2010 House Minority (Democratic) Whip Election

I will write more on this topic at a later time, but for now I’ll say that, had there be an actual election for House Minority/Democratic Whip between Reps. Steny Hoyer (D-MD-5) and James Clyburn (D-SC-6) as planned, I would have supported James Clyburn.  He’s the more liberal of the two and I can’t stand Hoyer being in the leadership.  In fact, I think liberals should try primarying him in 2012.


Rep. James Clyburn.  Source: Wikimedia Commons.

But it appears there won’t be an election after all.  Cross-posted from Open Left on November 13 2010:

House Democrats Avert Leadership Struggle By Accommodating Steny Hoyer & James Clyburn (liberalmaverick) http://www.huffingtonpost.com/…

House Democrats averted a messy leadership struggle, clearing the way for Maryland Rep. Steny Hoyer to become second in command of their new minority without a challenge from South Carolina Rep. James Clyburn.

Under an arrangement worked out in private, officials said late Friday that Clyburn would instead receive a new position, title unknown and duties undescribed, explicitly labeled the third-ranking post in leadership.

The maneuvering was described by Democratic officials after Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., issued a vaguely worded statement saying she intends to nominate Clyburn to a new No. 3 post. The statement made no mention of Hoyer, and officials who filled in the details did so on condition of anonymity, saying they were not permitted to speak publicly about the matter.

I don’t know what the rest of ya’ll think, but I got a real whiff of juvenile immaturity from this whole leadership election “drama”.  Everyone was acting like it was the end of the world because House Democrats were going to have, god forbid, an election.  Didn’t we have leadership elections in 2002 and 2006?  What’s the big fucking deal?  Why can’t we have another election?  Why this pressing need to “avert” a “messy struggle”?

Hey, let’s not have real elections for President either!  Let’s just make the runner-up in every presidential election the Vice President or the Secretary of State.  That way we don’t have any “messy struggles” and no one’s feelings get hurt.  Let everyone have a seat at the table and a piece of the pie!

And why did people keep making such a big fuss over race?  OMG CLYBURN IS BLACK!  Yes, we see that, and it’s not like it’s anything new, so… can we get on with life now?  How does running against a black person suddenly take on “racial overtones”?  Tons of black candidates run for public office and lose, and that doesn’t (necessarily) make the country racist.

I was hoping to see Steny Hoyer lose and disappear quietly into the night (though Hoyer probably would’ve won).  I guess we’ll have to organize a primary challenge in MD-5 to get rid of him once and for all.

NOVEMBER 16 2010 UPDATE: Oh yeah, and for House Minority/Democratic Leader: Nancy Pelosi (or some other liberal) all the way.  Fuck Heath Shuler.

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2010 California Senate Election, General Election

Here is the letter that I wrote to Friends of Barbara Boxer (Senator Boxer’s reelection campaign) asking them why I should support Boxer for reelection.  I didn’t receive a response in time for Election Day and I still haven’t received a response as of this writing, but I voted for her anyway, which probably doesn’t strengthen my bargaining reputation, but oh well.

Dear Friends of Barbara Boxer:

My name is Kenneth Huang and I’m a lifelong Californian as well as an influential contributor on a major liberal blog called Open Left.  Like many on Open Left, I have been a longtime supporter of Senator Barbara Boxer and her stellar record on many issues.  However, this year I along with many others are undecided voters, trying to decide whether to vote for Senator Boxer or the Green Party candidate Duane Roberts.  While there are a number of issues on which I find Roberts more attractive than Boxer, the biggest issue for myself and many liberals these past two years has been health care.

Like many other liberals, I was very disappointed to see Congressional Democrats and President Obama sacrifice a fight for real health insurance reform in favor of a very unsatisfactory individual mandate to buy private insurance, without even the veneer of a public health insurance option to mask what I view as a blatant corporate giveaway, no matter how good the intentions might have been.  I was even more disappointed when Senator Boxer, long regarded as a champion for liberals in the Senate, did not threaten to filibuster a bill with no public option, as Senators Ben Nelson and Joe Lieberman had done for a bill with a public option, thus fundamentally altering the bill’s course.

I am not particularly motivated by horror stories of Senator Boxer’s Republican opponent, or what the Republicans might do if they take control of Congress, especially as these last two years have provided ample demonstration of how difficult it is to pass consequential legislation in the Senate.  Rather, I am more interested in what the Democrats – and Senator Boxer, specifically – will do in the next six years on all issues, but especially the ones relating to health care and the public option.

Did Senator Boxer support the public option?  If so, does she feel that she did all that she could to try to pass it?  Does she support the idea of having an individual insurance mandate without a public option, thus forcing all Americans to have to pay for-profit corporations as a basic requirement for living in this great country?  If not, why did she not attempt to change the outcome of the legislation by threatening to filibuster any bill without a public option, similar to tactics used by Senator Nelson and others?  Why did she eventually vote for the legislation containing a mandate with no public option?

Going forward, if Senator Boxer is reelected to another six-year term, what does she plan to do during those six years to create a public option that Americans can choose to enroll in, if they do not wish to buy private insurance, as the legislation in its current form would require them to do?  What other major changes to health insurance and health care in this country would Boxer fight for?

Finally, does Senator Boxer support the idea of expanding Medicare to include all Americans (also known as “single-payer”), and if so what will she do to advance that cause if she is reelected?

Senator Boxer has been a stellar public servant, but on the issues relating to health insurance reform and the public option I feel that she let us down, and I do not wish to vote for six more years of disappointment.  I intend to heavily weight your response to my query in my impeding decision on who to vote for, as well as in discussions with fellow undecided liberals preparing to vote in this very competitive Senate race.  To that end, please indicate whether I have your permission to reproduce your remarks for others to read.

I thank you for your time and consideration, and I look forward to the continuation of this discussion.

Sincerely,

Kenneth Huang

November 2 2010 General Election, Proposition 19

Proposition 19 would have legalized the personal consumption and cultivation of marijuana (with limits) as well as authorized local governments to regulate sales of marijuana.  As a longtime supporter of legalizing marijuana (and all drugs, really), supporting this seemed like a no-brainer to me – until I was made aware that there were cannabis users against Prop. 19, who published ten reasons for pro-legalization people to vote against 19. 

Without having fully read the actual text of Prop. 19, I could tell right off the bat that six of these reasons – #1, 2, 4, 7, 9 and 10 – were bullshit.  The remaining four – #3, 5, 6 and 8 – required an actual reading of the text to determine if they were valid concerns or not.

Just before I voted, I finished reading the language of Prop. 19.  It was true that it wasn’t exactly airtight, but few initiatives ever are, and it was something that could easily be improved.  All in all, the pro-legalization, anti-19 crowd didn’t convince me, and I voted Yes on Prop. 19. (The measure ended up losing 46-54.)

Here are the reasons the pro-legalization, anti-19 people made, and my response to each one.

1. Proposition 19 isn’t really legalization. It only allows possession of up to one ounce of cannabis. Under current California law, an ounce or less of pot is a simple civil infraction — you CAN’T be arrested, you DON’T go to court, and you WON’T get a criminal record. Prop 19 doesn’t make any improvements to decriminalization or prop 215.

Oh please.  This argument is essentially, “Don’t make it legal because right now you only get fined!”  Why should anything be legal then?  Let’s just make everything a simple civil infraction!  Maybe we should make posting bullshit political arguments online a civil infraction subject to a fine.  Then at least the state could make some money off of this simple-minded drivel.

2. Prop 19 creates several new cannabis related crimes with extremely severe penalties. Don’t pass a joint to a 17 year old, you will be looking at a max of 7 years in state prison, seriously.

Yes, that’s true.  Of course, passing a joint – or having a joint, period – is already a crime now.  Again, this is the “don’t legalize something because right now it’s only ‘slightly’ illegal” argument.

3. Prop 19 is solely designed to allow large scale cannabis production by politically connected corporations. Oakland has already started the process to license a Prop 19 Cartel mega-grow.

This is bullshit.  The prop. only says that cities and counties can regulate the production and sale of marijuana.  It doesn’t say that those cities have to bend over for “politically connected corporations”; that’s just an assumption the author makes in thinking that government is always beholden to special interests.  While this is true to some extent, it’s not a constraint written into the prop. and the prop. does nothing to directly benefit big corporations.  It certainly shouldn’t have any bearing on the legality of a drug.  That’s like saying, “hey I’m sick of Tylenol and Bayer dominating the aspirin market – let’s make aspirin illegal!”  Bullshit.

To further clarify, I’m sympathetic to the “don’t give corporations power” argument because corporations have a lot of money and in many cases literally own politicians, so once you give them what they want (e.g. power) it’s very hard to take it away.  That’s why I was against the Democrats’ health insurance “reform” law.  But legalizing marijuana and allowing local governments to regulate it in and of themselves don’t directly give corporations power, unless you think the mere existence of government in general gives corporations power, in which case you’d have to argue that we shouldn’t have a government at all.

4. Most legal experts agree that Prop 19 is poorly written and will leave police and judges to enforce it at their discretion. For example, consuming cannabis would be illegal in the same “space” as a minor. Police and judges are free to interpret the word “space” to mean the same room, house, or entire apartment complex.

Yes, it’s not very well-written.  That’s why we can fix the language later on!  And inconsistent enforcement of the laws will result in all kinds of legal issues that will provide impetus for making that change.

5. There is no need to rush into a law that will be difficult to change. There are better full legalization laws, including one set to be on the ballot in 2012.

Sure, and why can’t we vote for the 2012 initiative too?  The claim that this law will be “difficult to change” is bullshit.  It says right there at the end in Section 5 that it can be changed either by ballot initiative or through normal legislative process. (Yes, this Section isn’t an actual part of the legislative text, but c’mon, the ability to use initiatives and/or legislation to change existing law should be amply self-obvious.)

This MERP anti-19 flier clarifies this argument, which is: because of the influence of money in politics, it’s difficult to change an initiative that’s passed by passing another initiative.  It’s debatable as to who’s more susceptible to corporate influence: corrupt politicians or stupid voters.  In any case, if these people are really concerned about money in politics they should help pass public financing of elections (like in another prop. that failed a few years ago – where were these guys then?) rather than trying to keep things illegal so corporations can’t get their grubby hands on them. (And if the all-powerful corporations really wanted this, wouldn’t marijuana have been legal long before now?  If anything I think a lot of corporations, e.g. tobacco companies, would be against legalizing marijuana.)

Like I said earlier, I agree with these people that once you give corporations power, it’s hard to take it away.  I don’t agree that Prop. 19 gives corporations power that’ll be hard to take away, and the things that could be fixed later on are things that don’t directly challenge corporate power and thus should be relatively feasible.  I’m sympathetic to the “it’ll be hard to change later” argument, but it needs to be connected to some kind of hard analysis of why it’ll be hard, rather than just nebulous warnings about corporate money.

6. Prop 19 will lead to the walmartization of the cannabis industry. And unfortunately, this will result in lower quality and fixed prices. Limited competition and government control will allow large scale growers to determine prices and dictate quality standards (or lack thereof).

Again, this is bullshit; see #3 above.  It’s like a libertarian wrote this; only a libertarian would find some way to inveigh against “government control” for a prop. that… reduces government control.  It’s like saying, “I don’t want to go skydiving because it’s too dangerous!  Instead, let’s jump off a thirty-story building and splat on the concrete sidewalk.”

7. Local governments will control the taxation, production, and distribution of cannabis. This is a touchy political issue; most local politicians won’t risk a backlash by allowing dispensaries in their city. This means many people will have to travel long distances or break the law to purchase cannabis.

And what’s the situation right now?  Oh, that’s right – many people have to travel long distances or break the law to purchase cannabis. (See, I can do bold too.)

Imagine you’re in Hell, and you’re about to do something bad when your not-so-bright Hell-mate warns you, “If you do that, you’ll go to Hell.”  Now, take the reaction that you would have to that dumbass comment, and apply it to this argument.

8. Prop 19 will likely supersede prop 215, adversely affecting medical cannabis users by dictating grow size, possession amount, patient to patient sales, and location of use.

This is probably the only reason that’s not total bullshit.  The prop. is intended to not conflict with Prop. 215 (referred to as Section 11362.5 in Section 1B #7 and 8), but that caveat isn’t explicitly written into the language itself.  Still, that’s something that can probably easily be fixed, especially if medical marijuana users are really adversely being affected by this prop.

9. Unbiased cannabis activists do NOT support Prop 19. This includes the late Jack Herer and the co-author of prop 215, Dennis Peron (see his video here).

Wow, really?  This is the old argument from authority; also known as argumentum ad verecundiam (because all logical fallacies need to have a Latin name).

This might be the argument that got thrown in because “Nine Reasons to Vote No” just doesn’t sound as good as ten.  Then again, a lot of the other reasons could’ve been contenders for that role as well.  Really, since #8 was the only reason that even approached making sense, they should have just called this “One Sorta Good Reason to Vote No, and A Lot of Other Bullshit”.

10. The federal government has decided to not prosecute medical cannabis users. This will not be the case if Prop 19 passes. Many people believe that the passage of Prop 19 will bring an aggressive response from the feds, perhaps putting medical users at risk of losing access to medicine.

Three words: Bring.  It.  On.  It’s about time drug legalization became a national issue again.

A couple more thoughts: A lot of the pro-legalization, anti-19 argument is just people bitching about how localities will regulate marijuana and all the rules they’d have to follow.  As opposed to the total blissful freedom we have under illegality now.  Well, yeah, what did you expect, that you could just run through the streets high yelling FUCK YEAH!!! once this proposition passed?

I’ve even seen people bitching about how this prop. might make them have to ask their landlord for permission to grow weed in their house.  Look man, I’ve lived in apartments where the management’s come after us for putting fucking cardboard boxes on the balcony, so really, does this come as a total shock to you?  You don’t like it?  Well, then either petition for a change in leasing rules, move to a friendlier place or get your own house instead of renting.  And trust me, it’s a lot easier asking permission from your landlord than it is asking permission from a cop.

November 2 2010 General Election

On November 2 2010, I voted at around 750 PM at Clairemont Mortuary Chapel in Clairemont, San Diego.  Any race I don’t discuss here, I either abstained out of apathy or because I didn’t have time to research it.

For comparison purposes, where applicable, I have included the recommendations of the California Democratic Party and Calitics, a liberal blog devoted to Californian politics.

 

 

Governor: I voted for Laura Wells.  See here for my explanation.

California Democratic Party: Jerry Brown

Calitics: Jerry Brown

Result:

 

 

Lieutenant Governor: I’ve written before on how I think San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom (D) is more show than substance, and I’d rather not contribute to his rise through electoral politics at this point in time.  So it was down to the Green and Peace and Freedom candidates again.  Both Green Jimi Castillo and Peace and Freedom C.T. Weber have rather cluttered and unattractive websites.  Castillo’s platform focuses at mind-boggling length on prison reform, water, environment, and education.  It’s focused on California issues but it just went right over my head.  Weber, who looks like he’s wearing an old-school Star Trek uniform in his mugshot, has his policy positions all over the place, but on the front page he does seem to indicate that he supports Proposition 25, which would change the budget threshold in the Legislature to a simple majority.  He also explains his positions more clearly in this flyer.  I voted for C.T. Weber.

On a Newsom-related sidenote, I’m excited to see a new, hopefully more progressive mayor in San Francisco, as has been discussed by the SF Chronicle here and here.  Apparently, getting a new mayor if Newsom were to win and depart mid-term is messy and complicated, much more than it should be.  The acting mayor would be David Chiu, a centrist who could be potentially difficult to dislodge if he decided he wanted to stay on as mayor.  So, it’d actually be better for progressive hopes in San Francisco if Newsom were to lose his Lieutenant Governor race, and a new mayor could be chosen the regular way when Newsom is term-limited out of office in 2012.  On the other hand, I’d rather have Newsom as Lt. Gov. than a Republican, even one as moderate as Abel Maldonado.

California Democratic Party: Gavin Newsom

Calitics: Gavin Newsom

Result:

 

 

Attorney General: I’ve heard good things about San Francisco County District Attorney Kamala Harris, who is sometimes referred to as “the female Obama”, which might not be a good thing depending on how much detail one gets into.  Apparently corporate interests are flooding the state with money aimed to defeat her, which is always a good sign.  Her apparent waffling on three strikes is troubling, but at least she’s shown some intent to enforce it rationally – though her Republican opponent, Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley, might actually be to her left on this issue.  I cautiously voted for Kamala D. Harris, but we’ll all have to see how judicious she is if elected.

California Democratic Party: Kamala Harris

Calitics: Kamala Harris

Result:

 

 

Insurance Commissioner: Democratic nominee Dave Jones is by all accounts a great liberal.  But I gravitated towards Green nominee Bill Balderston, who calls for increasing the medical-loss ratio, taxing insurance company profits, and controlling premium increases.  I voted for William Balderston.

California Democratic Party: Dave Jones

Calitics: Dave Jones

Result:

 

 

United States Senator: While I believe incumbent Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer has a perfect voting record, I do wish she were more independent and had challenged the Obama administration and Congress from the left, especially when it came to the fight over the public option.  I wrote her an email (which I’ll publish here soon) in which I asked her what she’d do to advance the cause of a public option and Medicare for All if she were reelected.  She didn’t respond in time for my vote (she hasn’t responded at all as of this writing), but after some careful consideration and reading this article, I decided that Boxer had done an overall great job and she deserved a vote for reelection.  I voted for Barbara Boxer.

California Democratic Party: Barbara Boxer

Calitics: Barbara Boxer

Result:

 

 

United States Representative, 53rd District: This is the one place I could’ve really registered my discontent, as every House Democrat, including CA-53’s Susan Davis, had the opportunity to vote down (or at least threaten to) the Senate health insurance reform bill on account of a lack of the public insurance option, and Davis did not.  Plus, I really wished there was a more liberal Democrat representing me.

To my dismay, there was no leftist minor party candidate running, and I was prepared to write-in Mike Copass like I did back in June, when I found out that Davis had actually signed the Polis-Pingree letter demanding a public option in the reconciliation bill, despite her earlier waffling on the issue.  How much the letter mattered (as the reconciliation bill ended up not having a public option) is debatable, but this contribution, combined with the fact that there’s no left-wing alternative running on the ballot, was enough for me to decide to begrudgingly give Susan A. Davis my vote.  I really hope a real liberal comes along in 2012 and primaries her, though.

California Democratic Party: Susan Davis

Result:

 

 

Member of the State Assembly, 76th District: Outgoing term-limited Assemblymember Lori Saldaña supported single-payer, so it was important to me that her successor did too.

Democrat Toni Atkins, a former San Diego City Councilmember, seemed like a decent candidate.  She was for investing in education and jobs and wanted to reform the broken budget rules in the State Legislature.  Disappointingly, I couldn’t find anything on single-payer for her.  I did find some suspicious votes of hers against funding a homeless shelter.

Out on a limb, I also decided to check with Republican Ralph Denney to see what his views on health care are.  Boy was I glad I did.  Eh, he’s a Republican; he wouldn’t support single-payer, right?  WRONG – look!

And again, the solution is simple and requires only common sense… Extend MediCare/MediCal to include more of the poor and lower middle class!

[…]

But even if we simply expand MediCare/MediCal, this solution is still far better, less intrusive, and much less costly or disruptive than the plans now coming out of Sacramento or Washington.

Granted, his preferred option would be a voucher system more in line with traditional Republican ideas, but he at least expressed openness to the idea of single-payer, which is more than can be said of just about every other Republican on the face of this country, as well as of Toni Atkins.

As for other issues, he does parrot the same old rhetoric about cutting spending, but it’s relatively tame stuff, no worse than what I’d see from a “mainstream” Democrat.

I decided that I’d take a chance and vote for Ralph Denney, and hope that he’d be inclined to help pass single-payer once in the State Assembly.  If he doesn’t, I’ll be sure to vote against him next time.

This marks the first time (I can think of, anyway) that I have ever voted for a Republican!

California Democratic Party: Toni Atkins

Result:

 

Member, Board of Supervisors, District No. 4

I voted for Democrat Stephen Whitburn because I think it’s high-time there was a Democrat on the County Board of Supervisors.  I looked up his website and it was decent, and he’s apparently been running an energetic and liberal campaign.

California Democratic Party: Stephen Whitburn

Result:

 

 

City of San Diego, Member, City Council, District No. 6: The City Council race between Lorie Zapf and Howard Wayne is being fought mostly in generalities, platitudes and irrelevant accusations being hurled at one another.  Looking at their websites and campaign statements, they basically support the same things, right down to some very similar language (after all, how many ways are there of saying “I support firefighters, teachers and babies”?).  In the end, it came down to the fact that Zapf mentioned wanting to keep libraries open – libraries are a very important local issue to me – and Wayne didn’t.  I know; it’s a somewhat silly and trivial difference, but that was literally the only real difference between the two, and in these local races where everyone supports the same thing it’s these little differences that break the ties.  I voted for Lorie Zapf for City Council.

This office is nonpartisan and it turns out Zapf is actually a Republican.  Her Issues page does have the typical allusions to oppressive business climate or what not, and reducing government waste and “managed competition” (i.e. privatization of city services).  Apparently, the Democrat Wayne isn’t much better on those issues himself.  I think that, unless proven otherwise, no one at the local level can really be that conservative, as basic city services are hard to get away with cutting without the effects being felt acutely – and the politicians responsible punished accordingly.  Let’s see where this goes and if Zapf turns out to be a disaster then I’ll vote to turn her out next time.

This is the second Republican I’ve voted for (that I can think of right now).  I would’ve never thought I’d vote for a Republican, let alone two in one election!  Well, I never thought Republicans would support single-payer and libraries, either.

California Democratic Party: Howard Wayne

Result:

 

 

Prop. 19 (legalizes marijuana): I voted Yes.  I’ve been an advocate of marijuana legalization (actually, drug legalization in general) for a long time, and misleading arguments by pro-legalization opponents of this proposition didn’t dissuade me.  I’ll write a separate Xanga entry on this.

California Democratic Party: Neutral

Calitics: Yes

Result:

 

 

Prop. 20 (empowers state commission to redistrict Congressional districts): I voted Yes, just as I voted for Prop. 11 in 2008.  I feel strongly that districts should be created more fairly and if anything Congressional districts are much more screwed up than State Legislature ones (State Legislature ones actually “look” okay, if you ask me).

California Democratic Party: No

Calitics: No

Result:

 

 

Prop. 21 (establishes a vehicle license surcharge to fund state parks): I voted Yes.  This is simple.  Assess higher vehicle fee, raise money for parks, waive entrance fee.

California Democratic Party: Yes

Calitics: Yes

Result:

 

 

Prop. 22 (prohibits the state from taking funds from localities): I voted No.  I don’t like the sort of budgetary inflexibility this would lend to.

California Democratic Party: No

Calitics: no recommendation

Result:

 

 

Prop. 23 (suspends carbon emissions law): I voted No.  We need to do something about climate change.

California Democratic Party: No

Calitics: No

Result:

 

 

Prop. 24 (reinstates tax liability for business): I voted Yes.  Businesses shouldn’t get any more tax breaks.

California Democratic Party: Yes

Calitics: Yes

Result:

 

 

Prop. 25 (reduces vote threshold for state budgets from 2/3 to simple majority): I voted Yes.  This is something I’ve been enthusiastic about for a long time.  We need to get that threshold to somewhere sane if we’re gonna get anything done, and what kind of government needs a 2/3 vote to accomplish such a vital task as passing a budget?  I think if this passes it’ll dramatically change California’s government for the better.

California Democratic Party: Yes

Calitics: Yes

Result:

 

 

Prop. 26 (increase vote threshold for fees from simple majority to 2/3): I voted No, for similar reasons as the ones I laid out for Prop. 25.  I don’t want to see the number “2/3” anywhere on a ballot for a long time, okay?

California Democratic Party: No

Calitics: No

Result:

 

 

Prop. 27 (eliminates state commission on redistricting): I voted No, for similar reasons as the ones I laid out for Prop. 20.

California Democratic Party: Yes

Calitics: Yes

Result:

 

 

San Diego County Prop. A (prohibits County from using project labor agreements): I voted No, because I don’t understand why the County can’t set its own standards for projects.

California Democratic Party: No

Result:

 

 

City of San Diego Prop. D (increases sales tax): I voted Yes.  We need money to pay for vital government services.

California Democratic Party: Yes

Result:

 

 

San Diego Unified School District Prop. J (increases property taxes to fund education): I voted Yes.  See my reasons for Prop. D.

California Democratic Party: Yes

Result:

2010 California Gubernatorial Election, General Election

What You Need To Know: A Summary For You Lazy Asses

·         My decision for Governor came down to the Peace and Freedom Party’s Carlos Alvarez and the Green Party’s Laura Wells, and I’ve decided to vote for Laura Wells.

So I’ve amply explained why I won’t be voting for the Democratic nominee for Governor, Attorney General Jerry Brown.  Obviously, I won’t be voting for the Republican, Libertarian, or American Independent candidates either.  So that leaves the Green and Peace and Freedom candidates.  Which one to choose?

The Peace and Freedom Party has nominated Carlos Alvarez, who seems like an earnest candidate who mostly shares my positions on the issues.  Alvarez might be a little too much for me, though.  He’s a proud socialist, and while I don’t consider myself a “full” socialist, I do support socialistic institutions – such as police, public education, military, and so on – and the concepts that underlie them. (I’m probably closest to a mix of American liberalism and social democracy.) The self-designation of “socialist” is more reason for me to vote for someone than against them, but Alvarez is part of the Party for Socialism and Liberation, which believes that

The idea that the capitalists’ grip on society and their increasingly repressive state can be abolished through any means other than a revolutionary overturn is an illusion. Equally unrealistic are reformist hopes for a “kinder, gentler” capitalism, or solutions based on economic decentralization or small group autonomy. Meeting the needs of the more than six billion people who inhabit the planet today is impossible without large-scale agriculture and industry and economic planning.

While I strongly believe in real changes to the political system rather than pathetic incremental tinkering, I’m not quite ready for a “revolutionary overturn”, or the abolition of capitalism altogether.

Furthermore, Alvarez’s webpage is part of the PSL’s larger website that outlines their positions on national issues.  While I agree with many of those positions, they’re not targeted specifically to California and California’s gubernatorial race.  Alvarez’s webpage lists a lot of his past accomplishments – which are impressive – but is woefully lacking of actual plans for what Alvarez would do in the future if he were elected Governor.  Alvarez seems like he’d make a great community organizer, but he doesn’t quite sound like Governor material yet.

Now, the Green Party’s Laura Wells has issued a number of great positions on important issues.  First off, health care:

            As Governor, Laura Wells will:

* Actively support establishing a Single Payer Universal Health Care system. This means health insurance coverage for ALL residents through a single insurance plan offered by the government.

            […]

SB 840 (the Single Payer bill introduced by State Senator Sheila Kuehl) passed both houses of California’s legislature in both 2006 and 2008 and was vetoed both times by Governor Schwarzenegger. As Governor, Laura Wells would take great pleasure in signing the next such bill into law.

Now that’s what I wanted to see.  Next question.

Will she reform the broken budget rules that set up high supermajority thresholds in order to pass budgets or raise taxes?  Wells doesn’t say so explicitly, but she does condemn those rules, which is a good sign:

Sacramento cannot pass a fair budget because a Super-Majority of votes is required to raise the taxes needed to run the state. To kill any decent budget, all it takes is 34 out of a 100 legislators to cross their arms over their chests and refuse to budge. The reason a small minority has that much power in the legislature is that a 50% Simple Majority can lower taxes, but it takes a 66.7% Super-Majority to raise taxes.

Wells also supports investing more in actual public education and not destructively obsessing over charter schools, raising taxes on the wealthy and fixing Prop. 13 (though, having listed all the problems with it, she doesn’t really go into the actual solutions – still, has any other candidate even mentioned Prop. 13?), creating a state bank, creating green jobs and supporting publicly-owned utilities, and perhaps most importantly, reforming our elections to be publicly-financed, with instant-runoff voting, proportional representation, open debates and same-day voter registration.

Laura Wells is the real deal.  I proudly endorse Laura Wells for Governor of California.

 

Laura Wells in Sacramento for her January 18 2010 campaign kick-off.  Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Of course, Wells is nowhere near winning.  Current polling has Jerry Brown with a healthy lead over Republican Meg Whitman and it seems like Brown will be our next Governor.  Not really happy with that, as I don’t think Brown will be willing to accomplish anything substantial, and any real changes will have to be fought tooth-and-nail through the ballot initiative and referendum.

NOVEMBER 2 2010 UPDATE: Now that TPM PollTracker is actually working, there appears to be just one poll that includes Wells (as well as all the other candidates).  The October 24 2010 poll shows Wells polling at a whopping 1 percent of the vote, the same as Alvarez and Libertarian Dale Ogden and 1 point behind American Independent Chelene Nightingale.