Political Spam – but GOOD political spam
Why it's important for you to get off your butt and vote for Peter Alexander for Portland City Council. Hey, you gotta use every tool in the toolbox - even electoral politics. Slightly better people in local office can mean a lot more room for direct action and other methods. Still not convinced? How about voting just because it will feel good to punish a reactionary moron? Who? Read on . . .
My fellow procrastinators,|
Please forgive me for post. For some reason pieces containing information about events and issues feel different than those that urge you to vote for a particular candidate. Electioneering feels sort of out of place, on this direct action-oriented site. I think that's because candidates are pitched to us the way soap is - just another product. We get sugary emotional appeals ("Aw honey, look. Senator Lickspittle loves old folks and puppies, he's got to be a great guy!") or, when they do address the issues, they're so brief, vague and dumbed-down that it's an insult to your intelligence (Wow, Rep. Egopuffer is in favor of the environment. He's got my vote!). These inanities are transparent wrappings on base self-interest. Any serious, mature person would turn away from this spectacle in disgust.
Sometimes I think that's a strategy in Union and electoral politics: If the folks in power can make the whole process sufficiently ugly, frustrating and disgusting, all decent well-intentioned folk will recoil from the whole process and the old guard win by default. But, if we can stand the muck for a while, we can outlast that strategy and the quality of the public discourse and the people involved in it will improve. In the beginning I wore hip-waders and a gas-mask, and carried a shovel to Union meetings, but things are better now.
I can't remember ever having written an appeal for people to vote for a particular candidate. But I'm doing so now. Please vote for Peter Alexander for the Portland City Council.
Without putting his finger to the wind, he endorsed public power and a community take-over of the assets of PGE, while everyone on the City Council kept their heads down.
He proposes proposes a City ordinance that prohibits public officials from voting on issues that concern people who have donated over $250 to their campaigns. (My only problem with this is I think $250 is too high. But I'm sure the reasonable and right-thinking folks now in office and in the corporate media have very sophisticated arguments about why bribery should continue to be legal.)
Another good reason to vote for Peter Alexander is that he is not Dan Saltzman. (If you've been to the City
Council meetings, you know Dan as the guy who sits on the right and looks out over the room with the glassy-eyed, vacant expression of someone who has been smacked in the back of the head with a two-by-four.)
I had a meeting with Salzman once. Back in the Fall of 1999 we were trying to get the City of Portland to pass a resolution opposing the Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI). Many Cities and other local governments around the U.S. and Canada had already done so. Nancy Haque (who was then on the staff of Portland Jobs with Justice) and I met with Dan-o and one of his aids to talk about the measure. During the course of an hour or so it became clear to me that Dan and his aid were completely ignorant on the topic. But that didn't stop them from being absolutely firm in their support of the MAI and the WTO.
Some of you (you know who you are) may be thinking, "Well, isn't global trade outside the concern of local government?" We spent an hour trying to tell Salzman and his boy-wonder why these sort of international trade treaties would make local government impossible. Every time they tried to enact some new environmental measure or just changed zoning - anything that could conceivably reduce the value or the "potential profits" of some foreign firm's investment in Portland would get them sued.
A couple times during our talk Dan and his aid raised their hands and said, "Whoa, whoa you're way over our heads, here."
Ok, I've got a BA in economics, and I attended grad school briefly in economics -but I dropped out after one year! Folks, I've taught economics to freshmen at the University of Massachusetts (not the most studious and thoughtful collegiate minds, I assure you). I taught a global economy class at the Red Rose School for two years (much sharper folks than the UMass freshmen). I know how to make this stuff understandable to lay people. I wasn't speaking economese. These guys were just pug-ignorant on this topic. Yet, they were serenely sure that they were right, and they didn't want to let facts cloud the picture.
This begs the question: If they didn't read the paper I gave them on the MAI, or anything else on the topic, JUST WHAT THE HELL WERE THEY BASING THEIR DECISIONS ON? Was it that the other side had more impressive degrees than ours? They had glossy magazines on their side and The Alliance is on newsprint? I have no idea.
All I know is this: People who are so irresponsible, so trivial, as to make up their minds on important issues without even the most cursory study of them, have no business holding public office. Period.
Lest you think that this is an isolated case: Since then, I've seen Dan repeatedly advocate privatization of public services - INCLUDING PORTLAND'S DRINKING WATER -despite overwhelming evidence from around the world that this leads to higher prices and poorer service to the Public (anyone heard of Enron?).
I have to say that I object to Salzman making public policy decisions based on his religion. I don't know what else to call it. When you believe something despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, one can only call this "faith." It certainly is not reason. If Salzman can't keep his "free market" religion out of policy decisions he should step down.
In closing, please give no credence to any endorsement of Dan Salzman by the AFL-CIO or AFSCME. The political hacks there would endorse Mussolini if he were the incumbent. ("You don't understand, Josef. He's going to win anyway, so why should we make Il Duce mad at us by opposing him . . ." Are you all as sick of their calculating defensiveness as I am?).
I know I'm late, and you're probably late too. We can't mail in our ballots, but please make the effort to get your ballot to a drop box by Tueday afternoon. Peter Alexander is not only the better candidate, I believe he's the best candidate we've seen in a long time. Don't take my word for it, check out his web page.
Turnout is going to be low, so if we all turn out, we can make the difference. Thanks for listening, I feel better.
1. For those of you who don't remember, the MAI was a thoroughly nasty piece of work. It included the worst parts of NAFTA, like the Investor-to-State dispute resolution provisions that allow corporations to sue governments, shredded the precautionary principle in food and drug safety, etc., and would have included the entire world. After activists managed to have it killed at another forum, the European Union and Japan wanted the MAI included in the upcoming Millenium Round of the WTO. They never got around to it, heh heh. For more on the MAI see Z Magazine's Global Economy page.
add a comment on this article
add a comment on this article