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.

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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.

Green Party Should Start Local — Really?

“The Green Party should not run for President and other state and national offices. It should run candidates for local office first, and then build up to higher level offices.” How often have I heard that? Many, many times, including recently after I posted the blog “Bernie Sanders and the Sheepdog Approach.”

I know the advice is well-intentioned, and it sounds reasonable and rational. The only problem is, it doesn’t work. Our political system is not reasonable and rational.

I’ll say this up front: blaming third parties for their weakness is like blaming poor people for their poverty. Sure, we make mistakes, some of them huge. But the system doesn’t cut us any slack — quite the reverse — unlike the slack it cuts the so-called winners of politics and society. Just a few examples of “slack” (in alphabetical order): air-time for your point-of-view, bail-outs, beneficial rulings, corporate welfare, favorable treatment, payback contracts, payback legislation, prejudice in your favor, subsidies both visible and behind-the-scenes. The list goes on.

TEN WAYS THE SYSTEM FIGHTS STARTING LOCAL

NOTE: When I say Democrats and Republicans I am talking about the PARTIES not the INDIVIDUALS, recognizing that the values and behaviors of the parties and the individuals are different. As a form of short-hand I’ll call the Democratic and Republican Parties the Titanics, and the other parties the Alternatives.

1. Electoral rules necessitate runs for higher office. Currently electoral laws keep Alternatives off the ballot in about half the states. State laws vary, and one typical way to maintain a ballot line and be a legitimate political party is to achieve a certain percentage of votes in a statewide race. In general, if an Alternative presidential campaign obtains one-time ballot access and then receives about 2% of total votes in the state, a new ballot line is created. Then Alternative candidates can run for offices from school board to sheriff to US congress. (For more details, see the end parts of Bruce Dixon’s sheepdogging articles, HERE and especially HERE.)

2. Local winners switch from Alternative to Titanic. The greatest and saddest example I know is San Francisco. In the 2000s the Green Party had the wonderful success of having six local office holders. However, five of them switched before taking the next step in their political careers. Matt Gonzalez switched to independent, while Jane Kim, John Rizzo, Christina Olague, and Ross Mirkarimi switched to the Titanics. Could the Green Party have done better in its support of the elected officials and candidates? Yes. Did the Titanics make them offers they couldn’t refuse? Yes.

As a matter of fact, after winning many lower level elections, Bernie Sanders switched from Alternative to Titanic to run for higher office. By the way, if you have it in you to run for local office as an Alternative, do not let any of this stop you. We need you.

3. They fight you just as hard at the local level. Speaking of Matt Gonzalez, as a Green Party candidate for mayor of San Francisco in 2003, he came within 5 percentage points of beating Gavin Newsom. Not only did Newsom outspend Gonzalez 6 to 1, but he brought in a powerhouse of Democratic notables to fight off the terrible threat of a major city having a Green mayor. I don’t think any city facing the terrible threat of a Republican takeover had these folks come to town: Bill Clinton, Al Gore, and Jesse Jackson.

4. They refuse to initiate important national and state policies. Probably by now everyone can come up with a pretty good list of national policies that Alternatives were the first to promote (abolition of slavery, women’s suffrage, eight-hour workday, public schools, child labor laws, and programs like Social Security and Medicare). Only later did the Titanics get behind them. In my personal experience, I know for sure many people first heard about State Banks because of my 2010 Green Party run for Governor. Maybe that’s why they arrested me outside a gubernatorial debate. Or was it because I brought up Prop 13?

5. Major problems of the cities and counties can only be solved at the state and national level. Constrained by state and national laws, localities don’t even have the power they need to balance the budget. In California, cities are stuck with raising revenue by increasing parking fees and traffic tickets, and asking the voters to pass parcel taxes. Whether you own a mansion or a hut, you pay the same exact same dollar amount each year on the “parcel.” Prop 13 is the problem, and in 2010, Jerry Brown and Meg Whitman were not talking about keeping only the good parts of Prop 13 and reforming the bad parts that devastated California’s public schools and universities and other public goods.

6. Why not run as a Titanic to get elected and then implement needed solutions? As a Titanic, you have to toe the line, or you will be treated like an Alternative. And as a Titanic, you either take money from corporations and developers, or you benefit from corporate money flowing through the party (unless you’re in the Richmond Progressive Alliance, which runs slates of Greens and Democrats who pledge to take no corporate money, and who have beaten Chevron-backed candidates). You take money from corporations and you essentially work for them. You cannot turn your back on the boss and stay in office.

7. Voters and media focus on President, maybe Governor and Mayor. Many people’s relationship to politics begins and ends with President. There is some focus on Governor, on the Mayor’s office, as well as on Congress. There’s very little attention paid to the rest. By the way, I never want to discourage anybody from voting. My attitude is to use every bit of power we have toward creating a better world. Our voting is an important power, or else why would they keep trying to take it away? My advice to make voting quick and easy is to only vote for candidates who take no money from corporations and developers. That’s how you identify the candidates who are on your side, not the side of the 1%.

8. Alternative parties get attention and motivation through runs for higher office. Nader’s presidential runs starting in 1996 put the Green Party on the map, although there was a huge backlash. (I am working on a piece comparing Anti-Naderism and McCarthyism as to their effects of eliminating Alternatives and keeping us where the powers-that-be want us.) Jill Stein’s presidential campaigns have been a huge boost for Greens across the country. When the Green Party of California ran its first full statewide slate in 2002, Greens were questioning the wisdom of running statewide. At the same time, the local parties wanted us — I ran for State Controller — to come to town to help their locals gain some traction. The state party had seven hard-working volunteers. That’s not a bad thing.

9. People want to vote for values and policies they want. Sometimes when I was wavering about the wisdom — or personal comfort — of running for state office, people would implore me to run so they would have someone to vote for.

10. Bottom line: follow your heart. Take the path life leads you to. If your energy points you in a certain way, go there and hopefully you and your compadres won’t hold you back. There are lots of problems and lots of solutions, plenty of ways to use our own unique combination of gifts and wounds (let’s face it, our wounds help make us who we are) so that we can make a worthwhile contribution to a better world.

* * * *
What do you think? Did I miss some ways the system fights the idea of Alternatives running local and building up?

 

I know YOU know we have a choice!

This blog is a letter to a friend of mine who sent an email about the lesser of two evils. The letter is followed by 3 postscripts including a link to “Why Barack Obama is the More Effective Evil.”

Dear Steve – I know YOU know we have a choice!

Even Californians (including many intelligent, active, well-meaning people)
who believe that the two-or-is-it-one-party-system can be “spoiled”
(despite the fact that Gore in 2000 actually won Florida and the presidency) …
EVEN those Californians can vote for anybody they want
since they are in a “safe state” (“safe” according to the “spoiler” theory),
ESPECIALLY if they notice that by November,
neither Romney nor Obama is even bothering to come to CA except to fund-raise.

Jill Stein and Cheri Honkala are great candidates. Jill and the Green team have been doing an amazing job energizing this campaign, and hitting the mark to get federal matching funds! Even MSM mainstream media has mentioned it, despite how MSM is funded.

For real, positive change, the time is now.
VOTE GREEN EVERY CHANCE YOU GET!
Or vote Peace and Freedom,
Or write in “Democracy” or “Occupy!”

Love,
Laura

BLOG P.S. For the record, and for readers of all unsafe states (“unsafe” particularly by the standards of health, wealth and justice), who feel they have to vote Republican-or-Democratic-or-not-at-all, I believe you too can vote for what you want: government not controlled by the military-industrial-pharmaceutical-prison-insurance-congressional-media complex. This means Green, Peace and Freedom, and some independents. If they are not on the ballot, write in “Democracy” or “Occupy!”

BLOG P.P.S.   See “Why Barack Obama is the More Effective Evil” by Glen Ford of the Black Agenda Project.

BLOG P.P.P.S.  Steve’s sweet response was, “I’m going to write in Laura Wells. Good seeing you today. It’s nice to see the age of the pamphleteer is not gone, and that people still know how to communicate with words on paper.” Steve was referring to seeing me handing out my leaflet to the audience of the San Francisco Mime Troupe. My goal is to be a “pamphleteer” at all or almost all SFMT shows.

 

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