Peter Camejo

Eli Stephens elishastephens at
Thu Jul 10 11:28:08 MDT 2003

I continue to think that people on this list are harboring serious illusions
in Peter Camejo based on his past rather than on his present.

Before I continue, let me make something clear. I like Peter Camejo. Hell, I
voted for him and even contributed a small amount of money to his campaign.
I'll probably vote for him again in a few months if this recall election
goes through. I do so because I think large vote totals for the Greens will
contribute to breaking down the idea that there is simply no alternative to
the Democrats and Republicans, and also helps to combat the impression that
the entire populace is moving to the right. But I didn't do so because I
thought he was "reaching out to masses of people with socialist ideas." He

Adam writes: "I think the Greens hold Peter back." Where is the evidence for
this exactly? Maybe you've had some private conversations about his secret
plans, I don't know. It certainly doesn't come from his political activity
of late. Again, don't get me wrong. If Peter no longer chooses to be a
full-time revolutionary socialist, and instead chooses to pursue a career
and make money, that's fine by me. Heck, it would be the pot calling the
kettle black if I thought otherwise. Even his choice of career, or the
amount of money he has made, doesn't concern me in the least. If money
management is his talent, or his interest, and if he's successful at it,
well, more power to him. But he hasn't exactly been a major activist in any
ongoing movement, at least, not to my knowledge. So in what sense the Greens
are "holding him back" I have no idea.

Jose writes: "he certainly was quite open about his being a socialist." He
did, I believe, admit that he was a  socialist when asked, but he never
mentioned it voluntarily to my knowledge. If you go to his campaign web
site, the only mention of the word "socialist" was here:

where his bio says: "In 1976 he ran for President as a socialist, gaining
ballot status in 30 states."

Jose also writes: "I guess it was probably confusing for me to call Peter's
campaign "socialist" given that people associate the idea with doing
abstract propaganda for socialism, which he didn't do."

But it isn't just a question of "abstract propaganda" or calling for a labor
party, another red herring raised by Jose.  How about concrete issues, that
are a standard part of socialist campaigns, like slashing the military
budget? No, he wasn't running for President or Congress, but, as I've said
before, given the budget crisis in California this would have been an
obvious issue. But it wasn't one he advocated. Jose pointed to his call for
a mildly progressive income tax. How about cutting the totally regressive
sales tax, which is a major tax on the working people of California?

The only really "socialist" plank in his platform, as far as I can see, was
this: "Guarantee Universal Health Care to every Californian. Use a
not-for-profit system." As Adam noted, this campaign was: "I think, like all
Green Party campaigns, it was left-liberal in nature." Nothing wrong with
that, just don't confuse it with "reaching out to masses with socialist

Jose puts a lot of stock in this: "Peter accepting the nomination and saying
that the first thing he would do as a candidate was to take part in the
Martin Luther King march was exactly, precisely, completely and utterly l10%
right. On the redness scale, he achieved extreme fire truck." I guess there
are a lot of red Democrats then (and even Republicans), since marching in
MLK marches (and Gay Pride parades and even speaking at antiwar rallies) is
something Democrats and even some Republicans have been doing for years. The
fact that this was the "first thing" Camejo mentioned in his campaign may
well have had to do with the timing of his announcement and the MLK march, I
don't know. If you go to his web site and click on Issues and then Civil
Rights, you'll find a perfectly fine statement on the subject, but no
mention of  MLK or Malcolm X or Cesar Chavez, so evidently tributes to black
leaders aren't that high in Peter's list of important things.

Jose seems to think that the campaign Peter ran is exactly the same one that
Lenin, or Fidel, or Marx and Engels would have run under the same
circumstances. I'd have to say this is way, WAY over the top. The fact that
the Greens came in second (beating the Republicans) in some cities in
Northern California had to do with the total discrediting of
right-wing-Republicanism in this area, combined with sufficient left-Liberal
sentiment which couldn't stomach voting for Gray Davis, combined again with
the near certainty that Davis was going to win and hence a vote for the
Greens wouldn't be "voting for the Republicans." It had far less to do with
the character of the campaign that Peter ran, or any "inchoate sentiment
towards an independent working class political movement waiting to be born."

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