Monday, November 06, 2006

SF/California Elections - This is what democracy looks like?

As the nation debates what “San Francisco Values” are and SF Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi prepares to become speaker of the House of Representatives, my SF State students and I are grappling with the meaning of local, state and national elections to our communities.
For the past few weeks leading up to election day tomorrow, we have been looking closely at what democracy really means in America – especially for immigrants, for Asian Americans, and for other disenfranchised communities. With CA’s Proposition 87 [Clean Energy/Oil Corps Tax] and Proposition 89 [Stop Political Corruption/For Clean Money Elections] and other campaigns we have been studying how corporate domination of the political process really operates in local communities, urban centers and states like California. Randy Shaw of Beyond Chron predicts both of those initiatives to go down to defeat tomorrow because of a corporate and big business onslaught of $ and misleading political ads.
After being pulled into the Pro-Prop 87 hoopla with Clinton and Gore and other celebrities rallying around the issue of global warming - I agree with Shaw's criticism of the Prop 87 camapaign's lack of strategic vision -
I sure wish Hollywood producer Steven Bing had thought of more productive ways to spend $47 million on improving the environment rather than blowing it on Prop 87. Bing could have hired hundreds of grassroots organizers and impacted dozens of political races to build the environmental movement---instead he waged a television war against Chevron and big oil companies that he will lose.
Back to my teaching and my students' learning opportunities - hopefully by plugging into various electoral campaigns, even for a few hours, to learn about how communities “mobilize the immigrant vote”, and work to raise awareness in local races to increase turnout for example in city council, supervisorial or even school board races, students can learn in a hands on manner of the huge barriers that exist for working families, immigrants and English learners, and for people of color and younger votes in our ‘democracy’.
For more on grassroots efforts to use electoral organizing and mobilizing to build stronger social justice movements - see
Nov 7 Elections - 5 ways you can help make progressive change in San Francisco Schools
Sick Kids & Yes on SF's Prop F, the Makibaka Hotel and learning about people's struggle
SF Yes on Prop F - working families deserve sick pay on LA's AGENDA
sf-chinatown-its-about-time-for-prop 89
From the Streets to the Polls [to the streets....]
Election 2006 - It's Time to Smash the Color Line
Linking immigrant rights with voting rights
SF Progressive Organizing Center kickoff

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