The following is the text of a speech given by Scott Laugenour, Massachusetts Green-Rainbow Party candidate for 4th Berkshire District State Representative, to the GRP regional convention in Pittsfield:
Hello! My name is Scott and I am the Green-Rainbow candidate for State Representative this year in the 4th Berkshire District. My full name, which voters in the district will see on the ballot in November, is Lee Scott Laugenour. But my friends and family call me Scott, and you should, too. Thank you fellow greens, new members, and guests for joining us today.
I came to the party a little over two years ago when my husband Mark and I came to this very location for the regional convention in 2008. I made some phone calls to learn more about the party and began attending the local chapter meetings here in Pittsfield, and from those days on my family grew: Celia … Mike … Jeff … Gordon … Jamie … and Wanda. They welcomed Mark and me to the party and to a political home and to new friendships. I love you all.
But in a political fight where different ideas for public policies compete for voter support we need more than love. We’re challenging established paradigms and established power. History teaches us that this always means a fight and a struggle. There is the adage that says that life is not fair, which may be true, but public policies and laws in a democratic society should be fair to all. Our political fight will be forward-looking; it will be about building a healthy, just, green future. Our political fight is more visible than ever this year and we will keep that visibility before the voters. The establishment will soon see that there is some spirited grit in these greens.
I spent the last two days campaigning with Jill Stein in the Berkshires, and it crystallized for me that we are part of an urgently-needed people’s movement. Voters are responding when we appear before them with a clear and compelling message.
The 4th Berkshire District is the second-largest in the commonwealth, geographically. It starts just a few blocks from here–where Jamie on Church Street answered the door while I was canvassing there recently. She is a Green-Rainbow Party member who remembered me because I registered her into the party two years ago during a Pittsfield ‘Third Thursday’ event outreach effort.
The 4th Berkshire District extends south and east all the way to Tolland in Hampden County. There, on Colebrook River Road, I met Mike, who is a volunteer firefighter. I greeted him at his home. He asked me if I wasn’t hesitant about talking to him because of the Tea Party sign he has in his yard. I told him I talk to everyone – that there are issues that Greens and Tea Party followers have in common and that I am respectful of honest discussion. He liked that I was neither a Democrat nor a Republican and he introduced me to his children, who said they wanted to register to vote. Always having voter registration forms with me, I left them some. Neither Mike nor his children had heard of the Green-Rainbow Party, but I believe I made a good impression. There might by now be two young new Green-Rainbow Party members in Tolland.
People of all political persuasions, many people like Jaime and Mike in my district, whose doors I knock on every day … they have been smelling a rat for a while. That rat has been spoiling public policies and programs, and many voters do not know what to do about it. That is why fewer than half of voters are in either ‘major’ political party. That is why fewer than 20% of voters participate in local elections and fewer than 60% of voters usually participate in state-wide or national elections.
Towns and people have been suffering from:
cuts in state aid
over-dependence on property tax revenues
unfair / regressive taxation
feelings of powerlessness
false promises of the marketplace for essential services and health
We may be told now that the pain our towns and communities are feeling now is because of the present economic climate, but the charts and trajectories that we have seen at our town meetings have been pointing towards a cliff for far longer than the economic cycle has been down-sloping. The rat has been there for a while, and it is getting fatter, while the physical and economic health of most of us is getting worse.
Issue advocacy groups, those who care more about advancing a good cause than about fund-raising, have also been smelling a rat. This country is no longer leading advances in social progress in so many areas:
social justice and equality
alternative, clean energy development
poverty and homelessness
Other societies are providing example and leadership – in health care, for example, where we’re #37 and slipping. Although the passion of most of our advocacy community is there, the public policies that do the most to advance a society are lagging when compared to achievements elsewhere. We’re often headed backwards. Our public policies seldom set a successful example for the rest of the world to follow – too often, they provide instead bad examples for outside observers to avoid.
Both major political parties have had their moments in history and accomplishments for which history will be kind to them, but those are in the past. We in the Green political movement are about the future – a healthy, just, secure green future – the kind that Jill Stein so eloquently presents and that I’m sure we’ll all hear more about when she speaks. That healthy future is within our reach and that is what the Green-Rainbow Party is about.
Our message to both individual voters and to the advocacy community is that it is TIME FOR A PARTY. The collective expertise of the party, its allies committed to our grass-roots values, and its candidates will define that rat and will kill it. The rat is not defined by any incumbent or any individual; it is the entrenchment of power, money, and business as usual that we will attack. Isn’t it now time for a party that does not sell influence to corporate and lobbyist money?
People often ask me what an individual can do to help my campaign or to help the Green-Rainbow Party – and attack that darned rat. Here are some suggestions:
VOTE FOR GREEN-RAINBOW CANDIDATES! When the party does its job in presenting you with quality candidates – vote for them!
Votes are important, and of course, I hope you all vote for me! But they are a private and one-time statement. So: REGISTER GREEN-RAINBOW! This is an even louder and longer-lasting public statement about what you desire in public policy. The party and its candidates must still work hard to earn your vote, but your registration is a public endorsement for the kind of party we strive to be, not selling out to big-money interests, and supporting a strong, accessible, public infrastructure funded fairly by fair progressive taxation. Being visible, vocal, and active about your party registration helps all the more in communicating what we are about.
I began this speech talking about love and family. The most important love is family, and within my family I’m fortunate to have a loving husband. I couldn’t do this without Mark. We share dreams and look upwards to the future. I love you, Mark. And I love you all. Let’s love and let’s fight. Thank you!
For those interested in helping with Scott’s campaign, yard signs and window signs will soon be available. Because we don’t take contributions from lobbyists or from officers of corporations that hire lobbyists, and because our national party does not take corporate contributions, we do need donations from individuals to support visibility efforts and advertising: please contact Jeff, Scotts’ treasurer, at email@example.com, or simply go to the web site and donate via PayPal: http://www.scottlaugenour.org. To volunteer, please contact Scott’s field director, Judy Merritt, at firstname.lastname@example.org.