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August 9, 2012
Transcript: 70 Minute Interview with Jill Stein, Green Party Presidential Candidate
By Rob Kall
This is a rush transcript of my August 7th interview with Dr. Jill Stein, Green Party presidential candidate. She discussed her recent arrest, her platform, lesser-of-two-evils voting, Rocky Anderson and the Justice Party, Ralph Nader, her life and more.
::::::::This is a rush transcript of my August 7th interview with Dr. Jill Stein, Green Party presidential candidate, broadcast to Metro Philly and south NJ by WNJC 1360 AM on the Rob Kall Bottom Up Radio Show on August 8th, 2012.
Here's the link to the audio podcast. If you want to track the audio to the transcript.
JILL STEIN -- GREEN PARTY PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE
Guest: Jill Stein
Date: August 7, 2012
Rob: And welcome to the Rob Kall Bottom up Radio Show WNJC 1360 AM, reaching Philly and New Jersey out of Washington Township. My guest tonight is Jill Stein. She's the Green Party Presidential candidate. Welcome to the show.
Jill: Thank you so much, Rob. Great to be with you.
Rob: Yeah. Now from what I understand, you just got on the ballot in Pennsylvania.
Jill: Yes, that's right. We did. That was our big one for last week and it was a very big one. Not an easy thing to do.
Rob: It's a really, really hard thing to do, actually and I'm amazed that you actually did it. It's a huge accomplishment and I have to tell you, frankly, that achieving it is a real indication that you've got a very solid support system working there.
Jill: Thank you. Yes, I agree with you completely. You cannot do something like get on the ballot in Pennsylvania without having a very well organized team and a huge support system that can bring in volunteers and provide stipends and do it in the middle of an incredible heat wave and the hottest summer, I think that Pennsylvania has seen in our lifetimes. And it's no simple matter, to collect these, whatever we got--40,000, something like that. We got a lot of signatures. It's not easy to do that in the 100 degree weather on top of everything else.
Rob: And there's a history where it was not done successfully before and it was rejected. Do I recall that correctly?
Jill: That's right. Pennsylvania is very hard to do because the signature requirement is high and because the political environment is very hostile to opposition parties and the system makes it very hard for opposition voices to be heard. That means they have a very high requirement and they throw signatures out and they will haul you in the court to try to legally challenge you and financially intimidate you with court costs against speaking out and being heard as a voice of opposition; against the outrages that are facing the everyday American now.
Rob: And my understanding is that Pennsylvania really raised the hurdle a lot higher for third party candidates than for the two corporate parties: Democrats and Republicans.
Jill: Yes, I don't have the numbers in hand, but they're tiny. Their requirement is--I believe it's a couple of hundred or at most it might be 1,000 or 2,000. So, it's pretty small. You know, relative to what we have to get because our signatures will be thrown out. So, we've got to double the number that they require even. The playing field is so tilted. In my mind, it's like a case in point of how steeply the playing field is tilted against everyday people in trying to get jobs, in trying to have decent wages, in trying to have affordable higher education for our kids; in every way imaginable, in trying to get affordable health care. The system is really rigged against everyday people and the rigging of the political system is a reflection of that. And to my mind it's all the more reason why we have to fight and be heard.
Rob: Now, we also broadcasted from New Jersey and into New Jersey. How are you doing in New Jersey?
Jill: Good. We have qualified also in New Jersey and it wasn't nearly as hard as Pennsylvania.
Rob: Yes. Well, I think this is a really good example of Nietzsche's quote, "That which does kill the makes the stronger." / So it does.
Jill: / It's true. What's that?
Rob: So, now from my understanding is you came to Pennsylvania, went to Harrisburg. You were involved and getting things finalized and then you got yourself arrested.
Jill: That's right. For the first time in my life I have to say.
Jill: That's right. I'm now a member of a very big club. / Yeah.
Rob: / So, what happened?
Jill: We have a very strong network in Pennsylvania that Cheri Honkala is very much connected with and this is the poor people's economic justice network and they and Cheri and the Green Party have been fighting the foreclosure crisis, which is just raging in Philadelphia and other places around the country. So, we have been long supporting two women and their families that have been trying to hold onto their homes and are basically in the foreclosure process thanks to Fannie Mae. You know, which we as tax payers basically own. They continue to throw families out of their homes and these two women in particular had very unjust cases against them. One had inherited the house from her mother. Yet, when her mother died, the bank put it into foreclosure and refused to deal with her. She's a working woman. She lives in the house. She has the ability to absorb the mortgage, which by the way was a reverse mortgage in order to take care of the mother's health problems in her final years. So, another example of what's broken--that is our health care system and we're having to put our homes into hock in order to afford health care in this unjust health care system. And then people are getting thrown out of their homes because the banks are looking to do that. They're looking for every excuse they can get to take possession of the home, which was completely unjust and illegal. Every legal means has been pursued, including efforts to change these laws and nothing has been forthcoming.
So, we went into Fannie Mae along with a large group of supporters, had a demonstration outside on behalf of these two homeowners and we basically went into Fannie Mae to ask them to please sit down and bargain in good faith to keep these homeowners in their homes and they offered to basically buy them off for a small fee. They offered them $2000 if they would just go away, but did not offer to really negotiate and revise their mortgage agreements and enable them to recognize them as owners of their homes and allow them to stay. So, we all sat down until all such a time as they would do this and five of us were arrested, basically for trespassing.
Rob: Had you thought ahead and planned to do this? Was this a decision that you made ahead of time?
Jill: Well, we made the decision that we were going to go to the mat for these homeowners and that we were going to do everything in our power to make the banks do what they're supposed to do, which is negotiate to keep homeowners in their homes. That's why we bailed them out to the tune of some $4.5 trillion dollars in bailouts, plus another $16 trillion in free loans. That was in order to keep homeowners in their homes and protect our communities from the devastation of foreclosure, which is not just a problem for the homeowner. It's really a problem for the whole community. And it becomes a blight of vacant buildings, which is a real problem; brings down everybody's home value and brings all kinds of problems into the neighborhood. So, we were--
Rob: I guess what I'm trying to get at is, you basically engaged in a protest, engaged in civil disobedience and you got yourself arrested. Was that a conscious decision to take those steps?
Jill: It was a conscious decision that we were going to use all peaceful means, having exhausted every other avenue. We made the decision that if it came to being arrested, we were willing to be arrested to support these women and bring attention to their just cause. It's not only their cause. It's the cause of another million homeowners who will be thrown out of their homes this year. So we felt, yes, we'd been forced to cross that line.
Rob: How do you feel about having been arrested, now that that's happened?
Jill: I feel that it should be a required experience for anyone who wants to hold office and pretends to represent the public interest. They need to know what's going on in our prison system from the inside. So, yes, it was really quite an enlightening experience to go through that.
Rob: What was enlightening about it?
Jill: To see that people are basically treated like animals, and in fact many ways worse, within the prison system. And that if people treated their dogs that way they might very well might go to jail for animal cruelty. It was really eye opening to see how absolutely stripped of human rights prisoners are, even when they haven't been accused yet of a crime. You know, even when you're just being processed, you're really treated like--brutally, brutally.
And I was in a cell that was intended for one person and--well, I was transferred in the middle of the night. So, I was in two different cells over the course of almost 24 hours. Two cells. In each case, the cell was meant for one person and in each case there were three people in the cell and in some other cells there were many more.
The cell was essentially like a generous stall in a woman's bathroom. You know, about five by six feet, something like that. And about a foot and a half of it was a bench. So, there was a bench where one person could stretch out and this bench was hard metal. So there was nothing you could sit on. If you're a skinny person like me, it's really hard to sit on any of this for more than 20 minutes at a time and I wound up standing for most of that 24 hours.
You could lie on the filthy bathroom floor in front of the toilet or you could lie on the metal bench but there were three of us. So, usually one person laid down, one person sat or lay on the floor and I mostly stood up.
It was freezing cold. My suit jacket was taken away. I had a tank top and a pair of slacks on. It was absolutely freezing for 24 hours. It was like being in cold storage, being treated like raw meat. And there we were using the toilet, eating two pieces of white bread and a piece of processed cheese. That was breakfast and dinner. We were eating, toileting, sleeping and sitting, all in the same five square feet with several other people; having no place to wash our hands or anything. It was an absolute public health nightmare. It's certainly a perfect feeding ground for any sort of infectious disease and--
Rob: You're speaking professionally. You're a physician.
Jill: I'm a physician. Yeah, it was just an incredible violation of the most basic public health standards. There often wasn't even toilet paper and you had to ask for it. The other women in the cell were trying to cover themselves with toilet paper, because they were just freezing cold and there was nothing to warm up with and you didn't even have your own clothes to stay warm with. It was like being in a minor torture chamber. The kind of the thing if you were subjected to those conditions for much longer, you would begin to have very serious health problems. And may already if someone walks in with Tuberculosis or the flu for the matter or even the common cold or chicken pox or Rubella or a whole variety of infectious diseases where there's not good protection out there. It could be an extremely dangerous and risky situation.
Rob: Would you do it again?
Jill: Absolutely. Yeah, and unfortunately, as we are denied legitimate pathways for addressing these emergences: the foreclosure emergency, the unemployment, the inadequate wages, the student debt burden and the climate crises, we are only accelerating in the wrong direction right now. And it's very important, I think, that we stand up and we vote with our feet and we vote with our votes and we not bow to the disinformation campaigns and the propaganda that tells us that, "We better just be good little boys and girls," and let them call the shots and that silence is the best political strategy. You know?
This is the time to reject that politics of fear and to recognize the politics of fear that has told us to be quiet; that we've got to just vote the lesser evil. That politics of fear has brought us everything we've been afraid of: the massive bailouts for Wall Street, the expanding wars for oil, the declining wages for workers, the off shoring of our jobs. This President is negotiating the latest Free Trade Agreement which is like NAFTA on steroids. The attack on our civil liberties in which President Obama codified all the violations of George Bush and then took it further to where he not only can throw anybody in jail for whatever his pleasure is. He doesn't have to justify it or even tell anybody; needn't accuse you of a crime or try you before a jury. He has the power of indefinite detention, including the power of assassination. It's just staggering how our civil liberties our being stripped from us. We cannot afford to sit back and let this happen.
He sabotaged the international accords on climate so that there will not be an agreement until after 2020 when it is too late. The science is telling us now that it was too optimistic. It's going to be far worse. It is far worse already than the worse models predicted and that model said, "If we haven't made substantial progress before 2020," we're basically going up in flames.
It's not like the climate goes through some limited change and then it's a in a new steady state. It never gets to a steady state. It moves into temperature acceleration. That's not okay. That's not compatible with life, let alone compatible with an economy or civilization as we know it. So, the politics of fear has brought us everything we were afraid of. It is time to reject that propaganda campaign. "Bought and paid for by Wall Street and corporate America." It's time to reject the politics of fear and stand up with the politics of courage and move forward now with the solutions that will actually fix those problems; that will provide the jobs that can stabilize the climate, that can create health care and education, for that matter, as a human right that will downsize the military and right size the military, that will tax the rich and ensure that we have the resources to do it. We do have the resources. We're just running out of time. The clock is ticking. So, be afraid, be afraid of passivity, be afraid of being co-opted, be afraid of betrayed but do not be afraid of yourself and the knowledge that we are the ones we've been waiting for and we need to move this forward in a hurry.
Rob: Now, there are people there saying that the electoral system is broken, it's not worth voting. And they're actually trying to recruit people to not vote in the next election. What do you think about that?
Jill: Well, I really wonder who's picking up the tab on that because there's nothing that benefits the political establishment more than silencing the opposition and this is another way to silence the opposition. One is to get them to use their vote as a weapon against themselves by giving a mandate for more of the same, whether it's Democratic more of the same, more Republican more of the same. That whole political establishment is essentially more of the same and it's extremely dangerous to go in and give them a mandate.
And even if you're voting for them as a lesser evil strategy, they will interpret as a mandate of approval for more of the same. So that's what's dangerous. It's also dangerous to sit this one out, because they will take your non-voting as an indication that, "Oh, you don't really care and it doesn't matter and you're okay with the way things are going." You don't mean it that way but that's how they will interpret it. This is how they work. We see this happen all the time.
Yes, our elections are rigged, but you know what? So is everything else. Find an area of civil society now where the playing field is not steeply tilted. You can go out and have an eviction blockade or you can go out and have a peaceful protest against the banks or on behalf of peace, but that is a tilted playing field too.
There is a militarized police force out there. Just look at the way the Occupy Movement was treated with this coordinated attack on their first amendment rights and brutalization by police in full riot gear with helicopters overhead. That is not a leveled playing field either, when our civil liberties are being taken away from us and our rights to protest and petition government for redress of grievances. That's not happening on a leveled playing field. The courts are no longer a leveled playing field where so many of the appointment have been stacked against the public interest. There is no area now where there is a leveled playing field and that we're not facing a rigged system.
But where it's not rigged is in the court of public opinion and pole after pole, as well as just talking to people on the street, shows that there is support for this agenda of bringing the troops home, downsizing the military, taxing the rich, providing jobs, not bailouts for Wall Street and bailouts for bankers or more corporate tax breaks, which is what the President's definition of a Stimulus Package is. We're talking about really creating job. There is support for all of the solutions that we urgently need for health care as a human right.
Rob: Let me ask you something. Last year I started calling for and this year Thom Hartmann called for basically de-billionairizing the U.S. in one way or another. I call for laws that make it illegal to be a billionaire and Thom calls for 100% taxation of income or assets or something like that over a billion dollars. What do you think about that?
Jill: I think that's a really important thing to think about. Now, we haven't taken a position on that, but I think that's definitely something we would consider. I think we need to get there one way or the other and whether it's by asking the very extremely wealthy to start paying their fair share by taxing. We've proposed, for example, a 90% tax on the bonuses of bailed out Wall Street executives. They're taxing capital gains as income, taxing Wall Street transactions, which are currently exempted from sales tax. There are so many ways we can begin to make--just to restore basic fairness to the tax system which it does not have that will begin to reign in these obscene extremes of wealth that require that there be widespread poverty in order to support them.
Rob: Okay, now this is the Rob Kall Bottom up Radio Show WNJC 1360 AM, out of Washington Township, reaching metro Philly and south Jersey, sponsored by OpEdNews.com. You can get the podcasts at iTunes looking for my name Rob Kall, K-a-l-l or come to OpEdNews.com/podcasts with an "s" on the end.
I'm speaking with Jill Stein. She's the Green Party Presidential candidate and we've been talking about a whole lost of stuff and you've managed to--in between my questions--to give a pretty thorough job of flushing out your platform. Great job.
By the way, I wanted to ask you a couple questions. Now when you were arrested, wasn't there a question to Occupy Wall Street people with that? What's your take on Occupy Wall Street and its role in the future of America?
Jill: Yes. So. I believe Occupy Wall Street--if I'm remembering correctly--I think they were also present and supporting the demonstration. And in fact, we have been very connected with Occupy and all of its manifestations, from even before I was running in this race. And I think our agenda is pretty hard to distinguish from the Occupy agenda. Now, granted Occupy is very diverse and different sites have different focuses, but nonetheless the emphasis on economic equality, on reigning in the excesses of Wall Street, on breaking up the big banks, on restoring democracy and getting money out of politics. I mean, when I heard the Occupy agenda, it was like, "Thank God. Finally, it's broken through." And myself and many other Green's have basically been working on this agenda for a long time and there's just a natural synergy here, which I think is very effective.
Occupy is a social movement and the Green Party, I think has very much has been the voice for that movement and that agenda for the long hall and this is a--I think it's a marriage made in heaven. This is how social movements throughout history have made progress, by being the engine on the ground, which is fundamentally that social movement that Occupy represents. When that works together with an independent political party, that's when we see things really change, transformative change happen.
So, for example, in the abolition movement, you had an abolition movement on the ground and you had the Liberty Party as an expression of that movement in the political sphere. The Liberty Party drove into the Republican Party, which was also a small political party and the President Lincoln actually got elected on that agenda at a really critical time.
So, you had this synergy of mainstream politics then, reflecting what was coming out of an independent political party and a social movement; same thing with women's suffrage, where they had the women's party. Likewise in the labor movement where they had the Progressive Party, the laborer, the socialist, a variety of other parties as well as the movement on the ground.
The political party, the independent political party can articulate the vision, the message and the agenda in a way that is harder for social movements to do because that's not their job. Their job is to be inclusive and broad and energized on the ground; not to be doing the process thing, the intensive process thing of boiling down the message and creating a specific list of priorities. That's not the interest really of Occupy. They're more diverse than that. So, that's where an independent political party comes in and we can help drive forward that agenda and move it into the political limelight where it takes on a life of its own and that's how we can move forward. We've been there on the ground with Occupy and supporting them all the way.
Rob: Now, you've mentioned a bunch of historical connections between movements and parties. The platform for the Green Party is, I believe, called the Green New Deal.
Jill: That's right.
Rob: Now, that is evocative of course of Roosevelt's New Deal.
Rob: So, that was the Democrats they were associating that with. That worked back then. Do you think it will work now?
Jill: Well, before the Democrats picked it up, it was being pushed by independent political parties, including the Progressive Party. And it's really a case in point of how an independent political party won the day. You can win the day, even if you don't win the office. So, they weren't in the presidency, but they succeeded in driving their agenda forward. Had they not been there to force that agenda forward, would Roosevelt ever have taken it up? There was a social movement and there was incredible unrest among working people and the unemployed, but to have had the agenda articulated and pushed forward at the political level was extremely helpful and it made it very hard for Roosevelt to resist it because it was out there as an entity unto itself. And I think it's a great example of how we can move forward now, by having that agenda. The unrest on the ground is not going away. It's only going to get bigger.
Rob: / Yeah, I would agree with you.
Jill: / What Occupy represents hasn't been fixed and there is not a hope, not even a germ of a plan being proposed by Republicans or Democrats is going to fix this. All they talk about is restoring us to that phony economy of high finance by giving away more tax breaks and more deregulation as if Wall Street wasn't deregulated enough or the climate isn't deregulated enough. It's like, "What are they thinking?"
Rob: And they appoint more and more of the same banksters to fix the problem that was created by banksters. / I just want to mention one thing though.
Jill: / Exactly.
Rob: Your website is JillStein.org.
Jill: That's right.
Rob: That's JillStein, S-t-e-i-n dot o-r-g and that's where people can see the whole description of the Green New Deal, because you've kind of gone over a lot of your issues and they sound like just the kind of positions that my listeners and the readers at OpEdNews like, so I'm not going to go too much further into that area with you / unless there's anything in particular that you want to cover.
Jill: / Well, there's one thing I should say which is just that the core of the Green New Deal is actually creating jobs and for the cost of the President's first Stimulus Package, which made a small dent but really wasn't a solution. It was not a solution of the magnitude that we need. This would really create the solution that we need for the same amount of money but it would work, because instead of just giving it away to corporations, which was the majority of that Stimulus Package. It was basically tax breaks. That doesn't create jobs. Instead we would do direct job creation like they did during the New Deal. It actually worked. It substantially moved us forward out of the Great Depression. This would put resources and money--
Rob: What does that mean? "Direct job creation?" That sounds like bottom up to me.
Jill: Exactly. It's totally bottom up, so that it would provide the funding from a national level. It would provide the funding, and I'll talk about where the funding comes from in a second. But it provides the funding to communities, so it's an extremely bottom up solution. It provides it to communities. It's not a top down cookie cutter program. It provides resources to communities and certain guidelines that allow the communities to identify what kinds of jobs they need in order to become sustainable; not just ecologically but also economically and socially. So, it provides communities the ability to create jobs which are locally based. So, we're not talking about bringing in a branch of Bank of America or some mortgage foundation or some multi-national corporation: Coca-Cola or whatever. It's about jumpstarting local small businesses and worker cooperatives in a whole broad area of the Green economy and areas that meet our social and economic needs so that we have local economies where the dollars are being re-circulated. Where, as you probably know, every dollars counts for much more because it's passing through the hands--many hands within the community. Every dollar counts for more and the profits are not being shipped overseas to corporate headquarters in the Cayman Islands. They stay right there in small businesses, who've been killed, been killed by both Democratic and Republican policies over the last couple decades. So this re-establishes local small business-based economies and businesses as well as worker cooperatives, because we need to diversify this economy.
It also creates public services and public works which allow you to just go down to the employment office instead of the unemployment office and at the employment office, you can get a job doing a whole variety of services and works that serve your community. And again, this is within that broad spectrum of jobs that range from local food supplies, establishing a relocalized organic agricultural system, which is resilient to the stresses of rising oil prices as well as climate change and all that. There's just innumerable benefits to developing local sustainable agriculture and supporting our small farmers, as well as public transportation, including an active. What we call recreational transportation components, so you can ride your bike to the train, get on the train, have a place to take your bike with your or leave it there, etc. That begins to create an infrastructure for health that allows us to get our exercise, getting to where we need to go safely and conveniently instead of having to go join a health club and pay a big health fee. That's not how you get a healthy society. We need to be able to be active as a component of transportation.
It includes, of course, weatherization, insulation--all those things that can put communities to work that have high unemployment rates but don't have PhDs. You don't even need a high school degree in order to do that insulation and sort of simple construction and weatherization work. So, we can get the jobs into the communities that need them most and I should mention that that is a provision also of the Green New Deal; that it directs the resources to where they're need, not to the places that have political influence, but rather particularly it prioritizes the places with the worst unemployment so we can start providing the relief where it is most needed. That includes, creating green energy as well, solar and wind as well as the efficiencies and as well as the social services, like teachers and nurses, after school daycare, elder care, drug abuse prevention and rehabilitation, violence prevention and affordable housing construction. So, it's a broad range of job.
Communities have full leeway to decide what kinds of jobs are priorities for them and are needed most in their communities. So, it's a win-win because it not only solves the economic emergency, it also solves the climate emergency, because it prioritizes that transition to green energy and it also just so happens, it make wars for oil, obsolete. You don't need oil when you've got green energy here at home. And in doing that, it allows us to cut back on our military budget which has doubled over the last decade without making us twice as secure. Hardly, in many ways, we are not more secure at all. So, we're calling for downsizing and right sizing the military, bringing the troops home and bringing the bases home as well that are scattered around the globe. Putting the hundreds--
Rob: That sounds like the same thing that Ron Paul has been calling for; getting rid of all the overseas military bases.
Jill: Exactly. We're in good company on this one and that's what I hear from members of the military all the time; that they've been supporting Ron Paul and many of them are ready to move over. That's he's not any longer in the race and they're coming into our campaign because they feel like they are in harm's way.
Rob: How else do you agree with Ron Paul?
Jill: Oh on protecting our civil liberties and on stopping the bailouts of large corporations on Wall Street. There's a lot of overlap with Ron Paul.
Rob: How about the fed?
Jill: Yes, yes. We agree completely that the fed needs to be basically brought into public service so that it's not a private organization serving the private bank. So, that basically needs to be redefined and nationalized.
Rob: Now, so you agree that the fed doesn't work the way it is but I don't think that Ron Paul would agree that he would want it nationalized.
Jill: Yeah, I'm not sure what he's proposing. I think we agree that it's a disaster, but I think there's a role for a central bank that deals with credit creation and monetary policy, but it needs to be defined in the public interest and to work in a transparent way to ensure that public needs are being served.
Rob: Now, one of our regular writers, Ellen Brown, has written a lot and talks a lot about the need for local state owned banks. What do you think about that idea?
Jill: Absolutely, in fact that is a part of the Green New Deal as well. The Green New Deal includes financial reforms that ensure that the resources are there for these investments to jumpstart the green economy and having state banks as well as municipal banks is a key part of the solution and we do propose breaking up the big banks that are too big to fail, to big to jail. They've only gotten bigger and they certainly have not been reigned in. The Dodd Frank Bill has been almost useless, maybe not completely, but it certainly hasn't done the job. We continue to teeter around the brink of the next great Wall Street--
Rob: / I agree with you on that.
Jill: / Crash everyday practically. Yeah, what's that?
Rob: I want to ask you one kind of basic question.
Rob: Maybe I should've done that right at the beginning. What is the Green Party? Who are the members of the Green Party? What is it about? You're running as the presidential candidate for the Green Party. Now, before we started recording, I mentioned that I call this the Bottom up Radio Show. So, I mentioned it and you said, "Well, the Green Party's all about bottom up," so I would like you to give our listeners and readers an idea of what the Green Party is and talk a little bit about that.
Jill: Great. Terrific. The Green Party approached me 12 years ago. I was an activist working as a medical doctor, working on health care as a human right; true Medicare for all and also on environment and health in particular. Trying to close down our polluting incinerators and instead create jobs in recycling which is good for people, good for our health, creates jobs and saves the environment and stops the pollution of our fish supply and all kinds of nasty things. It's win-win solutions all the way. And basically the Green Party came to me and said, "Why don't you just keep doing what you're doing, but just call it a political campaign?" And I had never been a member of a political party. I had never gone to a political meeting. I just didn't see reason to stoop to that level and when I was approached by the Green Party, it sounded like they were talking about the same things as I was talking about as just an activist for peace, justice and democracy and sustainability. So, I said, "Sure, let's enlarge this." And at the time I had sort of hit the wall and tried to go through the system and do the usual things and discovered that it was so many distractions it's intended to tie you up, keep you very busy going nowhere. So, I was ready to do that and I discovered, "Gee, there is this party which is basically about the public interest.
And what defines the party for me is that it's a party of, by and for the people, and we define it. We make it what we want. It does not accept corporate money. It does not accept money from the usual suspects. In our campaign, we've expanded that a bit to include not accepting money from lobbyists or pacts or from anyone who hires a lobbyist, who is part of a for-profit endeavor, so that we don't take money that comes with "strings attached" that carries certain obligations for pay back. So, the Green Party the one political structure that's out there that's really insolated from the power of money.
So, what does it reflect? In this country the Green Party is a broad coalition of activists for social and economic and racial justice and the environment and peace and democracy. It's all of the movements that have been shut out of the establishment of political parties. They have found their way into the Green Party and the myth is out there that Green's are well off, sort of green liberals. Nothing could further than the truth. The liberals have long since abandoned the Green Party. I think they were in it for awhile until they discovered that it's not a peace of cake. You really do have to stand up and fight.
Shall we say there are other causes that retreat into very small goals and fringe issues and they just sort of keep their blinders on and they fight that one issue and that's it. The Green Party has a very broad perspective and gets that you can't save the environment unless you save the people. And you can't save the people unless you save the environment. Maybe if there's one things that characterizes the Green's is that we take the picture to heart and we believe in a unified, broad coalition that addresses the needs of people which are fundamentally broad.
It's like as a medical doctor, I'm an internist and nobody comes in and says, "Hey doc, would you please save my heart? You know, I really care about my heart. Forget the kidneys and the lungs, just take care of my heart." It's the whole thing and Green's fundamentally have that perspective. So, we are working on a broad agenda. We are very much locally defined so that the locals of the Green Party decide what areas they are working on and they tend to reflect the strength of the local progressive movement. So, I just came up from Georgia where there's a very strong African American leadership in the Green Party and the Green Party is very focused on prison justice and fighting nuclear power plants because they are all coming to the communities of color, starting to Georgia. So, that's sort of where they are focused. And the different parties around the country have various causes. I'm sorry, go ahead.
Rob: Are there any Green Party elected officials in the U.S.A.?
Jill: Yes, there are many, including in the city of Richmond, California, which is a city of some 120,000, 150,000 people. That's a big city. It's the home of Chevron Corporation.
Rob: Okay, I guess what I'm getting at is the Green's actually are not just there to give a different perspective. They've actually succeeded in electing candidates.
Jill: We are in local office all over the country.
Jill: Yes, from--
Rob: I hate to interrupt you, but I want to kind of ask you a really crucial question.
Rob: Why you instead of Democratic or Republican candidates?
Jill: We have a track record.
Rob: I'm going to go on so you can answer it. Are you the next Ralph Nader? People have accused him of killing the election for Al Gore. Will you kill it for Obama? How do you answer people who are concerned about that?
Jill: I'd say, "What I'm really worried about it is us being killed by the political establishment. Under Democrats and Republicans, we are accelerating in the wrong direction and this politics of fear that tells us to be quiet has actually delivered everything we've been afraid of. And it's really important to replace that politics of fear with the politics of courage. We are the ones we've been waiting for. They are not going to give it to us. Just look at their agenda. After the disaster that it has brought us, do they have a clue that they need to change their agenda? Not in the least. Obama, like Romney, are talking about deregulation as if Wall Street wasn't deregulated enough and the climate wasn't deregulated enough. They are talking deregulation. They are talking about tax breaks largely for the wealthy and for corporations. Romney will take corporate taxes down to 25% to 35%. Obama says, "Oh no, that would be terrible. I'm just going to take it down to 28%." So he's one step behind the Republicans and he will soon catch up to them.
They are both talking about dismantling social security and Medicare and Medicaid but they won't talk about it in this election. But their policies are very clear on this. It's a disaster going forward with either of them.
Rob: I agree with you. I think most of my readers and listeners agree with you. But the thing that people are nervous about or adamant about is that they have to vote for the lesser of two evils and they can't afford to / vote for a third party candidate.
Jill: And what we're saying is, "Look where that strategy has taken us," because voting for the lesser evil has delivered all of the evil we were afraid of: the expanding war, the meltdown on Wall Street, the burning up of the climate, the attack on our civil liberties. Everything that we were told to be quiet for and to settle for has come to pass because progress depends on our voices. If you absent our voices from the fight, all you have is corporate spin. So look at the record, the record is clear. The politics of fear will get you more of everything you're afraid of. We can win the day even if we don't win the office.
We have to be heard and we've got to be heard in the voting booth as well as outside of the voting booth. There's just no question about it. If you go into the voting booth and you give them a vote for either Wall Street sponsored candidate, you're giving them a mandate for four more years. That policy is an abysmal failure. And look at the record on Nader. The exit polls showed he got equal votes from Democrats and Republicans but the majority of his votes actually came from people who would not have come out. They were independent voters who voted for Ross Perot. They far, by a ten to one margin. They outstripped the votes that he took away from Democrats and Republicans. So, in my view, the real risk here is in allowing us to continue this surge towards the police state and empire, which will continue. Barack Obama has a clear track record on the expanding war, the attack on our civil liberties and the expanding Free Trade Agreements.
We know what we're voting for. If you think this has helped us or helped you or helped the one out of every three who are in foreclosure right now, sure, vote for more of the same. But if you don't want more of the same, you've got to stand up and push forward the real solution. Whether we win the office or not, we can win the day by showing that we are a real movement for democracy and justice. It's alive and well out there in the Occupy Movement, the anti-foreclosures and the protests at student campuses. And in public opinion where one out of every two people is calling for a third party; there is a strong voice out there. What you're hearing from them is a propaganda campaign that's intended to make you use your vote as a weapon against yourself. We have ten years experience now about where that gets us. It's really important to reject the propaganda, look at your experience and start standing up. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We need to replace the politics of fear with the politics of courage. We have the solutions that people support and that the public is clamoring for right now. / We need to, at the very least, drive them forward.
Rob: / Wow, you certainly are more passionate about that than about anything else that you've responded to so far. And I think for good reason. Now, I've got a tough one for you.
Jill: What was that? I missed the last thing you said.
Rob: I have a tough question for you.
Rob: The other candidate, who is in real competition with you, is Rocky Anderson in the Justice Party. Why should somebody vote for you over Rocky Anderson?
Jill: Let me ask you. How many states is Rocky on the ballot in?
Rob: I don't know. How many?
Jill: Not many. Not many. What I've heard is that you can count them on one hand and to my mind that gets down to the issue here and I've been inviting Rocky to participate within the Green Party because it is a party. You cannot, there's no way on God's earth you can both run a presidential campaign and create a political Party. You have no idea what it means to create a political party. It takes many years of building confidence, establishing the culture, learning how to do the things you have to do to be a political party. It is not easy to be a political party.
Rocky has just emerged from the democratic machine. That is very different from what it means to be an independent political party. It takes years worth of work to build it and to have the infrastructure to be able to run a campaign; to even be able to get on the ballot, to be able to raise the funds that you need. You just don't do it while you're also running for election. It doesn't happen that way and that's why I think you need to vote for a real party, not for one person who is fighting a valiant but ill-informed fight here and who's not going to be on the ballot in many places; not many.
Rob: / Okay so, next question.
Jill: / So, he doesn't have a national campaign.
Rob: / Next question.
Jill: / He needs to join the Green Party and enlarge it and improve it. He didn't want to join the Green saying, "We didn't have our act together," but what he's saying is that we really do have our act together.
Rob: Okay, next question. Why are you running, given that there is no chance that you can win?
Jill: Well, let me ask you this. Two reasons. Who in there right mind, for one thing, thought that Mubarak who had been there for 40 years and had all the power of the military behind him--who thought that a bunch of young people getting out and demanding it, was going to unseat his military government? They were up against an even steeper wall than we are. So, I would say I'm not holding my breath that we're going to win the office, but I'm not ruling it out either. And I think it's really important to go forward and have this conversation focusing on the issues that we need to be focused on and we allow ourselves, I think, to be sabotaged here again by the PR spin, by the political establishment that does not want us to talk about the issues where they've lost it. They don't want us to talk about the issues. They only want us to talk about the horse race, so they try to cut us off at the pass by getting us focused on this David and Goliath horse race. But that gets to my other reason, which is that it's not only that we are the severe, extreme underdog here in the election. It's that American voters are the extreme underdog when it comes to jobs, when it comes to having a living, a wage that will support a family, because those wages are going down and are inadequate already; when it comes to having health care that we can afford. We know the Affordable Care Act isn't it. I live with it here in Massachusetts. It's not affordable and it doesn't provide complete care. It's the same crises here in Massachusetts that it was before. We know that home owners are in absolute crisis. There are 6 to 7 million of them that have already been thrown out of their homes and here are at least that many in the pipeline and nothing has been done. Looking at the economy and the disaster that's around the corner when the European banks crash, is that going to bring us right back down to where we have recovered from?
Rob: / We have two minutes left.
Jill: So, the point here is that, yes, the playing field is severely tilted but we're in really good company because we're all underdogs. As Alice Walker says, "The biggest way people give up power is by not knowing they have it to start with." We do have the power. This is about standing up, asserting that power and starting to move as far and fast as we possibly can, now that it is perfectly, completely evident that neither establishment party, has the capability, the will or the insight to fix this for us. Let's stop accelerating our decline and start to turn this around.
Rob: This is the Rob Kall Bottom up Radio Show WNJC 1360 AM. I've been speaking with Jill Stein, Green Party Presidential candidate. Jill, to wrap this up, what can listeners and readers who want to support third party politics or you, do?
Jill: I suggest you go to our website because we are going to be the one truly national campaign in this race that is not bought and paid for by Wall Street.
Rob: And the website is?
Jill: The website is JillStein, J-i-l-l S-t-e-i-n dot org and we have a whole volunteer page. You can contribute. Every dollar you contribute will be doubled. We're in the process now of qualifying for federal matching funds. We have qualified. We're waiting for the approval. Your money will be doubled if you contribute within the next six weeks or so--
Rob: / Great, so that's all--
Jill: / and you can help us with our ballot access plights, with phone banking, all the usual stuff of campaigns. This is your campaign, join us.
Rob: That's all the time we have. That's all the time we have for the radio show, but hold on Jill. The podcast we can go a little bit longer and then we're going to transcribe this.
If you're listening and you want to catch the rest of the interview, go to Rob Kall, K-a-l-l at iTunes or OpEdNews.com/podcasts and you can pick up the rest of this interview. Or go to OpEdNews and in a couple of days we'll have the transcript of this as well.
So, I have a couple of more questions for you and then we'll wrap it up. Who are you as a candidate? People want to know who you are. / Tell us about you.
Jill: / Great. Great, no and I appreciate it. Yeah, thanks for asking. I am a medical doctor and a mother who's fighting for my kids, understanding that I can't save my kids unless we save all kids. I mean that's fundamentally what motivates me and why I don't find any of this stuff a deterrent to just getting out of bed every morning and pushing as hard as I can.
From my perspective as a medical doctor, as an environmental activist and a mother, I've seen the writing on the wall here for some time. I'd say the last 15 years or so when I saw this epidemic of chronic disease descending on young people. That is these diabetes, obesity, asthma, cancer, learning disabilities, you name it. These are diseases that we didn't used to have in kids or least they were in very small numbers. Now, they're epidemics. They're just taken as a way of life but you know what? Our genes didn't change, things changed in our communities.
I began to get active at the community level to try to change some of those things, like our food and our pollution and our activity levels, transportation, things like that. It took me about ten years of being an activist to see that the system is designed to keep you spinning your wheels. It doesn't matter. Whatever good solutions you have that save lives, save money and create jobs, that's not what drives it. What drives it is money.
So, we actually passed public financing here in Massachusetts. That was the last straw for me, because we got the big money out but then the legislature, which was about 85% democrats, they turned and repealed the law, because who wants to run in contested elections. They'd rather just roll right back into office the way they always do. So, that to me said, "If we want to fix all these things that ail us, we've got to first fix the political system." I'd say to people, "I'm now practicing political medicine because it's the mother of all illnesses and if we want to fix the pathology in our economy with our jobs, our schools, our health care system, we have to first fix the broken political system." The clock is ticking. We don't have forever to do this, because we're not just failing to move forward, we are accelerating into decline for our economy, for our environment, our health and education systems. So, now is the time.
Rob: I'm going to ask you a couple of more basic questions. How old are you? What's your marital status? What's your career history?
Jill: Okay, so I am married. I'm 62 years old. I've been married, for I think, it's 31 years now. I have two kids who are grown and out of the house and I did my training to be a doctor and I have worked as a medical doctor in internal medicine, sort of general medicine for adults and I became increasingly interested in the drivers outside of the clinic and I got tired of delivering pills to people and then sending them back out to the very things that were making them sick. So, for the past many years, I began to pull back from clinical practice. I was in, about--well, it was a part-time clinical practice until about five or six years when I transitioned entirely to the world of policy. I have co-authored several books about the intersection of health, the environment and public policy. Those can be found on my website in the bio section of my website.
Rob: Now Mitt Romney might ask you, "Have you ever run a business?"
Jill: You know what, I could ask him, "Have you ever run a democratic movement?" And while I have not run a business, I don't think government is a business. I think government is democracy and I think our businesses flourish when we have a healthy democracy that creates the conditions for business flourishing. I don't think businesses have flourished over the past many years when Wall Street has been running the economy. And I think bringing business in, in my state in Massachusetts, we have had businessmen running the show here for a long time and it is certainly driving our economy into the ground as well in the same way the U.S. economy is.
Rob: Are you suggesting that George W. Bush, a businessman did not bring a wealth of skills that helped the economy?
Jill: Exactly. / Isn't that the case in point? Yes, right.
Rob: You've discussed issues here. But what skills do you bring to the presidency?
Jill: What I bring to the presidency is an understanding of how to inform and empower and engage everyday people to move our democracy forward in such a way that we create jobs, create a healthy community and a sustainable future and that is the work that I have been doing over the course of decades, with a variety of groups, largely non-profits but also businesses and just everyday citizens engaging people in the political process in there communities and at the state level and some extent at the national level as well. So that we actually use the tools of democracy to create jobs, to create a sustainable economy and green jobs that also protect our health at the community level as well.
So, all the things that we talk about in the Green New Deal are the things that we have been promoting here at the state level in Massachusetts through a variety of programs; through public referendums, through local bills, through legislation and through regulation. So, while I haven't been in government, although I've been elected as a member of town meeting and served for five years in local community government. But most of my time and effort has been spent in broader coalitions, building those coalitions, informing and empowering them to actually change legislation and regulation to advance the public interest. And that is, I think a model for how government needs to work. It should not be the slave of big business or of the oil companies or of the other things that it currently is.
We need a whole new model here for reviving and reenacting democracy. As I've often said, "Instead of just being the commander and chief, the President needs to be the organizer and chief," who should be informing and empowering everyday citizens to be weighing in with their elected officials. Like we did with the SOAPA Bill, for example; when people got wind which was going to be a slam dunk and which was going to censure the internet. When word got out people stopped it on the dime. We've done that here in Massachusetts, my home state. We've used a similar model of organizing. Basically to blow the whistle on what our legislature was about to do and to stop it in a heartbeat, because when people are informed and engaged, we are the drivers of our government. Our representatives should be instructed so that they are representing us. Right now it's designed to keep us in the dark. We do not have open meeting laws, public record laws and a responsible and accountable press with the exception of independent media like yourself. We don't have the reporting from the press that we need to have an informed and engaged electorate.
So, the President can play a huge role in kicking off the reforms that we need in order to reengage our democracy. So, for example, the President can make it known that there's a bill coming up, say, next week on Medicare for all. Here are three reasons why you really need that and why you need to call your congressmen and women and your Senators right now, so that they are hearing from us by the hundreds of thousands and millions, so that we are in fact informing their vote and they are properly representing or facing a recall campaign and getting booted out of office.
Rob: Now, kind of a next to last open ended question. I tried to hit you as devil's advocate, asking you some of the hard questions and trying to give you a chance to answer the objections that people have to vote for third party candidates, to vote for the Green Party. Are there any other ones that I've left out? Answers that you have to common objections?
Jill: Yes, right. And I think the Supreme Court thing, the important thing to remember there is that the Supreme Court is a symptom. It is not the disease. The disease is much bigger than the Supreme Court and we need to fight the disease pervasively by restoring our political voice and our political courage and that includes in the voting booth.
So, you don't want to give up your political courage and your political voice. You don't want to silence yourself, so that you can maybe get a Supreme Court appointment. And besides, the things that this Supreme Court will do are not up to the task, even if they were Obama appointments, they are not going to reverse Citizens United. The problem began long before Citizen United as well. That just took it to the next step. They are not going to reverse a corporate personhood. Let me put it that way. They're not going to reverse corporate personhood and restore our rights and really solve the desperate problem that we're facing, where money is essentially defined as free speech and corporations have the rights of persons.
The big solutions that we need will not be solved by an Obama court. We saw that even in their approval of the worst piece of the Arizona SB 1070, where they left a piece of it intact and didn't fix it. And on a much broader level, the Supreme Court is not the driver of democracy. It reflects democracy. We have to exert democracy and that includes standing up and voting for what we deserve and voting our vision.
So, if you're waiting for the Supreme Court to fix the climate crisis, we're going to go up in flames. We need much more than what the Supreme Court is going to be willing to do. That public will and the public power is out there. As Alice Walker says, "The biggest way people give up power is by not knowing they have it." The public already agrees on the components of our agenda, which are the things that our campaign supports. The public supports these by large majorities. If we start to stand up, we can achieve it. We don't get that by selling out, because we think we're going to get a Supreme Court appointment or two. And Supreme Court appointments often don't turn out the way they did. Witnessed that one of the most progressive members of the Supreme had been an appointment of--who was it? Ronald Regan, I think. So, it's us. We are the solution. The Supreme Court is not the solution. We will change the Supreme Court as we become more powerful.
And the other thing I wanted to point out is that history tells us that it is a combination of an independent political party and a social movement on the ground. And I just wanted to emphasize that and to invoke Frederick Douglas who says, "Power can seize nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will." That demand needs to be brought to the table in the political and electoral sphere. If it doesn't happen there, everything you do outside of the voting booth doesn't count for much, hardly anything. You need to have it inside the voting booth as well and it's been that alliance of labor struggles together with the socialist labor and Progressive Parties, the struggle of the women's movement with the Women's Party, the abolition movement with the Liberty Party. That's how we were able to move forward to define the solutions and drive them forward. So, at the end of the day I just think it's life saving and it's liberating.
And one other thing I should mention also. It's like talking to people who are in battering relationships, who are being abused by their partners. It's really hard for people to come up out of that mindset and realize how much they're being battered. Often I feel like this is a matter of political therapy for people to recover their personhood, their lives, politically because we've been so talked out of it; so talked into a battering political relationship. It's really important to look at the facts on the ground that this is not benefiting us.
In fact, it was not Ralph Nader's voice that got us here. He brought a lot of independence into this race and he got equal members of Democrats and Republicans that we sacrificed so much when we agreed to silence. There's no way anyone's going to move us forward if we are caving to this argument that we have to silence ourselves. It's a non sequitur that by being silent we're going to advance democracy. The only thing that's going to advance democracy is democracy. Without our voices, there is no democracy at all.
And if I can leave you with one last image; some people say, "Well, you know the Democratic Party may be really lousy, but it's not sinking the ship as fast as the Republicans." Okay, so put yourself on the mindset of being on a sinking ship and taking on water really fast and it's just about submerged. Is the solution for you to get into another ship which is half up to its neck in water, but which is also headed for the bottom of the ocean? That's not the solution. You need to get into a lifeboat. Don't let them talk you into a ship that is also sinking but slightly less quickly. That's not a solution and we have a clearly established trajectory at this point. There's only one solution which is to get off of that sinking ship into the lifeboat that is headed for the secure, green, just, peaceful shores that aren't that far away. They are within reach, but we have to get off the boat and start sailing on that lifeboat right now.
Rob: Okay, so we're going to take this and transcribe it and it'll be also up on the podcast. We'll publish the transcript on OpEdNews.com. Now, you mentioned when we were talking before that you know OpEdNews. Can you say something about OpEdNews?
Jill: I try to read it every chance I get. It's bold, uncompromising truth telling and this is what we depend on for the real news. Thank you so much for your incredible service. This is what democracy looks like and cannot survive without.
Rob: Alright. Thank you.
Jill: Thank you.
END OF TRANSCRIPT
Rob Kall is executive editor, publisher and website architect of OpEdNews.com, Host of the Rob Kall Bottom Up Radio Show (WNJC 1360 AM), and publisher of Storycon.org, President of Futurehealth, Inc, and an inventor . He is also published regularly on the Huffingtonpost.com
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