California for All

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Dear Friends,

Some of you might have noticed that I’ve been quiet for the last two months, and maybe even predicted that it had something to do with my run for governor of California.

If you were one of those people, you were right.

I am happy to announce that the first phase of my candidacy has largely come to an end. Today, I am publishing the first short overview of my vision and platform, and I’ve settled on a campaign slogan: California for All.

The next phase of my campaign is to discuss my vision and platform with you, my family and friends, and the people of California. After that, I will begin to campaign in earnest.

One of the first decisions I made after I decided to run for governor was that I was going to develop my platform before I started fundraising. I wanted to be able to explore, discuss, and consider solutions without having financial interests clouding my judgement.

The second thing I decided is that I would not accept money from energy companies. Few things are more important to me than my freedom to follow the facts wherever they lead.

The third thing I decided was that I would run for governor as what I am: a lifelong Democrat and progressive.

When I announced I was going to run, I announced I would run as an independent. I was, as I wrote on my Facebook page, upset at the corrupt behaviors by Democratic politicians in California, and wanted nothing to do with them.

But over the last few weeks, I’ve felt that this wasn’t right.

I was raised believing that the Democratic party was the party of the common people, not the powerful; the party of FDR and JFK, and technological progress; and the party of the Enlightenment dream of prosperity, liberty, and justice for all.

But in California, and too often nationally, the Democrats have sided with the powerful against the people; with big oil, big real estate, and big unions over poor people, middle class people, renters, Millennials, and most anyone who would like to one day own a home here.

Too often Democrats blame Republicans for everything when, as California shows, Democrats mess up, too.

But that’s reason for me to fight for the Democratic Party, not abandon it.

There’s a scene from one of my favorite movies, “The Abyss” — the classic underwater sci-fi adventure — that captures my change of heart.

The character played by Ed Harris has a nasty argument with his wife, played by Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, after which Harris storms into the bathroom, pulls off his wedding ring, and chucks it into the toilet — only to fish it out a few minutes later, sigh, and stick it back on his finger.

As tempted as I was to give up on California Democrats, I now believe that in order to save California, we must first save the Democratic Party.

I know that by running as a Democrat, there are a lot of Republicans who won’t vote for me. But I hope they’ll keep an open mind.

(In California there’s an “open primary” which means anybody can vote for anybody, including a Republican for a Democrat.)

I believe I have a vision and platform for rescuing the California Dream that is better and more consistent with conservative and libertarian values than that of my Republican opponents.

At the same time — strange as this may sound — I believe my vision and platform is better and more consistent with progressive and socialist values than that of any of my Democratic opponents.

The reason is because what we all have in common is our rejection of a ruling establishment that is putting itself before the needs of the people of California.

The bottom line is that California, as it stands, is neither progressive nor liberal. We have the highest poverty rate, highest level of social inequality, and a deeply unfair system of taxation.

And that’s by design, not by accident.

Exclusionary housing policies supported by a minority of selfish property-owners exclude the young, newcomers, renters, and students.

Exclusionary taxation policies mean that older and wealthier Californians often pay just one-tenth of the taxes of their younger and poorer neighbors who recently bought homes.

Meanwhile, we use exclusionary laws to exploit immigrants with the threat of deportation and violence, all while praising ourselves as defenders of immigrant and worker rights.

California doesn’t have to be this way. I’m offering a vision of inclusion, freedom, and equality, and a platform to achieve it.

I will be rolling it out in greater detail over the next couple of weeks and very much look forward to your questions, criticisms, and most of all, engagement.

Now let’s go create a California for all!

Michael Shellenberger