Posted By Luis J. Rodriguez on November 25, 2013
On November 25, 2013, the Green Party of California after a week of online voting endorsed author and community leader Luis J. Rodriguez for governor of California. Luis has embarked on a grassroots campaign, breaking new ground by calling for the end of poverty. The campaign champions aligning resources to meet needs by providing livable and meaningful work or income, healthy and clean communities, free quality health care for all, the overhaul of the criminal justice system, and ensuring arts, culture and expression outlets in every neighborhood. Below is the speech Luis made at the Green Party of California Plenary on November 16.
I’m honored to be among you all today in what I consider an important milestone in progressive, Green and social justice politics in this state. As we gather, the Green Party of California is poised to become the most encompassing and diversely represented it has ever been—and in the process make history for a healthy, clean and sustainable future for all.
Or – and let’s be clear – this opportunity may pass the party by. That may sound simplistic so let’s get to the heart of the matter.
We are at a crossroads. The capitalist system is in deep crisis. As a result every major institution in our society is in crisis. This is true for faith-based, cultural, social and political organizations. This is true for the Greens. And yet, as we all know, every crisis has opportunity. The general crisis in our society is our opportunity to inspire, teach, and organize for a new world—which more than ever is possible and imminent.
The key aspect is whether any association, party or institution can renew itself in alignment to an integral, cooperative, peaceful and equitable vision. The Democrats and Republicans can’t. As one party with two faces, they represent the failure of the capitalist ruling class in meeting the basic needs of working people, including the poor and marginalized. Moreover they represent the failure of ensuring the health and wellbeing of everyone.
This ruling class on local, national and global scales is being exposed for what it is—the greatest single danger to humanity. People around the world may have different borders, languages, customs, belief systems, and politics. What binds us is our growing misery.
Can we imagine a reality where no one has to sacrifice their health, children, or future to partake in an economy or in politics? Where anyone can become the owner of their life, their dreams, and can be provided the tools, teachings and choices to live fully and expressively?
Can the Green Party be the party of this imagination—of this future?
That’s our challenge. That’s what I hope my campaign for California governor represents to the Green Party, to anyone who wants to live meaningfully, artfully—as dynamic examples of transformative ideas, programs and actions.
The world has to change. And the Green Party has to change to assist in the process. That’s why I’m here with you today. I’m willing to do my part. I’ve not gone this far in my own revolutionary growth to squander time or energy on anything that doesn’t push this process forward.
Yet this endeavor will take profound patience, painstaking attentiveness, and a deep-seated persistence from all of us to match the gravity and power of this immense challenge. Walking this path takes courage, deep-seated character and the ability to be strong and vital in the complexity and tension of actually impacting our communities, our state, our world.
I have made the elimination of poverty the centerpiece of my program. So let’s delve deeper into the extent of this impoverishment—exemplified by 8.7 million Californians who are poor, including 2.7 million more since Jerry Brown became governor. What about the poverty of not having a clean environment? The poverty of being denied free and quality health care, or livable and meaningful jobs, or a liberating and comprehensive educational system? In the growth of actual material poverty, we are also seeing the rise in the poverty of ideas, of imaginations, of caring. And, as my wife Trini says, the poverty of access.
Here’s a statement from Jeffery Martin, an African American poet and leader who has never voted, disillusioned about the continuing lack of solutions and results in politics. He’s now the Los Angeles area coordinator for the Luis J. Rodriguez for Governor campaign. On the poverty of access, Jeffery writes:
Not having the essentials of life stagnates potential and undermines creativity. There is nothing engaging about seeing prosperity in other communities but knowing it is limited within your own. The American Dream has become one-dimensional. It works to the advantage of a select few while community after community are mere observers as it sidesteps the poor, leaving them frustrated and marginalized. The poverty of access leads to ill equipped neighborhoods, mismanaged lifestyles, less than successful educational facilities, dead-end job opportunities, broken communities and a myriad of other vices that attach themselves to despair and despondency.
Jeffery is now encouraged and engaged to take a leading role in this campaign. There are millions of people like him throughout the state. I tell this story to demonstrate how the power of a singular voice for change must be part and parcel of my campaign.
The Green Party of California platform has values I’m committed to – values linked to my indigenous roots. The platform says we are part of nature, not above it. That we are all interconnected. Implicit in this is that abundance is the nature of things, not scarcity. That in proper relation to each other and nature, we can create sustainable and clean technologies, cities, homes and workspaces.
My invitation is for us to do this together, to join with me as I join with you. To take this message, these ideas, these potentials to the very people who can make them real. As leaders we have to trust the intelligence, cooperative natures, creativity, and immense capacities that people possess to bring the necessary changes to fruition.
Trust in them and trust in yourselves. There should be no gulf between revolutionary thinkers and revolutionary activists, between our visions and the needs of the people, between what we strive for and what can be achieved.
I will make another point—I’m not here to be the “Latino” savior of the party or this state. Yes, I’m Chicano. I have native ties through my mother, a Raramuri woman from the Mexican state of Chihuahua, and father from the Nahuatl-speaking populations of Guerrero. Chicanos, Mexicanos, Central Americans, and Native Americans are a large and vibrant population that will get involved in this campaign if they are engaged the way anyone should be—with truths, with honesty, with respect. I’m here to represent all genders, ethnicities, faiths, sexual orientations, and disabilities in this battle for a new California. I will not compromise my hard-earned credibility with original peoples from California as well as those from Mexico and Central America by participating in political machinations, manipulations, and inauthentic approaches.
If the Green Party is true to itself, maintains strong integrity, and avoids any internal splits and bickering, the Green Party will be the party of the conscious and strategic revolutionary thinkers and leaders as well as the pushed out, the pissed off, and the disengaged. This is key to our many challenges.
One big truth is that most of what we are dealing with today, including in the so-called two-party system, is illusion. Mortgages, the wage system, borders, money, even “race”—all of these are man-made designs to benefit a few, yet made to appear as if they are God-derived and in our interests. The Green Party should be against all illusions. All lies. All misrepresentations linked to wealth and power.
Join with me. This campaign has to be bigger, broader and make inroads beyond the Green Party. Yet for the Green Party and others this campaign is an opening to be relevant and viable for millions of people in California. I welcome the Green Party’s support and endorsement. I am a Green. I will also move to get the support of genuine grassroots organizations and leaders wherever I can.
This campaign must be part of a movement and not just a campaign.
To donate, endorse and get involved go to www.rodriguezforgovernor.org.