Monday, November 1, 2010

Latinos need to get out and vote!

Your vote is important: California’s future is at stake!
By James Barrera, Freelance Writer/Latino Journal Contributor

Sacramento, CA – The California general election is right around the corner:  Tuesday, November 2nd to be exact.  And if you are a registered voter, it is the day of reckoning.  High noon, if you will -- time to get out and vote!  No excuses this time.  The stakes are too high and this election will impact Californians for generations to come.

I have voted in every major election here in California ever since I was 18-years-old.  As a citizen of the golden state, my California, it is my right and my privilege.  Throughout the course of my life, I may have missed out on family weddings and funerals.  I may have missed major interviews for jobs.  I may have even ducked out on a few break-ups with ex-girlfriends.  But I have never missed out on my right to participate in the electoral process.  It is my way to be part of our unique Democratic experiment and be a part of shaping the direction that my beloved California is headed.  That is why I encourage my fellow Californians to engage in the simple act of voting.  But consider your voting decisions carefully:

The Governor’s Race – Brown or Whitman: As you make your decisions on how to cast your vote, I encourage you to remember history.  At this juncture, Republican governor’s candidate Meg Whitman has spent an astounding $150 million in her attempt to buy the California governorship.  And yet, in the previous 30 years, she herself had never taken the interest to vote or participate in the democratic process.  She has no knowledge in dealing with Sacramento politics.  She touts her business experience as billionaire CEO for EBay as her only qualification to run California.  Does it all sounds so familiar?  It should!  It sounds a lot like current Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Whitman retains one of California’s most odious former governors, Pete Wilson as her personal political guru.  Wilson provided her with the same script, line for line that he provided Governor Schwarzenegger.  But unlike the consummate showman, Schwarzenegger, Whitman rarely strays off of those talking points.  And when she does, she stumbles badly, looking inept and out of her element.  Whitman picked up Wilson’s career-long political theme of demonizing immigrants for well, everything.  Of course, that blew up in her face, when a former Whitman maid, Nicky Diaz Santillian, went public with her story.  At the time she was hired, Santillian was an illegal immigrant.  She subsequently worked for Whitman for nine years.  Can you say – awkward!  The thing to remember was that Schwarzenegger won the governorship based on the same exact promises and talking points spoon fed to him by Wilson.  And look what happened to the terminator?  He found out the real land sharks are in Sacramento, not Hollywood.

In contrast, Jerry Brown has four decades of successful political experience.  In 1970, Brown was elected California Secretary of State.  During his term, he argued before the California Supreme Court and won against Standard Oil of California, International Telephone and Telegraph, Gulf Oil and Mobil for election law violations.  In addition Brown forced legislators to comply with campaign disclosure laws.  While holding this office he discovered Nixon’s use of falsely notarized documents to earn a tax deduction.  Brown was also instrumental in establishing the California Fair Political Practices Commission.  Not a bad start at all.

In 1974, Brown was elected Governor of California.  Upon taking office, Brown gained a reputation as a fiscal conservative.  Certainly more of a fiscal conservative than Governor Reagan ever was.  Reagan never met a budget surplus he couldn’t transform into a deficit.  On the other hand, Brown’s fiscal restraint resulted in one of the biggest budget surpluses in state history, roughly $5 billion.  In his personal life, Brown was legendary for his frugal lifestyle.  Instead of moving into Reagan’s former digs, the governor’s mansion, he rented a modest apartment at the corner of 14th and N Streets, in downtown Sacramento.  Unlike Reagan, who rode in a chauffeured limousine, Brown drove to work in a Plymouth.  In short, Brown could talk the talk, he could walk the walk.  If there is anybody who could cut through the Gordian knot of political divide and partisanship currently choking Sacramento, it is Jerry Brown.

Proposition 23 – Big Oil against California’s Green Industry:  One of the measures on the ballot is Proposition 23.  The measure is nothing more than a blatant attempt to kill California’s landmark work in reducing Greenhouse gas emissions.  This proposition is being bankrolled by major Texas corporations which include Valero, Tesero Energy and Koch Industries. What is at stake is the future of California’s green industry.  An industry that will generate billions of dollars in new commerce.  But even more importantly, green industry technology could potentially break our country’s addiction to oil.  Scientists agree that oil is a finite resource that will only become more scarce and expensive in the years to come.  Why would big oil companies out of Texas possibly be against that?

Citizens United Decision – A corporate war on American Democracy!  For months now, Californians have been inundated with an avalanche of negative political ads on television, radio, newspapers and direct mail.  More often than not, the shadow sponsors of these ads do not have to disclose who they are.  This is the result of a January 2010 decision by the U. S. Supreme Court on the case of Citizens United.  An atrocious ruling which allows billionaires and corporations to anonymously funnel millions to dollars into the electoral system.  In essence, the Supreme Court declared war on democracy and the American people.  Conservative Justices Joseph Scalia, Samuel Alito, John Roberts and Clarence Thomas proved to be nothing more than toadies actively pushing an extremist conservative agenda.  Since then, millions of dollars have been and are being laundered through organizations such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and American Crossroads to corrupt our government.  American Crossroads is headed by one of the most the Republicans most loathsome political fixers, Karl Rove.  Formerly one of President George W. Bush’s closest advisors, he gained the nick-name “Bush’s Brain.”  Rove is revered in Republican circles for his unique brand of dirty politics.

More recently, President Obama has rightly called out the Supreme Court’s judicial corruption and hijacking of our democratic electoral process.  In response, the best the Republicans could do was trot out that circus side-show phenomenon known as Sara Palin on a Fox News studio stage.  She engaged in yet another one of her banshee screeds, accusing the president of “Attacking capitalism!”  Political pundits are still trying to figure out what exactly that means.  The only thing missing was the spectacle of her daughter, Bristol Palin dancing in her “Dancing with the Stars” gorilla costume.

That is why it is important for each and every Californian voter to make themselves heard.  Through the simple act voting, we can successfully counter-balance the millions of dollars being laundered into our electoral system.  We can help steer California in the right direction.  Do what is right for your family, your community, and yourself.  Do your research, get to the polls and cast your vote.