The fact that until today Senator Feinstein had no serious challenger confirms that under the old system, only money and party seniority mattered. That’s about to change.
Sebastopol, CA (PRWEB) February 14, 2012
Dr. David Levitt, a computing and media scientist, has declared his 2012 candidacy for the U.S. Senate seat in California currently held by Senator Dianne Feinstein, running as a Democrat in the open primaries being held June 5th.
"With confidence in today's Congress at a record low of 5%, it's widely understood that our political system is broken. Our serious problems won't be solved by insiders from that culture. In contrast, the engineering culture of Silicon Valley and MIT is about understanding and fixing broken systems by getting inside them and innovating. That's how our team is approaching the 2012 electoral races," explains Levitt.
Levitt has a doctorate in computing from MIT, and was a researcher at the MIT Media Lab before becoming a Silicon Valley scientist, engineer and entrepreneur. With award winning Macintosh software, patents, and acclaimed handheld and iPad apps, Levitt has had no career in politics. He joins a nationwide group of new candidates fueled by citizen donations instead of corporate or PAC money, so their platforms and priorities reflect the public interest.
High Tech Innovation Meets 2012 Politics
Levitt's campaign aims to use the modern broadband internet, including social networks like Facebook and free video distribution platforms like YouTube, to offer voters an alternative to today's famously corrupt money-driven campaigns. The Levitt 2012 campaign also leverages the online campaign platform Nation Builder and the non-profit Be Your Government, which provides new candidates with information on how to run for Congress and has launched 15 candidates in the past few weeks.
In a poll taken in 2010 when confidence in Congress was higher, 45% of respondents already thought we'd have better representatives if they were selected at random from the phone book, while another 19% were not sure. "Americans wish they could replace this corrupt political class with citizen legislators - which was the U.S. framers' original idea after all," says Levitt. "That's what we're doing."
California's Wild 2012 US Senate Race
The California 2012 Senate race offers a particularly stark example of today's broken system. Firms like Public Policy Polling rate Democratic Senator Feinstein's seat as 'safe': she is the incumbent, the 5th oldest and 5th wealthiest in a Senate of millionaires. Despite those advantages, to win the 2006 race she spent $8 million -- 30 times all the other candidates' campaigns combined. This fall the LA Times reported Feinstein campaign treasurer Kinde Durkee was arrested, charged with embezzling funds, and sued by Feinstein, who loaned her own campaign $5 million to recover. Feinstein has also raised hundreds of thousands from California utility and media industries - interested parties in legislation the Senator votes on.
Meanwhile the leading Republican opponent, dentist Orly Taitz, is known as "Queen of the Birthers" because of her continuing insistence that the president wasn't born in the United States and her efforts to keep him off the 2012 ballot.
Says Dr. Levitt, "Feinstein's voting record, apparent conflicts, finances, and need to vastly outspend her opponents - and Taitz's obsession with the President's birth certificate - are perfect examples of the weak choices the old system has been offering voters. That's not good enough to represent California today."
Levitt Campaign Platform Welcomed
Levitt's campaign platform advocates policies in the public interest: investment in sustainable energy, infrastructure jobs and education, single payer health care, ending the drug war, and popular policies on energy, war, and finance that PAC-friendly party leaders don't dare to endorse.
"As I've tested the waters across the state, the public has been enthusiastic and grateful I'm running. Audiences cheer. Democratic Senators take me aside to say, 'Don't tell Dianne I'm endorsing you. I have to work with her.' As time went on I started feeling I've been drafted," says Levitt.
Open Primary Changes the California Rules
Another new factor in California's 2012 races is the open primary mandated by the recent passage of Proposition 14. This year there won't be separate Democratic, Republican or other party primaries in California. Instead, in each race the two biggest vote getters from one combined June primary will appear on the November ballot. This means in November, California voters may be choosing between two Democrats in the Senate race. "This year, Democrats' best shot at keeping Orly Taitz or some other Republican off the November ballot is to vote Levitt in June," says Sheila Harden, Levitt 2012 campaign manager.
California is the most populous US state, with over 36 million citizens, 1/8 of the nation's people. It is also the most wired state for digital broadband. Dr. Levitt's campaign aims to attract Democrats, independents, and other eligible voters there - most of whom declined to vote in 2006.
Free 21st Century Campaigns
While Levitt 2012 expenses include staff, travel, and web hosting, his team expects to need a tiny fraction of what Feinstein's campaign routinely spends. Decades ago Free Software wasn't considered sustainable. But entrepreneurs like Electronic Frontier Foundation founder John Gilmore proved that great paid service for free software can be a highly profitable business model. Now technology has enabled Free Campaigns. Gilmore has been among the first enthusiastic Levitt 2012 campaign supporters.
Says Levitt, "Democrats and Republicans think it should cost millions to campaign -- and they want every voter and potential opponent to believe it. It was true in the 20th century, when TV ads were the only way to distribute video messages. But it's only continuing today because sitting politicians and corporate TV networks prefer a race for corporate money and paid ads. They're in denial that every day more voters skip ads with DVRs, watching and sharing videos recommended by friends on line instead.
"If these politicians campaigned on their track records and policies, they'd lose. Their only hope is to convince ordinary people they can't run without joining the same corrupt money system. But it's actually more affordable than ever -- there's even unlimited video. Citizen-funded candidates on the ballot can pull back the curtain and show that The Great Oz isn't all-powerful.
"In the past year, Occupy and a dozen 'get the money out of politics' campaigns have been launched. Professor Lawrence Lessig, MSNBC host Dylan Ratigan and others ask 'Do we need a new law, Amendment or Convention? Do we have to overturn the Citizens United court decision or outlaw SuperPACs?' But all we really have to do is find and support candidates who refuse corporate money, and reject anyone who thinks they should win by outspending their opponents. That starts right now."
BeYourGovernment and Dr. Levitt are continuing to recruit new citizen candidates to the 2012 races. "We've already been joined by a dozen 2012 House candidates like Sean Closson of New Mexico's District 3, Norman Solomon of California's District 2, and Jeanne van der Hurk of South Carolina's District 3. We need more Senate candidates who aren't corporate owned, for open and 'safe' seats in states like Utah, Texas and Arizona. There are literally hundreds of opportunities. This can be a democratic 2012 revolution -- a kind of non-violent American version of the Arab Spring. And really, shouldn't Americans be setting this example?"
Levitt Candidacy Launches Today
Dr. Levitt has been interviewed on Current TV's The Young Turks from Occupy Wall Street NYC, as well as on radio and podcast appearances, describing the California Senate race and the need for a new candidate.
Announcing his Senate run today, Levitt explains, "We won't demonize or distort our opponents unfairly the way politicians often do. But we have to be candid about our opponents' records.
“Dianne Feinstein pushed for the unnecessary Iraq War, leads the unwinnable Drug War and modern Prohibition, and even voted for the 1999 law that colleagues warned would lead to a huge financial crash within a decade. These errors have cost America trillions of dollars and thousands of lives. She routinely sponsors laws that are soon declared unconstitutional, like the PATRIOT Act and defunding ACORN. Yet she doesn’t offer so much as a ‘Whoops – my bad’ to her constituents, colleagues, or victims. The fact that Dianne Feinstein remains in office after 20 years with so little accountability is a stark indicator of how broken our political system has been. The fact that until today Feinstein had no serious 2012 Senate challenger confirms that under the old system, only money and party seniority mattered. That’s about to change.”
The citizen-funded David Levitt 2012 for US Senate campaign receives online donations at Levitt2012.org/Donate.
Donations can also be made through the Democratic party ActBlue network at https://secure.actblue.com/contribute/page/levitt2012launch.
Registered California voters can collect signatures for Levitt's nomination, and help waive campaign filing fees, by downloading nomination forms at Levitt2012.org/ballot_volunteers and submitting voter signatures before February 23, 2012.