Stateside With Rosalea: Political Allsorts
**The big boys?**
The last week has seen the airwaves being bombarded with the most wonderful argument for third party politics that any electoral reformer could have hoped for. Hours and hours of news time have been devoted to the pathetic he said/he said politics of who did what in Vietnam. Even the Sunday morning talk shows couldn't leave it alone.
As one of the guests on ABC's This Week with George Stephanopolous pointed out, the Democratic National Committee had been warned long ago that having Kerry as their candidate was likely to blow up in their face, especially if he went down the track of comparing his Vietnam war service with that of George W. Bush. And this story will still be on the front pages on November 1.
Now, do you think the story would have even grown toes, let alone legs, if there were other viable candidates in this campaign? I doubt it. The rivalry is so pathetic - considering that people died in Vietnam and are dying now in Iraq - that it puts both Democratic and Republican politicians and their highly paid campaign strategists and defenders in a category lower than street pimps on crack. If there was someone else to vote for, whole rafts of both Republicans and Democrats would desert just to make their disgust loudly and clearly known.
But if one has to choose which of these two parties looks most pathetic, it has to be the Democrats. Having based their early campaign solely on Bush-bashing, now they're begging Bush to disclaim the ads that the Swift Boat veterans have aired. Well, voting for them now has all the appeal of voting for someone with a victim complex. Oh, you're so bad to me, I can't live without you, is what the Democrats seem to be saying to Bush. On the other hand, the Republicans have successfully floated the idea that Kerry is untrustworthy and inflated his war service to look good.
Speaking of electoral reform, the California Secretary of State has announced all systems go for the upcoming San Francisco City and County district elections to use ranked-choice voting aka instant runoff voting. A voter education program is now underway, and both the Examiner and the SF Chronicle have carried articles about the new system. For readers who don't know what ranked-choice voting is, or how it allows voters to vote their conscience, rather than forcing them to choose between two major candidates, neither of which has appeal, take a look at http://www.sfrcv.com/
One South Bay politician has already been airing some ads for a while now in which he sits down with a group of people and tells them that he is a "maverick" Republican, believing that off-shore drilling should be stopped and that women have a right to choose whether to have an abortion. Endorsed by Governor Schwarzenegger, Steve Poizner is standing in California Assembly District 21, which is in the Silicon Valley area of the San Francisco Bay Area. It's a very earnest ad, and he claims not to be accepting money from special interest groups, big donors. or political action committees. He also walks door to door campaigning, as this press release attests: http://www.joinsteve.com/newsroom/details.cfm?id=PR040818A
**Getting people registered to vote**
Some of the local TV stations have been airing programs that are about voting in general and its importance. Just about every cable channel I watch has a catchy public service announcement urging people to register to vote. And then there are the many websites for voter registration campaigns like Smack Down the Vote, and Rock the Vote, where I recently found the old Woody Guthrie anthem "This Land Is Your Land" rerecorded by Everclear's Art Alexakis, who was a much-publicized delegate to the Democratic National Convention.
In this weekend's Oregonian, Alexakis is quoted as saying: "We're not just donkeys anymore, we're jackasses. You attack me, I'll kick and bite. I love the fact that the Democrats are fighting back." Alexakis grew up in the projects in LA, which is where he says he learned to fight back, but I have to wonder whether "jackass" has a different meaning here in the States than it does in the part of the world where I come from. As you'll have gathered from my first paragraphs, I think the Democratic leadership are all jackasses too, but that's no compliment.
By the way, This Land Is Your Land was originally written to protest the aggregation of resources in the hands of a few industrialists. It was not some kind of romantic travelog or the hymn tune of Manifest Destiny. Alexakis has updated it to include a reference to some environmental causes in Oregon, where he now lives.
**Dog days of summer**
School and university holidays are coming to an end now. The first weekend of September is Labor Day Weekend, and is traditionally regarded as the end of summer and as when the political season begins in earnest. The Republican and Reform Party conventions are both at the end of this month. The Reform Party has already endorsed Ralph Nader, so its convention will be a working convention, but the Republican one in New York will be hours of empty pomp and ceremony, just like the Democratic one was.