By Karl Abrams
Gold Star Mother and social justice activist Cindy Sheehan arrived by bicycle at the State Capitol in Sacramento, Aug. 27, to announce her candidacy for the 2014 California Gubernatorial election on the Peace and Freedom Party (PFP) ticket.
Flanked by her supporters on the north steps of Sacramento’s Capitol building, Sheehan explained that she is running for Governor because she wants to help California “lead the nation in peace, education, health care, sustainable/renewable energy and democracy.” Sheehan, 56, who ran for U.S. Vice President with presidential candidate Roseanne Barr in 2012, may be coming to Venice to meet with supporters and talk about her campaign for Governor.
It was in the small house at 1417 Abbot Kinney Blvd (near California Ave) that the Peace and Freedom Party opened its first statewide office in 1967. From its modest founding in Venice, PFP has been the left alternative on the California ballot nearly ever since. Peace and Freedom is now the largest left or socialist party in the United States.
Some of its noted candidates have been Black Panther Eldridge Cleaver, columnist Robert Scheer, political prisoner Leonard Peltier, Ralph Nader and Roseanne Barr. Venice candidates have included John Haag, Rick Davidson, Marge Buckley, Alice Stek, Jim Smith, and me, plus many more.
All PFP candidates, like Cindy Sheehan, advocate for protecting the environment and actively support peace, feminism and racial equality.
I was present at a PFP statewide meeting in July where Sheehan spoke articulately about progressive issues such as the merits of increased funding for education, forgiving student debt and the shame of California having the largest per capita prison population in the world. She spoke against the imperialism that has led to the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq (where her son Casey was killed in 2004). She told us California can be a model for the nation, and the world, if we change over to a peace time economy.
Sheehan has been extremely active ever since her son was killed and wrote two books (Dear President Bush, Peace Mom) in 2006 about her early activism. She now has five more books to her credit. Sheehan attracted worldwide attention in 2005 when she protested against U.S. imperialist wars at “Camp Casey” outside of President George W. Bush’s Crawford, Texas ranch with hundreds (sometimes thousands) of other anti-war activists.
Sheehan has been steadily evolving politically over the last decade of her activism. She now describes herself as a democratic socialist mentored by the insights of the late Hugo Chavez, President of Venezuela. She has been an active member of the socialist-oriented PFP since 2010.
Sheehan’s platform often reflects the platform of the PFP <see www.peaceandfreedom.org>. In her campaign for governor, she will emphasize California single-payer health care, renewable energy, ending the war on drugs, legalizing pot, ending No Child Left Behind, ending state sales tax and legalizing same-sex marriage.
As an environmental activist, Cindy strongly maintains opposition to the ”exploration, drilling, fracking, and refinement of all fossil fuels and nuclear power and… is committed to usage that is sustainable, clean and renewable.” <www.peaceandfreedom.org>.
In addition to free or affordable public transportation, Cindy believes that “high-quality, easily accessible and no-cost public education is a human right, not a privilege for the 1 percent …and will make forgiveness of student loans a high priority.”
She also believes that “access to quality medical and dental care is a basic human right with a publicly funded health care system.”
Although a long shot against incumbent Jerry Brown who already has millions of dollars set aside for his re-election, Cindy will let people know that a more progressive and compassionate California is possible under her leadership.
Cindy Sheehan is a force to reckon with. When running against pro-war U.S. House majority leader Nancy Pelosi in a three-way race in 2008, Sheehan beat the Republican candidate and came in second with 16 percent of the vote (about 50,000 votes).
Now Cindy Sheehan is more popular (and experienced) than ever in her ongoing fight for peace and justice. When she is not traveling the world, by jet or bicycle, getting arrested for her activism (21 times so far, but who’s counting), Cindy enjoys her time spent with family (three children, four grandchildren) in Vacaville, California. A tireless freedom fighter, Cindy and her supporters will continue to shake up the establishment, probably from now on.
Peace and Freedom is now engaged in a registration campaign to stay on the ballot. New election laws allow you to register with Peace and Freedom and still vote for any candidates you choose. To register online, go to: <www.registertovote.ca.gov>
If you would like further information or wish to help Cindy in her campaign, visit <venicepeaceandfreedom.org> or <cindysheehanssoapbox.com> or on Facebook: Cindy Sheehan For California State Governor 2014