It’s Time to Reclaim & Re-Energize Our Democracy

Transcript of Announcement of Candidacy

Note - This campaign ended on Election Day, November 6, 2018.

On March 8, 2018 at 1:00 p.m. Dr. George Wolfe, Professor Emeritus at Ball State University, publicly announced his candidacy for Secretary of State in the 2018 November election. The event took place at the Indiana Statehouse.

You can watch the full video here. The following is a transcript of George's announcement:

Good afternoon. I am here to announce today my candidacy for the office of Secretary of State in our great state of Indiana. People ask me: “Why am I running?” There are three sets of reasons why I’m running.

First I want to bring the values of the Green Party to the office of Secretary of State. These values constitute the 4 pillars of the Green Party, which are Social Justice, Ecological Wisdom, Grassroots Democracy, and Nonviolence. Indiana politics needs a new positive vision and a new consciousness. The American people are tired of the negative, contentious rhetoric that is dominating the political arena. They are tried of politicians and pundits playing the blame game. They want politicians to be a part of the solution, not a part of the problem.

Secondly, there are serious voting issues in our state that need to be addressed. We need to dramatically increase voter participation across all age, gender, ethnic, religious and secular demographic groups. Election day should be a statewide holiday so people have ample time to get to the polls and cast their ballot. More needs to be done to facilitate voter registration and expand early voting opportunities. We must eliminate obstacles to voting and end voter suppression. And finally we have to end the corrupt political practice of gerrymandering. As your Secretary of State, I will work to establish a nonpartisan citizens redistricting commission.

Redistricting should not be in the hands of politicians! Why? Because both Democrat and Republican parties have, at one time or another, been guilty of gerrymandering.

It’s time for us Hoosiers to re-claim and re-energize our democracy.

Only a Secretary of State from outside the two major political parties can succeed at re-establishing fairness to our electoral process. Politicians within the two major parties have political debts to pay, both to their political colleagues, the political power structure, and to wealthy donors and corporations. Green Party candidates on the other hand, strive to make big change without big money. We don’t take large donations from companies, or billionaires. We can vote our conscience, not our bankroll.

My third set of reasons for running deal with how backward Indiana is as a state. We are behind in so many areas. It’s as if we in Indiana are living in an age of darkness.

Did you know that Indiana ranks in the bottom third of the 50 states in voter turnout? This low ranking is completely unacceptable. We can do better. For the sake of our democracy, we must do better! And with your help, our grassroots effort can succeed.

Indiana is one of only 5 states that does not have a hate crimes law. A hate crimes law would give judges discretion and the authority to give stiffer penalties for crimes committed that are motivated by prejudice, particularly prejudice based on race, and sexual orientation.

Did you know that Indiana and Texas have the highest mortality rate among children who are victims of child abuse? We need to invest in and expand our social service agencies to deal with child abuse and neglect, which is a problem that has grown as the result of the opioid crisis.

Indiana is one of only five states that require DACA students to pay out of state tuition. DACA stands for Deferred Action of Childhood Arrivals. These are the “Dreamers,” immigrants who were brought here as children at no fault of their own, who are now young adults pursuing educational opportunities, paying taxes, many of whom have served in our military. They are U.S. citizens in every way except on paper. It is a great injustice that Dreamers who reside in Indiana have to pay out-of-state tuition to attend one of our public universities.

Indiana is also the state where are former governor and now Vice President Mike Pence supported the passage of a so-called “religious freedom act” that would have allowed people to use religion as a justification to discriminate against Gay, Lesbian and transgender citizens. This effort by our former governor and members of our legislature was a great embarrassment to state of Indiana. As your Secretary of State, I will fight against such unjust laws.

Indiana has yet to legalize medical marijuana so doctors have freedom to prescribe it to patients suffering from chronic pain or to help them deal with the side effects of chemotherapy and other treatments.

As your Secretary of State, I pledge to move our state out of this dark age and into the 21st century. We must provide more incentives to businesses to make use of solar, wind power and other green energy sources, and for auto dealers to boost sales of hybrid and electric vehicles. We must raise the minimum wage to make it more competitive with our neighboring state of Michigan and adjust the state minimum wage annually in accordance to the rate of inflation. This will help prevent the minimum wage from being us as a political football by either of the two major parties during an election year.

We must insist on equal pay for equal work and reward businesses that pay higher than minimum wage. We must preserve and promote preventative healthcare initiatives such as free vaccines and yearly wellness exams, provide support for businesses to that help young working parents with the cost of child daycare, and insist on de-escalation training for our community police officers.

Finally, to strengthen our democracy and encourage community activism, I would institute a program for Hoosier citizens on the U.S. Constitution and Peace Education. In peace studies, we have not one but three definitions of violence. In addition to physical violence, there is also psychological violence, and structural violence. Psychological violence consists of intimidation, emotional hostility, threats, name-calling, bullying, verbal abuse, and offensive rhetoric. Structural violence is any form of oppression or discrimination that disenfranchises a group of people or deprives individuals of their basic needs or denies them equal opportunity. It is known that physical violence has it roots in bullying, intimidation and oppression. To adequately address and prevent the violence in our cities and schools, we must first bring an end to psychological violence and the violence brought about by economic, political and social structures that leave people feeling disenfranchised with no hope of having access to justice or equal opportunity.

Over the past 15 years, state lawmakers have placed the emphasis in higher education on what has become known as STEM degrees. STEM is an acronym for “Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.” The problem with this emphasis is that it omits the arts and treats the arts as being of second-class importance. Research has shown that Millennials score lower on psychological tests that measure empathy. It is through the arts that we awaken the heart and empathetic faculties within each of us. Educators in states like Pennsylvania have added the arts to STEM programs, in an effort to insist on equal emphasis. They have turned STEM into STEAM, which stands for “Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Math.” We must make this change here in Indiana. We much move “full STEAM ahead” to place the visual and performing arts in our schools on equal footing with Science, Technology Engineering and Math.​

Let me conclude with these words. Rather than being behind so many states in our great country, I want Indiana to take the lead, to be a leader in offering to voters a new vision and a new consciousness to make Indiana a welcoming state that sets the example for other states. And as Secretary of State, I will be a spokesperson that will hold whichever political party and administration that is in power publicly accountable to the people and voters of Indiana.

​However, I need your support, not only to win the election, but first to get on the ballot in November. Ballot access for our Green Party requires close to 30,000 signatures on a petition supporting my candidacy. You can help me continue to challenge the political status quo by stopping by our tables and signing a petition form.

The Israeli poet Yehuda Amichai wrote: “From the place that we are right, flowers will never grow in the spring.” We need to insist that our lawmakers excuse themselves from the place they think they are right, stop their posturing for political gain, and instead negotiate for bipartisan cooperation, and workable solutions.

As your Secretary of State, I will work to make injustice visible and encourage community activism so democracy can germinate again in Indiana on the grassroots level. Together we can energize voters and reclaim our democracy. It will be a new spring for Indiana and it will be a season filled with hope and promise for a sustainable future.

Thank you for listening.

George Wolfe