Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Presidential Candidates: Response from Gloria La Riva

[GLORIA - YOU RULE!]
I just got a phone call responding to my voicemail from Gloria La Riva. Her representative was happy to answer my questions about both election reform and drug reform. Before I get into her answers, I would like to point out that La Riva's campaign is now the only campaign to have gotten back to an e-mail or voicemail from me, and one of only two to speak to me directly (a representative for Bob Barr answered the phone when I called and answered my questions). That means a lot. Gloria La Riva is a responsive candidate who cares about winning people's votes. That means a lot to me. Thanks, Gloria La Riva, and thanks to the staffer I spoke to on the phone! First, drug reform: the representative told me La Riva advocates decriminalization of marijuana and legalization of medicinal marijuana. I agree with that, and that puts her up there with Ralph Nader. The representative also spoke at length about La Riva's general take on the larger issues surrounding drug reform, including the racism and corruption of our justice system. La Riva is a left-wing socialist, and I'm not, but I am when it comes to this issue, so I support La Riva's stance and general attitude on drug reform. As far as election reform: the representative assured me that La Riva, like me, considers our election process undemocratic and rigged for the two major parties. She said that La Riva would generally support measures to make the system more democratic. However, she didn't indicate that La Riva has any specific preference for IRV, and she also spent a lot of time emphasizing how voting is only one small part of the methods that will lead to social change (a view I agree with, but I still believe election reform is key). I came away with the impression that while La Riva would certainly be receptive to IRV, she doesn't directly advocate it as such-- at least, not yet. She shares the same spirit, but her primary goals are elsewhere. For this reason, I still plan to vote for Nader. I'm debating whether I'd choose La Riva or Barr as my second choice (not that it matters): La Riva is marginally stronger on drug reform, but Barr supports IRV. Since I've prioritized election reform as my signature issue, I think I'll go with Barr as #2 and La Riva as #3. So here's my new rundown: 1. Ralph Nader (Populist): strongly supports IRV (the only candidate to mention it on his website); supports decriminalizing marijuana, legalizing medicinal marijuana, and offering clemency to non-violent drug offenders. 2. Bob Barr (Libertarian): supports IRV, and strongly supports making marijuana laws a states' rights issue. To win my vote, he needs to take a stronger stance on drug reform, and at a minimum, call for marijuana decrimnalization instead of just leaving it as a states' rights issue. 3. Gloria La Riva (Socialism and Liberation): wants to decriminalize marijuana and legalize medical marijuana, and supports the overall spirit of democratizing elections. To win my vote, she needs to actively advocate IRV, and/or take a stronger stance on drug reform than Nader. 4. Cynthia McKinney (Green): supported IRV in Congress, and wants to legalize medical marijuana and eliminate mandatory minimum sentencing. To win my vote, she'll have to advocate IRV in her presidential campaign, and/or take a stronger stance on drug reform. 5. Barack Obama (Democratic): supported IRV as an Illinois state senator, and wants to send more first-time drug offenders to rehab instead of jail. To win my vote, he'll have to advocate IRV in his presidential campaign, and/or take a stronger drug reform stance than simply keeping drugs illegal but preferring rehab over jail. 6. John McCain (Republican): has supported IRV before, and is a committed proponent of the War On Drugs. To win my vote, he'd have to come out in favor of IRV in his presidential campaign, and/or drastically alter his anti-drug stance. 7. Roger Calero (Socialist Workers) (tie): I have yet to find any information about where he stands on election reform or drug reform. If he wants my vote, he's going to have to speak up.

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