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Hullabaloo


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

 
The California Democratic Party voices displeasure on marijuana raids, Wall Street & NSA spying

by David Atkins

The California Democratic Party just finished up our Executive Board meeting this weekend at Costa Mesa. There are a little over 200 members of the Executive Board, myself among them.

Among a variety of disagreements surrounding changing party rules concerning endorsements (which are important for progressives, but more on this in a later post) there were also a number of resolutions of note. Resolutions are non-binding, of course, but they do give a sense of the stance of the Democratic Party and its activists, which in turn affect the stances legislators who wish to seek the endorsement of those same local activists (which is why the rules governing who gets an endorsement vote are important.) There are many districts in California where a Democrat will certainly win the general election, so the important battle is within the party. So long as progressive activists within the party are able to sway endorsement votes--and so long as progressives remain active in the Democratic Party--then the values expressed by party resolutions gradually influence the stances of elected officials in the state legislature and in Congress.

I'm proud to say that the California Democratic Party is a pretty progressive group (more so today than even just a few years in the past, due to active engagement from activists), and we passed a number of excellent resolutions, some of which voice significant displeasure with Administration activity or lack thereof.

Among many more standard liberal causes were more eye-opening the resolutions passed were Resolution 13-04.38 calling for prosecution of Wall Street executives:

PROSECUTE AND HOLD ACCOUNTABLE FINANCIAL EXECUTIVES

WHEREAS, it has been almost five years since the financial crisis crippled the American economy and,

WHEREAS, unacceptably high numbers of Americans have suffered job losses, foreclosure, homelessness, and loss of dignity due to the crisis and,

WHEREAS, the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission showed why the system failed, that there was verifiable evidence of trillions of dollars of fraud and gross negligence, that crimes were committed by mortgage originators, underwriters, banks, and there have been no financial executive brought, to prosecution for the above actions,

BE IT RESOLVED, that the California Democratic Party stands in solidarity with Senator Elizabeth Warren and others in their effort to encourage regulators, the Justice Department, SEC, and other responsible
parties to prosecute and hold accountable those who not only created the crisis but have been merciless in their treatment of those who suffer as a result of their actions while still ignoring good
corporate governance policies.
That resolution passed unanimously on the consent calendar, as did a separate resolution calling for a Wall Street transaction tax.

Then there is Resolution Resolution 13-04.40 to overturn Citizens United, deny personhood to corporations and affirm that money is not speech, whose first "resolved" clause reads:

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the California Democratic Party calls upon the Congress to send to the states for ratification a constitutional amendment overturning Citizens United vs. FEC corporate constitutional rights, clarifying that corporations are not persons and constitutional rights are for natural persons only, ending the doctrine that money is speech and leveling the playing field through limits on the ability of corporations and other wealthy interests to influence the outcome of elections through political campaign contributions and expenditures.
In a direct rebuke to President Obama over marijuana raids, Resolution 13-04.48 states:

MARIJUANA LEGALIZATION RESOLUTION FOR PRESIDENT OBAMA
WHEREAS, 18 states and the District of Columbia have passed laws legalizing t he use of cannabis when
recommended by a physician, and Colorado and Washington in 2012 passed laws legalizing the recreational use of cannabis, and over 825,000 Americans are caught up in the criminal justice system every year for marijuana law violations, and

WHEREAS, the United States spends over $20 billion a year enforcing marijuana prohibition laws, and thousands of people are murdered every year involving the smuggling of illegal drugs into the United
States and marijuana accounts for over half of these illegal drugs, and polls show overwhelming support for the medicinal use of cannabis and majority support for legalization of marijuana, and

WHEREAS, marijuana prohibition laws are racially enforced with a far larger percentage of African Americans and Hispanics convicted and imprisoned for marijuana prohibition offenses than their white counterparts even though marijuana use in their communities is no more than in white communities, and Whereas college students lose their college grants and scholarships if found to be using marijuana,

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the California Democratic Party requests: President Obama to allow
the newly enacted marijuana legalization laws in Colorado and Washington to go into effect with no federal interference, and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the California Democratic Party asks President Obama to end the
Department of Justice interference and raids by federal agencies in states with medical marijuana laws,
and a comprehensive study be immediately undertaken to produce recommendations for reform of our nation’s marijuana prohibition laws.
That resolution was joined by another that opposed local efforts to restrict access to dispensaries.

Perhaps most important to regular readers of this blog was resolution 13-07.12 against the overreach of NSA spying:
WHEREAS, the Bill of Rights is the principal document defining who we are as a people and the Fourth Amendment, protects our citizens from government intrusion into their affairs by banning unreasonable searches and seizures; and

WHEREAS the government's heretofore secret (but massive) collection of our phone and email without any reasonable cause to believe any crime has been committed has now been made public; and

WHEREAS the Patriot Act, authorized under President George W. Bush and continued under the Obama Administration began and continued these offenses against the Bill of Rights;

BE IT RESOLVED that the California Democratic Party denounces such actions in no uncertain terms, and
calls upon the Congress and this Administration to immediately halt such practices before they move us even further towards a totalitarian state.
That last resolution, it should be noted, was authored by California Democratic Party Chairman John Burton himself. It was accompanied by a resolution that any data collected by NSA programs be deleted within six months unless a judge deems it necessary for national security.

It's going to take some time for all of this to filter through to Congress. Our government is not as progressive as Democrats in Congress; Democrats in Congress are not as progressive as those in California; and Democrats in California are often not as progressive as our party activists. Still, the momentum is finally heading back in the right direction. It's hard for the casual reader of the daily news to see that, but activists in the party organization can see it. We're light years ahead of where we were just a few years ago, to say nothing of over a decade ago. That itself is a step back, of course, from where we were about 40 years ago--but we didn't have as staunch a conservative opposition then as we do now. They've been winning for the last long while--but the counterpunch is coming, and hard.

As when conservatives were taking over the Republican Party in their early Buckley days, the results won't always be too visible to those not close to it. But they're coming nonetheless, so long as progressives stay engaged in the fight. And even if it takes too long to overtake Congress, at the very least blue states like California will be on the leading edge of sane policy, showing the right path by example and dragging the rest of the country where it needs to go.


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