Opinion

California politicians can't reform themselves

PoliticsDemocratic PartyHealthRepublican PartyElectionsSCHIP

Thursday, the Los Angeles Times ran an editorial pleading for California Republicans to help save the State Children's Health Insurance Program, or SCHIP, vetoed by President Bush. The very next day, The Times had another of many editorials pleading for Los Angeles Democrats to reform themselves. While I agree, it is time to face the truth: In the context of our dysfunctional two-party system, these editorials are not worth the paper they are printed on because California Republicans and Democrats cannot reform themselves.

Edith Isabel Rodriguez died in May at King/Harbor Hospital after writhing in pain on the floor of the emergency room lobby for 45 minutes while staffers did nothing. Martin Luther King/Drew opened in Watts not long after the 1965 riots and had been a symbol of African American pride. In August, the hospital closed thanks to gross incompetence by the Los Angeles Democratic Party machine. Just days later, voters rewarded this incompetence by electing Democrat Laura Richardson in a special election to succeed Rep. Juanita Millender-McDonald. In this gerrymandered one-party Democratic inner-city district, voters have been told over and over their only "choices" are Democrats and Republicans. Weekly newspapers like the Los Angeles Sentinel are to Dem hacks what Pravda was to the Communist Party in the USSR.

You say "voters should remember" if California Republicans don't act to save SCHIP. And then do what? In their gerrymandered one-party Republican suburban districts, voters have been told over and over that their only "choices" are Democrats and Republicans. Talk-radio and "conservative" blogs are to GOP hacks what Izvestia was to the Communist Party in the USSR.

And so, the likes of Dana Rohrabacher (R-Huntington Beach) can easily get away with pointing to King/Harbor and saying: "Do you want your healthcare to be run like that?" In the debate over SCHIP on the floor of the House, Republican Rep. Jerry Lewis of Redlands actually declared that "the real plan here is to set the stage for a movement of the next gigantic step in the direction of what should be called Hillarycare."

All politics is local.

Arguments over third parties are usually tied to Washington gossip and the perpetual White House beauty pageant, but the greatest need for alternative choices is in local one-party districts. Reform will only come from an independent, progressive and inclusive party, like the Green Party.

Greens are not "big government" Democrats. Greens favor decentralization and deep democracy — unlike Democrats who are busy awarding jobs, contracts and subsidies to cronies at midnight. Greens believe in nonviolence. Greens say keep kids from guns and gangs and mean it — without nods and winks to "our guns" and "our gangs." Greens accept no corporate contributions and reject "reforms" bankrolled by Wal-Mart and the chamber of commerce. Greens support trade unions but are not beholden to big unions that always endorse Democrats.

Green Party activists in both cities and suburbs are the key to redeeming the promise of American democracy.

Alex Walker is a contributor to Green Commons, a site dedicated to "promoting the visibility and growth of the Green Party of the United States through independent commentary, organizing and networking." Click here to read more about The Times' Blowback feature.

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