With dramatic new language to end the war in Iraq added to the state platform, and a resounding vote against Proposition 98, which would end rent control, the California Democratic Party convention in San Jose Sunday was invigorated by new progressive spirit.
Santa Monica City Councilmember Kevin McKeown was among the local delegates aligned with Progressive Democrats of America, which authored the Iraq withdrawal amendments to the Democratic state platform. “Acceptance of our more immediate language signals a sea change for Democrats,” says McKeown. “The whole party now acknowledges that we must end the war and bring our troops home now, not later.”
For the first time, the written platform for California Democrats states: “We support the repeal of the 2002 Authorization to Use Military Force in Iraq; oppose further appropriations except those necessary for a safe and orderly withdrawal of our troops from Iraq to begin without delay; and call for an international conference to implement a cease-fire in Iraq.”
Another focus for the over 2100 delegates at the state convention was the disastrous cuts proposed by Governor Schwarzenegger for the state budget. Across-the-board reductions will devastate education and other core programs California families depend on. The convention pointedly supported recall of a Central California State Senator, a Republican who refused to vote for education funding.
Proposition 98 on the June ballot, which would end rent control statewide by constitutional amendment, was unanimously opposed by the convention. Delegates also urged a yes vote on Prop. 99, which would protect homeowners by reforming eminent domain without ending rent control, gutting environmental protections, and crippling local zoning powers, as Prop. 98 would.
Councilmember McKeown is now preparing to carry progressive platform amendments to the national Democratic Party convention this August in Denver. He is one of the Progressive Democrats of America candidates vying to represent the 30th Congressional District, which includes Santa Monica.
Local Democrats will caucus on Sunday, April 13th at 2pm on the UCLA Campus to select national delegates. “I’d be honored to carry our progressive ideals from the Westside to Denver,” says McKeown. “This will be the most exciting election season in a generation, and a tremendous opportunity to move the Democratic Party forward, and, with it, our country.”
— Kevin McKeown
Photo: “Focus on education: Santa Monica City Councilmember Kevin McKeown (right) with State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell.”