Monday, April 28, 2014

The media isn’t reporting it but Grass Roots candidates are winning some local elections.

Unfortunately there are very few grass roots candidates that win elected office; however there are more than the traditional media is letting on and this is despite the virtual black out of all coverage for candidates that aren't approved by the two established parties and the six conglomerates that control the vast majority of the national media.

Most of the grass roots candidates that are winning are at the local level. One of the biggest candidates that most people are unaware of is Gayle McLaughlin Green Party Mayor of Richmond Ca. She won despite being out spent by large margins and even more outside money being spent by Chevron who wanted to avoid any potential increases in taxes by financing deceptive smear campaigns as indicated in the following excerpt.

Spotlight on Gayle McLaughlin

Many voters rightfully see the Green Party as an environmental champion. But can Greens win elected office in racially diverse, crime-ridden, working class cities that are in economic decline?

Apparently the answer is 'yes' according to voters in Richmond, California (pop. 103,000), who on November 7 elected Gayle McLaughlin as their mayor.

McLaughlin's victory in Richmond, which is among northern California's most important cities, comes only two years after she was elected to the Richmond City Council. When she defeated Demo­crat­ic Party incumbent Irma Anderson, the local Bay Area political establishment was stunned.

Anderson - who brazenly accepted and spent $110,000 from Chevron Oil, Pacific Gas and Electric and other corporate interests during her campaign - outspent McLaughlin by $82,000. The Green grassroots campaign "sent political shock waves across the Bay Area" according to McLaughlin "as it highlighted the Green Party's organizational maturity and strong progressive values."

These values were a strong threat to the Chevron Corporation, which owns one of the largest refineries in the state in Richmond (a storage capacity of 15 million barrels which occupies 25,000 acres on the city's western waterfront). It is also the city's largest local employer, although only a small percentage of Chevron employees are actually Richmond residents. The refinery is notorious for health and safety violations, and contributing to local pollution.

In the mayoral race Chevron went far beyond simply supporting the incumbent, but also funded more than twenty 'hit pieces' on McLaughlin. Lacking any 'dirt', they accused her of 'irresponsibility' for simply wanting to collect more tax revenue from Chevron.

McLaughlin did support local Measure T, which would have generated $8 million a year in Chevron taxes for Richmond's many needs. One of the themes of her campaign was to get corporations such as Chevron to pay their fair share to the community, and to use this increased revenue to fund anti-violence programs, including a year-round, part-time jobs program that would employ 1,000 young people. Complete article

Unfortuantely even after Chevron failed to defeat her they continued to ignore safety hazards and they had Chevron to Pay $2 Million for 2012 Refinery Fire in Richmond, CA; 200 Arrested at Protest. The executives of Chevron weren't arrested, just those that wanted them to be held accountable.

Seattle's Socialist City Councilor, Kshama Sawant, Offered a Radical Response to Obama Speech but the commercial media didn't pay much if any attention, although it received much more attention in m the alternative media outlets. Previously there were more Socialist candidates; however after the Palmer Raids and vigilante raids by the American Protection League in the post-WWI era and McCarthy tactics in the post-WWII era they were suppressed, not based on their ideas but by intimidation tactics. This may be beginning to change again whether it is the rise of alternative Green Parties, Socialists, Progressives or other parties. There are a lot more candidates that have won around the country and continue to be ignored by the commercial media and, perhaps, with good reason, from their point of view.

The biggest obstacle for any political candidate has always been name recognition. Simply by declining to cover candidates the corporate media makes it virtually impossible for candidates they don't support to get their message across.

Considering how outraged many people are with the way governments and corporations have been behaving their biggest fear just might be that people might realize that they can overcome the obstacles to electing more sincere candidates, at least at the local level; and perhaps if enough of them get elected or if more attention can be drawn to sincere candidates then they can even be elected in statewide and national elections.

The Vermont Progressive Party (elected candidates) is almost the largest concentration of grass roots candidates but the national media hardly pays any attention to them. Bernie Sanders is even more well known than Kshama Sawant or Gayle McLaughlin nationwide but most people are almost certainly not aware that the state has many more grass roots candidates that manage to get elected.

In addition to the Vermont Progressives and the somewhat well known candidates that have made the news briefly both he Green Part and the Libertarian Party have over a hundred elected officials around the country. In all fairness they're mostly local offices; however they do demonstrate that when the public is presented with other options besides the two parties that are almost entirely, if not entirely controlled by the corporate interests that provide the funds to buy their propaganda ads to get them elected they have a good chance of winning.

The reason they don't win much more often is almost certainly that the vast majority of information presented to the public about politics is controlled by a very small percentage of the public with narrow interests.

A close look at some of these candidates will almost certainly show that simply electing alternative candidates might not be enough through. Some of these candidates might be involved in scandals as well, or at least the appearance of scandals. At times, like when Chevron attempted to smear Gayle McLaughlin some of those with political power that are challenged by sincere grass roots candidates might use misleading tactics to discredit candidates or use other tactics that might discredit them. In some cases they might search for problems and if they find something they could exaggerate them, or in some cases they might have legitimate problems.

A better educated public will be necessary to sort these out and elect legitimate candidates regardless of their party. And it would also be more helpful if they conducted their activities in the open and informed the public about their true objectives by allowing more public participation in the election process through either participation in debates that include all candidates at all levels of government as alternative media outlets tried to promote at the presidential level in 2012 (As covered in "Could alternative debates be a game changer?") or through questionnaires like the ones provided by Project Vote Smart or other non organizations that are accountable to the public.

If more can be done to let people know about how many important issues the media isn't reporting, whether it is the lack of coverage for sincere grass roots candidates that actually stand up to corporate interests, the lack of coverage of the full extent of environmental damage going on, the lack of coverage for the causes of income inequality and many other issues then they might be more inclined to seek alternative news sources or listen to others when they have an opportunity. They might be also much more likely to vote in their own best interest if they had more reliable information to base their decisions.

This won't happen if to many people continue to count on traditional media without alternative views.

The following is some related material including a handful of the other candidates that have won at the grass roots level.

Socialist World

Spotlight on Gayle McLaughlin Green Mayor of Richmond

Bruce Delgado Mayor, City of Marina Ca.

David Doonan elected as Mayor of Greenwich NY with 75% of the vote

Jason West mayor New Paltz New York

The Green Party of Colorado Pete Gleichman mayor Ward Colorado

Rep. Fred Smith of Crittenden is serving his second term in the Arkansas House of Representatives

Green Party Candidates for Office

Libertarian Elected Officials

A Rare Elected Voice for Socialism Pledges to Be Heard in Seattle (NYT)

List of elected socialist mayors in the United States


  1. Good news indeed! With our corporate owned media, I suppose it is unlikely that we will see much coverage unless it becomes big enough that it can no longer be ignored.

    1. And, when mass media coverage does come, it will be: "Grassroots candidates: the silent killer... in your home."

    2. Actually to some degree they already do that; on the few exceptions where they do cover grass roots candidates they pick the most radical and irrational to cover, while ignoring the most rational that provide good policies that challenge corporate corruption.

  2. I've just been informed that Kshama Sawant received media attention in her own area, which isn't surprising and that they run candidates in all election in that area including state and national election. presumably when they win the media feels they have to provide at least a token amount of coverage. And they have to be careful about smearing them too badly since some people might recognize it and it might backfire.

    Hopefully if this increases then it could have a snowball effect. .The Republican Party began at least eight to ten years before Lincoln got elected; however we don't need to change one of the two parties for another we need real reform that should include media reform and probably Instant Run-Offs