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Stateside: Forget 2004, Here's Someone For 2008

Stateside with Rosalea

Forget 2004, Here's Someone For 2008

I guess I spoke too soon when I said a couple of weeks ago that the folks hoping to be the Democratic candidate for President in 2004 were ignoring California. Heck, even one Republican hopeful - GW Bush - will be in San Francisco soon for a fundraiser, albeit at the airport (where the pilots are).

Last week, The City saw Howard Dean, who has been at 19 percent in the polls of likely presidential primary voters in New Hampshire for several months now, and Dennis Kucinich, who is at 1 percent in the same polls alongside Carol Moseley-Braun and Al Sharpton. In the next couple of weeks John Edwards and Bob Graham will both visit. All these visits are to aid fundraising efforts here in the Democrats' cash cow state.

Will there even be a 2004 presidential election? Gore Vidal, in the June 2 edition of The Nation seems to be entertaining the possibility that there won't be. I entertain the possibility that, given a choice between a Bush/Cheney or Kerry/Graham combo, the lights will go on in California and they'll vote for a Green combo instead. Which would mean that California's crucial electoral college votes could be used to exact some common sense out of whichever wing of the Republocrats needs those votes to get into the oval office.

Practically speaking, however, it's probably going to be the Anarchists who have the most success in the 2004 election, without even trying. Their aim is to discourage as many people as possible from voting, thereby creating the lowest voter turnout in election history. Talk about having circumstances on your side!

There really doesn't seem to be much point in paying any attention to the 2004 election, but I have to say that I did recently attend a talk by someone who could be a good candidate in 2008 - David Bonior. He represented the 10th Congressional District of Michigan from 1976 until last year. From 1991-2002, Congressman Bonior was the Democratic Whip, the second in command in the House Democratic Leadership. He didn't stand again for Congress in 2002.

A self-proclaimed working class boy from the east side of Detroit, he has been praised as being a model legislator. At the talk I attended, he recounted how his secretary saved him from too much head-swelling by pointing out the dictionary definition of "model" is "a small representation of the real thing." He was speaking during a short visit to the Bay Area at the beginning of April, promoting his idea for a North American Parliamentary Union.

The talk had nothing to do with any election campaigning; NAPU is a project dear to his heart. He sees it as a way to ensure human development and prosperity for all - something that the North American Free Trade Agreement has not been able to deliver. NAPU's proposed democratic structure would enfranchise all citizens, not just recognise only one class of citizen, as NAFTA does - if you can call multinationals citizens.

Furthermore, Bonior said NAFTA has become the governing constitution in North America. He gave the example of UPS (a worldwide courier service) being about to sue Canada because Canada thinks that mail is a public service. In Mexico, 85 percent of the banking system is now foreign-owned. Individuals have no human rights under NAFTA, he said, and unchecked market forces are no guarantee of social change or social justice, as free trade proponents claim.

A North American Parliamentary Union would be modeled on the European Parliament. It could be appointed or elected, be grouped according to nation or ideology, have its power limited to an advisory role, and comprise just the NAFTA countries or include Central America as well. However it was structured, it need not meet too frequently, Bonior said. He saw it as a counterbalance to the distortionary effects the North American Free Trade Agreement is having on relations between Canada, the US, and Mexico.


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