One democratic Basque

images5Al Gore won the presidency of the United States in 2000. But he was defeated by the US Supreme Court, given the presidency by George Bush junior brother’s Secretary of State in Florida. It was disgusting for every democrat, because we knew the republican administration in the White House could supouse for american people and for the world. On september 25 2000, the same day Ariel Sharon decided to visit the Temple Mount in Jerusalem I started my university career. I started Science Politics in Basque Public University. On that situation I entered to be member on a basque politcal party and tried to be member of democratic party, on the interest of being informed online about what was posible doing, even being abroad from United States and from one person never gone out from Western Europe.

United States presidential elections 2004 came, as usual, one year earlier, with the democratic primaries. Howard Dean, former Vermont governor from 1991 to 2003 presented himself as member of the democratic wing of the democratic party. I watched his program and I agreed mainly with his ideas, so I talked with Corinne Sinclair, high level member of the headquarters of democratic party for Europe in London. And I entered to be member of the suporters team of the Howard Dean campaign. It is known that Dean did not get the nomination of the party for the presidency. He was later the chairman of the party, between 2005 and 2010 with one curious program: make a party transition from a fifty parties party to one national party. John Kerry won the nomination. But I must say, on the way to the primaries, I was requested to organize the democratic primaries in spain in Madrid and Barcelona. I had to decline the offer, because it was absolutely impossible on my side to make what was need to help, getting the list of americans able to vote from embassy, and, then, make them vote for governor Dean, or, at least assure the Dean voters would be counted and their votes not be lost. For sure it would be a rich experience, but it could not be. The same as being invited in Boston democratic convention. I atended at the same time of the convention a seminar on Basque Public University on summer season, at Miramar Palace in Donostia. I atended, but one of the speakers, then Basque National Party’s leather, Josu Jon Imaz was in Boston, atending the convention. Curiosities of history.

After the convention we, at least Corinne and I, and also a group of basque pro democratic interested people, acepted the nomination and wanted to work for the candidate to make Bush junior the former US President in only one term, just like his father. It was told that when in 2008 catalans made one catalan comittee for Obama, but it was not the fisrt time for some like that from spanish state for one small minority in America. There are, more or less, one hundred thousand basques in the United States. And we thought it was a good idea, trying to make visible the suport of the basques, as a people, a proper nation, on our democratic candidate, just the opposite of what President Bush represented against multilateralism, against social and political rights in the homeland in America… It was a moral imperative changing Bush for any democratic leather that the party elected, even my agreement with Kerry was lower than with Dean. We decided to build the Basques For Kerry Edwards Committee, with headquarters in one office on the other side of the road from Arriaga Theater, in Bilbao, the mail city of the basques.

Basques for Kerry Edwards Committee, that i chaired, was engaged with the general campaign on the block of the national minorities in United States. As exchenge of the potential suport I got from Corinne Sinclair two promises. First one was the reopening of the US consulate, closed since 1998. Second one was the Kerry visit to Gernika and the sacred oak of the basques at least once during the presidential mandate when he visit spain or france. With that two promises we could start working. We made a webpage with the arguments and the ways to cooperate, engage on the campaign and how to enlist to voting, in order to make possible the most democratic kerry votes on november 2004. That was the way we elected to write. And I must say it would have not been the first president to come to the land of the basques.

John Adams from Massachusetts, the first Vice President of the United States and the second american President was in Bilbao when, invited by Gardoqui, a basque wich was the first ambassador of the Kingdom of the Spains to the United States, came to Europe to reasearch political figures to make possible an american constitution. He took ideas, mainly, from the Republic of Biscay, San Marino and Swiss confederation. Now I think I have to explain how was that Spain, that Biscay and the political system he wanted to study: Foral system.

Spain was at that time, and was cause of several struggles and wars, mainly in XIX century, a colection of several territories (now we would name that nationas) like what today is under the Queen of England, head of 16 countries. That was the role of the king of Spain at the end of the XVIII century. Did not Spain recognize, but tolerated as part of the tradition. There were, of course, many types of tradition, one of them, basque’s tradition was deeply democratic. Foral system, that is consituedinary law, the basis for english non written constitution. It may be said that Simon Monfort, so called founder of the brittish parliamentarism, lived in Gascogne several years, where, for sure, assumed part of the foral system.

The Republic of Biscay was, between XV and XIX century the political core of basque political institutions. It is said basques never were united in one unity. It may be truth, but it would be because the aim of the basques was a root based democracy. Biscay, as Holland is only one province of the Netherlands, was one part of the Republic of Biscay, with, on the spabish side, incorporated all the basque lands, except the now reduced Navarre. In a confederative way, between them, also confederated inside the crown of spain. It would be like a full self government without defense or foreign relations. Foral system, until XIX century, included 2 core elements: basques were never called outside their borders to serve any military branch by force or enlisted, it was profesional, voluntary, well paid. And the tax collect was fully responsability of basques institutions. Any money given to his majesty and his governmente was a gift.

Basque foral system has never been extinguised,because every basque generation has made the most to mantain a continuity wire of self government and home rule. It is clear that in foral system was and is more important the way the law is made than the propper law. On the basque towns, in front of the church (separation church-state), because going to church on sunday was a cultural, social and, also, religious item, the people, decided how to solve the problems. Every family had a vote. A family could be represented by man or woman, if needed. Of course there were issues that had to be decided by two or more towns, like roads, they joined in some like what in america is called counties. There were territorial issues, and a parliament was called, by representatives from every town, city or village. And, from Parliament, an executive branch was enacted, like a permanent representation of the Parliament (not called to session until needed) and a form of government of the territory. There were many of this “Junta” and “Diputación”. Between them, cooperative, informal and consultative teams were build, because, even there were diferences between territories, systems and governments, there was more that united them than what separated them. They were basques, and forality was their constitution.

John Adams learned from this when he came to Bilbao, and incorporated some to the book he wrote about constitutional basis to an american constitution, and sure, some, was incorporated to the proper text in 1787. It is said in the main capitol hill building, in US Congress there is a wall painting representing in some way that Biscay and that foral system. As one of the democratic inspirations for building the hope for the world called the United States of America. This one is mentioned by the founder of Basque National Party Sabino Arana in a Telegram in 1902 congratullating American President Theodore Roosevelt for cuban independence, a simple text wich was awarded by spanish courts with eight years and one day of jail. This was the single Spain XIX century spanish nationalism (always self denied of existing) brought to life, with only one nation, one law, one language, one culture and one nation. The others musted to be deleted.Forever.

In 2004 Presidential Elections it must be said that we lost the elections. Kerry was not President. I remember three issues that… make me think. One, the video of Bin Laden calling to vote for democrats. Sure? In Spain we wached some similar when it was told that the socialist basque terrorist group eta was in suposed favour to Zapatero to be Prime Minister. Two, Constellation Program. Interesting program with no roots. Fantasy, like Reagan Star Wars a creative was, but not real option on real world. They were both phantoms to serve a political purpose. And third, those machines in Ohio, that, on the south side of that great state of the union worked hardly, or did not work properly. Anyway, this time it could be said Bush junior was elected President. And that was the end for Basques for Kerry Edwards Comittee. But not my conection with democratic party.

At the end of 2006 Corinne Sinclair, with i was talking for some tome to time, requested my help for de socialist party in France. In 2007 there would be presidential elections there, and Jacques Chirac was not elegible for a third term. She was living in Luxembourg at that time. Former socialist member Bernard Kouchner, and NGO prominent member, was a precandidate. She made a poor web to promote his candidacy. But, as a basque, either spain either france, two states where we live, is some like diferent. And mainly for a party wich in 1981, when President Mitterrand was elected promised us a territorial coectivity, an institution for basques on the french side. And on that year, later, he recognized he lied and was never going to acomplish. And I told her I was not going to be involved on that election.

A few months later Koucher was not candidate, Segolene Royale was. In France there are two parts on the election. First one is considered prospective, to select the two main candidates, and the second round, the tet a tet, the definitive election. There were four main candiates, socialist Royale, conservative Sarkozy, liberal Bayrou and far right Le Pen. Remember in 2002 to the second round passed Le Pen with Chirac, mainly because the disgregation of the left vote. So, in 2007 it could not happen. Corinne told me at the first time to suport Royale, because she was the guy socialist party members elected to be President. After that, considering who would be with her in the second round and trying to prevent Le Pen on the other round, and with good numbers to Bayrou (well known by basques, it must be said) at pools she told me to a tactic support for Bayrou in order to have a Royale – Bayrou on the second round. Fine. But close to the election sunday she told me the best to be done is voting Sarkozy. A guy I consider similar to George Bush junior. I was shocked. And she did campaign for one guy now leads a party called the republicans. After that, when government was formed that first guy, even being socialist party member, Bernard Kouchner, was designated Minister of Foreign Affairs. And I decided to break relations with Corine Sinclair. There was no more posibilities, I was not able to go on that way with her.

Since then I have been informed from democratic party of every main campaign, in house and senate, or presidential, by the democratic national comittee, and from obama campaign two times, and from hillary campaign now. I consider myself a democrat, a democratic paty member, that, when I could, made what I could for contribuiting for a greater america, a better america, a democratic america, ruled by the democratic party. My basque party, Basque National Party is member of European Democratic Party, partner of my american party. Who knows what future can bring to us and to US. Hoping the best, at the beginning of the 2016 campaign I met in Bilbao basque congressman John Garamendi, awarded with Sabino Arana prize. Arriaga Theater. Just beside the headquarters of former Basques for Kerry Edwards Comittee. And he visited Gernika and our proud oak, and the “Juntas”, the parliament of Biscay. In some way, the circle acomplished. Although Kerry, now secretary of state, was not the one, was another John and a democratic member. A basque member. Returning home. And I hope some day to return in some way to cooperate with democratic party. In the path to a better future for basque people, for american people, for the whole world. And bring better posibilities for the next generations. They are our future, our legacy, the reason why we make what we make. Let’s give them a chance. A brighter future. In a democratic way. At least this is the story from a democratic basque.


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