Author Archives: Laura Wells

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Healthcare For You and Me

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I received many different reactions from people when they first heard I had won the June primary write-in campaign and would be facing Barbara Lee in November.

As you can imagine, some people were shocked that anyone would challenge the most progressive congressperson in Washington. Others, however, immediately started sharing with me their everyday struggles and challenges that they wanted ME to pressure Barbara Lee about.

Mission accepted. This campaign is all about PRESSURE!

We are compiling these issues of concern to our community and will bring them to light to demonstrate that when we lack the very basics, in the most progressive district, of the most progressive state, with the most progressive representation, we need change. 

Let me give you one very critical example, HEALTHCARE!
I remember clearly when Obama was running for president, and it looked like he might really win. People started giving advance excuses for what he would NOT be able to do relative to the hopes that his eloquence inspired in people. Supporters said if he didn’t get both houses of Congress, he would not be able to get anything done. Both houses began to look likely, and then they said if he didn’t get filibuster-proof majorities then he wouldn’t be able to get much done.
Voters gave Obama filibuster-proof 60% super majorities in both houses. 
As promised, healthcare was on the table in 2009, but single-payer healthcare was off the table, even though Obama had been a proponent earlier!

We were assured that with a “public option” the healthcare system would evolve toward the kind of healthcare that other countries have taken for granted for decades. The Congressional Progressive Caucus, of which Barbara Lee was a chair leading up to 2009, said their support firmly hinged on having a “robust public option.” They quickly backed off “robust” and said at least some kind of public option, and when it came down to it the Progressive Caucus folded with no public option.

The last Congressperson holding out for the public option was Dennis Kucinich. He was taken up in the presidential jet and soon after he went along with the Affordable Care Act also known as Obamacare. In some ways US healthcare is better than before, but while costs to patients continue to skyrocket, this system is not nearly as equitable, comprehensive and efficient as a single payer, improved and expanded Medicare for all system.

Healthcare is just one example where the progressives in Washington fall far short of what is needed by everyone, from seniors to students to babies. There’s no excuse for this in the wealthiest country in the world.

Congress needs our support in the form of PRESSURE!
That is exactly the opportunity before us in this two-person congressional race between a no-corporate-money Green and a Democrat incumbent, with no Republican in the race. We need a debate between two progressives willing to address the real reasons we don’t have the very basics our communities need!

In this election, I hope you vote with me, because I will pull Congress toward the health of people, not the profits of corporations.

If you have a moment, I invite you to watch my ‘Green Way Forward’ video, below.

To our health!

Laura Wells for Congress, District 13

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System Change Not Climate Change

On a personal level, it seems I have always been reluctant to characterize myself as anything ending in “ist”. In my twenties, I’m sure everyone could tell I was a feminist; I always believed that girls and women were not valued equally, and we should be. But I didn’t call myself a feminist. 

I was always an environmentalist — I always believed we should be conservative (not liberal!) in our use of natural resources, and that we should value health in our environment and in ourselves. Since I registered with the Green Party in 1992 I was acting as a political activist, but it took me years to call myself an activist.

Now, I realize, OMG, I’ve always been a socialist. I always knew that some people had way too much money, more than anybody needs, at the same time that other people didn’t have enough for basic needs. 

Even my life style could be called socialist. Since the beginning of this millennium I live cooperatively in what I call a “community house” with half a dozen people on the property. I’ve been car-free for decades, and my main transportation is bikes, buses and buddies. I’m clear that if all my buddies gave up their cars, I couldn’t do what I do, so thank you, buddies. Having grown up in Michigan, I am well aware that the automobile, oil, and tire industries designed a transportation system for us that pretty much requires people to have a car. Anyone who still believes in the capitalist slogan that “what’s good for General Motors is good for the USA” should visit Detroit. The city has lots of good heart, but lots of economic and environmental problems.

These labels, feminist, environmentalist, activist, and socialist all have something in common. They get at the question of “what do we value?” 

On my path toward recognizing that I’m a socialist, I had already realized that I certainly was not a capitalist — I didn’t have any capital. Also, for years I noticed that whenever someone talked about a person, country, or policy that was related to social benefits, someone else would call it socialism, and for years that meant you should back away from it. “Socialized medicine” was the chief example of how effectively that charge would cause people to back away from sensible solutions.

The term socialism has been gaining traction, and there are probably as many definitions of the word as there are groups or even people. For that growth that I want to thank Bernie Sanders and his popularizing the term Democratic Socialism especially in his 2016 presidential campaign; Marxist economist Richard Wolff; Peace and Freedom Party; Socialist Alternative and so many other longstanding Socialist groups; the “Pink Tide” in Latin America; and to the Green Party, for taking the step of putting Eco-Socialism in the platform. I also want to thank the millennials for understanding economics better than I did at that age. Values.

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Corporate-Free Politics

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Serve the People Not Corporations

How do you get the government to serve people and not corporations? One way is to change the laws. Grassroots organizations “left and right” have been working for years to get money out of politics by changing laws. Another way is for voters and candidates to to take it on ourselves to vote for people who take no corporate money, and to run as candidates without taking corporate money. 

How do you know what candidates are not taking corporate money?

They’ll tell you, whether it’s Kshama Sawant running for City Council in Seattle, Bernie Sanders running for President in 2016, Richmond Progressive Alliance candidates running in Richmond, California, or Green Party and Peace and Freedom candidates running for any office anywhere, anytime. 

Whoever pays you, that’s your boss. When billionaires and their corporations invest in politicians, they are the boss. If a public official — whether “progressive” or “conservative” — takes their money or acts as a team player in a political party that takes the corrupting money, then whenever their single vote really matters, that’s whose side they must take. Voters may say, “Ah well, you tried, we’ll vote for you again anyway,” but corporations will not keep playing that game if they don’t get a return on their campaign contribution investment. 

Individual voters and candidates working together with grassroots organizations will create a government that serves People not Corporations.

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Green New Deal


A platform of integrated policies

Why was there a New Deal in the Great Depression of the 1930s and none in the Great Recession that started in 2008, the year Obama was elected president?

In the 1930s there were huge organizations that were on the side of regular people. They applied pressure on Franklin Roosevelt (FDR): Socialists, Communists, and growing unions. Since then, decade by decade, the organized groups were systematically beaten down. 

In 2008 instead of providing a new deal to help the 99%, the government gave a huge bailout to the Wall Street banks! It was a sight to see how the two “Titanic” political parties worked together on that. First Congress responded to an enormous public outcry against the bailout and voted “no”. Then Bush and Obama, representing the two parties, worked it all out and within a week, after the public outcry had died down, they passed the bailout. 

We the people did not need a Wall Street bailout in 2008. What we needed was a Green New Deal, an improvement on FDR’s New Deal. The Green New Deal would also emphasize infrastructure and arts, but would not prepare for war.

The “laundry list” of what encompasses a Green New Deal is large, including housing, healthcare, jobs, justice, education, environment, equality, peace and the arts. All the problems you can list are interrelated, and that actually can be a good thing, because all the solutions are interrelated as well. Early on in my vocation of political activist, I had a campaign slogan: To understand what’s going on, Follow The Money. To know what to do about it, Follow Your Heart.

To me, that relates directly to my understanding of the Green New Deal. No one can tackle every issue, but collectively, we can! Particularly when we organize together and have public support, we can make a big difference in the part of the Green New Deal that’s closest to our own hearts.

Talking about how everything is interrelated brings an important movement to my mind: Black Lives Matter. Sometimes people respond that “all lives matter.” Well, we will know that “all lives matter” — really — when we, as a society and individuals act in a way that it’s obvious that we believe that Black Lives Matter.

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There Are Solutions

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Tax the Rich and End the Wars

There are solutions to the problems we face, and they often cost money. Right up front, however, we need to say real solutions donotalways cost more. Look at how utterly ineffective the war on drugs has been, with expensive militarization and excessive incarceration. Also look at the cost of preventive medicine compared to the cost of emergency medical services. 

“How do we pay for it?” is still a legitimate question, although it’s one that’s often thrown out as a deal-killer of better infrastructure and public services. Remember the presidential elections of 2016? (Pretty depressing, I know.) Among the half dozen candidates that year, there were two — Bernie Sanders, running as a Democrat, and Jill Stein, a Green — who talked about domestic policies that we should enact, like free universal healthcare for all and debt-free higher education. 

Other candidates called those ideas dreams, impractical, not politically viable in this country. Unlike Bernie and Jill, those other candidates took corporate money. Calling basic public services “pipe dreams” when other countries take them for granted is a deliberate attempt to lower our expectations of what is possible in our country. 

How can we pay for those basics? Tax the rich and end the wars. 

As to taxes, start with the extremes.Tax the billionaires the way they used to be taxed. When Republican president Dwight Eisenhower left office at the beginning of the sixties, the tax on the very top income bracket was 91%. In recent years the Democrats and Republicans staged a highly theatrical fight over whether it should be 35.9% or 39%. In Eisenhower’s time, even with high taxes, the rich could still get richer, just not outrageously rich.

By reducing their obscenewealth, besides paying for basics,we also reduce their obscenepower over our lives, and we give the rest of us more ability to make decisions affecting our own lives and those of our communities and our children.

As to the military, again, start with the extremes.There is no reason on earth to have weapons that can destroy the earth many times over. There is no reason to build more fighter jets when the cost of each one could pay for housing, hospitals, and schools. 

Taxing the rich and ending the wars are essential tasks when we want happier, healthier and safer lives for all of us.

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Why I Am Running

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My name is Laura Wells and I’m running for Congress in California’s District 13 as a Green Party candidate. I am running because we need to raise our expectations and use our power to challenge a system that refuses to provide the very basics for us, in this, the richest country on earth. Barbara Lee was running unopposed on the June “Top Two” primary ballot. We ran a write-in campaign and won. Now I am one of three Green candidates for Congress, on the California November ballot, going head-to-head against incumbent Democrats.

The problem in our country is that there are basics we don’t have.

There’s no excuse for it, but there is a reason: the billionaires and their corporations have bought out both parties and are running our country.

Let’s have a debate! A real debate between arguably the most progressive Democrat in Congress, Barbara Lee, who still must act as a ‘team player’ to her corporatist Party, and a Green Party candidate with solid Green New Deal values, who never takes corporate money.

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

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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.

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Write in Laura Wells for Congress, District 13

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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.

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What’s Wrong in Washington

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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: 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.

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