Green Party Meets Tea Party in San Rafael


By Richard Halstead
Marin Independent Journal
Theoretical physicists conjecture that reality may consist of parallel universes existing side by side, and there was supporting evidence in San Rafael on Wednesday when local representatives of the Green Party and the Tea Party exchanged views on the source of the nation's economic woes.
About 50 people turned out to hear Sally Zelikovsky of San Rafael, founder of the Bay Area Patriots and coordinator of the San Francisco Tea Party, and Larry Bragman, a Fairfax councilman and active Green Party member, present their alternative versions of economic reality during a luncheon meeting of the Marin Coalition at Chalet Basque.
In his keynote address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, the speech that first won him a national spotlight, Barack Obama famously said, "There is not a liberal America and a conservative America — there is the United States of America." But that is not necessarily the conclusion one would draw after listening to Zelikovsky and Bragman.
According to Zelikovsky, government regulation and spending are the nation's key problems, particularly spending on entitlements such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
"The elephant in the room is the debt," Zelikovsky said. "Our debt is crushing our future. Spending exceeds revenues. People have to realize that."
Asked for her top three priorities for fixing the economy, Zelikovsky said cutting the federal budget, capping the federal budget and passing a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution. But Zelikovsky said she also wants to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which she referred to as "Obamacare," cut taxes and cut government regulations, such as the Dodd—Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which was passed in 2010 after the peak of the economic crisis.
"Look in your homes," Zelikovsky said. "There is not one aspect of your lives that isn't regulated — from lightbulbs, to energy output, from the kind of car you drive, the smart meter slapped on your house, to what your children do or don't learn in this school — this is just the tip of the big government iceberg."
But Bragman said more, not less, regulation is needed if the nation is to avoid another banking crisis in the near future. He said it was repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act, which mandated separation of investment and commercial banking, that caused the economic crisis.
"For anyone to say that what we need to cure the illness is more of the poison that got us sick, I think that point of view is ignoring what brought us here," Bragman said. "We need to re-regulate banking. The full faith and credit of the United States should not be insuring a casino economy on Wall Street, and that's exactly what it's doing now."
Bragman said international free-trade policies such as the North American Free Trade Agreement have also contributed to the nation's economic problems.
"Free trade has hollowed out our economy. NAFTA is and was a disaster," Bragman said. In addition to undercutting the wages of U.S. workers, he said NAFTA has wrecked Mexico's agricultural economy, leaving many destitute farmers little choice but to emigrate north.
Bragman said federal health care reform hasn't gone far enough. "I think we need to embrace single-payer, universal health care," he said.
At one point during the gathering, Zelikovsky herself reflected on the enormous ideological gulf separating the two political Weltanschauungs.
"What worries me is that our world views are so different," she said. "The problems are easy. It's the solutions that are dividing us. So, good luck America."