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October, 2002

It's Getting Easier To Be Green
By Paul Reffell, Marshall

What had the local Progressives at the Pt. Reyes Dance Palace excited and leaping out of their Birkenstocks on September 12th? An appearance by Peter Miguel Camejo, the Green Party candidate for Governor.

You could be excused for not having heard of him. After all, this is the candidate from the Green Party, which is committed to refusing donations from corporations, thus ensuring a low-profile, word-of-mouth campaign. If he had enough exposure, Camejo would wow California with his energetic delivery, sense of humor and fervor.

As it is, the Green Party is the third largest in California, which gains them enough respect to be grudgingly admitted to the odd televised debate. The only problem there is that Gray Davis, our esteemed incumbent, refuses to debate or appear on the same stage with Peter Camejo. That is good and bad in that the Greens have the chance to state their platform in direct contrast with the Republicans, but cannot bring Democratic Party diehards into the fold by pointing out the positive differences between the Dems and the Greens.

So, on September 12th, Peter Camejo regaled his audience with tales of corruption and misdeeds on the part of his two main opponents, which made for entertaining listening. It seems that the Green party stands the best chance it ever has had of getting its candidates into office, thanks to the shenanigans of the Davis administration and Bill Simian's tarnished reputation.

What was disappointing was that Camejo did not spend more time explaining the Green Party platform, possibly because he thought the audience had already boned up on the facts. He did promise that neither he nor anyone on his staff would accept money from corporations. He also stated the concerns Greens have for fair wages and social justice, for a foreign policy that does not count warfare as diplomacy, for the environment and renewable energy, for civil rights and the end of "3 strikes," for women's rights, workers' rights, universal health care and smart urban growth.

Camejo talked several times of instant runoff voting, in which voters could list their favorite candidates in order of preference. If that system had been in place on national elections, a voter could have chosen, for example, Nader as first preference, Gore as second. If no-one got more than 50% of the vote and Nader were eliminated, Gore would be counted as the choice of that voter.

This was all music to the ears of the Greens and disillusioned Democrats in the audience, in which were also some who regard the Green Party as the spoilers of the Democratic candidates' chances, especially in the last presidential elections. I have yet to hear of a state that was lost to Al Gore because of Green Party votes, but a friend has gone so far as to suggest that the Green Party may be a Republican invention designed to split the liberal vote. But what the audience heard from Camejo was that polls show the Greens ahead of the Democrats in two districts, which means that the Democrats are now the spoilers in those districts. There is also a surge of interest from Latino voters, a huge voting bloc in this state.

This was heartening news, although it could be said with some accuracy that the standing ovation given to Camejo after his speech was a result of his preaching to the choir. But I think it was a little more than that. We are in dark times, on the brink of economic collapse and continuous war under an administration that seems bent on realizing Biblical prophecies of Armageddon. Closer to home, we have inept leaders and corruption throughout the system.

One of the major complaints from conservatives and liberals alike is that the two major parties are so alike, it's difficult to tell them apart. When it comes down to it, does it really matter whether there's a Republican or a Democrat in any office? There has been so much compromise of principles on all sides in the search for the big bucks, that there is little to differentiate them. It's interesting to speculate what Al Gore's reaction to 9/11 would have been. Do we doubt that there would have been military action? Do we think that our blind support of Israel would be any different with an Orthodox Jew as Vice-President?

It's time to start voting for a government less willing to compromise its supporters' principles. Time to start voting for the people's benefit, not big businesses. All change starts at the grassroots level, and that's where each vote can be made to count. Think of all the citizens who don't vote at all, because of their disillusionment with the system. Here is a chance for people of all political stripes to vote their consciences. The Green Party has the potential to bring our country together in a way that seems impossible under the present system.

 

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