Friday, September 24, 2010


One Bloody HIV Vote for Jerry Brown

 

For most of this week, I've had nosebleeds strike without reason and the bleeding in the middle of the night was beyond freaky. When the bleeding starts, I follow the advice of Nurse Dafna from the Castro Mission Health Center to stop the flowing bodily fluid. Calming my nerves is another story, and early on Thursday morning as I was trying to get back to sleep my mind flashed on the possibility that Republican Meg Whitman could be the next governor of California. A political nightmare on top of a personal health scare.

With my clean nostril covered with Vaseline, the bleeding over, and sleep about to resume, I decided to vote for Democratic Party candidate Jerry Brown for governor. Whoever captures the state's top office, they're going to have to deal with making cuts in the HIV/AIDS budget, across several state agencies that directly impact me, and it ain't gonna be easy choosing where to scale back or eliminate a program.

My general rule of thumb when voting in a general election is to cast a ballot for the Greens or another third/independent party. For me voting Democratic is a waste, and I'm usually more inclined to use my ballot to chip away at the duopoly of American politics. Not this year for the gubernatorial race in California.

A few reasons why I'm voting for Jerry Brown this year. To start, he's been to the rodeo before and knows how Sacramento works, he's a hands-on type of office-holder, has been a mostly compassionately engaged politician and occasional gadfly. During his time as Mayor of Oakland, I saw him plenty on the local news or read about his actions on blogs.

Compare Brown fully devoting his attention to fixing Oakland's problems, and giving folks the lowdown, you should pardon the expression, straight, to the obnoxious, slumbering and arrogant tenure of Ron Dellums as Mayor. What you get is a clearer picture of how Brown puts his various life experiences to the advantage of citizens and improving things at the neighborhood/street level, while a less experienced hand is learning the ropes.

Here's another reason why I'm for Brown. In the fall of 1992, a few days after he announced his candidacy for the Oval Office, I attended a town hall meeting of his in Boston. I was moving up to New Hampshire to launch an ACT UP chapter there for the coming primary, to guarantee AIDS issues would be on that year's election agenda.

Brown spoke for no more than 2-3 minutes of introduction at the Boston College auditorium then asked folks to raise their hands, identify themselves and ask a question on anything. My hand was the first up, he called on me, and I set out to make some news.

After identifying myself and my cause, I asked him two questions. "What are you going to do about AIDS and lack of effective treatments? Also, do you personally practice safe sex?" Some in the audience were surprised at the last question, but not Brown. He asked me what I would do about treatments, and I spoke about ACT UP's plans to change clinical trials and the drug approval process, and he said he would look at our ideas, and tried to move on to the questioner.

"But what practicing safe sex? Do you engage in it?" I asked, while standing making sure he knew I wouldn't sit down without a reply.

"It's none of your business," he said, mostly in good humor and the audience laughed. Both the Globe and the Herald the next day gave our exchange some ink, and the start of AIDS being a 1992 campaign issue began. The experience showed me up close how he pulls people in to help him formulate a position, and when necessary, to tell someone to bug off.

But I digress, and the matter before me is my HIV blood and which candidate is (way) more apt to make hard budgetary decisions, that will do the least harm to the greatest number of people. All of my political conviction would never allow me to cast a vote for candidate like Whitman, who for too long showed no interest in a basic component of democracy, voting regularly.

Sure, he's not perfect and I've disagreed with his views on the death penalty and other issues, and expect to be criticizing from his face day back in the governor's office.

And while in less desperate times for California I would be voting Green or independent, dirty and frightening nosebleeds, this time around, Jerry Brown has earned my trust, respect and vote. Who would I choose to help me at 2 AM contend with a bloody nose, Jerry or Meg?

Next week, I'm putting a Brown for Governor sign in our front window.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Sorry for your personal health troubles. Wishing you to get better as soon as possible. And many more years of healthy life.

Michael said...

thanks for your concerns and good wishes.