Ramón Del Castillo, PhD
A cursory glimpse into Denver’s politics reveals some of the current spillover effects of the craziness that is occurring within the federal government. What remains of democracy is being shredded into pieces at a national level. Particles of shard are falling onto local governments and communities grappling with issues that we thought had been buried decades ago. Most political candidates are charging up the masses with what seem to be business as usual. However, there is one upcoming candidate running for Denver City Council who is offering a vision to reinvent democracy. Her name is Candi CdeBaca and she is running to compete with the status quo with a whirlwind of ideas ready to repair what is left of a fledgling attempt to reimagine a great city. Her litany of activist accomplishments does not include activism for activism’s sake. Its purpose is to deconstruct oppressive capitalistic structures whose model of the rational economic man is defined as gaining as much material wealth as possible into one where public policies are created that distribute wealth more evenly—not through welfare but through cooperative production where laborers are paid what they are really worth. What a novel idea—seemingly striking at the heart of capitalism.
She openly leans toward Democratic Socialism—a political ideology that strikes at the heart of fear based political tactics used by the right to increase its stranglehold over neoliberal policies, using the marketplace as the haven in resolving our current economic crisis. She also pledges to create a new kind of inclusive democracy while moving towards what many see as an oxymoron called corrective capitalist. CdeBaca has created a new blueprint that she declares is progressive, but for the working class. She will be grappling with an economic system that breeds its own contradictions as many conflict theorists believe. One only has to look on the other side of capitalism with critical lenses to a concept created over a hundred years ago called the welfare state to see that increments of socialism are as American as apple pie. CdeBaca knows this but will have to confront the powerful forces that will use it to her disadvantage.
Call it what you will, the polarization of the classes continues, with the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer. An old chap by the name of Karl Marx predicted this in the 17th century as he saw the working class dwindle into a powerless group as its labor was exploited and its access to capital was nil. One has to wonder if greed is an innate characteristic imbedded in the collective consciousness of the human condition or if capitalism breeds the worst of the imperfections of human beings.
What is it that CdeBaca promises? Her vision is actually simple, supporting issues that strike at the heart of class struggle. Her aim is to address the root of the problem, not just the symptoms. How should Denver deal with the homeless problem, the dual wage system whose roots are actually economic in nature? People without places to stay cannot develop a personal infrastructure—a safe place to take care of themselves. Laborers continue to work two or three jobs just to make ends meet—while small and large business owners, industrialists and capitalists refuse to provide insurance and a decent hourly wage. CdeBaca admits that the new $15 hourly wage is not enough for working class families to purchase the outrageous costs of new homes or condominiums. The new public policy raising wages to $15 hour over 3 years actually diminishes in buying and borrowing power as inflation absorbs this panacea. How can Denver develop affordable housing at a time when the tentacles of gentrification continue to gnaw away at affordable housing, driving working class families into the periphery of other counties and cities? Can Denver develop a middle class or will the polarization continue? CdeBaca’s plan includes an overhaul of the zoning policies aimed at create space for middle class families to remain in Denver. To stop the millions of dollars that investors are pumping into the creation of new homes and condominiums, she would like to create alternative economic structures to share the wealth. She vows to open a 24 hour shelter, funded by Denver and operated by nonprofit organizations that will provide the economic infrastructure needed as programs to increase skills for the current labor market are developed. With wrap around services, a metaphor to ensure food, shelter and clothing as the homeless are invited to participate in honing new saleable skills to enter the marketplace would be quite a feat.
Immigration is at the top of her agenda. In her travels, she has witnessed the mistreatment of immigrant families and children. She is acutely aware that undocumented workers have been exploited for over a hundred years under América’s capitalism; then, blamed for the economic ills in American society.
Reinventing democracy is not just her dream, it is a vision that she has promised to work in communion with those who are slowly but surely becoming invisible again.
Dr. Ramón Del Castillo is an Independent Journalist. © 5-20-2019 Ramón Del Castillo.
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