John Anderson appears to be considering a campaign for the Reform party nomination for president. In a column circulated by the Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service, Anderson, 77, the former Illinois congressman who ran as an independent candidate for president in 1980 said he was "compelled to listen" to those who have approached him about another candidacy. He said he would make a decision by Dec. 30. He predicted that the Democratic and Republican nominees "will spend far more time avoiding substantive debate than addressing the challenges facing us," and added that the Reform party, which is best positioned to challenge the Democrats and the Republicans, is in disarray despite its potential to bring Americans together around the issues of "fiscal responsibility, environmental protection, global problem-solving, responsive government and competitive elections."
"Neither of the leading contenders for the Reform Party nomination, commentator Pat Buchanan and businessman Donald Trump, seem well-prepared to offer the optimistic, forward-looking message that is so important to building a lasting third party movement in America," he wrote. "My 1980 campaign as an independent stands in contrast. Although unsuccessful in the short-term, my campaign inspired many people to challenge the two-party system.
"The movement for a multi-party democracy in the United States has grown steadily ever since. In the 1990s, more minor party candidates have run for Congress than in decades. Four states have elected governors running outside the major parties. Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura's victory was due in no small part to supporters of my 1980 bid."
Anderson now teaches law at Nova Southeastern Law Center in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and is president of the Center for Voting and Democracy and the World Federalist Association.
BISHOPS EYE MORAL POLITICS. Catholic bishops plan to mobilize the nation's 61 million Catholics to focus on "a new kind of politics" with a campaign called "Faithful Citizenship -- Civic Responsibility for a New Millennium." According to Patricia Rice of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the plans call for more participation and less cynicism as bishops hope for more civil dialogue on key issues and less partisan posturing and attack ads. Each of the nation's 19,628 Catholic parishes will receive a 28-page booklet, video and kit to help Catholics ask 10 questions to focus issues in next fall's national and local elections. The first question deals with how we protect "the weakest in our midst -- innocent, unborn children," and another asks how we deal with what Pope John Paul II calls "a growing culture of death" -- not only with abortion, but also the death penalty for capital crimes, euthanasia and assisted suicide. Other questions deal with how we address poverty; lack of development in the Third World; an ethic of stewardship and responsibility; opportunity for education and housing; affordable and accessible health care; prejudice, bias and discrimination; values of justice and peace; the responsibilities and limitations of families, voluntary organizations, markets and governments.
GMO LABELLING BILL PLANNED. Members of Congress said they plan to introduce legislation to require the mandatory labeling of all food containing trace amounts of genetically engineered products. Called the "Genetically Engineered Food Right to Know Act" the proposed bill would oppose the current U.S. regulatory position that genetically modified foods were no different to other food products, according to Inter Press Service. The bill would include the labeling of meat, diary and poultry products. Foods that contained milk from a cow injected with genetically engineered hormones, for example, would be labeled as produced with genetically engineered material. The 20 lawmakers said the wide presence of genetic engineering in today's foods posed certain health risks, including increased toxicity, increased exposure to allergens and antibiotic resistance. ''Today's limited scientific knowledge warrants allowing consumers to make a better, more informed choice,'' Rep. Dennis Kucinich, a Democrat from Ohio, told reporters. He said he was working with Senators on parallel labeling legislation.
FEINGOLD TARGETS EXECUTIONS. Sen. Russ Feingold, Democrat from Wisconsin, on Nov. 8 introduced the Federal Death Penalty Abolition Act of 1999, seeking to repeal capital punishment under federal law. Arguing that the federal government is complicit in the "culture of violence and killing" by enacting additional death penalty statutes, he said "as we go into a new millennium, let us leave this archaic practice behind." In an interview with the Chicago Tribune, Feingold conceded that the measure has no chance of passing, but he insisted that the sentiments behind it are shared privately even by some of his conservative Republican colleagues. "I was thinking about the millennium, about the fact that this is a very unusual thing to be alive when we are not only moving into a new century, but a new millennium," Feingold said. "It's just really tragic after all the horrors of the last 1,000 years we can't leave behind something as primitive as government-sponsored execution."
OAKLAND OK'S PUBLIC FINANCING. Partial public financing and lower expenditure limits for all city offices got unanimous Oakland City Council approval on November 16. Working together were East Bay Common Cause, the League of Women Voters of Oakland, Oakland ACORN, the Oakland ACLU, and other grassroots groups. Four other cities in the country offer public financing, in which candidates for municipal offices may opt for matching public funds in exchange for limiting their campaign expenditures.
BOULDER, COLORADO voters on Nov. 2 also passed a public financing initiative that puts a limit of $100 on contributions for municipal offices but provides matching public funds for candidates who agree to limit their spending and raise a certain number of small contributions.
NRCC LEANING ON BUSINESS. Roll Call, the Capitol Hill newspaper, reported that the National Republican Congressional Committee plans to lean on companies that it feels are giving too much money to Democrats and is turning to a team of Washington lobbyists for help. The NRCC, Roll Call reports, has been warned by several Republican powerbrokers that it could witness an erosion of support among business leaders if its does not cater more generously to Washington lobbyists and their corporate bosses. One such warning was delivered to new NRCC Deputy Chairman Dan Mattoon in a private meeting Nov. 5 with GOP heavyweights such as former NRCC Chairman Bill Paxon (N.Y.) and Maria Cino, the top political adviser to Texas Gov. George W. Bush (R).
INSTANT RUNOFFS ADVANCE. In San Francisco, where write-in candidate Tom Ammiano shocked political pros by forcing a runoff with Mayor Willie Brown, the Board of Supervisors, of which Ammiano is president, is considering whether to place on the March 2000 ballot a measure to enact instant runoff voting for most San Francisco elections, including the mayor's race. An initiative to enact IRV for all federal and state elections has been launched in Alaska, and legislation is being crafted by in such states as New Mexico, Utah and Vermont. Voters in Vancouver, Washington, this year approved a stand-alone charter amendment to allow instant runoff voting to be adopted in the future.
WORLD TRADE RADIO & TV SET. Columnist Norman Solomon and veteran radio journalist Julie Light will co-host World Trade Watch, a series of five daily programs from the WTO Summit in Seattle, Nov. 29 to Dec. 3. Environmentalists, labor and community activists from around the globe will converge on Seattle to hold forums and protests at the WTO meeting. The program can be heard over the internet from the Corporate Watch website: www.corpwatch.org, or the National Radio Project web site, www.radioproject.org. TV coverage by independent media producers also will be made available at www.indymedia.org for non-commercial broadcasts. Find other resources at The Progressive Populist's WTO page.