Time For a New Governor - Dreaming into the Clean Green Campaign by Joe Keating
In early November of last year I took a seat in my back yard and looked around. I saw the bad and I saw some good. I saw despair and frustration with a little hope creeping around the edges. Overwhelmingly, from that beautiful seclusion I felt the vacuum of leadership and direction that currently exists at the state level.
There was little need for me to dwell on the obvious litany of problems: Wars, poverty, environmental destruction, trampling of the rights of people, institutional failures of our health care and education systems, and others. What I did feel was a very strong and deep calling to focus my energies to help restore the health, dignity and beauty of our community.
It was there, sitting under my pear tree, that I decided to run for Governor of Oregon. I felt a wonderful clarity of mind and heart. I envisioned an Oregon being the best we can be. A beacon of tangible hope.
OK, it was decided. Now what?
I gathered friends around. I received hugs of encouragement. I became a candidate for Governor seeking the nomination of the Pacific Green Party; a party that I helped to form 14 years earlier.
The next step was to create, with the help of my friends, a campaign. My eighteen years of public service activism and organizing grassroots campaigns would certainly be helpful. I knew it was a long shot but I also knew we would win.
Creating a campaign challenges us to bring something into existence that hasn’t existed before. It requires creativity, turning imagination into action. Campaigns also have deadlines. In our case, the deadline is the November election.
The root stem of a campaign is the phrase that defines the effort. Our root stem is, “Peace, Environment, People”. Even a moment’s meditation on those words together yields sensible creative solutions that shatter the current gridlock of government.
Good government means redefining our priorities. It involves creating an atmosphere in which the needs of people are placed ahead of the money interests of a few. It means respecting and enhancing the wonderful natural resources of Oregon. It means earning the respect of all Oregonians by clear and creative deeds.
Our community is blessed with an abundance of talent. For years we have been sculpting alternative plans and visions. We now have the opportunity to manifest those visions in real time.
I have gathered some of the best and brightest of our community to help in the campaign. We will do what is morally right and fiscally sound. Concrete campaign proposals are underway that, among other things, call for:
Peace Now: Bringing our troops home Now. And, as we all know, peace is not just about war but is also about how we conduct ourselves in the daily business of government. Environmental Enhancement: A natural resource plan that will protect and enhance the quality of our air, water, and land, together with the critters that inhabited them. Among our key natural resource initiatives is ‘Energy Independent Oregon’ which maximizes alternative fuel utilization while producing badly needed fresh revenue sources for the state’s social systems.
People Rights: We will create the best social systems for our community. Education, Health and Human Dignity programs must and will be funded. And again, it is not just about money. Our community demands and will have quality programs with justice for all. We can and will generate fresh sources of revenue by reforming the criminal justice system and further decriminalizing marijuana.
I think it is important also to understand what we will not do. We will not accept the ‘business as usual’ quagmire of the past. We will not be swayed by big money interests and will not accept any corporate contributions. We will not run a negative attack campaign but rather run a positive campaign about who we are with concrete proposals.
Can we win? Of course we can win. Here’s how.
In the past, third party candidates, limited by money, have run low key campaigns generating little support. Here our campaign has an advantage. I have been running successful statewide issue campaigns in Oregon for 18 years. None have been well funded, but as a grassroots coordinator you develop skills to overcome the money obstacle. We will have a statewide grassroots organization being led by the ‘Keating for Governor’ Broom Brigade and Bike Patrols. We will make our roads, bike lanes, and neighborhoods cleaner, safer and more friendly, while spreading the word about the campaign by wearing colorful ‘Keating for Governor’ vests as we work in our community. We will walk and ride our talk.
The bus named ‘Cool’, fresh off a season of bringing folks out to the woods to protect our forests, has joined the campaign. With the ‘Cool’ bus in the lead we will tour the entire state spreading our words with hot political rallies. Good old time political rallies with great music and fanfare are being planned and will unfold starting in the Spring. We will dance at the revolution.
So what happens as we run our campaign? The major party candidates will have a problem. This is particularly true for the democratic party candidate.
Dissatisfaction with the ‘business as usual’ candidates has never been higher.
Our presence can and will deny a democratic party victory. Our achievable goal is to make sure that a democratic party loss is perceived by all early in the campaign. The election dynamic at that point switches. The pressure then falls on the organized environmental, labor, and social justice groups to do the right thing; what they haven’t done in the past. They will not fall into the ‘lesser of two evils’ black hole. This year can and will be different. This year we will win an election.
And folks remember, we are Oregonians—we can and will embrace our individuality, our character, and our future.
For more information and to get involved, please contact: www.keatingforgovernor.org
Joe Keating is a community activist and public servant. He is a graduate of Georgetown University, is the father of three, and served in the US Army during Viet Nam. From 1988 to 1991, he worked as the operations director and action coordinator for Oregon Greenpeace after which he served as a director and coordinator of United Community Action Network. In 1994, he worked as station manager for KBOO Radio. In 1996 Joe was the Pacific Green candidate for Congress. He served as the chair of the Oregon Sierra Club from 1999 to 2000. At the Oregon Center for Environmental Health he served as Portland Harbor campaign coordinator from 2001 to 2003. Additionally from 2001 to 2002 he coordinated the Mount Hood campaign of the Cooper Spur Wild and Free Coalition.
Since 1995, he served as a director of the Oregon Wildlife Federation. He is also columnist for the Portland Alliance newspaper. Currently Joe is the regional coordinator of Back 2 the WALL.
Joe is an innovative activist. He is a founding member of Citizens for Peace and a Rational Energy Policy, the Portland Utility Review Board, Portland’s Yellow Bike program, Witness Against Lawless Logging (WALL), Portland Harbor Community Advisory Group, and the Pacific Green Party of Oregon. Joe currently resides in Portland, Oregon.