Outreach and Exploratory Candidate questionnaire for the 2016 GPUS presidential nomination
Submitted by Kent Mesplay on 12/07/2015 to the the GPUS Presidential Campaign Support Committee
1. Are you interested in seeking the Green Party 2016 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 receiving the Green Party U.S. Presidential nomination.
2. What do you believe the goals should be of the 2016 GPUS presidential campaign? If you were the GPUS presidential nominees, how would your campaign work to achieve them? (Will your campaign succeed?)
The goal of the campaign should be to win. Enthusiasm will build the campaign and grow the party. We could quickly become the largest party. More people don’t vote than do vote. A serious but fun run can really take off. We run to win and focus on those who normally turn off to politics.
People can’t vote if we are not on the ballot. Ballot access is essential to a successful campaign. As of this writing I plan to help with ballot access by working with local groups in states such as Georgia, Texas and Nevada. I believe a presidential run should bring assets into the states, not take assets from the states. At the conclusion of the presidential run it is important that local and state groups are founded and grounded strongly enough that activity and ballot access will continue following the national run. Our strength, really, is in the locals. I am mindful of this.
In a sense, this is very much a protest campaign, but one recognizing that I may one day have to work with elected Democrats and Republicans in the White House. My focus on emergency preparedness and other security issues will help in regard to finding commonality with elected officials.
3. Please list five issue areas that you feel are most important and what would you do about them. (Who are you?)
Climate Change, Ending War, Electoral Reform, Environmental Advocacy, Honoring Treaties. I have been warning about climate change and proposing solutions since I began this run in 2003. Climate change is a social justice issue. I am determined to help facilitate change in this regard, particularly among Indigenous communities, regardless of politics. This run is a vehicle to help tribal people and others attain self-reliance and sustainable life-ways. By talking about it and making structural changes to government, we can end war. Our “swords to plowshares” approach allows respectful transformation from a war economy to a security-and-secure economy. This campaign will demonstrate electoral reform, and I will continue to talk about the corrupting influence of “big money” in politics. I have long been a strong environmental advocate, and I get “high marks” from other Greens in this regard. It is shameful that our nation does not honor the treaties with the First Nations. I will be discussing what we can do about this, including taking some of the issues directly to the people and not waiting for government to do the right thing.
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?)
I strongly support our platform. I will say a few things about the platform regarding our pillars, our more significant basis as Greens. As a party espousing non-violence, we really need to put an end to war. The over-reaching, expensive, unconstitutional surveillance state is a threat to our identity as U.S. Citizens. The military, industrial, congressional (and now “security”) complex is far more entrenched and problematic than in the days when Dwight Eisenhower first warned of this dangerous path.
Regarding Democracy, I see a “smart phone” democracy springing up, worldwide. The recording capability of phones is helping people become more accountable, responsible and joined. In the U.S.A, we are working within a flawed, unfair, corrupt political system even as we change it to be more representative. By voting Green you are voting for substantive political reform.
Our party leadership and our candidates have been strong advocates of Social Justice. We speak for those who can’t buy political influence: the poor, the imprisoned, the homeless, immigrants and other underserved, underrepresented segments of society. In my campaign, I am extending this advocacy to First Nations people by talking about failure of the government to keep its word.
On environmental issues, I will say that human activity affects the environment: air, land, water and the biosphere of living organisms. We see ourselves as not distinct and separate from the web of life but as a part of it. Behaving as responsible adults accountable to future generations,we take a more responsible “full cycle” view. Climate change is the defining ecological issue of our time. It is also a social justice issue tied into our democracy (or lack thereof) and our economic systems.
Our platform is useful as a guideline for others to follow. Having been a delegate to the GPUS National Committee for over ten years, I have helped shape the direction of the party. In 2008, on the campaign trail, I spoke about the importance of a Green New Deal, which GPUS later adopted in its platform. In short, the GND simply represents good governance, relying upon military cuts and fair taxation for funding the millions of beneficial jobs that can be created. My approach is that we need to transform the military in a non-threatening manner to address the full slate of environmental security issues. Funding would be transferred into a new unarmed force to help us proactively contend with the complexities of climate change. Such a branch would be tasked with ethically handling climate refugees and other complexities related to rapid climate change and the resultant displacement and disruption of society as we know it. In-between states of crisis, this new force would focus on sustainable re-development to improve our basic physical security and our emergency preparedness. In addition to “big government” programs, we really need to inspire people to take responsibility at the local level, outside of government. Regions require flexibility from government so that alternate experiments can be run regarding how we are going to adapt and survive to the unique changes of our time. Sustainability promotes self-reliance and independence from our consumption-based culture. Our government promotes consumption and unhealthful lifestyles, through paid lobbying, which is legalized bribery. Government can help, but it should not get in the way of our progress as determined, independent people. Local solutions are best, with watersheds and other ecological factors playing a leading role, and with local economic solutions (i.e. In contrast to the centralizing, corrupting, wasteful influence of government as we know it.)
4a. The GPUS platform contains specific planks that address how presidential elections are conducted and financed (gpus.nationbuilder.com/democracy#DemPoliticalReform). Do you support or oppose these planks and if you support them, how would you include them in your campaign, if at all?
I support these presidential-election-specific planks as written, with one exception. I no longer support IRV as it has numerous problems, instead I support using Approval Voting as a simpler and less problematic solution . I think the National Public Vote is a good step in the direction of abolishing the Electoral College. I think the issue of Super Delegates, alone, has people talking about the unfairness of the current system. The “Commission” on Presidential Debates is really a private corporation. It should be disbanded in favor of an actual commission. As to the Federal Election Campaign Act, I support the 1% benchmark over the current one of 5%. Imperative-party candidates are so marginalized by the current imbalanced system that 1% can be a difficult goal, especially when ballot-qualified candidates who could win are excluded from participation in debates. I will note that all three of these goals are lofty, given the stranglehold that the corporate parties have on our quasi-Democracy. A strong and interesting contested primary will help catapult our candidate to over 5% in the general election. I have been speaking and will continue to speak about the antiquated Electoral College and the “Corporation” on Presidential “Debates.”
f. Abolish the Electoral College and provide for the direct national election of the president by Instant Runoff Voting. As a step in that direction, support National Popular Vote legislation which would guarantee the Presidency to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and the District of Columbia), which would take effect only when enacted, in identical form, by states possessing a majority of the electoral votes — that is, enough electoral votes to elect a President (270 of 538).
g. Create a new publicly-funded People’s Commission on Presidential Debates, and open its presidential debates to all candidates who appear on at least as many ballots as would represent a majority of the Electoral College and who raise enough funds to otherwise qualify for general election public financing. Any candidate who refuses to participate in such debates would lose general election public financing for their candidacy. Amend federal law to remove the non-profit tax exemption status that allows corporations to fund the existing Commission on Presidential Debates and other such exclusive privately controlled debate entities.
h. Amend the Federal Election Campaign Act to change the percentage of the presidential popular vote required for a new party’s candidate to receive first time General Election public funding from 5% in the previous General Election to 1%; and change the percentage of the presidential popular vote required for a new party to receive public presidential convention funding from 5% for its candidate in the previous general election to 1%.
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 certainly have “constancy to purpose” going for me. I am the only presidential candidate who has participated in four consecutive presidential elections. I have experience as a candidate and as a delegate to the Green National Committee. I also have served at the local level in San Diego County, and I have run for statewide office in the first California Green Party contested U.S. Senatorial race in 2006. I have a scientific PhD, I grew up deep in a rain-forest, I have worked as an environmental regulator (Air Quality Inspector or “smog cop” for 14 years), and I add to the diversity of the party as a person with Blackfoot ancestry and Native teachings. I am a non-apologetic environmentalist who views our current Earth changes as being end-of-time and beginning-of-time markers. We are in the midst of a global species “die-off” of our own responsibility. We can and must do better.
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?)
In every Green Party presidential election season there is internal party strife over our “presumptive candidate.” Although some party leaders behave more fairly than others, the natural tendency is for time and effort to go toward the early favored candidate during the primary/caucus season. Also, those who recognize the importance of running local campaigns are often critical of a national run by any candidate. I will note that a presidential run helps inspire people to vote and to run for local office, and that it is helpful in maintaining ballot status when the turnout is adequate. A positive, engaged contested primary can help broaden the base of the party and make it more effective during the General Election campaign. As of this writing, all five of the declared candidates have something unique and interesting to offer the would-be voter. In terms of primary-season synergy, I worked with kat swift (aka katija gruene) and Jesse Johnson in a cooperative and coordinated manner in 2008. kat and I even shared a manager. My current experience is that Bill, Sedinam, Darryl, and I are helping each other gather information and meet deadlines. It is not uncommon for Green Party presidential candidates to help gather signatures for each other and to campaign positively.
It is an unspoken “rule” that the Green Party presidential candidate is expected to appreciably help grow the party, to help the party get on state ballots and to meet certain benchmarks such as higher voter percentage than we have received lately (e.g. to get at least 5%). As the nominee, I would expect a more unified support from the party leadership during the general election. I intend to campaign more actively than I have previously been able to do (I am committed to this, full-time; this is a sharp departure from the past) and I intend to increase our voter turnout and our ballot access by incorporating the support of the other candidates to bring their supporters into my campaign. This has not been done in the past and it is vital to exponentially expanding our success.
6a. The Green Party both supports transparency in campaign finances and privacy rights for donors guaranteed under local, state and federal law. Given that according to federal law, it is public information that all donors of $200 or more are listed on each presidential candidate’s campaign finance report, Given that such information can only be legally used for fundraising by a political party, if the list is donated to the party by the candidate as an in-kind donation; and given that candidates may donate such lists to political parties as in-kind contributions, without any limit as per the reported in-kind value of such a list; would you donate your list of all donors of $200 or more to the GPUS after the election, and if you planned on doing so, would you give your donors an opt-in/opt-out option to have their information shared with the Green Party after the donation to your campaign is made?
Yes, this seems like a reasonable approach.
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?)
We HAVE to succeed. We will not succeed unless we pool our resources and get creative in a hurry. There are levels of success. Educating people to lead more circumspect, responsible, low-consumption lives, moving us toward sustainable living, demonstrates success. We limit ourselves unnecessarily by settling for less than a win. The most direct, democratic, fun, cost-effective manner to rapidly grow the party and win the general election is through the use of social media and smart-phones. One does not need to raise hundreds of millions of dollars in order to win (sure, one can buy air-time, but the corporate media censors everything so effectively that on-air messages can fall short). If we focus on our ideas, our candidates, and unite with movements and stay away from getting sucked into the corporate party/media propaganda, we can succeed in continuing to open the hearts and minds of people who want something different, however, we must be united internally as well and cease with the “greener than thou” mentality and the exclusion of participants through excessive rule mongering.
7a. How would you respond as a candidate to the accusations of ‘spoiler’ that are often leveled at Green candidates, especially for president (optional to answer this one)
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 work better during the General Election season, during which time the cabinet members from separate campaigns would form a constructive congress and get behind the nominee. Another approach, which I will use during the primary season, is to gather endorsements from notables. Nobel laureates, artists, musicians, authors, scientists, celebrities and other notables are sought because of the ready media-draw. Ideally, the philosophy of these people should be in line with Green Party values and platform positions, and their celebrity should not draw attention away from key issues in the released “news” (good luck with that one). I welcome input from the community at large about who they would like to see approached for endorsements and cabinet members.
9. Can we publish your reply on the GPUS website in a public section reserved for such responses?