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©_2002_Authorized and_paid_for_by_the Committee_to_Elect Vivian_Houghton Attorney_General, 800_N_West_St., Wilmington_DE_19801


by Vivian Houghton

Note: The following principles are my local versions of the Green Party’s ten key values. 

  1. Grassroots Democracy.  Wherever we look, major decisions that affect our lives in Delaware are made  not by “we the people,” but by economic elites who act as if they know the answers to everything.  One example is standardized testing in Delaware schools, which was brought about by a massive public relations effort sponsored by some of the state’s largest corporations.  Another example is the prioritization of profits over human needs; for instance, while computerized cow-feeding and milking techniques have decimated the state’s number of dairy farm workers, robotization and outsourcing have eliminated many Delaware auto industry jobs.   Again and again, lobbyists and big business decide our fate.  The grassroots concept of government “by the people, for the people and of the people" is dying more each day.

    In a real democracy, power flows from the bottom up, not the other way around. 

  2. Social Justice.  Pedro Martinez, a Mexican immigrant, was asleep in the back seat of a car that had been stopped by the police at a railway crossing.  As the car sat on the tracks and the police stood off to the side, a train smashed into the vehicle, killing Martinez.  When, over the following days, questions arose concerning how this tragedy could have occurred while Martinez was under police supervision, Newark Mayor Godwin snapped at his questioners that the incident was a minor matter that was being blown out of proportion by "reporters and sensationalists . . . who like to make sensational-looking stories out of nothing.”  So, Pedro Martinez’s life was “nothing.”  It is unlikely the mayor would have made the same comment if the killed person had been a UD professor or a member of the Perdue poultry business family.  Certain lives don’t seem to count as much as others.  

    In a real democracy, all people – black, Latino, white, gay, immigrant, etc. – are valued.   

  3. Environmental Wisdom.  In the late 1990s Delaware gave AstraZeneca a “gift” of 86 acres of ecologically diverse land to help the company expand.  Such unplanned development is one reason Delaware tops the U.S. in killing off local plant species.  Also, in the name of protecting business, the state has hidden the emission of hazardous chemicals from the public, as it did in a case involving Newark’s Rodel Corp.  No wonder New Castle County possesses one of the nation’s worst pollution records, ranking among the top 5% of U.S. counties that emit toxic substances like mercury, benzene and arsenic compounds.  Just as troubling, toxic wastes have been found in Wilmington areas where low-income, predominantly African-American children play. 

    In a real democracy, health and good sense come before industry and environmental wisdom rules the day. 

  4. Nonviolence.  Politicians say youth should be less aggressive, yet politicians regularly use ruthless tactics to win elections.  Elected officials also talk about their hatred of violence, yet they invest billions of dollars in the industrial world’s largest prison system - a system that rehabilitates almost no one, but produces much violent behavior.

    In a real democracy, common sense would tell us that such contradictions  produce more violence, not nonviolence. 

  5. Decentralization  We need more power over our communities.  We need civilian review boards to stop police abuse.  We need a citizen-controlled commission to prevent water pollution caused by the state’s poultry business.  We need government-funded citizen work teams that repair boarded up houses and make them livable dwellings for the poor.  

    In a real democracy, people control the government, not vice versa. 

  6. Economic Justice.  Since 1979, U.S. manufacturing jobs have steadily decreased while the number of service jobs rose by about 40%.  On average, service jobs pay approximately one-half of what our disappearing manufacturing jobs once paid.  With lower paying jobs increasing and higher paying jobs declining, employment is no guarantee against poverty.  Although Delaware has a relatively low unemployment rate, from the late 1970s until now the income gap between the wealthiest 20% of Delaware’s families and the poorest 20% has grown by a staggering 39%.

    In a real democracy, working should keep a person out of poverty.

  7. Gender Equality.  70% of Delaware’s entry level male workers earn more than female entry level workers.  This gap continues beyond entry level.  On average, local women earn 22% less than local men. Women hold approximately 80% of all low-paying clerical jobs but are barely represented (6.3%) in the state’s best-paying blue collar sectors -- e.g., precision production, skilled trades, repair.  In addition, one-fifth of the state’s single mothers live in poverty.  As national statistics show, the economic situation for women of color is even worse.  Nationwide, African-American women earn 35% less than men do and Latinas earn 48% less. 

    In a real democracy, a person should earn money on the basis of the work he or she does, not on the basis of what sex they are. 

  8. Racial Diversity.  Delaware hosts a diversity of festivals and events that highlight various racial and ethnic communities.  Unfortunately, the state’s diversity of opportunity isn’t as impressive as our festivals would indicate.  Example: in Delaware, African-Americans’ per capita income is only 60% of whites’ per capita income, and for every white person who is imprisoned, more than 9 blacks are imprisoned.  Such imbalances are reflected even in higher education.  For instance, in spite of the fact that 18.8% of Delaware’s population is black, the University of Delaware has done little to cultivate an African-American presence on campus; blacks make up only 4% of the student body and only 3% of the faculty.  There is a similar lack of a black presence in high-level state government jobs. 

    In a real democracy, “freedom of opportunity” isn’t a slogan; it’s a fact of life. 

  9. Global Responsibility.  Many Americans wonder about possible health problems arising from genetically engineered foods.  Yet Delaware’s state government has invested $15 million, without public discussion, in a Biotech Institute that DuPont wanted built.  Meanwhile, half a world away, Indian farmers have threatened to burn genetically engineered crops owned by Pioneer, a seed company run by DuPont.  The farmers made this threat after burning genetically engineered crops owned by another U.S. company, Monsanto.  Why?  The farmers fear that biotech firms are forcing India to grow genetically altered crops before enough research has been done on the crops’ possible harmful effects.  The world’s more interconnected than ever.  Problems here are linked to problems overseas.  Since firms are global, we must be global.  People must unite across borders to keep monopolies under control.  

    In a real democracy, people’s global interests come before corporate global interests.

  10. Future Focus.  Our grassroots movement for greater democracy isn’t only for ourselves; it’s also for our children.  Their fate will spring from what we do, or don’t do, today.  

    In a real democracy, freedom is constantly expanded and handed down to the next generation.