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An Announcement on Minneapolis e-democracy forum on July 16, 2008

plus subsequent postings

   

I am rejoining the Minneapolis discussion list after an absence of about a year and a half. A reason is that I have recently filed to become a candidate for Congressin the 5th District with the Independence Party of Minnesota. Hopefully, issues related to the Congressional race in Minneapolis and surrounding suburbs will be considered “local” rather than national or statewide. That used to be true but, judging from the nature of recent postings, I’m not sure what is the current understanding of this forum’s scope.

Keith Ellison, the incumbent member of Congress, enjoys both strong DFL and community backing. So why am I running? Why run under the banner of the Independence Party? Both good questions. Rep. Ellison began his political career as a fierce opponent of private-sector landlords and, like many DFLers, was especially antagonistic toward a group, Minneapolis Property Rights Action Committee, to which I belonged. I therefore supported the opponent in his first race for state representative, Duane Reed. As a member of the Independence Party, I supported his IP opponent in the race for Congress two years ago, Tammy Lee.

Having said that, I would also say that I have no bone to pick with Ellison’s record in Congress during his first term in office. His stance on the Iraq war and on the impending war with Iran accords with my views. U.S. militarism is a terrible thing and Ellison knows it. On C-Span recently, I watched Ellison question some of the administration’s pro-torture lawyers and felt he took a suitably harsh tone. So if Rep. Ellison gets reelected, it will be with some degree of merit.

Even so, the nation is facing multiple problems that amount to a crisis of almost unparalleled scope. It’s fair to say that the Republican Bush administration has been one of the worst in U.S. history. But the Democratic Congress is no shining example. What vision have they other than to cling to stereotyped ideas and service their special-interest constituencies? Public opinion polls show that both the President and the Congress are held in low esteem. Many people, including me, are waiting for something new to come along that will shake Washington out of its comfortable bipartisan rut and begin representing the people’s interest. Jesse could have done it but he decided to go another way.

The country is going broke. It has chronic budget deficits and a trade deficit running around $700 billion a year. Does anyone in Congress have an idea what todo? Instead of getting our economic house back in order, we’re throwing our weight around militarily, invading other people’s countries or threatening to bomb them. We need to abandon ideas of empire and tend to business. We can’t afford this costly “war on terror” any more. We can’t afford the war on drugs or any kind of war because we’re running out of money, resources, and good will. Bush spent our wad. Turn some of these security problems over to the United Nations and hope for the best. The issue now is the economy. It’s jobs. We need to talk about that sort of thing.

The trade deficit especially needs attention. We as a nation can’t continue to run up debts indefinitely. How can we bring the deficit down? Currency adjustments haven’t done it. High graduation rates from college haven’t done it. I have another answer: tariffs. We need to protect our high-priced labor by imposing tariffs, at least temporarily, on goods imported from low-wage countries. That, in turn, means that we need to scrap free trade regimes established by quasi-treaties, unratified by the Senate.

Scrapping free trade does not necessarily mean trade wars between nations. I think
the world’s nations can agree on an alternative system that respects developmental
needs. A system of “employer-specific tariffs” would allow government to gain some
measure of control over the multinationals with an eye to improving wages and living
standards around the world.

Imported oil is another component of the trade deficit. Clearly our nation needs
to push alternative sources of energy, especially with respect to automobiles.
A consensus seems to be emerging that wind power is a promising source of electricity
and that automobiles powered by electricity offer a way to wean ourselves off gasoline.
But instead of supporting that option, the Congress failed to renew the 2% tax credit
for wind energy (while renewing subsidies for gas and oil production). Dick Cheney’s
type of lobbyist seems to have gotten to members of Congress from both parties.
Our best hope of leadership to solve the energy problem is a former oil man, T. Boone Pickens, not Congress or the President.

Anyhow, I want to run for Congress to raise some of these long-term problems and
propose solutions. My entire program is contained in an article, “Manifesto of
our Future Possibilities” on a campaign website, http://www.newindependenceparty.org.

When you cast your ballot for Congress in November, you will have three choices:
the DFL candidate, probably Keith Ellison; the Republican candidate Barb Davis White,
and me. Regardless of the outcome of this election, the important thing is that
we recognize and discuss the real problems that will be facing us and begin to craft
an intelligent response before the pain sets in.

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July 17, 2008

Bill

Good luck. There will be no Green on the Ballot.

The person who was endorsed was unnable to get enough help to gather the needed
signatures for Ballot Access.Likewise, I was also unable to get enough help to get on the ballot for US Senate.

I guess the progressive community are quite happy with Keith Ellison and Al Franken.

C'est la Vie. We get the government we deserve.

Michael Cavlan
Powderhorn

Note: Michael Cavlan was the Green Party candidate for U.S. Senate in 2006.

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July 18, 2008

Thanks, Michael Cavlan, for your comments. The Greens are rather unique among parties
in leading with a focused vision of the future. Our democracy would be improved
if ballot access for all political parties were eased and instant runoff voting
were adopted so that supporters of the Democratic and Republican parties could not
use the “spoiler” argument to squelch candidacies from other parties. They offer
the voters stones for bread and then complain that we are stealing their votes.

In the early ‘90s, I had the privilege of submitting articles on international trade
to a national Green Party publication, Synthesis/Regeneration. One, titled “A Labor
and Environmentally Oriented Trading System” appeared in the spring 1993 issue of
that publication; the other, “A Search for Trade Standards to Protect Labor and
the Environment”, appeared in the winter of 1996. Today, the concepts developed
in those articles are the heart of the program that I am proposing as a Congressional
candidate.

Locally I was involved with a group of landlords called Minneapolis Property Rights
Action Committee which played a part in the Greens’ amazing victories in two Minneapolis City Council races in 2001: Natalie Johnson Lee’s victory in the 5th ward and Dean Zimmermann’s victory in the 6th ward. To date, these two elections represent a high water mark in my experience of citizen activism going up against an entrenched structure of political power in what is basically a one-party town.

The Independence Party has a rather different focus. It began in Ross Perot’s presidential
campaign in 1992 and the subsequent organization of the Reform Party. In my views,
the Perot campaign consisted of three issues: (1) opposition to perpetual federal
budget deficits, (2) opposition to NAFTA with its “giant sucking sound” of jobs
going south, and (3) sympathy for the forgotten victims and veterans of the Vietnam
war. As the Reform Party changed into the Independence Party, it dropped its opposition
to free trade. I would say it lost its focus. Instead, it has adopted a platform
consisting of 70 plus planks which individually are commendable but collectively
amount to a blur. I want to narrow the focus so that, in this campaign at least,
voters have a clear idea of what I stand for as an Independence Party candidate.

If the Republican Party were what it was 50 or 60 years ago, I might belong to that
party: a bunch of “old fogeys” who believed in balanced budgets, free markets and
business promotion, and “isolationism” (which I would call “minding your own business” internationally) while also producing reformers like Theodore Roosevelt and visionaries like Harold Stassen, one of the persons most responsible for the creation of the United Nations. I would gladly accept a president such as Dwight Eisenhower who
liked to play golf when he might have been shuffling through papers in the Oval
office or Calvin Coolidge who in the summer of 1928 took an entire month off to
go fishing in northern Wisconsin - provided that the country was prosperous and
peaceful.

Instead, the years of the Bush-Cheney administration have been pure hell. Whether
it’s the disastrous Iraq war, the neglect of our veterans, the foreclosure crisis,
the resurgence of the Taliban in Afghanistan, the $900 billion budget deficit and
the $700 billion trade deficit, the costly prescription-drug benefit, the “no child
left behind” program, the torture policies and violations of civil liberties, the
lucrative no-bid contracts in Iraq, etc. etc., it seems that everything Bush has
touched has turned to ashes. You know something is seriously wrong with this Republican presidency when Julie Nixon Eisenhower contributes thousands of dollars to Barack Obama’s campaign.

I continue to support free markets and economies regulated primarily by the law
of supply and demand. At the same time, government needs to regulate the economy
by impartial laws. As economic growth butts up against finite natural resources,
government needs to intervene in the free market by giving tax incentives and subsidies
to support renewable energy while imposing an additional tax burden on consumption
of petroleum and other nonrenewable resources. If the government can get its act
together, this would be the time to push wind and solar energy and invest in battery
technologies and people-moving systems of public transportation in congested urban
areas.

As a party which supposedly believes in the free-market economy, the current Republican
administration was run by three individuals who got rich through their contacts
with government rather than through honest free-market competition: Bush himself
who sold his interest in the Texas Rangers at a huge profit after getting the Texas
legislature to build that baseball team a new stadium; Dick Cheney, formerly of
Halliburton, who led the charge on the wasteful privatization of U.S. military operations
in Iraq; and Donald Rumsfeld, who became CEO of the Searle drug company by virtue
of his ability to convince the FDA to approve its medications. This is corrupt
capitalism. As a pro-capitalist party, the Republicans need to come to grips with
who they have actually become.

If the Democrats were an effective “loyal opposition”, they would be aggressively
challenging all this in Congress instead of complaining that Ralph Nader or someone
else was on the ballot stealing their issues. When I listen to the nominating conventions
of the Green Party or the Libertarians, I hear earnest proposals for government
being discussed and not just vague references to “health care”, “transportation”,
or “education”, as if that covers it. So, standing on the back of past Independence
Party candidates such as Tim Penny and Peter Hutchinson who exceeded the 5% vote
requirement, I’m proud to be someone out there in the political wilderness running
for Congress at a time when our country desperately needs to change its politics.

William McGaughey
Harrison, Minneapolis

 

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