We can use as building blocks what Bernie has brought to the table, like injecting the term “socialism” back into our national dialogue. What this country needs now are organizations, including political parties that serve as the electoral arm of the social movements, that take no corporate money, and that are not controlled by the 1%.

There is a world of difference between registering Democrat-Republican and registering “independent” or No Party Preference. And there is another world of difference between No Party Preference and registering Green or Peace and Freedom. You may see the small parties as imperfect, but to blame third parties for their weakness is like blaming poor people for their poverty. Yes, we’re imperfect and make mistakes, but it’s the system that makes people poor and independent political parties weak. People power makes us strong, and breaks up the two-party system that has given control of our government to the 1% and their corporations.

(5) IN NOVEMBER, DO NOT VOTE DEMOCRAT. Glen Ford’s description of Obama as the more “effective evil” rather than the “lesser evil” is right on point. A link is here: http://www.blackagendareport.com/content/why-barack-obama-more-effective-evil. Sometimes it takes a Democrat to accomplish a conservative agenda, like deregulating and then bailing out Wall Street, and implementing trade agreements like NAFTA and the TPP/Trans-Pacific Partnership.

The Supreme Court!

Because the Supreme Court is often presented as an incontrovertible reason to hold your nose and vote Democrat, I’ll spend some time on that question. Ask your friends to do some research. In fact, two Supreme Court justices often regarded as the worst could have been stopped by the Democratic Party. When bad boy Antonin Scalia was up for approval, every Democratic Senator, including Al Gore, voted for Scalia. It was unanimous, 98 to 0. As to Clarence Thomas, Democrats gave him 11 votes which pushed him to victory with a 52 to 48 vote.

Bush was elected by the Supreme Court in 2000 — you remember, that’s when the powers-that-be added anti-Naderism to McCarthyism in order to program people into thinking there is no alternative to this capitalist system and its political parties. The Supreme Court voted for Bush 5 to 4. Did you know two of those who voted against Bush were Republicans? I thought it was a partisan vote, but no.

In the last half century, five of the best judges were those nominated by Republicans: Earl Warren, Walter Brennan, Harry Blackmun, John Paul Stevens, David Souter. Researching the facts shows the Supreme Court is not a good reason to vote Democrat.

So, when Bernie is knocked out by the institution of the Democratic Party, what candidate will people vote for?

After the first of the two Presidential Elections panels, people came up to me and said they liked what we all had to say, and why don’t we combine our efforts this year? Can we Greens, Peace and Freedom, and Party for Socialism and Liberation run together? Yes, actually, and we often have. We’ve essentially run slates together; we’ve cross-endorsed; and we’ve run the same candidates. Maybe this year we will run the same presidential candidate in the same year.

I was encouraged to hear that Jill Stein is one of the really fine people who are seeking the Peace and Freedom nomination this year. I would encourage people to rally around Jill Stein — not as a celebrity individual — because she is not that, but as a dedicated, committed person who has done a lot of organizing behind the scenes as well as being a person who is willing to be in front of the camera and microphone. She has not stopped reaching out to build a long-term movement.

Jill Stein and the Greens have strengths that could be put to very effective use this year.

  • Greens have elected hundreds of people across the country including mayors and some state legislators. Elections aren’t everything; we must have strong social movements and labor organizations too. Elected officials do have a big effect, however, as shown by the Richmond Progressive Alliance in California. Long-time community organizers ran as Greens, Democrats and independents, all agreeing to take no developer and no corporate money. When they got elected — against Chevron’s millions — they began to effect the changes they had been fighting for.
  • Greens are international, one of the largest political parties in the world.
  • Presidential candidate Jill Stein achieved ballot status in 2012 in 37 states covering 82% of U.S. voters. Her 2016 campaign is also on track. The struggle to be on the ballot requires a huge grassroots organizing effort across the country.
  • In 2012, Jill Stein qualified for federal matching funds in July. This year she qualified earlier, in January, through individual donors in more than 20 states.
  • Greens never take corporate and developer money. (As to the other notable ballot-qualified political party in California, I’m sure corporations have a policy to not give Peace and Freedom any money.) See No Corporate Money campaign, HERE. .
  • Jill Stein nominated as her 2012 vice presidential running mate anti-poverty activist Cheri Honkala, a founder of the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign.
  • Jill herself was practicing medicine and realized the political system was the cause of much ill health. Now she’s practicing “political medicine.”
  • Jill Stein made a lot of headway in getting media, including real-time debates on “Democracy Now” during the airing of the 2-party debate “shows.” She also participated in debates moderated by Larry King, and lots of other media.
  • To continue mobilizing the larger movement, Jill’s team made a great start in creating the nonpartisan Green Shadow Cabinet. The Cabinet is filled with wonderful issue-oriented people working on Public Banks, healthcare, peace, justice, Marxist economy, and more.
  • Greens have been out ahead in addressing climate change and environmental destruction, and in pointing out how it’s all linked together: the environment, social justice, peace, and real grassroots democracy, the kind of democracy that de-centralizes power and enables people to have the power they need to make decisions that affect their lives.

Already in 2016 Jill Stein’s campaign is ahead of the game on multiple fronts. Many people who had put their hearts and souls into Obama’s  campaign are working with her to see how much headway the electoral arm of the movement can make this year.

In summary, 2016 is a great year to work together to use all the power we have. Let’s not give our money to the 1% and their corporations — as much as we can avoid it! And let’s not give them our voter registrations and our votes.


The basic question “What can we do?” is likely the most frequent question after speaking events. There are many great answers to that question. On Saturday, my response was this:

EMPOWER WOMEN. And always remember that empowering women does not mean dis-empowering men! It’s an additive process. It’s been stated over and over again that if you want a revolutionary movement to succeed, you’ve got to have women strongly engaged. I’m happy to see so many empowered women in this panel and in this room. Also look at the Zapatistas — I just finished reading a book called Compañeras: Zapatista Women’s Stories. Look at Black Lives Matter. Look at the Kurdish Women’s Movement in the Middle East. Look at the Peace and Freedom Party, where four fine women, including Jill Stein, are seeking to become their 2016 nominee for president. Look at Cuba and look at Scandinavia, more than 33% of their legislatures are women. This country is way behind. Let’s mobilize.

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