Political Revolution? Use Voter Registration Power!

“Revolution Registration” Kickoff Party at my house; see details further below.

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. Use all the political power you have to the max, including your votes and your voter registrations.

(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.

INVITATION
Please join me for a “Revolution Registration” Kickoff Party and pizza at the community house where I live in Oakland, Thurs, June 9, 6:00 pm. We’re planning the biggest Green Party voter registration drive in 20 years! RSVP in a comment or otherwise. Let me know if you need the address. 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.

* * * *

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.

Q&A EXCERPT

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.

What I like about Bernie — and my recommendation

ONE: A movement is building. People are questioning the fairness of capitalism and looking at socialism with fresh eyes. Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has been a major spokesperson for bringing the term “socialism” back into our national dialogue. I like that about Bernie.

PHOTO Bernie Sanders speakingI should say right up front, I have blogged on questions I have about Bernie Sanders:  his “communist dictator” remark about Hugo Chavez, who did lead a “political revolution” and moved Venezuela toward socialism, HERE; and Bernie’s possibly becoming a “sheepdog” for a corporate candidate like Hillary Clinton, HERE.

TWO: The second thing I really like about Bernie is that he backs up his rhetoric about casino capitalism and the billionaire class by taking no corporate money. The “contribution rules” on his website include:

  • This contribution is made from my own funds, and funds are not being provided to me by another person or entity for the purpose of making this contribution.
  • I am making this contribution with my own personal credit card and not with a corporate or business credit card or a card issued to another person.

Bernie is following the example of Richmond, California. The Richmond Progressive Alliance candidates, whatever their political parties, refuse corporate and developer money in their campaigns. When they win elections — and they have won, even against millions of dollars that Chevron throws against them — they follow through on their campaign rhetoric and stand up to giant corporations, not just Chevron but also developers and Wall Street banks. Good for Bernie for following the Richmond example.

THREE: The third thing I like about Bernie Sanders is that he includes on his website a list of all the states with the rules for voting in primaries in each of the states. The California link is HERE. That leads me to …

MY RECOMMENDATION

Friends who are “feeling the Bern,” and yet who are disenchanted with the two big political parties, have asked me for my recommendation. Here it is for California; much of it applies to other states as well.

(1) Wait as late as possible before the primary to make any changes if you want to vote for Bernie. The last day to change voter registration in California, for example, is May 23, 2016. To be safe, mark your calendar for MAY DAY. On the 1st of May, change your voter registration, if and only if there’s a solid chance that the Democratic Party institution — which is different from the people — would allow Bernie to be its nominee! How could the DP institution stop Bernie if the people vote for him in droves in Iowa and New Hampshire? Easy, it uses “superdelegates” and control of the corporate media.

(2) Use the power of your voter registration to the max. Do the least damage. Don’t give the parties of the 1% your seal of approval via your voter registration. The Democratic Party has made its decision for 2016: people who are registered “No Party Preference” can can vote in the Democratic primary. California online voter registration happens at http://registertovote.ca.gov/.

(3) After the primary, come back! Mark your calendar for June 8, or maybe INDEPENDENCE DAY. Say “No!” to the 1%, their corporations, and their political parties. Help build that strong third party so many Americans want. It’s no surprise to my friends and colleagues that I recommend changing your voter registration to the no-corporate-money Green Party. The practical and idealistic reason is this: the Green Party is the strongest third party that we have for working families in this whole country. You can bet the system doesn’t make it easy for third parties to become strong — that’s where people power comes in: votes and voter registrations. Jill Stein has a good chance of being the Green Party nominee, and your vote for her in November will help build a real political revolution.

Good luck to us all!

KPFA Listener Sponsored Radio – VOTE TODAY

For online OR mail-in, you need your paper ballot with your code. See way below for what to do NOW if you don’t have it. Here’s the slate I endorse: http://www.unitedforcommunityradio.org/?page_id=3182

At this late date, online voting is recommended, but if your mail-in ballot is postmarked TODAY, Monday, Nov 30 — you have a chance of getting it to Eugene, Oregon by the due date of Friday, Dec 4.

To vote online via the internet go to the voting portal at https://pacifica.simplyvoting.com and use the password listed in the cover letter enclosed with your paper ballot. It took about 5 minutes.

My Vote Recommendations
I endorse the whole United for Community Radio slate.

See more detail and more links below my vote list. As to the slates I am not endorsing, in summary, I believe some people are good at running THEIR radio shows, but they are not good at running the whole show! … although they do speak well, and their names are well known. Again, more detail about the UCR slate way below.

It’s ranked choice voting. The first 4 are in order of my ranking; the next 5 are alphabetical by first name; the next 2 are not on the UCR slate, but they are supported by UCR; and the last 2 you can vote for if you’re a staff member.

Janet Kobren
Don Macleay
Scott Olsen
TM Scruggs

Jeremy Miller
Marilla Argüelles
(G.) Mario Fernandez
Sharon Adams
Virginia Browning

Tom Vorhees
Richard Hart

Anthony Fest (if you’re a staff member, you can vote for Anthony)
Sabrina Jacobs (if you’re a staff member, you can vote for Sabrina)

United for Community Radio  (http://www.unitedforcommunityradio.org/ ) candidates.

These folks have
— protected undocumented people from ICE,
— created and managed non-profits,
— sailed to break the siege of Gaza by sea,
— been the executive producer of TheRealNews.com,
— edited a book of work by Pelican Bay inmates,
— worked for the victims of police violence in black and brown communities,
— worked in media other than KPFA,
— in the case of Don Macleay, helped to build the Oakland Green Party, and previously worked hands-on with the Sandinistas for 5 years,
— in the case of Scott Olsen, continued unwaveringly to support Iraq Veterans Against the war even after being seriously injured by a police canister during a protest,

— and much more.

These folks have great ideas for positive upgrades at KPFA.  Read their statements and get inspired.
http://www.unitedforcommunityradio.org/?page_id=3182

Our entire team dreams of a KPFA linked tightly with the global media revolution as it keeps to a sustainable budget.  Read more about that here:
http://www.unitedforcommunityradio.org/?page_id=662

————————
And, while you’re checking out the website, spend some time with our Community Blog:

Union Activists Endorse United for Community Radio
http://www.unitedforcommunityradio.org/?page_id=3495

Bringing Peace to KPFA by Akio Tanaka
http://www.unitedforcommunityradio.org/?p=3628

‘Save KPFA’ Candidate said Palestinian Children’s Art “Not Appropriate” by Sharon Adams
http://www.unitedforcommunityradio.org/?p=3671

‘Save KPFA’s’ Principles vs Reality by Mara Rivera
http://www.unitedforcommunityradio.org/?p=3466

If you haven’t yet received (or if you’ve misplaced) your ballot:

Please fill out the “official ballot request form” right away, at  http://elections.pacifica.org/wordpress/ballot-request-form/    In the “Additional Notes” section of the form there, we recommend that you also include your phone number and/or e-mail address.  And if you don’t receive your ballot (or a satisfactory response) within about 2 days after filling out that form, then you should immediately contact the Local Election Supervisor, Nelsy Batista, at:  kpfa-les@pacifica.org  AND: 510-629-1458.  You should be receiving back information on how to vote online.

Thank-you!

Bernie: Give people good examples of a “political revolution”

Here’s a huge opportunity Bernie’s campaign can either take or lose. Bernie Sanders states that he wants to create a political revolution in order to fight the Billionaire Class and decrease inequality. Hugo Chávez did that in Venezuela. (Do a little research and you will be able to verify that fact using credible sources.) Wouldn’t we expect Bernie to grab this opportunity to counter the lies of the 1% about Chávez, and tell the truth? Tell the truth that such a political/electoral revolution is possible, and here is an example. Political revolutions are happening in Venezuela and much of Latin America. The good news people would love to hear is that we have good examples to learn from, and emulate.

Are they perfect? No. Are they moving in a much better direction than the U.S. government? Yes.

P.S. This serves as another P.S. to my prior “whose side are you on?” blogs about Bernie Sanders’ calling Hugo Chávez of Venezuela a “dead communist dictator” and not retracting the statement.

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