2016 Democratic National Convention, Bernie Sanders, Dr. Jill Stein, Green Party, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Huffington Post, Inside Sources, KPFA, Pacifica Radio Network, Ralph Nader, ranked-choice voting, Rising Up with Sonali, Sonali Kolhatkar, transcript, Two-Party Dictatorship
LUMPENPROLETARIAT—For years now, some of us have argued that we need a serious overhaul of our anti-democratic electoral system. The two dominant political parties in the USA, the Democratic and Republican parties, serve the highest bidders to their campaigns. Yet, when political alternatives present political positions, which prioritise the needs of working class families over those of the rich and powerful, such as Ralph Nader or Jill Stein, Democrats call them spoilers. This is to argue that no political alternatives to the left of Democrats deserve an opportunity to be heard or elected by the people.
Yet, we know that political extremes on the right, such as Mussolini-invoking Donald Trump, are not only allowed, but given the most airtime in our nation’s broadcast media. Given this imbalance in our nation’s political spectrum, the political center can only shift rightward over time, such that Democrat president Obama is widely understood to be to the right of Republican president Ronald Reagan. But we can do better as a nation. We only need a little imagination to think beyond the status quo.
This morning on free speech radio, 2016 Green Party Presidential Candidate Dr. Jill Stein discussed the anti-democratic nature of the Democrat and Republican parties’ collusion to block political alternatives from competing against them, their fear-based politics, voting for the lesser of two evils, and long overdue democratic ideas, such as ranked choice voting and proportional representation. Listen (or download) here. 
[Working draft transcript of actual radio broadcast by Messina for Lumpenproletariat and Rising Up with Sonali]
RISING UP WITH SONALI—[21 MAR 2016] (c. 35:34) “Welcome back to Rising Up with Sonali. I’m your host, Sonali Kolhatkar. If you’re just tuning in, you’re listening to, and watching, the debut episode of my new show, Rising Up with Sonali.
“Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has been an outsider for most of his senate career. The outsider is attempting to use insider status by joining the Democratic Party to secure the nomination. But, as he and his supporters are finding out, it’s not easy to do so, even if you happen to be the most popular candidate in the nation.
“The system is simply rigged by the two major parties.
“My guest knows what it’s like to be an outsider in politics. For the second time, the Massachusetts-based Dr. Jill Stein is running for the presidential nomination for the Green Party. In 2012, she was that party’s nominee. She has also run as Green Party candidate for governor of Massachusetts in 2002 and 2010.
“She’s a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Medical School and has practiced internal medicine before turning to politics. I’m very pleased to welcome, to Rising Up, Dr. Jill Stein.”
DR. JILL STEIN: “Thank you so much, Sonali. It’s really an honour to be a part of this maiden voyage here with—”
SONALI KOLHATKAR: “Thank you. (c. 36:41)
DR. JILL STEIN: “—your show. [SNIP] ”
SONALI KOLHATKAR: “It shouldn’t surprise us that [Bernie Sanders] hasn’t responded this campaign, though—because I can imagine he doesn’t wanna tip his hat at all until the [Democratic] Convention, or it will give people the opening they’re looking for to undermine his chances at the nomination.
“And I wonder what you make of all the Hillary Clinton supporters, who are already demanding from Sanders that they should pledge their votes to Clinton, if he doesn’t get the nomination. Interesting that the flip side is not commonly heard.
“People are, of course, bringing up the Ralph Nader presidential run in 2000 as a reason. And I’m sure you’ve gotten so tired of hearing that excuse as a reason to simply fall back into the two-party system. But we’re seeing echoes of that again. I’m seeing, like, pictures of Nader supporters cropping up in Facebook feeds, almost as these tools of guilt, that Clinton supporters are using against Sanders supporters.” (c. 43:36)
DR. JILL STEIN: “Yeah. Yeah, I know. It’s pretty funny in a tragic kind of way.
“I think there is little doubt. Bernie Sanders has spent his life trying to build reform inside the Democratic Party. The Green Party had approached him when he was floating the idea of a presidential run and there was a debate about: Would he be doing it independently or inside the party? And the party approached him, I know, at that point. And he declined to respond. And the party encouraged him to run independently with the party. And there was no response.
“But, you know, it was not only our campaign. There are other independents, who have also attempted to make contact with Bernie Sanders over the years. And it’s not been Bernie’s thing. You know?
“He’s dedicated to trying to build change inside the Democratic Party.
“From my point of view, that is very difficult. Not that our task, of change from outside the Democratic Party—that’s very difficult as well. But we’re not forced to do that in the course of a year and, then, turn our resources and our momentum back into the Democratic Party, that has just squashed us.
“I mean that’s the whole rationale for having independent politics, so that you can continue to build.
“And, clearly, in our campaign, making the second time around, we are far ahead of where we were the first time because we are building this movement, which has a social dimension. And it also has an independent political dimension because, in the words of Frederick Douglass, power concedes nothing without a demand; it never has and it never will. That [inaudible] needs to be independent.” (c. 45:17)
SONALI KOLHATKAR: “Jill, how did you do in the 2012 election? Because, even though the Green Party still doesn’t have the kind of name recognition that it would like to have, I understand that, historically speaking, compared to previous runs, you, actually, did pretty well as a Green Party candidate.”
DR. JILL STEIN: “We, basically, tripled our vote over the prior one, and possibly two election cycles. You know, we had done very well, relatively well [chuckles], during the Nader run.
“But there was the enormous backlash around Bush, Bush’s election. But I want to point out that we’re in a different historic moment. And you have to, you know, you have to, like, invoke amnesia in order to forget what happened under Barack Obama and two Democratic Houses of Congress, which I think is a very important part of this discussion. (c. 46:15)
“You know, I’d be glad to have a much longer discussion about each of the arguments, that are used to try to intimidate us into voting our fears, rather than our values.
“To make a long story short, the politics of fear have delivered everything we were afraid of. All those reasons we were told to vote for the lesser evil, because you didn’t want the massive bailouts of Wall Street, and the off-shoring of our jobs, the meltdown of our climate, the attack on our civil liberties, and on immigrants, all that. We got it by the droves because we allowed ourselves to be silenced. Silence is not a political strategy.
“Democracy does not need more fear and silence. It needs values and voices. It needs a moral compass.
“We have to inject that moral compass into the, you know, crisis, that we’re in. It’s not gonna get solved by silencing ourselves and allowing lesser evils to speak for it. And, in fact, history shows that lesser evil paves the way to the greater evil.
“Lesser evilism is getting us further away from the solution, not closer.
“We could solve this in a heartbeat by passing ranked choice voting.
“There is an electoral solution, that can be passed without a constitutional amendment—it doesn’t have to go through Congress; it can be passed at the state level—that insures that, basically, that liberates your vote and insures that, if your first choice doesn’t win, your vote is automatically reassigned to your second choice.
“So, the issues here could be solved, except that the Democratic Party is committed to using fear because that is its only tool right now.
“You know, we have to—”
SONALI KOLHATKAR: “And, Jill, I’m so glad you brought up these issues because whenever we—whenever voters argue with one another about, you know—they may share all your progressive values, but the strategy is where they differ. They tend to blame one another and the Green Party, rather than the system, that the Democratic Party and, of course, the Republican Party are invested in.
“And I also wanna bring up the fact that the mainstream media is invested in it as well. It’s not just the Democratic Party, that is rigged against an outsider candidacy. The mainstream media have been so fixated on Donald Trump because they claim that he drives ratings. So, all he has to do is act belligerent. They’ll air his speeches. And everyone watches.
“I mean one could argue it’s a natural outcome of our warped system of media. That’s a whole ‘nother conversation. But what it does for, of course, our electoral system is that the worst rises to the top. And somebody like yourself or a Bernie Sanders, had he not turned to the Democratic Party, are simply shut out of the mainstream media.
“And, even Sanders, through the Democratic Party is getting short shrift from the media.” (c. 48:59)
DR. JILL STEIN: “Exactly. And, in the same way, you know, we recognise that fascism is, essentially, the merger of corporatism and government—that’s, you know, essentially, the definition of fascism—I think there’s another dimension of fascism here, which is the merger of media and corporatism. It drives toward exactly what you described. That is, an electoral process, that is fundamentally driven by ratings and advertising sales. And this is a very dangerous development, extremely dangerous to our democracy.
“And I think we’re seeing in this election, where Donald Trump has the highest disapproval ratings of any candidate and has yet to really attain a majority in any vote.
“If ranked choice voting were actually used and there’d been, you know—some groups have taken a close look at head-to-head ratings and have, basically, extrapolated a ranked choice vote in the Republican elections, in the primaries, and found that Trump would have lost most of his victories, had a fairer system of voting been in place. (c. 50:06)
“So, I just want to underscore that Donald Trump is, really, the reflection of an extremely toxic corporatised media. It really doesn’t reflect the American public.
“There’s one other point, I think is really important here. We, the progressive voices, are accustomed to the propaganda, that tells us we are the fringe. You know? We’re the lunatic fringe. Why bother standing up? We’re just a footnote in this political process.
“The reality is that we, actually, reflect the basic values and visions of the American public. And we see that in polls, that, for example, show that 50% of voters have, actually, rejected the Democratic and Republican parties. They are now minority parties. Also, in polling about issues where the desire to cut the military; to provide the right to a job, even if it’s a government job; health care as a human right; etcetera. This is where the public is truly at.
“And there’s one very compelling force in this race. And that is that there are 43 million young people—and, now, not-so-young people—who are locked into predatory student loan debt, for whom there is no escape, and for whom our campaign is the one ticket to liberation. 43 million is a winning plurality in a three-way presidential race.” (c. 51:31)
SONALI KOLHATKAR: “So, let’s talk about that. I’m so glad you brought that up. How does someone like you break into this system? The Green Party is left out of the debates. After the conventions, whoever the nominees are, you’re not gonna be let into the debates.  You’re not gonna get the kind of media exposure, that you need.
“How do you reach the 43 million people? And, even when you do reach them, how would their votes propel you into a position of power?”
DR. JILL STEIN: “Well, put it this way. There couldn’t be a more perfect demographic for self-organising than young people, who are, basically, slammed by the Democratic and Republican parties. This is the perfect demographic for self-organising on social media.
“And we have won public interest victories before, like stopping the privatisation of the internet. When the millennial generation understands that its risks, or that its lives, are seriously threatened, on one hand, and that there is a real solution, that is achievable, on the other, that is really the perfect scenario for a completely out of left field major development in this campaign, which has been, in this election, which has been so full of surprises to start with.
“You know, this would be, sort of, the ultimate in an independent and truly revolutionary campaign, were the millennial generation to fully engage and throw off the chains of the Democratic and Republican parties and really open the gates to generational justice here. And general generational justice is, not only, ending student debt, which we are the only campaign to advocate for. By the way, we did this for the bankers to the tune of $16 trillion dollars, now. Bankers and Wall Street, according to the General Accounting Office, have received $16 trillion in zero-interest loans and near-zero and the various forms of bail-out.
“These are the crooks, the crooks who crashed the economy. Isn’t it time to bail out their victims, the young people, who are, basically, held hostage now by their debt in an economy, in which it can’t be repaid.
“So, of course, we should bail out the students. They have the numbers to do it. And they have the means of self-organising. They’ve done it before around the internet, around the FECC ruling, as well as legislation, that was very close to passing a few years ago. It was stopped.
“We stopped the first bombing campaign in Syria through a similar social media-organised campaign, when toxic corporate media wouldn’t cover it with a ten-foot pole. We were able to stop that first bombing campaign in Syria back in 2013.
“We’ve been able to stop the Trans-Pacific Partnership and to delay it into an election season when it doesn’t stand a chance of passing.
“So, we have had major successes, that are not acknowledged by the prevailing mythology. You—”
SONALI KOLHATKAR: “And we don’t acknowledge it, ourselves, sadly.”
DR. JILL STEIN: “Yes, exactly. In the words of Alice Walker, the biggest way people give up power is by not knowing we have it to start with.
“We have just begun to prioritise this issue, as our campaign trail, you know, schedule. We are going to the campuses. We are setting up campus-based chapters. And the young people, themselves, are beginning to get the word out. Our social media is really exploding, just in the last couple of weeks. And—”
SONALI KOLHATKAR: “So, give out all of that information: your website, your social media handles, how you, you know—there are hash tags you would like people to use, as they talk about your candidacy.” (c. 55:13)
SONALI KOLHATKAR: “And we’ll post all of those on our website as well, RisingUpwithSonali.com. So, I wish you the best of luck, Jill Stein. And I’m sure we’ll have you back on a few times between now and November. Thanks for joining us.”
DR. JILL STEIN: “Thanks, Sonali. Great talking with you.”
SONALI KOLHATKAR: “My guest is Dr. Jill Stein. She is the Green Party presidential candidate. In 2012, she was that party’s nominee. She’s also run as the Green Party’s nominee for governor of Massachusetts in 2002 and 2010. She’s a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Medical School and has practiced internal medicine before turning to politics. [SNIP] ” (c. 59:51)
Learn more at RISING UP WITH SONALI.
[This transcript will be expanded as time constraints, and/or demand or resources, allow.]
THE HUFFINGTON POST—[14 MAR 2016] “The course of recent events has made it apparent we need to go outside of the Democratic Party to effect real change,” Dr. Jill Stein said in a phone interview last week.
American politics is a two party system. The country is roughly split down geographic lines that mirror an ideological divide: urban liberal elites versus rural conservative populists.
Democrats versus Republicans.
The deadlocked split between the two main forces in American politics hasn’t allowed for a viable third party movement. The Republican Party has successfully absorbed right wing movements and the Democrats have absorbed left wing movements.
“The idea that the Democrats are going to save us is ridiculous,” said Stein. She points to trade deals as evidence of this.
“Who is pushing the Trans Pacific Partnership? President Obama and the Democrats.” Stein said that the legislation would have lasting detrimental consequences for the US and the world.
“The TPP is putting investors on same level of nation states,” Stein explained. “Anyone who supports it should be taken to court and accused of treason. The TPP is dismantling of the framework of democracy. And the fact is, the Democrats are leading the charge.”
Learn more at HUFFINGTON POST.
INSIDE SOURCES—[4 DEC 2015] With the explosion in the last decade of 24/7 political coverage over airwaves and the Internet, the country’s once-every-four-years presidential sweepstakes might seem more open and transparent than ever.
But if there remains one secretive, smoke-filled backroom in the process of picking an American president, says Peter Ackerman, it’s the Commission on Presidential Debates — a powerful, privately-funded nonprofit that does much of its work behind closed doors.
Ackerman, a millionaire financier who heads up a third-party advocacy group known as Level the Playing Field, says the CPD cultivates its low profile because its primary purpose isn’t just staging debates every four years — it’s protecting the status quo for Republicans and Democrats by keeping alternative candidates off the stage and out of the national spotlight.
“The current [CPD] rule makes it impossible for independent and third party candidates to gain the name recognition necessary to become leading candidates,” Ackerman and Level the Playing Field supporters wrote this week in a critical letter to CPD co-chairmen Frank J. Fahrenkopf and Michael D. McCurry.
In the Dec. 5 letter, Ackerman’s advocacy group — its roster of supporters is a bipartisan Who’s Who of American politics, including one-time Democratic Party vice presidential nominee Joe Lieberman, former Republican Gov. Jon Huntsman, former CIA Director Michael V. Hayden and former Clinton administration Cabinet member Bruce Babbitt, among others — criticizes the CPD for using its status as a nonprofit 501(c)3 to “reject public requests for disclosure of your deliberations and avoid Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.”
The commission — which did not respond to requests from InsideSources for comment on this story — shares far too little information about how its panel of leaders make their decisions, says another Level the Playing Field backer, former State Department official and longtime Washington news executive James K. Glassman.
“Their lack of transparency is a betrayal of American democratic values,” Glassman, a former Atlantic Monthly and New Republic publisher, told InsideSources. “They are very, very powerful and yet they are a self-perpetuating body that keeps its deliberations and the results of its deliberations secret.”
Level the Playing Field and other third-party advocates, including the Green Party and the Libertarian National Committee, filed a lawsuit earlier this year against the Federal Election Commission, which is charged with overseeing the rules for the nonprofit CPD.
Learn more at INSIDE SOURCES.
Also see related Lumpenproletariat articles, relevant to the USA’s 2015-2016 presidential campaigns, such as:
- “Activist and Indigenous Leader Nelson García Assassinated“, 16 MAR 2016
- “Dr. Michel Chossudovsky: State Terrorism, Franco American Style“, 16 MAR 2016
- “Presidential Election 2016: Voting Democrat to Vote Socialist“, 16 MAR 2016
- “Economic Journalist Doug Henwood Assesses the USA’s Right“, 7 MAR 2016
- “Activist Berta Cáceres Assassinated“, 3 MAR 2016
- “Hillary Clinton, US/NATO, & the Lynching of Gaddafi“, 3 MAR 2016
- “Historical Archives: Third Party Challenge to Unconstitutional Prop 14“, 2 MAR 2016
- “Black Agenda Report: On the USA’s Black Electorate, Circa 2016“, 1 MAR 2016
- “My Turn: Hillary Clinton Targets the Presidency (2015) by Doug Henwood“, 29 FEB 2016
- “Heterodox Economist Dr. Richard Wolff Hosted by KPFA’s Sabrina Jacobs“, 10 FEB 2016
- “Hillary Clinton & USA Imperialism Versus Honduran Democracy“, 17 JAN 2016
- “Project Censored: Ann Garrison, Edward Herman, Rwandad Genocide &, Burundi“, 1 JAN 2016
- “Hillary Clinton for USA Presidency: Pros and Cons“, 13 APR 2015
The Dr. Jill Stein segment begins circa 35:38, i.e., around minute 35 of the hour-long broadcast.
During this particular broadcast, host Sonali Kolhatkar announced that the 13-year run of her show Uprising has come to an end on Friday, 18 MAR 2016, and that she has now launched a new show entitled Rising Up. Admittedly, Rising Up sounds identical to Uprising. The only difference, perhaps, as Kolhatkar noted, Rising Up will also be televised. Apparently, free speech radio KPFA hasn’t yet updated their online audio archives to reflect the programme’s name change.
 Stalwart presidential candidate Ralph Nader has long emphasised the corruption of the Commission on Presidential Debates, a now for-profit private, privatised, corporation, which used to be neutrally conducted by the League of Women Voters. Not since 1992, when Ross Perot ran as an independent presidential candidate, has an independent or alternative candidate been allowed to debate in the presidential debates. Both, Ralph Nader and Jill Stein have even been arrested by police for simply trying to attend the presidential debates from which they were banned from participating.
The one complaint I will lodge against the Green Party is its own obeisance to the Democratic Party. Ralph Nader started building momentum with the Green Party as a presidential candidate, perhaps moreso than Dr. Jill Stein has done, but a certain faction within the Green Party won a particular internal debate, which led the Green Party bosses to insist that Ralph Nader agree to, either, pull out of the presidential race or pledge his votes to the Democratic candidate. This was something Ralph Nader, nor his supporters were willing to concede. So, Nader, then, had to move further left than the Green Party for a political party to support him. Ultimately, Ralph Nader had to run as an independent.
(I believe David Cobb was the one who acted as a scab, as it were, filling in for Nader by agreeing to pull out at the last minute to avoid being a spoiler for the Democratic Party. I will provide more details on this episode of USA electoral history, as time constraints allow. In the meantime, please look it up.)
Ever since then, I couldn’t be bothered to trust the Green Party, as they have often acted as an appendage to the Democratic Party. Yes, and here we have Bernie, running for the Democratic Party nomination.
It’s interesting that the Green Party’s Dr. Jill Stein criticises Bernie Sanders for agreeing to support Hillary Clinton and not running as an independent, should he fail to win the Democratic Party presidential nomination. The Green Party has been guilty, and as far as we know, is still guilty, of not being in it to win it, until the end.
[Image entitled “Jill Stein” by Gage Skidmore used via Wikipedia/Creative Commons. Jill Stein was photographed at a Green Party Presidential Town Hall in Mesa, Arizona circa March 2016.]
[21 MAR 2016]
[Last modified 23:29 PDT 21 MAR 2016]