Anti-15 spokesman Richard Wiebe changes tune, endorses PROP 15!

Schubert Flint anti-Prop 15 spokesman: 'No. I'm serious. Vote for it then.'

“No! He didn’t!” Oh yes he did.  Well, sort of. His words, in the midst of an argument on a comments thread here, were:

If you believe BP and Wall Street wouldn’t have happened if we had public campaign financing, you should go right ahead and vote for Prop 15.

Now, admittedly, he was probably being sardonic.  I’m guessing he thinks it’s a ridiculous idea that, either,

  • honest governance would have prevented the two greatest disasters to befall this nation since 9/11, or that
  • public campaign financing would lead to said honest governance.

And let’s remind ourselves right off, that Prop 15 is NOT public campaign financing – it’s completely funded by lobbyist fees – although it COULD open the door to public campaign financing in the future, which is what a lot of us would like to see.

But let’s take Richard at his word.  Would Fair Elections – say, ten or twenty years before these disasters – have prevented them?  And should you therefore vote Yes on Prop 15?

You know the answer is YES on both counts.

The Wall Street debacle and the Deepwater Horizon spill were not “acts of God” like Katrina, or acts of our enemies like 9/11.  They BOTH resulted from sloppy and careless actions of unregulated, profit-seeking behemoths which were (and still are) so nested into our government that, as Senator Durbin ruefully observed about the banks, “They basically own the place.”

Our Founding Fathers in order to “provide for the common defence” and “promote the general welfare,” armed our government with a Commerce Clause, precisely to prevent these predictable, human-caused catastrophes to our nation.  And during the Great Depression Congress did its job with new laws and regulations like Glass-Steagall to prevent bankers’ adventurous profit-seeking behavior from ever again driving the nation into catastrophe.

But as the decades went by, politicians of both parties, funded by Wall Street, preached the gospel of deregulation and managed to repeal laws like Glass-Steagall, enabling the adventurous and irresponsible behavior that led directly to the debacle of 2008.  And even now, as bankers fight any new reform with armies of thousands of lobbyists, politicians of both parties cringe at taking the necessary tough steps that would annoy their campaign funders and possibly drive them to back an opponent.

There would be no reason for publicly-funded legislators to behave in such a craven manner.

Also, both Wall Street and Big Oil manage to get the regulators they want appointed – often directly from the very industry they’re supposed to be regulating – and they do exactly what’s expected of them, which is letting the industries get away with murder.  It’s come to light in the wake of the BP spill that friendly regulators allowed hundreds of similar unsafe rigs to be built, with the same lack of planning for accidents that we’re observing in the Gulf now.

It looks like it’s pure dumb luck that as of yet we’ve had only one Deepwater Horizon spill.  And the lack of oversight that caused it is a direct result of Big Oil owning politicians of both parties.

More relevantly, let’s talk Local and Now.

It’s of limited value to speculate on what woulda, coulda been, when a lesson of both these disasters is that they could happen again any time.  And on that note, as Californians we should be thinking locally about the fact that we have several candidates running THIS WEEK who are STILL pushing hard for offshore drilling on California’s coast, and these candidates just HAPPEN to be funded by British Petroleum and other oil companies. Off hand, I’m thinking of Ken Calvert who is running against Bill Hedrick, and Jerry Amante who is highly likely to be running against Melissa Fox.

You’d really have to be willfully blind not to see a connection between their  drill-baby-drill philosophy and their campaign contributions, or the danger that if they get into power and have their way it’s only a matter of time before we have our own Deepwater Horizon spill off San Clemente or Corona del Mar.  These are the stakes we’re talking about when we try to bring Fair Elections to the Golden State.

So yes,

Although nobody can ever really say for sure that “this and that would have never happened if thus and so,” it’s easy to see that public financing of elections is the direction California and the nation need to head in if we want to prevent the irresponsible behavior that caused these two disasters.

Mr. Wiebe is quite correct that you should all vote YES ON Prop 15.  We welcome this unlikely ally to our cause, and urge him to put more effort into getting the message out between now and Tuesday!  🙂

About Vern Nelson

Greatest pianist/composer in Orange County, and official political troubadour of Anaheim and most other OC towns. Regularly makes solo performances, sometimes with his savage-jazz band The Vern Nelson Problem. Reach at, or 714-235-VERN.