The political dialog amongst presidential candidates appears more polarized this time around. Our last election proved that the majority of United States citizens favor an optimistic change in Washington. This upswing for a new political agenda is prominently elevated by the war in Iraq, political reform, and global climate change. Hopeful presidential candidates are counting on this citizenry reform to carry them into the White House. Voters are looking for someone who can mitigate Middle East problems, sponsor education, endorse universal health care, and bilaterally promote integrated environmental management without negatively affecting the economy.
Dr. Kent Mesplay, a Green Party Presidential candidate, believes he is the ideal match for our next U.S. President. Dr. Mesplay was born and raised in Papua, New Guinea and home-schooled by his Lutheran Missionary parents for a short period. Dr. Mesplay went on to earn his Ph.D. in biomedical engineering from Northwestern University. He is currently an air quality inspector at the Air Pollution Control District in San Diego, CA.
Dr. Mesplay’s political credentials are equally impressive. He has served on the Green Party committee, as a California delegate since 2004 and a co-chair of the communication committee. He also participated in numerous political debates, including one held at The Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. I could continue listing Dr. Mesplay’s qualification, but it’s best to hear it directly from the source.
Moreno: Dr. Mesplay thank you for joining me today. You're seeking the 2008 Presidential bid on behalf of the Green Party of the United States. Tell me, what are your qualifications that make you confident you're ready to be President?
Mesplay: The qualifications that make me confident that I am prepared to be President include my attention to detail, my ability to synthesize, to pull together and form anew, to point out new options and new directions. I don't get "lost in the details" in that I have a better grasp of "big picture" issues than most (my Myers Briggs profile is I.N.F.J.) I have a broad base of knowledge in many areas, including experience with other cultures that will serve me well as President in terms of understanding how our national policies affect the actual lives of real people. I am critical of authority, deliberate and at times overly cautious, and I have strong analytical ability. I don't just analyze how I see things but how others see, hear, feel and sense them as well. I study problems from a range of perspectives. I learn. I write. I speak well. I am practiced. I have been in a dozen presidential debates and panel discussions when I sought my party's nomination in 2003 to 2004. I connect. I read audiences. I have a heart. I am trained in the sciences and respectful of art and culture. I am driven to seek the presidency and to use that position to affect significant change throughout our nation and our world so that we and future generations will have better chances of surviving than we currently have. I do not want to be a politician. I just want to help make things better. I recognize that our deepest crises are spiritual.
Moreno: I believe ‘passionate’ and ‘dedicated to what you believe in’ might also be added to that list. Those are very moving statements. Is there any additional item in your background that serves as a qualification for this job?
Mesplay: I would be one of our better educated presidents, the only one raised in a rain-forest and the first known to have Native American ancestry. My multi-cultural background helps me recognize that military solutions, alone, are unlikely to win the war in places like Iraq. Being an air quality inspector I am interested in matters of Global Climate Change and I recognize that instability in the weather is a public safety issue.
Moreno: What will you bring to the Presidential race that your other opponents like Senator Obama, Senator Clinton, and Rudy Guilianni don't bring?
Mesplay: As a Green Party presidential candidate I recognize, perhaps better than do candidates Clinton, Obama and Guilianni, that our nation needs to heal its political divides, clean up Congress by banning corporate contributions and "get down to the business of emergency preparedness." As an independent candidate outside the status quo, I can mount a challenge to those policies of both the Democratic and Republican parties that do not serve us well. After being elected, I would work with both major parties to improve our true security.
Moreno: You mentioned earlier the situation in Iraq. As president, what are your plans, thoughts, and actions regarding the war?
Mesplay: The war in Iraq is not capable of being won using only military means. The violence that our forces have brought to the area is being met by scattered, difficult-to-contain violent outbreaks. For Iraq to heal quickly, one would need to bring in religious and political leaders from outside the country to present a visible, unified front making it clear that our military are withdrawing and that furtherance of violence is unacceptable. There are no simple solutions. Any and almost all economic development that can greatly stimulate the ability of the Iraqi people to take care of themselves would improve the morale of Iraqis and would promote stability. I would also somehow involve singers and broadcast peaceful songs throughout the country, in addition to airlifting food, medical supplies and other goods that are otherwise unavailable to frustrated Iraqis. Investment in Iraq would more properly reach a large number of small-business entrepreneurs than be usurped by the usual larger multi-national businesses, and it is not clear to me that this is taking place. Money that has gone into the arms industry could have gone a lot further toward growing local economies and a peaceful outcome. I would ensure that the Iraqi people benefit from the oil that is in their country and that they do not feel that it is being misappropriated.
Moreno: Would you have any plans on Middle East communication with Syria or Iran?
Mesplay: The recent National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) regarding policy in Iraq indicates that our presence is making the situation worse. When Ralph Nader spoke during the last presidential race, he stated that our activities in Iraq were acting like a magnet to draw in fighters from surrounding countries. Others have used the metaphor that we have in effect "punched a hornet's nest" in our ill-thought incursions and that we are now being blamed for a host of issues, some rightly, some wrongly. Syria, Iran, Pakistan and Turkey are all factors in what takes place in Iraq. Diplomatic solutions to conflict in the region must be sought, with regional powers sharing influence and responsibility for abating the violence. It is unclear to me at this time just what those solutions may be.
Moreno: Focusing on another serious issue, there is a great divide among scientists and politicians about the seriousness of Global Warming and how it affects energy policy (fossil fuels). As President, what are your plans for reducing greenhouse gases, specifically carbon dioxide?
Mesplay: Scientists are generally in agreement on the threats of Global Warming. There is somewhat of a political divide between the Democratic and Republican parties regarding the seriousness of Global Warming, although with Governor Schwarzenegger passing A.B. 32 in California to begin the regulation of carbon dioxide (drawing down state greenhouse gas emissions 25 percent by 2020) it is hopeful that other Republicans will begin to address this as a matter to be moved on with urgency.
At the Green Party Presidential Nominating Convention in Milwaukee in 2004, I stated that the Green Party is not a single-issue party, but if it were, that issue would be Global Climate Change. It's not just that scientists are concerned, but indigenous people such as the Hopi in the Southwest have been concerned about drastic changes observed in Nature. Our actions affect the weather. Nonlinearity in meteorological modeling means that weather events can become very interesting in a hurry. Doing what we can to reduce our carbon imprint by using more efficient devices and methods and by moving toward renewable energy such as wind and solar will not only give the planet breathing room but will directly help us become better suited to contend with abrupt changes that are all but inevitable.
Carbon taxes discourage wasteful combustion. Trading of emissions credits allows market forces to help us clean up our act. Part of my job as an air quality inspector is to be aware of pollutants coming from industry. In the near future, carbon dioxide will be regulated as just one more recognized pollutant accompanying other waste products of combustion. California and our country will benefit by developing "green" businesses and approaches that will be sought for purchase from such countries as India and China as their citizens become empowered and concerned for their own health.
Moreno: As president, would you incorporate alternative energy as part of the United States global energy policy?
Mesplay: I firmly believe that renewable energy should be the focus of the United States' energy policy, combined with higher gas mileage standards for vehicles and more efficient architecture, such as L.E.E.D. Nationwide, transportation contributes one-third of carbon dioxide emissions. Developing alternative fuels, driving less and having more energy efficient devices, buildings and vehicles will cut our energy consumption. Trucks drive less when more of our food is grown locally. Alternative energy more properly belongs as the fabric, not the fringe of our energy policy.
Moreno: For the political novices, what separates a Green Party candidate from the conventional political parties?
Mesplay: Green Party candidates differ from those of the conventional parties in that we are not corporate-driven. Our candidates and our party do not accept contributions from business or from unions. Greens believe in the inherent worth of intact, healthy ecosystems. The internal dynamic in the party is that, like Democrats, we favor social programs and a finer "safety net", yet, like traditional Republicans, we are suspicious of "big government" and centralization. There are former Republicans in the Green Party. If it can be said that Republicans are pro-management and Democrats are pro-labor, Greens are pro-entrepreneur: wherein management and labor come together in the same person. Fixing democracy by removing most subsidies and halting state influence by big business can spur the growth of start-up industries presenting solutions like renewable energy. Corn-based ethanol should not be subsidized in the least, for example.
Moreno: What do you think is the biggest obstacle America is facing right now? How would you attempt to solve this?
Mesplay: Expedience is one of the biggest obstacles facing America right now. Expedience at all levels lowers quality and shortens long-term focus. We are a nation prone to go to war for "quick fixes." We need to bring back generational ethics in our decision-making bodies: no more "quick fixes,” no more deficit spending. We can have good governance supportive of democratically derived and market-driven solutions using appropriate regulation and respect for science.
Moreno: What does your calendar look like? Are you scheduled for any presidential debates?
Mesplay: Being one of the first-announced Green Party candidates in the 2008 presidential race, I have not yet been in a debate this year. I am receiving requests for interviews, such as this one, and I am yet in the process of setting up a campaign team. I anticipate that the first Green Party Presidential Forum will be held in Reading, PA in mid-July at our national meeting of delegates comprising the Green
National Committee and I am an invited speaker. Last time around, I was in 12 such panels and debates throughout the U.S.
Moreno: Do you think the country is ready for an independent party President?
Mesplay: This country is ready for our elected representatives to be reasonably independent and free of constraints on their decision-making ability. A Green President will have no choice but to work with Democrats on improving health care and environmental protection and with Republicans to ensure limited, decentralized government facilitating state and local control and "people-sized" economies rather than faceless, unaccountable, global mega-corporations. Democrats and Republicans have traditionally been beholden to corporate interests, not small-scale entrepreneurial developments and local economies. My task is to win the primaries and then, through successful organizing and debating, prevail over the Democrat and Republican in the General Election. This country is ready for a Green President.
Moreno: If you could emulate a former President, past or present, who would it be? Why?
Mesplay: In some ways I would emulate Teddy Roosevelt in that I do believe that we must do what we can with what we have where we're at. Applying this with long-term intrinsic security in mind, we need to re-develop sustainably to be more appreciative, less wasteful and better able to meet our energy, resource and labor needs without being dependent on foreign regimes. Moreover, in times of crisis, people who know how to be self-reliant are better prepared to survive. I would act to conserve our resources and our unspoiled areas.
Moreno: As president, would you introduce any new cabinet departments?
Mesplay: I am intrigued by Kucinich and his plans for a Department of Peace. We need a counter-balance to the military-industrial-congressional complex. I am excited at the possibility of creating new cabinet departments and I would likely create ones in areas of Emergency Preparedness (to organize neighborhood emergency drills), Peace (perhaps promoting a new insurance industry to insure against war) and Climate Study (using all tools at our disposal, including scientific, to predict earth changes and the weather).
Moreno: Tell me how your Christian background, if any, has influenced your political agenda.
Mesplay: I recall my father, who was a Lutheran Missionary when I was a boy, telling me that it would be wrong for someone to steal something left sitting on the trade-store counter. "But," he said, "it would also be wrong to tempt someone to steal by leaving it there." I tend to think, maybe too much, about the consequences of my thoughts and actions. The "carry-home" message that I got from my Christian upbringing was compassion. Politically, we need to help refugees lest we become refugees in a hurry. I believe in Earth Stewardship, in respecting what the Creator provides. In my adult years, through my Native American studies, I've developed a working understanding of the vitality of Spirit: Holy Ghost, Holy Spirit, and Great Spirit, whatever! If not for my Blackfoot ancestry I would probably not run for president.
Moreno: You state on your website (www.mesplay.org) that you are interested in Native American issues and representation? How so?
Mesplay: There are unresolved issues between Native peoples and the conquering governments. Treaties with no enforcement provision were agreed upon between "Anglo" and "Indian" "representatives." These treaties or agreements or contracts have been ignored and violated by the U.S. Government. As president I would represent all citizens, including Native Americans. In my campaign I intend to gather grievances, suggestions and concerns from "Indian Country" in an attempt at reaching some national resolution to right wrongs. I am interested in treaties being honored, in sacred sites being preserved and in helping unify tribes "cut in half" by current international borders such as that between the U.S. and Mexico. If I can be a vehicle for Native voices to be heard, I consider this an important part of my campaign and potential Presidency.
Moreno: If you are not successful in your Presidential endeavor, what's you next political move?
Mesplay: If I am not successful in my Presidential endeavor I will continue to run for public office as a means to help affect positive change to our political system and to our fragile way of life.
Moreno: Typically voters identify with political parties based on tradition. You're looking to capture the swing voters who make their decisions on policy issues. Where do you stand on social issues like abortion, same-sex marriage, and political reform?
Mesplay: I will not pander to voters. Political reform is one of my key issues: allowing alternative parties into debate, instituting preferential voting or Instant Runoff Voting (I.R.V.), getting the money out of politics. I don't believe in abortion and the violence that goes with it. I support a woman's right to choose and I would like to see Roe vs. Wade stand (if it was to be struck down, the wealthy could always go to other countries to have abortions, the poor would be stuck with wire coat-hangers). I favor men not getting in the way of women taking care of their bodies. I believe contraception should be widely available, especially barrier methods such as condoms to contain the spread of disease. There is nothing wrong with same-sex marriage. Rather, there is something grossly wrong with forcing people to live a lie, expecting them to accept being treated as second-class citizens for being as God created them.
Moreno: Thank you for your time Dr. Mesplay. Make sure to keep us updated on your campaign. One more quick question if I may: Outside your political career/accomplishments, what are your personal interests/hobbies?
Mesplay: I am largely vegetarian, I hike, I lift weights once a week. I am interested in music and art (my parents were studying music when they met in college): I drum and sing and experiment with other musical instruments. I enjoy wood-working: carving, furniture design. I rebuilt the carburetor on my '56 dodge, put in a fuel pump, and generally I enjoy working at fixing machines. I am rebuilding the pump-organ that my parents had in New Guinea. I play X-box games with my younger brother and other friends. I enjoy gardening.
Thank you again Dr. Mesplay. I wish you well on your political, professional, and personal endeavors. For more information on the Mesplay’s campaign please visit, www.mesplay.org.