Friday, July 11th
There was a delicious irony to the garish, ostentatious "Red Lacquer" ballroom of Chicago's old Palmer House Hotel being the setting for the final Green Party presidential candidate forum. This hotel is a monument to the First Gilded Age of corrupt capitalist wheeling 'n dealing. Today, my Green Party is the leading edge progressive voice speaking in the Second Gilded Age.
(Left to right) Kent Mesplay of California, Jesse Johnson of West Virginia, Kat Swift of Texas
By Friday evening, Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney was already the presumptive nominee. Accordingly, as I watched the three "minor candidates" ably fielded tough questions, I could not help but feel a certain pride in the depth and talent within the Green Party.
Dr. Ken Mesplay, California's favorite son, was the strongest on the environmental issues which are, after, the bright green center of our philosophy. I spoke with delegates from all around the country and it seems everyone, everywhere was impressed by Kent's knowledge and commitment.
Jesse Johnson, a bona-fide mountain man from West Virginia, has a towering presence. He spoke about the devastating effects of mountaintop removal by the rapacious coal industry. One thing I learned was that the Appalachian Mountains are the watershed for the rivers that supply drinking water to many states in the Southeast. The clogging and destruction of these waterways is a factor in the drought currently plaguing the Southeast. Johnson says what we need is not "the audacity of hope," but rather, the "audacity of truth." Johnson puts the lie to the pernicious Democrat-Republican mythology that all "working class white people" are racist reactionaries who can only be moved by an appeal to their fears (by the way, this mythology may yet cost the clueless Democrats another presidential election).
Kat Swift, our braided, blonde sister from Texas, is a young, tough activist with a lot of charm. She is smart. But she is open-minded and not too proud to admit she doesn't know it all. At one point, during a response to a question about energy, she joked that her "expert" on energy policy was Dr. Kent Mesplay. One question from the floor was about the touchy question of Israeli-Palestinian relations. Kat gave one of the wisest answers. She said that conversations with people on both sides of that bloody divide has convinced her that, in order to make peace, we have to go around the "leaders" with vested interests in maintaining the conflict and that the United States, of course, cannot be a so-called broker for peace while arming one side. Since this also happens to be my personal opinion, I thought her answer was very wise.