By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
IT’S GREENER THAN YOU THINK, MARC
L.A. Weekly and Nation magazine contributor Marc Cooper apparently relishes playing the role of political provocateur. His recent dismissal of the Green Party of California as an election factor [“It’s Democracy, Stupid,” Dissonance, August 15–21] gravely underestimates the party’s established statewide infrastructure and political potential. Apparently Cooper is unaware that the Green Party holds 63 elected offices across California, including the mayoralities of Santa Monica, Sebastopol, Menlo Park and Arcata, and the San Francisco Board of Supervisors presidency. In 2002, Green Party gubernatorial candidate Peter Camejo achieved California’s highest third-party vote in 68 years, since the 1934 gubernatorial election. Camejo’s vote total represented a 400 percent increase over the party’s 1998 gubernatorial results. Significantly, the Green Party received unprecedented vote totals across a broad swath of Northern California: From Humboldt County to Santa Cruz County the party captured from 10 to 17 percent of the vote in a dozen counties, including a historic 15.5 percent in San Francisco.
If the Green Party of California chooses to enter into an electoral alliance with another strong, progressive candidate prior to the October 7 recall election, Cooper’s smug assertions about the party’s influence and viability will be put to the test.
Re: Marc Cooper’s article “It’s Democracy, Stupid,” containing “Five Myths About the Recall.” I must seriously object to the myths he and the rest of the press are concocting about Green Party candidate Peter Camejo. As to the legalization of marijuana, it is the press that has pushed this issue to the top of the Camejo “agenda” by quoting out of context from the Green Party platform. Meanwhile, though, arrests of marijuana users are filling our prisons, at an exorbitant cost to society. Camejo wants to stop wasting money on incarcerating Californians for minor offenses and instead invest in education, health care and renewable energy.
Cooper’s attack on Camejo for his support of instant-runoff voting (IRV) is even more ludicrous. Perhaps this just shows how little journalists in this country understand our winner-take-all voting system, and how it severely limits political choices. The electorate, of course, has figured it out, that’s why they don’t vote. IRV is hardly some leftist plot. It is used by Utah Republicans to nominate congressional nominees, at many major universities (including MIT, Harvard, Caltech and UC Davis) for student elections, and by hundreds of jurisdictions, organizations and corporations to elect their leaders. IRV gives the voter more power, since they can express a range of choices without being forced to choose between the lesser of two evils.
Camejo’s plan to institute public financing of elections and create democratic voting processes (i.e., IRV) would reduce wasteful budget spending, free up more money for social investments and increase democratic participation. I think those ideas play to a larger audience than the Venice boardwalk crowd.
Marc Cooper distorts and trivializes Peter Camejo’s platform, then praises Arianna Huffington for the very things Camejo does stand for — universal health care, adequate education, shifting the tax burden, and public financing of elections.
“The Unimportance of Being Camejo” [August 22–28] was downright dispiriting. Lewis observed that “Camejo’s straightforward business dealings are beyond imaginable reproach,” and in a time when our state budget is a total basket case, it’s heartening to see the Weekly take notice of a candidate uniquely qualified to address our current fiscal crisis. But then, in spite of this and other praise for Camejo in her article, Lewis nonetheless asserts that no one could possibly care, “if only because there’s just too much else going on.” Camejo might make a fine governor, Lewis seems to suggest, but we’ll never hear him over the din of Schwarzenegger, Huffington and the other media faves. So forget him. He is noteworthy, as the article’s title paradoxically suggests, only for his “unimportance.”
The problem isn’t, as Lewis rightly observes, some conspiracy of “shifty-eyed men in boardrooms paid to excise from reporters’ copy any idea that might defeat the status quo.” It is rather a conspiracy of cynicism, even hopelessness, that the electorate can ever choose something other than bought-and-sold Democrats and Republicans. Where a better option does exist, as it well may in Peter Camejo, I wish Lewis would simply present that option, and not compel us to see it only through the dour-tinted glasses of low expectations.
GOING ALL THE WAY
Harold Meyerson’s “The Recall Is Not Our Friend” [Powerlines, July 25–31], discussing the party politics of the Gray Davis recall, misses the point. Fiscal responsibility is of the utmost importance. The governor must manage the state like we all have to manage our households and businesses. He deserves to be fired just as any corporate executive would under similar circumstances. In fact, Davis should have resigned.
Stating the good Davis has done does not excuse him from responsibility for our budget crisis. Maybe we should recall the entire Legislature, as they all have contributed to our economic woes. Just because other states are also broke is also no excuse. Maybe those states should recall their legislatures!
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