For President – Bernie Sanders
Bernie was elected may of Burlington when I was in my senior year of high school, near the dawn of my political consciousness. Mitterand had already been elected President in France and socialism was making a little bit of a comeback in the post-1960s era of the Reagan Revolution. I was very active during the 1980s and so very cognizant of his political career. About a decade after his election as Mayor, where he did an excellent job by most accounts, he was elected to Congress. Contrary to the narrative of his detractors he has a long list of legislative accomplishments, writing some of his own bills but also amending other bills to make them more progressive. Most famously he held out for single payer as the Affordable Healthcare Act was about to be passed. He did not want to defeat the reform, but he negotiated hard and obtained about 12 billion for community health clinics and the right of states to enact their own single payer system instead of participating in the insurance exchanges. He voted against the Iraq War before it was fashionable to oppose. He’s responsible for a long list of progressive items from mandating notice of white collar fraud awards to victims paid for by the perps themselves to subsidization of heating bills for the poor. In the Senate he wrote and passed legislation to open up the military contractor process to public scrutiny, and to ensure that bailout money wasn’t spent to move jobs out of the U.S.
But mostly it’s what he represents that I support – a movement of social reform for which his run for Presidency is a springboard. He has excited an army of millenials who will hopefully take a greater interest in politics – introducing to them the vital energetic of NY Jewish progressive politics which has been slowly disappearing over the years. He is the first major candidate to raise class issues in a meaningful way in years, which is why he is drawing votes from the white working class, a group which has been leaving the Democratic Party in a slow but steady stream since 1968. Bernie is a fulfillment of New Left politics – the first major candidate to raise the history of the US backed Iranian Coup of the 1950s which set the tone for modern Middle East politics.
The math seems pretty definitively against him at this point, but the fight for the soul of the Democratic Party in the Convention platform discussions will require delegates. I look forward to casting the vote in June.
I think the reasons for my endorsement are best summed up in this video.
For Senate – Kamala Harris
She’s brilliant and a competent enough pol that she could one day be elected the first African-American woman President. There are more progressive candidates, but she has a good record and is probably at about the left wing of the possible for the Senate seat.
It’s likely that she will not be facing a Republican in the November run-off but instead Loretta Sanchez who did the world a service by replacing the crazy B-1 Bob Dornan in Orange County so many years ago. But she appears to be playing for the Republican vote at the expense of the environment and other progressive causes. She is a Blue Dog. However, her voting record is more progressive than her pandering would indicate. She did vote against the Iraq War for instance.
But Harris has a pretty solid progressive record. She did defeat Terrence Hallinan, one of my favorite political leaders of all time, to be elected SF District Attorney, but she continued his policies of prosecuting white crime, including environmental crime. She is against the death penalty. She was an LGBT rights advocate before it was fashionable.
She did briefly date Willie Brown. I guess I won’t hold that against her.
For Congress Second District – Erin Shrode
Jared Huffman is going to win barring some extremely unusual circumstances. I can live with that. He’s pretty cool.
But democracy works best when there are contested elections, and even though the opposition probably won’t win, when somebody comes to the plate who has a lot of potential as a progressive leader I want to support that person with my vote. So I’m not voting against Huffman. I just want this brilliant and passionate young woman to grow in community leadership. Hopefully she will run again, or for other offices. Her name is Erin Shrode and you will be hearing her name in the future. If she won, she would be the youngest woman ever elected to Congress.
Here’s a nice Huffpo interview.
Assembly – Jim Wood
He’s fine. I don’t support upping the smoking age to 21. I’m fine with allowing landlords to ban medical marijuana smoking in their homes. I support his moves to bring broadband and physicians to rural areas. No real complaints.
He has no opponent. That’s sad.
Second District Supervisor – no endorsement
I really like Estelle Fennell and appreciate her years of service on KMUD. She has supported some very important community endeavors and does listen to her constituents. Unfortunately, her views and philosophy of local economic and property development differ from mine sharply, and I’m very disappointed in the General Plan Update and a few other votes. However, she does seem to be acting according to the prevailing ideologies and wishes of the majority of her constituents.
I also really like her challenger Bud Rogers who is a passionate and talented man with deep roots in the community. Unfortunately I do not believe that his gifts are well-suited for the position.
I do appreciate the respectful tone of both candidates in the campaign.
Third District Supevisor – Mike Wilson
Mike is the clear progressive choice who has served the same constituency well for years on the Harbor Commission. As a commissioner he has helped lead the district in cleaning up of four million gallons of toxic waste at the former Samoa pulp mill, promoting sustainable growth of the shellfish industry, restoring large-scale wetlands, providing more recreational access to the bay and addressing sea level rise. He will be a crucial voice for economic diversification, smart growth and environmental protection. He has keen political savvy and despite the difficulties presented by the current Board makeup I’m hopeful that he will be able to generate some consensus around progressive issues. And where he can’t accomplish that he will provide a crucial voice of dissent to set up for the inevitable progressive turnaround in the county as it continues to change.
Proposition 50 – No
Right now the legislature can vote to suspend a colleague for alleged corruption or dereliction of duty, but cannot deprive him/her of pay until the law mandates/allows formal expulsion. It sounds good, but it’s a bad idea. It doesn’t provide any real criteria for the suspension, and I question whether even a paid suspension without more due process is appropriate. To give the majority this kind of power could have detrimental impact on representatives of limited means, who might have to leave the legislature before he/she has had a chance at defense of the allegations.
I am willing to consider well-thought means to discipline a representative based on clear process and criteria, but this just opens what passes for the process to political abuse.