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From the Outside Looking In


By Alexa Llewellyn



April 14, 2003

The Greening of America

The U.S. Green Party has been asking its members whom it should recruit for various national offices -- such as President, Vice President, Attorney General, EPA Administrator, Secretary of Education, and Secretary of HUD.

My vote for President was Bonnie Raitt. As opposed to Nader, Raitt is actually a Green Party member. She has created legislation on renewable energy, has led forums on education, and is committed to the environment. Nader is known for many things -- but commitment to the environment is not one of his strengths.

Raitt was in town for the inaugural of the solar panels on the Moscone Convention Center. She shared the podium with Mayor Willie Brown and several department heads. She blew them out of the water. She was articulate, thoughtful, and sincere. None of the politicians were. She talked about real issues. They talked platitudes. She spelled out how the policy of renewable energy was essentially a peace policy and in a succinct fashion outlined how her stance on the war was the same as her stance on renewable energy. Even in San Francisco, none of the elected officials had the guts to take a position other than the idea that the sun is a force for good. (We already knew that, guys.)

My choice for Vice President was Joan Baez. She has appeared at several of the city's peace rallies. She too is articulate, thoughtful, and honest. I realize that with those sterling qualities, she doesn't have a chance of winning. But her message certainly resonated with the thousands of people listening to her at Civic Center. I am not sure that she is a Green -- but she certainly emulates Green values.

My choice for Secretary of Defense was Medea Benjamin. Benjamin is the co-founder of Global Exchange, which has been on the front lines (literally) of every conflict in the last fifteen years. She has created exchange programs to help the oppressed throughout the world so that we all can learn from each other and gain a view of the conflicts that we don't get on TV.

My choice for Attorney General was Matt Gonzalez. The nine-plus years that he spent in the Public Defender's Office must have given him a good primer on constitutional law and rights. The current occupant of the high office of Attorney General seems to have missed those classes during his years in law school. Now Gonzalez is getting a four-year practical education in planning law, zoning law, sunshine laws, environmental law, and municipal law. As head of the Justice Department, he would be able to keep the law officers mindful of the civil liberties of the victims as well as the accused.

As the chief U.S. legal officer, Gonzalez would be in charge of the legal business of the country. He and his office would also represent the country in all cases pending in the U.S. Supreme Court and the other federal courts. Can you imagine Gonzalez working on antitrusts (Enrons of the world, watch out!), civil litigation, criminal investigation, and civil liberties protection? With his Green background, he might even be able to get someone to fight for environmental law. Who knows? With Gonzalez as Attorney General, we might have a Justice Department that works for the people rather than against them.

For Secretary of Education, the choice is obvious -- Mark Sanchez. Sanchez works tirelessly for our city's public schools and its students. He searches endlessly for new ways to raise the skill and knowledge levels of all of our students.

My last choice would be myself as U.S. EPA Administrator. People overusing their water rights to the detriment of the watershed would be turned off. People polluting natural resources would be severely punished to full extent of the law. I would use the public trust doctrine to fight for environmental justice and against corporate polluters. Rather than relying on engineering solutions that have not been proven, I would invest in reducing, reusing, and recycling. (Why do we need tidal power when we can get much more energy from energy efficiency?) I would look at improving technology that is actually working -- solar panels, wind turbines, and energy efficiency. I would work with Congress on legislation to help reduce the nation's dependence on natural resources (water, energy, solid waste, and fossil fuels). A beefed-up and empowered division dealing with Environmental Justice would have the same support from me as my division on Superfund sites.

I realize that all of these candidates (with the exception of myself) are concerned and intelligent people. As such, they represent the complete opposite of the politicians now dwelling in and near 1400 Pennsylvania Avenue. But who knows? Someday in my lifetime, we may see a sincere, thoughtful politician occupying the White House. A girl can always dream...