New Orleans I have a welcoming smile for the random door knocker and a ready ear for the venturesome out-of-the-blue cold caller, having been on that end of the phone and doors thousands of times, so when the good ol’ landline rang close to 9pm last night, I picked it up. Last night the old school caller who had gone to the white pages and let out a shout was Ben Shaw from San Marcos, Texas the chair of the Texas Justice Party and Southern States Ballot Coordinator for said same party. He was faced with the Herculean task of trying to not only get support for Rocky Anderson, former two-term Mayor of Salt Lake City, as a very long shot candidate for President of the USA, but also figure out a way to get Rocky on the ballot in as many states possible. I’m sure what sent this former elected assessor and ex-Democratic Party activist looking through the telephone directory was a deep seated hunch that anyone who was wild enough to found ACORN and run it for 38 years might just be the guy crazy enough to try something like this, too.
I had a pleasant conversation with Shaw, kept it friendly, and encouraged him to keep up the courage and stamina to make these cold calls.
Looking at the Justice Party’s website after I hung up, I had to admit, it was hard to find fault with its program. They were great on the environment and categorically against our recent wars of course, and their Economic Justice program was pitch perfect:
- Implement major domestic green jobs and infrastructure programs
- Re-establish and make viable workers’ right to organize
- Create a fair, democratic, and transparent financial sector that serves the needs of start-ups, small business and consumers
- End incentives for U.S. companies to send jobs overseas
- Enact a financial transaction tax that will curb reckless speculation and provide revenue for job creation, job training and education
- End the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy
- Compassionate and rational immigration reform
- End to subsidies for oil and gas companies
- Free education through four years of college or equivalent as a right
- Protect public investments by opposing and reversing the privatization of public assets
No radical, flame throwing list there, just meat-and-potatoes common sense economic proposals. Probably only shy in the area of not speaking up on housing foreclosures and loan modifications, but why quibble?
And, that’s the sad part of this. On one hand it’s inspiring to see that there are still people working out there in the vineyards of our democracy trying to speak truth to power and put their time and energy into common sense alternatives because, frankly, they believe in the process. On the other hand, it’s painful given the dominance of partisan activity and political life by money to reckon with knowledge that their task is not daunting, but impossible. Their best hope, and I don’t discount it, is to build a network of folks like themselves to keep the voice alive for such principles and for a democratic process.