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Synthesis/Regeneration 29   (Fall 2002)

Thinking Politically

Letter from the Brighton Jail

by Douglas Campbell

Tuesday, May 21, 2002

Dear Michigan,

It’s been one heck of a day. The front page of yesterday’s newspaper said that the Michigan League of Conservation Voters (MCLV) had invited “all” your gubernatorial candidates to a forum on environmental issues. Being a duly-filed gubernatorial candidate and representing the duly-filed Green Party of Michigan, a party well known for putting ecological, environmental and conservation concerns at the forefront of its platform, I just naturally assumed that the MLCV would be interested in what we have to say.

…the Michigan League of Conservation Voters (MCLV) had invited “all” your gubernatorial candidates to a forum on environmental issues.

Well, surprise, surprise, surprise! When it comes from Dana Debel, the event organizer, “all” doesn’t really mean “all”. Here I thought we’d heard the last of verbal shenanigans after last summer, when we learned “It all depends what your definition of the word ‘is’ is,” but no, there’s a lot more where that came from.

I walked up on stage with all the other candidates, shook a few hands, and took my seat. Turns out I took Jim Blanchard’s seat and Dana was gravely offended. Jim was so busy hamming it up for the crowd that he didn’t notice, Dick Posthumus just stood there smiling like a deer in the headlights, the Attorney General sat idly by and didn’t lift a finger to intervene, and David Bonior said, “Let him stay.” Dave’s a smart and savvy politician and I’m sure he knew exactly what was about to go down.

I’ve always thunk that it was the Bureau of Elections who decides […who’s a legitimate candidate and who’s not.]

Now being the new candidate that I am, I’d never have guessed that Dana Debel is empowered to decide who’s a legitimate candidate and who’s not. I’ve always thunk that it was the Bureau of Elections who decides. Silly me.

No, it’s Dana who decides that I’m not a legitimate candidate. Not only that, but the Brighton police and the Michigan state troopers apparently report to her, because when she gave the word, they grabbed me by the arms and legs and dragged my ass out of there. We tripped and fell on the way toward backstage, which must have been awfully comical to the audience but the cops weren’t amused. As soon as they got me behind the curtains, they handcuffed me, 6 of them threw me down to the floor, and 3 of them piled on top of me to make sure I didn’t go anywhere. I was having a hard time refraining from laughing out loud, because other than not getting up and leaving under my own power, I wasn’t offering any resistance. They wheeled me out on a utility cart, put me in a cruiser, then took me down to the Brighton jail.

I have to say, I had been underestimating Bretton Jones. He’s about 20, an undergrad at Oakland University, and having never put him to the test, I assumed he was just one more enthusiastic, inexperienced college kid. He performed above and beyond the call of duty today. While the cops were trying to figure out how to remove me —I tip the scales at over 250 pounds and they had only brought cops, not heavy machinery riggers—he was right there, taking pictures and trying to appeal to their sense of fairness. (to no avail, of course) When the cops threatened him with a charge of obstruction of justice, he came right back with “Is that worse than obstruction of democracy?” Then, when I was on my way out and there was no more that he could do for me, he turned around and addressed the audience. This young lad is destined for great things.

There are a lot of rumors floating around that I have been seriously injured by the police. Let me put those to rest. About the worst is some broken ribs, which are exquisitely painful, but I’ve broken ribs before. I’ll drink lots of hormone-free milk and they’ll heal as good as new in 8 or 10 weeks. They smashed my head down on the floor pretty good, but the nausea and the dizziness spontaneously subsided within a few hours and I don’t think I ever lost consciousness, and I never was injured by the handcuffs. Oh, a few bruises here and there, but the circulation came back within the hour. By morning, the feeling came back in both hands and almost all the tingling is gone.

In the movies, they make a big deal out of giving a criminal suspect “one phone call.” In real life, they don’t actually do that. Not that it matters a lot; I was released after 3 or 4 hours and it wasn’t necessary to let anybody know where I was—there were nearly a hundred supporters waiting on the front porch of the police station.

In the end, I was photographed, interviewed, charged with disorderly conduct and trespassing, advised that Michigan’s 53rd District Court (Brighton) will notify me of an appearance date, and sent on my way.

Till now, I’ve been a little worried about my campaign. See, I’m a third party candidate running for Governor of a northern midwestern state without any professional wrestling experience. But as of today, the Brighton police department and the Michigan state troopers are helping me fill that void in my resume.

Things are looking up for November 5.

What you won’t hear tonight:

You won’t hear about Clean Money Campaigns. Clean money means no corporate contributions, no PAC money, (Political Action Committees) no soft money, no large contributors. After the election, the big-money special interests won’t be able to twist the Governor’s arm for special favors, because there won’t be any big-money special interests. Only Ed Hamilton (Republican candidate for Governor) and I have pledged to run Clean Money Campaigns.

They smashed my head down on the floor pretty good.

You won’t hear about Runoff Voting—a system of voting which assures that a minor candidate will never “spoil” the election, and that nobody gets elected without a majority of the votes.

You won’t hear about my signature issue—a 100-MegaWatt municipally owned electricity generating windfarm. Michigan’s economy lives and breathes on heavy industry, and heavy industry lives and breathes on electricity. Not only would this be totally non-polluting, totally non-fuel-consuming, and totally sustainable over the long haul, it will also prevent a California style electric power crisis and deliver electricity for about four cents per kilowatt-hour—half the rate we’re currently paying. This isn’t idle speculation; it’s the actual performance of the 107-MW windfarm in Lake Benton, Minnesota—land of another third party governor.

You won’t hear about truly protecting the Great Lakes from slant-hole oil drilling. Sure, everybody says they’re against it, even Dick Posthumus, (who was promoting it just last year) but I don’t think they know why or how. No, the only way to protect the lakes from oil drilling is to eliminate the economic pressure for oil, and that means curbing our addiction to petroleum. We tapped out Pennsylvania’s oil fields a century ago; we tapped out Oklahoma’s oil fields a generation ago, and we’re currently tapping out Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, and Alaska. When those run dry, it’s Michigan’s turn—unless we do something different in the interim. Something like mass transit, electric/hybrid vehicles, stronger CAFE standards, (which David Bonior voted against) home-grown alcohol fuels for gas engines and home-grown hemp oil for diesel engines.

You won’t hear about my vision of a Michigan Department of Agriculture which is the most respected in the nation. In my youth, you’d often see “Reg. Penna. Dept. Ag.” on food labels. The Pennsylvania department of agriculture had the highest standards in the nation and it was considered a matter of great pride to receive their approval. No more. I want to see an Agriculture Department where “organic” means “organic,” where “pasteurized” doesn’t include “irradiated with so much ionizing nuclear radiation that the molecules get rearranged,” where we don’t feed our children synthetic bovine growth hormone, and the routine use of antibiotics in livestock is banned. There’s currently an antibiotic-resistant strain of gonorrhea breaking out in California; we can’t let it happen here.

You won’t hear about systematically shutting down nuclear powerplants. Face it, it’s a failed experiment. Not only is it the most expensive form of electricity, it’s downright dangerous. Every cache or shipment of nuclear material is a potential terrorist target, every item of unregulated “low-level” nuclear waste ends up back in circulation, and every time a nuclear powerplant is decommissioned, the rates of leukemia and childhood cancer in the neighborhood drop by a third.

You won’t hear about how important whistleblower protection is to environmental protection. Last month, there was a 50,000 gallon spill of used industrial oil into the Rouge River and nobody seems to know where it originated. Well excuse me, but if you lose 50,000 gallons of anything, somebody knows it. They just aren’t saying, for fear of losing their job. The Coast Guard has so far spent $4 million on cleanup and the perpetrator, if caught and convicted, faces a $25,000 fine.

You won’t hear my highway preserving proposal to limit Michigan’s trucks to 80,000 pounds, same as most of the rest of the states. Wait…yes you will. It’s been part of my platform since Day One, and on Monday, David Bonior noticed and started repeating it. While you’re at it, Dave, why not repeat the rest of my highway proposal, seeing as how I wasn’t able to deliver it in person? To wit:

Eliminate the diesel fuel tax subsidy. Raise the tax on petroleum-based diesel fuel to the same rate at which gasoline is taxed. No reason that people driving cars and light trucks should be taxed to subsidize heavy trucks.

Build light rail passenger lines right down the middle of freeway medians. There’s hardly a more powerful incentive to attract people to the rails than being stuck in traffic while the trains whiz blithely by. And once they’re on the train, they learn that it’s a whole different kind of society, where people cooperate with their neighbors and get better acquainted. On the highway, you compete with your nameless neighbors and everybody develops a bad attitude for it. And if we can’t build them right away, at least tell the Department of Transportation to allocate right-of-way space in all new highway construction.

My 100-ton rule: All new facilities built with the capacity to handle 100 tons of freight daily must have a rail spur before receiving an occupancy permit, and older facilities after a grace period. Rail is one of the road’s biggest saviors, but pathetically underused in Michigan.

Build a coalition between the Michigan and Canadian Green Parties to reopen the two abandoned rail tunnels under the Detroit River. The Democrats and Republicans can’t make any such claim to international cooperation because they’re just one-country parties, while the Green Party is active in 53 nations around the globe. Just last Friday, we picked up four new seats in the Irish Parliament and last Monday, we ran Christopher Holt, a tool and die maker and a decent family man, for Canada’s House of Commons from the Windsor West riding (district).

Yes, there’s a lot you won’t hear. But that’s the way the Republicrats like it. Keep all your ideas inside the box; never challenge anything; do everything the same way you did it last year.

Douglas Campbell, Michigan’s Next Governor

p.s: Anyone doubting the legitimacy of my candidacy can verify that I am properly filed with the Michigan Secretary of State, Bureau of Elections. Give them a call, or look it up yourself on the Internet. Go to http://miboecfr.nicusa.com/cgi-bin/cfr/gub_search.cgi and click “Search.”

p.p.s: When you get a chance, ask the other candidates what they’re so afraid of. I thought that kidnapping the opposition party candidate was an election strategy limited to Colombia. While you’re at it, agitate a little to get Ingrid Betancourt (the Green Party candidate for president of Colombia) released.

(c) copyright 2002 Douglas Campbell | ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Exception: Until November 5, 2002, this letter may be freely reprinted verbatim and distributed on a not-for-profit basis. Available online at http://www.migreenguv.org/

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