Zeese, 50, an attorney and longtime peace and social justice activist, was introduced by Dr. Kwame O. Abayoni, pastor of the Unity United Methodist Church and a former Baltimore City Councilman from the Southside. He called the energetic Zeese’s entry into the political arena “a breath of fresh air.”
The speech that George W. Bush recently gave in Annapolis, MD, at the Naval Academy, Zeese began, “was filled with lies! When our president speaks, we have a choice as listeners. Do we believe what he is saying or do we believe our ‘lying’ eyes? President Bush is out there saying, ‘We don’t torture!’ And we have seen the pictures of torture...He says, ‘the oil industry is doing better in Iraq,’ when the State Department comes out with a report saying it’s not producing as much oil as it did before the war started. There has been lie after lie after lie...”
With respect to the blood-stained Iraqi War, Zeese said, “We’ve got to get out of Iraq. We’re not doing any good there. We’re ineffective and we have become a target. It’s time for us to leave...Rep. John Murtha (D-PA), a War Hawk, has come out with a six-month plan for redeployment. Redeployment is not the same as withdrawal...This is not really a solution, but it’s a very good first step, if it is a step to get out of Iraq. We need to get out of Iraq and admit that it [the Iraqi War] is a failed policy and to move on.”
Zeese, who had just returned from an International Peace Conference in London, then addressed a seminal issue--the Military-Industrial Complex--about which the late President, and WWII military hero, Dwight D. Eisenhower warned the nation, in 1961, in his “Farewell Address.”
Zeese said, “The Military Industrial Complex is the greatest threat that we have to our country as far as funding what we need for necessities for the people and for our basic infrastructure needs...It takes half of our discretionary income...Worldwide, the U.S. spends as much as the whole world combined on the military. And yet we have politicians out there, saying, ‘We need to spend more. We’re not safe.’ If we’re not ‘safe’ when we’re spending as much as the whole world combined, we’re obviously taking the wrong approach.”
The Green Party candidate roundly denounced the revised “USA Patriot Act,” calling it “a misnamed ‘Traitor Act.’ It is undermining what makes this country great, undermining our Constitution...This version makes it illegal to carry an ‘unauthorized’ sign at a Democratic or Republican convention. What is our government doing protecting a private convention first of all, and taking away our free speech rights--our political speech rights-- the most important types of speech that we have? What has that got to do with terrorism?... If I were a senator, I would be filibustering. If you don’t filibuster this Act, you don’t believe in the Constitution...Under this new version, the Secret Service can decide whether a particular event can have ‘unauthorized’ signs...The Secret Service is a fancy word for the police! They will decide whether your sign is appropriate or not. Does that sound like the United States to you? The idea that we allow the police to do secret searches of people’s homes...is the exact opposite of what the Fourth Amendment talks about...That is anti-American... The ‘Patriot Act’ is unconstitutional, in my view. It needs to be stopped.”
In his nearly two hour talk, Zeese also championed a “Single Payer” health care system. He said that about 25% of present-day health care expenditures go “to overhead and maintaining an unnecessary bureaucracy.” He also said that currently “46 million people in the country” don’t have health care coverage. He emphasized the need to say the words, “Single Payer,” and to challenge the powerful health care industry.
Zeese also expounded on how the government regularly provides corporate welfare to such "obscenely profitable" titans as the Pharmaceutical industry and Big Oil. He also criticized what he labeled, “The Rich-Poor Divide,” where the top one percent of the country has the same wealth as the bottom 95 percent...He called it “an antidemocratic economy...an oligarchy economy, that is undemocratic... We need an economy where we share the wealth, and that is what this campaign is about. It’s about returning power to the people.” As for the Middle East, Zeese said that the U.S.’ 50-year record of one-sided support for Israel has been a “policy failure” and needs to be changed and “debated more.” He urged the U.S. to have a “more equal relationship between the Palestinians and the Israelis...to be a fair negotiating partner,” and that, he underscored, “is the only way to see peace.”
In the 2006 election for U.S. Senate in Maryland, Zeese, as the Green Party nominee, could see himself pitted in a three-way race against either Rep. Ben Cardin and/or ex-Rep. Kweisi Mfume on the Democratic ledger. Either one would be a formidable opponent, with Cardin having the deepest pockets and the support of the well-oiled Democratic machine. On the Republican side, Maryland’s present Lt. Gov., Michael S. Steele, a political lightweight, will be the GOP’s standard-bearer. Zeese said, however, that Steele’s campaign may be able to raise mega-millions for the Senate race because of backing for him from the White House.
© William Hughes 2005. Hughes, a Baltimore attorney, is a member of the Green Party and the author of Saying ‘No’ to the War Party (IUniverse, Inc.). He can be reached at email@example.com.
This story was published on December 16, 2005.