EuroGreens, Camejo, and Iraq

Eli Stephens elishastephens at
Thu Sep 4 22:56:01 MDT 2003

Nick wrote: "Eli argues Camejo could be and should be campaigning
against the occupation/war."

Just in case it's not clear what I meant, and since Nick's sentence is also
somewhat ambiguous, let me make clear that I wouldn't propose this should be
the CENTRAL focus of the campaign. But I certainly think it belongs at a
higher level than nowhere. Just for example, in Peter's closing statement
( - see last section for
closing statement) he managed to mention saving the last 4% of virgin
forests, instant runoff voting and proportional representation. Now all of
these are fine issues, perfect for when he's giving a long speech or issuing
press releases. But as part of a 2-minute summary of his campaign? From a
purely electoralist point of view, these are total non-issues. "Green"
voters (not necessarily GP) care about saving the forests, but at the moment
it's not exactly a burning issue in California, and even if it were, if the
election looks like it is going to be close between Bustamante and
Schwarzenegger, half of the  Greens will be deserting Camejo and voting for
Bustamante anyway.

On the other hand, the war in Iraq IS an important issue, again even from a
purely electoralist point of view. On the one hand, it's one issue which
might energize students or other non-voters to actually come out and vote
for him. Another thing about the war is that, just like Blacks were being
killed disproportionately in Vietnam, in Iraq it's Latinos. Now Camejo isn't
going to differentiate himself from Bustamante in getting Latino support by
talking about drivers licenses for undocumented workers or things like that,
because Bustamante claims to support all those things (of course he stood
mute while Davis vetoed the bill the first two times it passed). But he
could differentiate himself from Bustamante by talking about the war and its
effect on Latinos, how they are dying, the unfair situation where
non-citizens are pressured into serving in the military with the promise of
citizenship, etc. And, as I wrote before, last but not least is the
possibility of energizing ALL voters with the idea that the money being
squandered in Iraq could be used right here in California to prevent the
closing of schools, hospitals, public transit, and a whole array of public

Another issue which Camejo left totally untouched is public power,
remarkable since the energy crisis is the central event which precipatated
the budget crisis and the recall. When it comes to talking about the energy
problem in California, he talked about "making California a leader in
renewable energy," which is all well and good, if a long-term solution. He
also criticizes Davis for signing an extortionary contract with the energy
companies  (as do the Republicans), and, good fund manager that he is,
claims (not in the debate, but elsewhere) that Davis's mistake was not
taking out "hedge bets" against the price of electricity dropping, as any
"shrewd investor" would have done (I don't even know if that would have been
legal for the state of California, but that's neither here nor there). What
Camejo DIDN'T say was anything about state takeover of the energy companies
or even of the transmission grid (side note - back during the height of the
crisis, Davis was negotiating with SoCal Edison to buy  a portion of the
grid, but I *believe* that never went through. I *believe* it is the case
today that the grid in California is mostly or entirely private, but I'm not
100% sure of that, and couldn't Google up the answer). Dennis Kucinich, a
Democrat running for President, routinely talks about his defining moment in
politics, when he "saved" Cleveland's municipal power company from a private
takeover (at the temporary expense of his career), and here in California,
municipal power is not unheard of - quite a few cities (including one major
one, LA, and many smaller ones such as Palo Alto, etc.) generate their own
power, always at lower costs than the private companies. That would seem to
be a PERFECT campaign issue for a socialist; unfortunately, it doesn't seem
to be part of Camejo's campaign.

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