Monday, May 08, 2006

Taking the Debate to the GOP

In a dark little corner of my mind, Ken Camera makes me want to register Republican, just to cause trouble.

Ken, more literally known as Robert Camera, is running for the Republican nomination to the United States House of Representatives for New York's 24th District. More plainly, he's running a campaign to get on the ballot for the Republican primary for Congress this year.

Can he do it? Well, Camera is quite frank about the genuine grassroots nature of his campaign. He says he's raised $50.00. But, Camera is online with greater speed than many of the big name, big money candidates in this race were, and with a more incisive and gutsy political platform. Check it out:

  • Leave Iraq before the summer of 2007 with the exact timetable and orchestration to be decided in collaboration with the Iraqi government.
  • Realign our foreign policy to be consistent with the Bill of Rights and the United States Constitution so we can reengage the world with new strategies to address international terrorism, climate change, energy security, human rights, and trade.
  • Develop and enforce new rules that govern lobbyists, campaign contributions, and the general code of conduct. Guidelines will be written by a commission of non-partisan citizens rather than by legislators.
  • Create a non-partisan Federal commission that will expose to the people the shameful history of gerrymandering practices in all fifty states in the Union in order to encourage reform of our legislative system.
  • Develop a national energy policy that will be a "win-win-win" for the people rather than a corporate welfare delivery mechanism. Win-win-win means we must create an energy policy that reduces environmental degradation, increases our energy independence, and moderates the cost of fueling our economy.
  • Eliminate all earmarks for Congress and get legislators back to the business of passing legislation that addresses national and/or major regional problems. Earmarks are the way elected representatives maintain incumbency and job security.
  • Separate the Federal Emergency Management Agency from the Department of Homeland Security to assure that future disasters are handled professionally and create some needed redundancy in our national security network.
  • Apply competency principles (under the principle "mal administration") to the expected impeachment of George Bush and his administration.
  • Apply "the pay as you go" approach to government spending and start reducing the financial burden to future generations created as a result of the Iraq War, the failed drug prescription bill, and Katrina reconstruction, by repealing the 2003 Bush tax cut for families with incomes over $200,000/year.
  • Given that we are supposed to be a participatory democracy, fulfill the following promise to the American people: You deserve to have the facts regarding important issues facing our country. We will not corrupt or alter scientific research or legal records to suit our political agendas. The point of departure for debate on any issue should be complete compilation of known facts and making them accessible to the electorate.

    Ken Camera may not have much potential to win the Republican primary, but he does have great potential to affect the course of the general election. Especially if Camera can get on the ballot, which is no mean task, he'll be in a position to talk on the issues you see above as a Republican, and that may be just the kind of dramatic shock to otherwise unreceptive audiences that could open up their minds to this quite progressive set of ideas.

    The result: Ken Camera could shift the ideological center of this campaign a few degrees to the left.

    Take a look at Camera's position on the war, for instance. It's much more explictly anti-war in its actual policy proposal than what the Michael Arcuri for Congress campaign has been able to come up with. Mike Arcuri's people have only been able to muster a kind of mushy suggestion for "a realistic but definite exit strategy, a well-conceived plan with benchmarks that provide intermediate, achievable goals that enable us to monitor our progress toward a stable democratic Iraq."

    Understand that Michael Arcuri isn't as free to speak courageously as Ken Camera, because Arcuri is focused on winning the primary and general election, not on campaigning to promote the ideals that he believes in. Ken Camera knows he doesn't have much more than a tiny chance of winning, so he doesn't have to be afraid of speaking the truth as he sees it.

    Some people will immediately dismiss Ken Camera because he won't win the election. Such people generally fail to perceive any dimensions in this race besides the simple dimension of winning versus losing. Ken Camera will win if he is able to affect what the other candidates have to talk about, by making Republicans and right wing independents slightly more skeptical of the GOP party line, and by shaming Democrats into finally acting like Democrats instead of scared kids trying out for auditions to become honorary Republicans.

    Keep it up, Ken. Stir the pot. On both the Republican and Democratic side, the establishment formula for running a campaign has become too stale, and out of touch with the urgent needs of the political moment.

    Any readers out there with a bit of extra energy and a puckish reaction to convention may be able to help Ken keep his campaign going all the way until primary election day in September. Unless I'm confused in the early hour of the morning and am thinking about election rules in another state, it would be perfectly legal for a Democrat to carry petitions for his or her Democratic candidate of choice and then to go out the next day and carry petitions for Ken Camera on the Republican Party line. Certainly, any petition signatures gained from Republicans for Ken Camera will make it that much more difficult for the other Republicans, right wingers Brad Jones and Ray Meier, to get their ballot work done.

    (help me out with confirming this rule, all you readers who love to show your knowledge of teeny weeny political details)

    Curious said...

    It's an interesting thought, but most Dem committee members probably have restrictions like the one in my county, which states clearly that we can be thrown off the committee "for publicly supporting the opponent of a duly nominated Democratic candidate for public office." We can collect signatures for a Dem who is ALSO running on, say, the Working Families line, but not for a GOP opponent (or even a Green). Which isn't to say that non-committee members have the same restrictions, but I'd check with the BOE.

    Anonymous said...

    that's $50 as in fifty dollars?

    Anonymous said...

    I always understood that a member of one party cannot get petitions for a member of another party. I was in a situation like that once myself, between parties so to speak. At least that was the case in my county. I do know that if you are a notary public you can get petitions for anybody in another party by notarizing them. In any event, I can't imagine this Camara guy going far in a Republican primary. Anyone who would vote for him would have probably left the republican party long ago.