2012 Questionnaire: Kent Mesplay
Reply by Kent Mesplay, to the GPUS Outreach and exploratory questionnaire for the 2012 GPUS presidential nomination
received February 7, 2011
1. Are you interested in seeking the Green Party 2012 presidential nomination? Are you considering seeking the nomination, but have not yet made up your mind? What factors are you taking into consideration?
Yes, I am interested in obtaining the Green Party 2012 presidential nomination.
2. What do you believe the goals should be of the 2012 GPUS presidential campaign? If you were the GPUS presidential nominees, how would your campaign work to achieve them? (Will your campaign succeed?)
In the 2004 presidential campaign I earned respect for my rather unusual assertion that we need to run to win, without apology to other political parties. I still believe this is the proper approach for a presidential campaign, although I acknowledge realistic challenges such as ballot access constraints, denied access to debates, difficulties with funding and media access, to name a few. In the 2008 campaign I drove to Arizona and helped collect signatures and inspire locals who then worked hard to get that state back on the ballot. In general, independent party presidential candidates must inspire party members and would-be voters while doing the less glamorous work such as supporting local candidates and building the party. With the support and cooperation of active Greens at the local, state and national levels, I promise to inspire through engagement in presidential debates, to “perspire” by being as active on the campaign trail as funding will allow, and to help organize the run into actual party-building activities. Our campaigns succeed by encouraging people to live lives of less consumption and of greater local community connection.
3. Please list five issue areas that you feel are most important and what would you do about them. (Who are you?)
We seek good governance. Basic physical security is important. As an emergency shelter manager for the county of San Diego, California, I see a need for people to be better prepared for emergencies. I think in terms of shorter and longer-term emergencies. Everyone needs to have five gallons of potable water on hand. We also need to grow food everywhere we can and to teach citizens that community gardens are patriotic (in contrast to Senate Bill 510). Health care, including dental care, needs to be taken out of the for-profit sector. Single Payer Healthcare is urgently needed, especially in light of anticipated medical stressors attributed to rapid climate change (sudden vector infestations, opportunistic diseases, etc). I am also a self-taught expert in energy issues. I know that by adjusting our lifestyles and improving energy efficiency we can become an energy-independent nation without resorting to nuclear energy. Another issue that I believe strongly about is fair treatment of indigenous people. World-wide, native peoples are besieged by an onslaught of injustice and disenfranchisement that does not represent “progress.” I intend to work closely with Native American tribes, helping give them voice to grievances against Uncle Sam, with the goal being the restoration of self-reliance and dignity. As Ralph Nader said, “Democracy is a powerful problem-solving tool.” We must use current communication tools and methods to work around our government for the good of the people and the environment. The Internet must remain free to evolve as a vital communication method. Until we can dissolve the legal fiction that a corporation is a person, and until we can end lobbying-as-bribery, we are unlikely to find worthwhile solutions to our water, food, energy and social justice concerns coming out of Washington-and-Company.
4. What parts of the GPUS platform* do you feel most closely aligned with? What parts do you disagree with, if any? Are there parts you would improve upon and how? (Who are we?)
Decentralization and re-localization are important, as this strengthens local community and quality of life. As a California Delegate to the National Committee of the Green Party of the United States for the past six years, I have participated as a member voting on Green matters. I very much recognize and believe that the Green Party represents the best hope for our planet to enact good governance, at home and abroad.
5. What in your background qualifies you to be a credible presidential candidate? What assets would you bring to your campaign in addition to those already existing within the Green Party? (What do you have to offer?)
I have participated in well over a dozen presidential debates and panel discussions, which is more than most candidates in any party. David Cobb, our 2004 nominee, said to me, “If I may, I have to compliment you on how you have grown as a candidate” twice during that campaign trail. After the final presidential debate at the convention in Milwaukee, I was approached on the street by Ross Mirkarimi, our media liaison, who said the press wanted to know who won the debate. He told them I did. This was at the time of the Nader/Cobb clash. People found my approach agreeable and believed in my message. Afterward, many people shook my hand, saying they would have voted for me, but they knew it was going to come down to a choice between Nader and Cobb. Greg Gerritt, former GPUS secretary, noted that I actually gained delegates after the first round of voting, ascribing the feat to how I conducted myself during the campaign. After the San Francisco presidential debate in 2008, the California organizer for one of the other candidates thanked me for being “brilliant and committed.” I am familiar with Green issues and political processes, and I have gained the respect and trust of many “key” Greens, even though I am not famous and have not held political office. I think it’s fair to say that I have a healing, unifying, non-confrontational approach.
6. Presidential campaigns are legally independent entities from the political party whose nomination they received. Yet most successful political campaigns meld candidate and party synergistically. If you were the GPUS nominee, how would you envision that working relationship? (How can we work together?)
One way for the nominee and party to work together is for the candidate to share mailing lists. In the past, one high-ranking candidate was reluctant to do this. Although I am in agreement with the sharing approach, in practice I have not yet formed any mailing lists: e-mail or otherwise. I intend to not be such a do-it-yourselfer this time around. I would benefit greatly as a candidate by being able to run not as an expensive hobby on weekends, but by being supported in taking time off work to really “get out there.” Also, I recognize that I need to put more energy into fund-raising, whereas in the past I have focused on speech-writing, responding to inquiries, and making it to every debate that I could. The $11,000 of my remaining campaign debt is money owed me. Namely, I loaned the campaign funds and reported this to the FEC. My plan, this time, is to focus on California and the western states in the primaries as this saves on transportation costs and jet-fuel emissions. At the level of GPUS nominee I would travel where the national committee saw fit so as to best represent and strengthen the Green party and to teach the public our values.
7. Do you believe that an independent party like the Greens can succeed in the US? How would you define such success? How can it happen? (Will we succeed?)
Success is in transformation of society toward being more just and sustainable. The Green Party is the electoral arm of the environmental movement, with green solutions having positive implications for peace, security, diversity, justice and quality of life. At present the political system is so rigged, “fixed” or broken that a Green presidential victory seems improbable. We are by design kept out of debates and the positive exposure our message brings. When Greens are in debates with other parties we do quite well, gaining support in the polls. Our party success is rooted in local races: candidates for water board or county commissioner or dog catcher, not in the high-hanging fruit. Unfortunately, ballot access is tied to independent performance in specified (not by us) state-wide races. When there is no Green ballot line it’s pretty hard for Greens to vote, so we are somewhat forced into running “higher ticket” races just to maintain ballot access. Many registered Greens only hear of and from Greens during election cycles when they see their party on the ballot. The red/blue political system is by design exclusionary and corrupt. For example, the Commission on Presidential Debates is a corporation that is run by major party operatives intent at stifling actual trans-party debate. Lobbying is legalized bribery. Because of the influence of money in politics even the greenest Democrat would commit political suicide to speak about actual solutions to our societal problems: don’t bail out banks, let them fail; grow Grameen-style micro-lending organizations; cut military spending, thereby threatening the bloated military-industrial-congressional complex; convince people to not buy so much crap that they don’t need; call out advertising for what it largely is: false; support organic local agricultural and food-as-medicine over big-pharma; reform prisons from being privatized money-makers based on head-counts, to being actual places of healing and turning people’s lives around. The list goes on. In general, we seek a higher baseline standard of living rooted in community, volunteerism, and insulated from economic exploitation. Legislation that bolsters local “say” within local neighborhoods is needed to counterbalance the independence-stripping predatory behavior of large corporations. The success of the green transformation depends on Greens and greens: people who are registered and politically active (Greens) and people who organize locally to do good work (greens) and who perhaps do not vote at all. Politically active Greens also tend to be local green activists. There are over 200 elected Greens in the U.S. Many people are “green” without knowing it or declaring it formally and politically.
8. There is some interest within the Green Party of having the party’s nominee run together with a Green Cabinet, that would feature prospective cabinet members and federal agency heads that would serve in your government, should you be elected president. Such an approach could demonstrate what a Green government might be like and would do so during the election, promoting transparency. It could expand the number of people campaigning, with Cabinet members on the road and in the press in addition to the nominees. What do you think of this approach? Who might hold positions in a Green Cabinet? How would you see your candidacy interacting with those individuals during the campaign? (How might we connect the dots?)
This would be useful, although Greens cannot rely upon there being thoughtful people in the media. If the approach would be to side-step the expected, anticipated methods of delivery, then this could work dramatically well (through You-tube, etc) and could be a great way for people to organize to be, themselves and together, that government of, by and for the people that we currently lack. The Internet, unfettered, is an important tool for Democracy.
I have been working for many years with an older woman who does not vote and will never vote, but who spends twelve hours a day at her computer linking experts outside politics in many fields worldwide. I formed a business, a sole proprietorship for now, so that we can advance, largely through volunteerism, solutions in many key areas. In other words, imagine a world in which people work together, especially for our common survival. Such people, once networked and connected, will lead to genuinely solve our problems such as energy production and use, waste treatment and disposal, prison reform that is cost-effective and works, immigration reform, economic reform, environmental security, the most appropriate food production and essential plants for medicine. Solutions to climate change are also solutions that strengthen local resilience, independence and sustainability. Did you know that with current and predicted advances in automation less than 30% of the world labor force is necessary to support our current way of life? What about the other 70% who are not “necessary”? Who talks about them? How do corporatists who are addicted to sell, sell and sell react to calls for “demand reduction”? Yes, we need a Green Cabinet. One is already largely formed. We cannot wait for our politicians to lead. I will provide details later, once I clear it with the scientists and other “cultural creatives” with whom I am linked.
9. Can we publish your reply on the GPUS web site in a public section reserved for such responses?
Yes, please do. I can be reached at 760.230.6591
Kent P. Mesplay, Ph.D. Feb. 6th, 2011, Encinitas, CA