Why California Matters

Random Lengths News | January 16, 2008
I'm not sure just how it came to be impolite to discuss politics or religion at the dinner table. However, I am sure that many a family holiday dinner has been interrupted by the flare of tempers, adamant posturing and proclamations of fact bandied over the holiday roast or turkey. In my family, peace was achieved at the dinner table when my father, after he had reached a wise old age realized that he actually agreed, for the most part with the younger set, and that George Bush the elder and then junior Bush were flushing the country down the shitter both politically and economically. End of the argument! It was now safe to talk politics at the table as we were mostly in agreement and the stray conservative who showed up usually learned quickly that he was sorely out numbered.

It is strange though, how often people avoid sharing their personal politics in this town, in a country where we supposedly honor free speech, freedom of religion and the right of political dissent. As most of you know, I am an avid proponent of free speech and an advocate of open civic debate. It's gotten me in some trouble over the years, but more importantly, it has also won me -- and this newspaper -- some lasting friendships and wide general respect. I say this not to impress anyone, but to come around to the main point of my column this week, which is the early arrival of the California Presidential primary, which is just a mere six weeks away! By the time folks recover from the holidays, it will be even closer. By my estimate, most haven't chosen their favorite candidate yet.

I have been asked repeatedly who am I backing, and the most I can think of saying is, "The one who is the most diametrically opposite of the Bush/Cheney regime." The one who will actually get us out of the morass of Iraq, stop the corrupt stealing from the US Treasury, restore our civil liberties and restore some dignity to the White House. Who that is right is a bit unclear. But what I do know is that this year, California with its early primary will give the Democratic Party winner an enormous boost going into all the following primaries. This could radically change who the perceived leading candidates are as well as the status of our state as a political leader rather than a follower in national politics.

What I will say at this point about the Democrats is that the more the Republican candidates and right-wing attack dogs go after Hilary Clinton, the more she appears to be the choice. The assumption is, who wouldn't like to piss off the born-again neo-cons by electing someone that they just can't stand? The more Rush Limbaugh slanders Hilary the more likely she'll get the votes, kind of a reverse logic. But all of the Democratic candidates have something to offer and I would take anyone of them over having to suffer from four more years of Bush's idiocy in office. California is ready for this change and needs to exert its "left-coast" influence as I don't see one Republican Presidential hopeful who can overcome the taint of Bush and Cheney's scandalous ten years in office.

Obama, Hillary, Edwards, Kucinich and Biden would all make better national leaders than the team on the right-wing. My suggestion to whoever wins the Democratic nomination is that the candidate who actually gets the nomination appoint their cabinet from these leaders before the national election next November and run as a kind of unity slate to show solidarity with all factions of the Democratic party. This was Lincoln’s strategy back in the 1860 election that help unify the party as the country split before descending into civil war. And America is similarly divided today, but not along the Mason-Dixon line -- north and south.

Why California really matters is that this state is still the largest chunk of the US economy -- retaining its status as the fourth or fifth ranking in the world -- it has beaten off, so far, the attempts to significantly privatize its energy and water assets and is now engaged in the battles of universal health care, carbon emissions controls on cars and container import fees to deal with our expanding import economy. Bush and the neo-con corporate raiders would like nothing more than to see the golden state gutted of its Democratically controlled $100 billion budget and the dismantling of its social contract. Our Governator tries to straddle both sides being sometimes green and other times greedy, but California will in the end, as a state, lead the nation.

As voters and others who are civically engaged in the affairs of this state it is up to us this season to break not only the bread of peace but also the silence of dissatisfaction. It is up to us to openly discuss the qualities of the future leaders of our nation, who will end the war in Iraq and bring us back from the brink of global ecological disaster and myopic American colonialism. My wish is that in this darkest time of the year, in one of our darkest eras as a republic that the candles are lit by the hands of the many to re-ignite the belief in our creed of freedom and liberty -- that when any form of government becomes destructive to these ends (and the rights of its citizens) it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it.

And to all a good night.

Random Lengths News

Founded in 1979 as a counterbalance to the conservative, corporate- owned daily paper, Random Lengths News draws on the rich history of the Los Angeles Harbor Area. The name harkens back to a description of the lumber that used to...
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