This is a transcript of Jill Stein's livestreamed Fireside Chat on November 13, 2018.
Hello, friends, rebels, welcome to the Fireside Chat, where we rise up as the empire doubles down with endless war, austerity, an assault on Mother Earth, democracy, humanity, and all the rest. Here we come together to stand strong for an America and a world that works for all of us.
It’s been a very interesting week - the midterms have finally happened and there's a lot to process here. So, we thought it would be really interesting to reflect on the midterms - what's new, what's not so new, and how do we develop an exit strategy from what's really a two-party tailspin that is taking us ever closer to the brink of extinction, whether we're talking endless war, austerity, the next meltdown of the economy, the impending climate catastrophe, which we're seeing now in full force on the West Coast with the worst fires in history: over forty-four people are known to be killed in the Northern California Camp Fire, two hundred and more people still missing in that fire, added to the record floods, extreme weather storms, etc. We've clearly heard from the United Nations: we have ten years to get it together on climate. But I don't know how much you heard about really intensive climate action during the midterms - practically nothing actually, and particularly not from the Republican Party and not from the Democratic Party's leadership either. So, that's why we're calling it a “two-party tailspin” which is propelling us towards extinction - to put it bluntly.
What's the exit strategy? And I do think there is one. I think we are at an incredible wake-up moment - at the same time that fear has really held people back, once again in this election cycle, for understandable reasons - Trump is terrifying. Many people just want to do whatever they can in this so-called “most critical election of our lives”, but we can pretty well say that for every election going forward it's going to be the “most critical election of our lives”: from thetwo-party bipartisan tailspin that we are in, which has produced these catastrophic policies on climate, on the economy - which continues to “give it away” to Wall Street and the top five or ten percent while most Americans are now struggling to make ends meet, eighty percent living paycheck to paycheck, half of Americans living in poverty or close to it (that is, poverty by any reasonable standard), a generation locked in student debt, expanding wars, the nuclear weapons crisis which is getting bigger by the day, practically. On any number of counts we are on a trajectory right now which is unsustainable, to say the least - and potentially now, we are talking within our lifetimes - as the UN, for one, puts a number on this and says we have maybe ten years, really, to take intensive climate action.
In the interests of this discussion, I want to ask you: please to share this conversation, so we can get the word out and overcome the censorship, which again, is a bipartisan phenomenon and part of this age of McCarthyism that we are in right now - the militarism, the censorship, the demonizing of political opposition and independent third parties. So share this please, and sign on with your questions and your comments and share what your thoughts are in this very critical moment, this really historic moment that we are in now after the midterms.
So, to start with, let's just talk a little about what happened in the midterms. This is still something of a moving target, because there are several important races in Georgia, where the federal courts just took a very important step today on behalf of voters, arguing that the votes have to be counted and that the Secretary of State has to establish a mechanism, a website or the like, to enable voters who voted on provisional ballots. And remember, this is like the poster child of voter suppression in Georgia right now, where the Secretary of State, who is running for Governor, has seen fit not only to fail to process some fifty thousand registrations, but has essentially stripped the voter rolls of about some three hundred thousand or so people, as documented by the really wonderful important work of Greg Palast, a very important advocate for voting justice and against voter suppression. So it was really great news to hear today that the federal courts said that Georgia has to make amends here, and make it possible for all the people - potentially hundreds of thousands of people - who were thrown into provisional ballots - to get those ballots counted and to ensure that they will. So, Georgia is hanging in the balance, and Florida is hanging in the balance - an incredibly chaotic situation there, which is really a poster child of the extremely problematic (to put it kindly) US elections. We could spend a few sessions on that; I will resist that urge at the moment tonight, so that we can focus in on the midterms, but suffice it to say: Florida is still hanging in the balance, and at least a few other races.
I think it can be said pretty conclusively right now that this has been a very substantial win for the Democrats. The house has flipped, the Democrats have won somewhere around thirty seats right now but it may go up to thirty five, and potentially more than that. The Democratic losses in the Senate turn out to be more like one or two rather than three or four as thought originally, and Republicans have been beaten back in state legislatures as well - to the tune of about three hundred, three hundred fifty seats - something like a third of these one thousand seats that Republicans gained during the Obama years. So this has been a very significant constraint on the power of the Trump Republicans, and certainly that's a very good thing.
Let me also mentioned that we had strong Green campaigns - and I want to give a big shout out and kudos to some over two hundred and fifty Greens who ran for office, who really are doing the heavy lifting, and did the heavy lifting for the better part of the year - in some cases more. That heavy lifting to create an America and world that works for all of us, by putting forward the Green Party’s vision of people, planet and peace over profit. So kudos to those candidates. And they were running across the spectrum: School Board, to Water Board, to legislative races, Governors, Secretaries of State, Congress, and Senate as well. And they did very important work: to energize activists, to grow the base, to raise the bar for progressive politics when that hasn’t been happening, certainly with the corporatist Democrats that were largely dominating the Democratic races. This is great and really important work. Among these candidates at least twenty prevailed, largely in local races, and that is really important work - we salute them, and as well the Greens were able to hold on to ballot status, or actually expand ballot status in some places where we lost it, like in Massachusetts. So we now have ballot status in nineteen states - which if I remember correctly, is even perhaps a little bit better then where we were at this time four years ago. So, in spite of this wall of resistance - perhaps the worst in my memory for media exclusion, for efforts to silence us, for being cut out of debates and coverage - so this is really important work, all the more successful for taking place in this unique circumstance of silencing - and also I should mention, in the situation where money is more voluminous than ever.
This, the 2018midterms, were the most ever for expenditures, and it'll be somewhere around five billion dollars, which is well over the midterms four years ago; it is also more than was spent in the congressional races back just in the last presidential in 2016. This is a huge amount of money, predominantly corporate money, overwhelmingly, in fact, from corporations and the wealthy. In fact, it is [only] something like approximately twenty percent of the funds for House races that came in so-called small donations of under two hundred dollars; that means something like eighty percent of those donations were well over that. And the same is true in Senate races. So, by many measures the money coming in here was coming from deeper pockets, and there was more of it. This is more of a corporate compromised and corrupted election than any before. And it's interesting that the bulk of this big money was flowing into Democratic campaigns - which is an historic turn-around, because it's usually been Republicans who have been outraising Democrats. Now it's the other way around. And remember: this is largely large donations, we are not talking about small-donor campaigns - there were a few races that were dominated by small donor campaigns, like Beto O’Rourke in Texas, in his congressional campaign. That was predominantly - it had the biggest share of small donor donations. But for the most part, this was not a small donor campaign, this was big money, it was corporate money, it was oligarchs - above all it was Wall Street, and Wall Street was leading the pack in corporate donations - and those were predominantly going to Democrats. So, what does that tell you about this blue wave? What it tells you is that is that this blue wave is largely a corporate wave. Which didn’t take rocket science to understand that this was going to be the case. All you had to do was look at who was running - and we know that the Democratic party was basically silencing progressives. And in fact - this is the other important measure of this election - not only was it run predominantly by Democrats, but the progressives were largely shut out.
Nick Brana from the Movement for a People's Party did a study and compiled some numbers. And what he came up with was that if you look at all the candidates that were endorsed by the Bernie Sanders-related organisations, like Our Revolution, like Justice Democrats and a couple of others - if you look at all of them - because those candidates were far more progressive than Move-on.org and things like that where they call Clinton Democrats sort of the criteria for being a “progressive”, for most of the so-called “progressive” “resistance” wing of the Democratic Party - if you look at the Sanders-type Democrats - that wing of the party - they were almost uniformly defeated - at whatever level their candidates were running, from Ben Jealous running for Governor in Maryland to their candidates for State Rep and Congress. So they were overwhelmingly defeated - like more than ninety percent were defeated, and of those who weren’t defeated, they sort of divided evenly between those who were already incumbents, like Bernie Sanders for example, or Ro Khanna - or newcomers who were largely already in the party pipeline and had, shall we say baked-in advantages - these were not outsiders who were challenging. In fact there were only two Democratic incumbents for Congress who were defeated - one by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the other was defeated by Ayanna Pressley, who basically replaced another progressive Democrat, who was not African American and he was not a woman - but if you look at his policies, he was arguably far more progressive than Ayanna Pressley, who is a step forward for diversity, and that’s not not a trivial matter, however she's very much in the mold of Clinton Democrats - is a warmonger and certainly not progressive relative to the guy that she replaced. So, the progressive wins here were extremely limited, and were largely losses.
The Democrats themselves who won were largely corporate Democrats, and their policies were very much as expected. This was evident in the run-up to the midterms, where the Democrats in Congress overwhelmingly were supporting the military budget, the deregulation again of the big banks, and the rollback of the Dodd-Frank Bill. They were supporting the privatization of the VA, the veterans administration, which provides really essential health care, and the Democrats together with the Republicans passed a bill which puts the VA health care for our veterans in grave jeopardy.
The Democrats, on a whole slew of policies, have been extremely lacking. By many measures, this is not a progressive wave. The blue wave has been once again a corporate wave. Nancy Pelosi has promised that she will go slow on climate change in the House. She's promised to bring back the so-called pay-go rules, rules of the road in the House - which basically makes the Democrats sort of fiscal hawks like the Republicans used to be, though not anymore. The Democrats also refused to discuss Medicare for All in the course of their race - and still, this was like official policy from the D-Triple-C, the Democratic Congressional Candidate Committee was advising their candidates: “Don't talk about Medicare for All”... “because that's not good with our corporate agenda (essentially our donors)”. They didn't say that of course, but that's what's going on behind the scenes here. The Democrats in the House even expedited the judicial appointments that were being made by Donald Trump to the federal bench. Donald Trump is being attacked from the right, and these policies of endless war and promoting nuclear weapons have been supported by the Democrats. It was Obama who basically initiated this trillion-plus, trillion and half dollars now for a whole new generation of nuclear weapons, when we should be funding a new generation of students, in getting them out of college debt.
The bottom line here is that it's really quite clear that we are going to see more of the same, and that everyday working people are going to continue being thrown under the bus. Yes, there have been some, shall we say, inspired progressive Democrats, a handful of them, who squeaked through. But, what are they going to be able to do, when Barack Obama, with all the power of his presidency was somehow “thwarted” by the power of the corporate Democrats. You know there's just no question that they are still running the show, as they have been certainly since the Second World War, and potentially before that as well. You know it's the corporate powers that are calling the shots in the Democratic Party. We are not likely to see anything different here - I mean overwhelmingly. You'd have to sort of bury all of history to say that somehow these corporate Democrats are going to pull a rabbit out of the hat. They are not going to do that.
Meanwhile, the clock is ticking on climate change, on expanding war - which is blowing back at us with potential for a nuclear confrontation, the ecological collapse, climate, etc. The clock is ticking, yet we are stuck in this two-party tailspin where the Democrats may get into power now, but it's clear it's the corporate Democrats who are in power. They are going to keep throwing working people under the bus, and where will that leave us? With an an even stronger surge to the right by betrayed and outraged workers. This is what fascism looks like, and this is how it forms. We are seeing these warnings - certainly Trump’s behavior was hard to describe in any other terms as the midterm elections approached. Thankfully he did not prevail in what he was trying to do, and the Republicans have lost some of their stranglehold. But if working people are now again betrayed by the Democrats, this is only going to further energize the right wing extremism. This is what we mean by the “Two-Party Tailspin”, which is driving us towards extinction. We've been doing this two-party tailspin for quite a while, with the consequences of the policies being advanced, whether by Democrats or by Republicans, the policies being advanced really are driving us towards extinction.
So the two-party tailspin is no longer acceptable. You may have heard many of these so-called “progressive round tables” saying they didn't like the Democrats, the Democrats who made it through the primaries - they were very unhappy about the odds and what the landscape was looking like. But, they felt like this was the “most important election of our lives”, “this is where we have to face down fascism”, and you know, end war and climate and all, and other stuff that the Democrats have also had a hand in - so we heard progressives saying over and over that “this was the most important election ever”, “we have to circle the wagons”, “got to hold your nose and vote Democrat”. Unfortunately, we are going to keep hearing that, because it will continue to be “the most critical election of our lives” going forward. So the call will keep going out to circle the wagons, but it's very clear - if your eyes are open and looking at what's happening here, we can’t do that, we have to call a halt to this two-party tailspin. We need an exit strategy. What I want to throw out tonight is that there are, I think, two or three pieces to an exit strategy. One is really clarifying to people that there is no end to this tailspin - it doesn't end - because we have sort of arrived at this age of consequences - so it’s bad, it is really bad. It's not gonna get better under Democrats or Republicans, so the rationale of circling the wagons is going to continue.
What's different now is recognizing that we are in his age of consequences. And you have to call this really the politics of extinction, this fear politics that keeps saying “you have to vote for the lesser evil, which is still evil, which is driving us over the cliff” - that is a politics of extinction. And that's why we really do have to change course. We not only need to stand up and vote our real values and let our values be a moral compass here, and guide us forward in our democracy, but we also need to really double down on ranked choice voting - because that is how weenable those who are paralyzed by fear to stand up and vote the way they want. I'm hearing this from so many people, progressives, and independents, and even a lot of Democrats - that they don't like what we've got, but they're just too scared to move. Ranked choice voting is here, and it's growing, and in this election we have seen the state of Maine vote for the first time in congressional races with ranked choice voting. Some of that's being contested right now, because there's a Republican who is not happy about going into the second round, but the people of Maine have stood firm on this, and I think they will continue to do so.
I should add that we've seen several referendums that advance democracy in other really important ways as well. We've seen a whole rash of them succeeding in this election, and that's very uplifting. Whether you are looking at pushback against gerrymandering - or what happened in Florida - which is so very exciting - that is the reenfranchising of some 1.4million voters, felons, I should say felons who had their votes taken away from them - that vote has now been restored. Overwhelmingly, I think that something like sixty-four, sixty-six percent - something like that - of Florida voters who supported restoring the voting rights to people who've done their duty, they have repaid their debt to society - they have a right to vote, and the right to create a meaningful life and be full citizens. So that's really exciting too, and I think that's part of the exit strategy here as well, which is re-engaging our democracy so that we can give voice to what really is a progressive majority that's been silenced. It's not a “silent majority”, it’s a “silenced majority”, that's been silenced by a lot of things: money in politics, the exclusionary debates, the failure to cover truly progressive candidates. And by restoring these many aspects of democracy we can then begin to give voice to that silenced majority. Remember, the largest block of eligible voters are those who were choosing not to vote. It was over a hundred million in this race who decided not to vote, because these are largely poor, millennial, and black and brown potential voters - and they are not voting. And why not? Arguably because there aren’t candidates being put forward that they know about. So we need to help get the word out - people have a right to know who they can vote for. So all of these steps will help re-engage our democracy - help re-engage that progressive force that can get our democracy back on track - and break this two-party trap. Rank-choice voting is just such a key piece of breaking that two-party trap.
So, let me just at this point, ask you once again to please share this conversation so we can keep getting word out, and I'm gonna turn to your questions and your observations.
I see Kim in Ohio is saying: “Hi Jill - we have a lot of work ahead of us in Ohio.” Yes, Ohio was one of the states that did not retain ballot status. But we've been through that before Kim, and I think we're wiser and stronger, and you had really great candidates running in Ohio, including the Governor and Lieutenant Governor candidates, namely Constance Gadell-Newton, who was a fabulous Governor candidate running with a really strong Lieutenant Governor candidate. They did a great job of really charging up the base. They were totally whited out by the media - so, this is what happens. We are going to have to work hard and regain your ballot status - that is that is indeed part of the work ahead of us. It is really clear, you know, this is the whole concept of the two-party trap driving us towards extinction - it is not like we have another option here. You know we can't just go away. You know nothing so focuses the mind as absolute dire necessity. And that is what we have got right now. We have necessity, but I think we also have incredible opportunity and inspiration. And thank you all for being a part of that.
George says: “Watching from Pennsylvania!”
Judy yells: “Kenneth Mejia“ And let me second that! Kenneth and Rodolfo Cortes Barragan, both achieved an astounding result: winning some twenty-three in the case of Rodolfo, and twenty-six percent, I think in their elections, in the case of Kenneth. That's amazing, that's really incredible considering that they were wiped out in the financial advantages that their competitors had. But this is a huge step forward. For their races - kudos! Likewise to Laura Wells, who did really well with thirteen percent in her race, running against a very well-supported progressive, so that Laura could help push that agenda towards peace and justice.
Miguel: “The Dems have no agenda in the House.” That's absolutely true, and I think Nancy Pelosi has stated that they're looking to find collaboration with the Republicans. You can only imagine what that means. War, Wall Street. Maybe crumbs on health care. Progress in making pharmaceuticals affordable would be great, but a drop in the bucket of what people need. People can’t even afford to go see a health care provider in order to get a prescription, so with bigger issues we need substantive reform: we need Medicare For All. Plain and simple, that is what we need, and that is how we are going to get good healthcare and good health.
Jimmy says: “The DNC cheated Bernie and lost.”
Patricia says: “Hi Jill! Shared in New Jersey.”
Lou: “Greetings from Detroit!” Back at you, Lou!
Matt: “Votes are being mishandled here in Florida.” Yes, and I hope maybe we can focus on that next week - I’d like to get Tim Canova on. Let me give a shout out to Tim Canova - and encourage people to go to his website and to his Twitter account. Tim, as you may know, has been locked in a struggle with Debbie Wasserman Schultz - and had his ballots destroyed, after a court decided - that the Head of Elections in Broward County had committed a felony by failing to turn over the votes. This is after the elections for Tim to inspect, and to look for evidence of tampering, malfeasance, or fraud. The court ruled he deserves those votes, and even still the Supervisor of Elections refused to turn them over, and destroyed them. That was sort of the baseline in which Tim entered into his current effort to have an accountable, transparent, and accurate vote count. And that struggle goes on.
Jamie Guerin! Hi Jamie! Let me give a shout-out for Jamie Guerin - who was our candidate for Secretary of State here in Massachusetts - and Jamie was one of the three candidates who got us ballot status! Jamie won 3.7 percent, if I remember correctly, in the statewide race - which is really great, again considering that we were totally shut out of the coverage, and think Jamie spent not a whole lot of money on the race. So there is hunger, there is definitely a hunger out there for a politics of integrity, and politics of survival instead of this politics of extinction which is the course that we are on right now.
Let me jump to some questions here, and a bunch more comments - but I want to be sure to get questions in:
Christopher says: “Hello Jill, I'm Chair of the Green Party of Atlantic County in New Jersey. One of the toughest things, I find, is trying to find a good platform for a Green candidate in local elections. The Green Party Platform is fantastic on a national level, but when it comes to small town politics it gets hard to sell. So I'm trying to find solutions to help city council candidates and mayoral candidates in small towns have a Green message that can help them get elected.”
You're absolutely right Christopher. It is really important to break that national platform down into a state program, and we could maybe take that on as a subject for a future Fireside Chat, because it is really important. Sometimes there are things you can do: if you are a local elected, like a mayor or city councilor, it gives you a platform to advocate at the state level. So, while you may have just a little small town under your domain, as an elected you have an official voice and you can help push, at the state legislative level, for say, bailing out students, or for stopping the privatization of our schools, for better funding. And I know that it’s not always the most satisfying to have to work at a higher level, but it is one very important way that you can make your local voice relevant. And I also must say, fighting to keep schools open and against charterization, that's a really important way. Supporting local workers as a local elected, you can go support workers who are striking: for example in one of the recent hotel chain strikes. Very often there labor battles that are taking place in all communities: often it's for the janitors of our schools for example. So there are lots of ways to break this down and we should definitely be sharing that with each other. So we will come back to that - thanks for raising it!
Jason says: “Tell us some ways that some of the progressives were shut out.” So, let me tell you one: the guy who was the House Democratic Whip, Steny Hoyer had a conversation that went viral with the guy who’s name I don't recall - Levi Tillemann in Colorado, Levi Tillemann was a Progressive Democrat running for Congress, who was in the primary, and he recorded this conversation with Steny Hoyer, who was telling him to basically drop out of the race, and that they would be fighting him to get him out if he wasn’t going to drop out. So that’s one very blatant example. Another one: there was a very progressive candidate, a Democratic congressional candidate in California - somebody Najjar, I think was his last name. I don't have that in front of me, but he is Mexican and Palestinian, and had an extremely progressive set of policies, including supporting Palestinian human rights. His Republican opponent, in a two way race right - because California's races are top two - so there are only two - he had a really good chance - because his Republican opponent, the incumbent, was basically indicted for corruption in very damning terms, so had the Democratic party supported him, he could very likely have been elected, even in a Republican district - but they did not support him, and they would not - even though he had a really good chance.
So, there were many cases of progressives like that, where the D-Triple-C, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee just refused, flat-out refused to support their own candidates. So that was a case in point of how the corporate agenda of the Democratic Party ruled the day, and left us, or I should say, left the Democrats with a set of corporatist candidates. And in fact they recruited a whole lot of candidates who had the ability to self-pay, or had a rolodex full of big funders where they could raise a lot of money. They also selected candidates who were former members of the military and the intelligence community. So again: that has helped shape the Congress that has been elected, and accounts for the Democratic wave being a corporate wave and not a progressive wave.
Steve says: “So, what is your plan Jill?” My hope right now is to really help us redouble our efforts for ranked choice voting, and to move it forward in a lot of ways, because I see that as a really critical part of our exit strategy from the two-party tailspin that's driving us towards extinction. We will hear more about that - there's some very exciting developments here in my home state in Massachusetts, and there are several other states that are poised to push this forward. It's getting a lot of attention in the press - still, and has had a whole slew of endorsements from The Economist to the Washington Post, I believe the New York Times as well. It’s very exciting, and I think as people come to understand how serious this two-party tailspin is, I think we can help further energize the movement forward towards ranked choice voting.
That’s a big part of my plan right now, the other part of my plan, personally, is to help our Green Parties and our Green candidates keep building, and in particular I'd like to do what one of the commentators suggested just a moment ago - about “what's the local agenda”? I'd like to really help us share best practices - not only for how we serve our communities, but also how wewin office and how we win elections. We had several campaigns that made huge strides forward: in campaigning, in developing a ground game, in learning how you organize the canvass, in learning how you organize your database, in learning how to write press releases.
We've come a long way - and in this race I have to say I saw the best crop of Green candidates that I've ever seen. In the old days we had a lot of people who weren't, shall we say, really on it, and on their game. This time it was, almost universally, people who were well informed, had a compelling agenda, and who were really good at articulating it. I was just like - I had my socks blown off - continuously, just hearing the quality and the caliber of our candidates. Where we are right now is at the point where it's time to learn how to really promote those candidates. How do we train up teams - so we've got all the treasurers we need, so candidates don’t have to be their own treasurer, which is very time consuming, especially if you are being a candidate. They don't have to do their own press. We need to have people who are trained up in how we build these skills so we can be an unstoppable team together - that to me is kind of the basic game plan right now.
Koky says: “How can we bring Green awareness in Anaheim? Also how can you make college tuition free?”
So let me just take the second part of that. The city of San Francisco a couple months ago did this, they created a free college. Now San Francisco has a lot of resources, it is a very big city, it is hard for little towns to do that. But what you can do in a little town is get elected to your city council, and then weigh in on your state legislature and fight for free public higher education. And we have a very good argument for that: because it pays for itself many times over - yes, it's an investment, but it's an investment that pays back seven times over. Okay? Not three or four times over, seven times over! That was documented by Congress, based upon their experience with the GI Bill following the Second World War. So, that's one part, is having the argument - but what really wins the day is mobilizing advocates - getting young people and their parents, and their sisters and brothers, and in many cases, their kids - just bringing a crowd to the legislature to fight for it. You know, this is how you move an agenda forward: it is by engaging the people who are really at risk and who are ready to stand up and fight for it, and who won't fight if it's not about them. Right now we've got a whole generation of young people who are held hostage by unpayable student loan debt. So, really, our future depends on fighting this battle and liberating that generation - not only for them but for all of us - because our economy depends on the vision, the fresh energy, the fresh ideas of a new generation of young people. That’s always what’s moved us forward, and right now we are denied that critical resource, because we have a generation that's being held hostage by debt. So that is one thing we can push forward, and I would love to see us working on that.
I encourage everyone out there to get in touch with your local Green Party. I also really encourage you to check out Green Uprising, and join our email list. Consider throwing a few dollars into the hat if you can, to enable us to keep bringing you these programs, and to expand them, and to maintain and expand our email list and so on. We have a very skeleton crew right now, and we are covering a lot of territory. So, little change helps make big change, multiplied many times over. Green Uprising is basically my home base, and I invite you to make it yours as well. It is the home base for carrying on the fight for peaceful revolution and for turning the resistance of this election into all-out rebellion in the next. That takes work, it takes work between elections, it takes a lot of building our political capacity and our social movement. And that's what we're doing in Green Uprising. So there’s my plug for Green Uprising - please join us at https://www.greenuprising.org. And you can sign up to volunteer for our email list, and throw a couple dollars into the hat if you can.
A couple of other quick questions here. Ryan Batista says: “Jill, is it possible to reinvent elections to bypass this billion dollar pipeline for every candidate? It seems to me there is - we are in an age of cheap global networking technology.”
Absolutely! And let me underscore that, Ryan. Not only should we have social media - and we have to liberate our social media, because it's being subjected to a whole lot of censorship right now - that's another thing, another area of struggle - and that’s why I need to ask you again to share this conversation, so we can get the word out despite that censorship - we need to liberate our social media, but we also need to liberate our legacy media, and in particular our airwaves, which have been sold. They belong to the public; they have basically been given away to big corporate powers, to make a profit off of. We need to demand that the public airwaves be available for public use, so that we can get the word out about candidates. Any candidate who has done the work to get on the ballot has a right to be heard, and voters, more importantly, have a right to know about who their choices are. So this is why we need to make the public airwaves available to candidates - it does not have to be twenty-four/seven, but there should be some baseline that raises everybody up, that lifts all boats. At the same time, we have to insist that our debates be inclusive and open, for the same reason, so that voters [who] have a right, the right to know who they can vote for, can be fulfilled. So through that, we can make big money obsolete - you don't need it if the biggest cost, which is media and communications, is available by right to qualified candidates. That is a solvable problem. Likewise, we can get the big money out of elections altogether by making them publicly funded and prohibiting private dollars from hijacking our political election system. This would totally transform our politics. And the minute we make the media free, we'd drastically diminish the cost of elections. So we can create a level playing field, in which people compete with their ideas, not with their corporate sponsorship, and in which everyone can be heard.
So, a couple more questions here. Tucker says: “In your opinion, what issue would you prefer to push through direct ballot initiative, to help push Green policies?”
You name it! Medicare For All. A Green New Deal. A free public higher education. If we get the money out of politics, we can not only pass this stuff in our legislatures, we can pass this in referendums. You may know that there were two very important referendums, I think in Colorado, if I remember correctly: one of them was going to prohibit the siting of dangerous fracking technology - fracked wells, basically - they couldn't be placed within like a quarter-mile of homes and schools and government buildings. And it was really going to ensure the safety of the people of Colorado. The industry spent something like a hundred million dollars to defeat that, and one other fossil-fuel control bill/referendum. So, they are pouring money in, pouring money in order to hijack our political system. It's outrageous that our elections and our referendums are subject to hijack. I mean, they are built that way by design. These rules did not invent themselves, they got created by political parties that have essentially been sold out. Which is again why we need a system change here. But part of that system change would certainly create a referendum process where we can do the right thing through that referendum process, and we could make so much progress.
Robert says: “How to deal with cynicism when talking to people who know how corrupt the system is?”
That's a really good question. I have to say, part of it is listening, and enabling people to be heard, because they are used to this one-way “talking heads” kind of dialogue from the political system. So sometimes it takes a couple conversations, and building a relationship, and building trust - but allowing people to express their pain is therapeutic, and allows you to move to the next step. In my view, politics is a really dynamic process and it's very personal, and it's an area in which there is incredible pain and anguish right now. So we can all do a lot of political therapy for each other, by listening and by expressing solidarity and concern with what you perceive are the key issues for the person you are talking to. For me, I'm certainly hearing most cynicism and despair from Millenials, who, understandably, have been handed this horrific set of cards: the climate is crashing, they're in debt forever, there are no jobs, the education system is raking them over the coals, they can’t afford healthcare. This is pretty outrageous, it is cause for incredible anger. And a lot of people are suppressing their anger in being cynical. So, I think it really helps to let people express their anger and sympathize with them on that.
And I find it very helpful to let people know that we're fighting for them, on those issues that are so critical for them. You know, it's like the people who've gone to the dark side because they are tired of being thrown under the bus. This is what generates fascism; it’s a disease, and it's more than a disease, it’s an evil as well, but part of it is a disease - this kind of psychopathology of political abuse that drives a kind of self destruction and almost a kind of homicidal psychopathology. People are really pissed off, in other words, to put it in straight language. People are extremely pissed off. For them to believe - they are not going to just believe - they really have to see with their own eyes that we are working. Bernie Sanders said this many times: that the only solution to this right wing extremism is a truly progressive policy. This is epitomized by the fact that people who became Trump supporters, or, shall we say Trump supporters, many of them would have voted for Bernie Sanders. Polls show that Sanders would have won with many of those votes, that in his absence went to Donald Trump. So, there is a way to reach people who are really despairing and/or just cynical and pissed off. It takes a lot of understanding, patience, and commitment to a truly progressive agenda. Thank you for asking, Robert.
David Morris says: “How do we get Greens to engage on campuses?”
Oh yeah, in my experience it's as easy as finding that one person who's kind of the spark, and they are there. They exist. And I have never failed to find at least a couple on a campus, and you'll generally do much better at the public colleges and community colleges, because that's where people are really strapped, and they have no protection of privilege that many have in the private colleges. They are really facing what reality looks like: the job situation, the low pay, the hardship of maintaining their housing. It is somewhere around, it's over fifty percent of community college students that are experiencing food or housing insecurity. So our younger generation is really up a creek. By reaching out to them and letting them know that we're there to move forward with them on those issues - that will help them go to bat. That's the way we move forward. And I encourage you strongly to reach out to your campuses and work with them, and contact your state parties to help you do that.
So our next and last question here from Iduzit: “Hey Jill Stein, how do you like that they took your idea of a Green New Deal?”
I think it's great, and people may have heard that there was a sit-in today at Nancy Pelosi’s office on behalf of the Green New Deal - now I haven't had time to actually look in on the details of it, but I did hear that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was part of that, and she in fact was one person who was talking about the Green New Deal through her election. And that's really great - and certainly our campaign promoted the Green New Deal - we really helped get it out into circulation, and it's kind of funny to hear the Democrats talk about it now as if they invented it. But it actually existed long before my campaign, and it was Howie Hawkins who was the major inspiration for me, who had really articulated the Green New Deal as we support it in the Green Party: which means an emergency jobs program that guarantees the right to a job and which essentially solves two crises at once, our climate crisis and our economic and jobs crisis. So we put the two together in a massive wartime-scale emergency jobs program to achieve one hundred percent clean renewable energy by 2030. Now I will also acknowledge that there were other, not much talked-about Green New Deals, that I think might have preceded Howie, or come around at the same time, but they were not nearly as comprehensive and transformative. We need a transformative Green New Deal. We really need one hundred percent clean renewables by 2030 if we are going to get out of here alive.
And in doing that, we not only revive the economy, we turn the tide on climate change. Here is another incredible result: we make the the wars for oil obsolete - and in doing that we can put hundreds of billions of dollars back into that Green New Deal here at home. And another benefit, by the way, is that we get really healthy: by getting rid of fossil fuels, by creating a public transportation system that dovetails with bike paths and safe sidewalks. Another component of the Green New Deal is a healthy, fresh, and predominantly plant-based food system - which also makes us healthy. So for doing all those great things as part of the Green New Deal - which we have to do in order to get rid of fossil fuels - the benefit is that we also get really, really healthy. So much so that we save enough on health expenditures - because we no longer need all that sick-care - we save so much money that that health savings alone is enough to pay the cost of the green energy transition. So it's a win-win-win for all of us.
And that's the alternative to the lose-lose-lose that we have got going right now, with this Wall Street-driven economy that's teetering at the brink, the endless expansion of our wars, and a climate which is rapidly in meltdown. That's the lose-lose-lose, where instead we can have a win-win-win with the Green New Deal - and that's why we have to develop an exit strategy from this two-party tailspin, which is propelling us towards extinction. It's a pretty easy choice, the choice is between extinction or a Green New Deal. There's not much question about which we should have - we need a Green New Deal, and we need to exit the two-party tailspin.
So that's why we say it's time to forget the lesser evil, and fight for the greater good - and that includes ranked choice voting that enables us to vote for the greater good - or, should we say, enables those who can't quite bring themselves to do it to vote for the greater good, and enables more of us to vote for the greater good and gets us to critical mass so that we can create an America and world that works for all of us, that puts people, planet and peace over profit. It's time to forget the lesser evil, and fight for the greater good like our lives depend on it - because in fact they do. We have the power, let’s stand up, let's use it, stay in touch, share this conversation. Go to https://www.greenuprising.org , sign up for our email list, go to our Facebook and our Twitter page. Let's stay in touch, let's be that unstoppable force. Thank you all so much for tuning in tonight, and for all you've done to bring us to this very historic tipping point that we're at right now - let's use it for all we can.
Thank you so much. Take care, all the best. Over and out!