This is a rush transcript.
Kim Brown: So several weeks ago, though it does seem as though it’s been at least a few years when Joe Biden announced that Senator Kamala Harris was going to be his running mate for president. A lot of people, particularly democratic liberals were very excited. Oh, there’s a black woman on the ticket. And a lot of us leftist progressives were like, there’s already a black woman on a ticket of a national party. I’d like for everyone to meet Angela Walker, she is the VP candidate for Howie Hawkins, Green Party ticket for president 2020. And this is a very interesting conversation. First of all, Angela is a fascinating woman and she has a lot to offer a lot to talk about what the Green Party perhaps has to offer voters. And we want to begin the conversation actually talking about the ways to build political power beyond voting.
There’s so much emphasis, justifiably so, placed upon voting, especially during this election cycle, but we don’t vote all the time, guys. We vote every two and four years and there’s a lot of opportunities and ways in order for working people to get the things that we want, that we deserve from our government and other institutions that extend beyond voting. So I like to extend right here, a good Burn It Down With Kim Brown welcome to Green Party vice presidential candidate, Angela Walker. Angela, thank you so much for making some time to speak with us. We really appreciate it.
Angela Walker: Thank you for making space for me to be here. I really appreciate you.
Kim Brown: So before we talk about the platform that you and Howie are running on, and let me just put a disclaimer out here, The Real News and Burn It Down does not endorse any political candidate for any office for that matter, but we are all here for new and fresh perspectives so that’s partially why Angela is joining us tonight. But Angela, in your background, I mean, you’re so fascinating. I mean, you’re a former veteran, also an activist and organizer in your own right. Talk to us about what we’ve been looking at here. As we see long lines for people stretching around the block for, and early voting efforts, and we hearing a lot of, if you don’t vote and you can’t complain. But there’s a lot of other ways to engage communities, to build power around a lot of these issues and concerns that people are putting their bodies on the lines, for lack of a better term. Talk to me about your experience as an activist and an organizer and the other ways that there are to be politically engaged outside of voting.
Angela Walker: One of the biggest things that I tell people all the time is that for me, voting is a tactic. It’s a tool in an arsenal, but it is absolutely not the only thing that we need to be doing. If it’s something that people choose to do, and there are candidates that speak to you, absolutely show up and vote. It does matter. But I think even more importantly, the work that people do in their own communities around what answering the needs of the folks where they live. And I’m thinking about my experience with public transit and also with public education. We were fighting the privatization of both our transit system and our public school system. We had a state, the governor stepped in and did one of those state takeovers of our public school system in Milwaukee.
And just organizing around that, getting people to come out to public meetings, getting, I think, a huge, huge, huge part of what we have to do on the left is really, and a lot of folks are doing it, is education because so many people don’t understand the history of the left in this country, where we stand as socialists and communists and how we fought to get the eight hour work day, how we fought to get workplace reforms, how we fought to get housing and voting and things like that, where we were with that. So education has to be the biggest, the first part of what we do and, skill shares, informal meetings and if you’ve got maybe four or five, like-minded friends, not like a giant number of people sitting down at someone’s table where it safe, of course, or Zoom calling and break out the books, get familiar with what we’ve already accomplished in this country.
And then, I also think about at the beginning of the pandemic, when there was no hand sanitizer, no masks, nothing to be had. People just lost their minds. And thinking about all of these young people in black hoodies, our anarchist family our socialist family, our folks on the left making hand sanitizer and making sure that houseless people had it. Getting together and doing mutual aid. Those things for me are the most important, I think I would argue more important than voting, because these touch people’s everyday lives. When you’re having an issue with folks being put out of their homes, people showing up and unevicting them. Those are the things, direct action. Those are the things I’m thinking about.
Kim Brown: And these kinds of things have been out there. As you mentioned, the history of the socialist movement here in the US, the communist movement, et cetera. But it seems though a lot of people are perhaps discovering them for the first time or the pandemic has made it such an urgent need and made it so very clear that state assistance is not going to be coming. It’s not going to be coming quickly, if it comes at all. And people are stepping up and responding in their own communities in ways that a lot of people have never seen before. Talk to me about what your interpretations of how 2020 has illuminated this supply and this demand for this kind of mutual aid and direct action from community to community.
Angela Walker: I think you just said it. There’s a lot of portions of the population that, before the pandemic, were able to ignore the crisis of houselessness in this country, that we’re able to ignore what’s happening as far as we’re still in a pandemic and at the same time, we’re standing also at the intersection of pandemic and rebellion because state sponsored violence against black people has not abated just because there’s a pandemic. And I think that a whole lot of people who have already been hurt by the current government or the current administration’s absolutely criminal mishandling of this pandemic. They’re already hurting. And now you’ve got all of these other things happening.
You’re sensitive because of what’s happened to you. And now these things are coming at you. You can feel them and see them and receive them in a way that, maybe in 2016, maybe in 2012, people weren’t feeling it like this, but now it’s like, you can’t look away. It’s right here. And these are people you know. These are people, someone’s losing, someone’s being evicted. Someone is unemployed because of the pandemic. Someone doesn’t know what to do with their children, because they’re afraid to send them to school in real time, but they don’t have access to broadband. This is very real for people. And so I think that our message as socialists, particularly, all of us on the left who have been saying these things, we have to take care of us. I think people are in a position now to receive that in a much bigger way than they ever have been before.
Kim Brown: And when people who have long identified themselves as Democrats, people who stand with the labor movement, people who are in support of policies like the green new deal, and going beyond so-called criminal justice reform, but now taking the mantle and pushing that ball down the field to defund the police and abolish the police. When they look at what the Democrats have put forward for 2020 in the form of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, disappointed might be the right word to describe it, but also somewhat expected. I’m going to hit you with some of the issues that are on the table right now, especially those that were brought up at the most recent presidential debate between Trump and Joe Biden. And I’ll start with the issue of healthcare, because we know that the Affordable Care Act is attempting to be dismantled by the Trump administration without a replacement named or even described for that health plan.
And Joe Biden, on the other hand, in the face of this pandemic, in the face of 25 or so million Americans now unemployed, many people lost their employer provided healthcare plan. Joe Biden does not support a Medicare for All option, universal healthcare for all. What is the position of the Hawkins/ Walker ticket on healthcare?
Angela Walker: We absolutely not only do we support Medicare for All, we authored it and the democratic party, of course, as they do, swiped it, gutted it, diluted it and then took it off the table completely. So I think is something that, I’ve run into where people are like, you’re just copying the Democrats with Medicare for all. I’m like, “Yo, yo, yo. Back your bus, baby. We wrote that. We wrote that. That did not come from them, that came from us.” And how out of touch is it to have a pandemic that is causing the harm that it is causing, particularly in black, brown, and indigenous communities. And to say Medicare for All is off the table. What was the polling most recently, 84% of Americans, across party barriers and socioeconomic classes, support Medicare for All. I mean, come on. It’s just not, that wasn’t intelligent, I’m sorry.
Kim Brown: Back your bus up, baby. Hold on. Let me write that one down. Okay. Angela, the issue of criminal justice reform and defund the police and abolish the police. Well, first of all, we know where Donald Trump stands on this issue. He’s made it perfectly clear. The police have made it perfectly clear that they stand in lockstep with Donald Trump. Joe Biden, however, has admonished Black Lives Matter in some circumstances. He has said that he does not support defunding the police, absolutely does not support abolishing the police. In fact, in his plan, the Biden/Harris 2020 plan, he advocates giving 300 million more dollars to police and says, the police need better training. What is your ticket’s position on the issue of police brutality and police violence against black and brown communities?
Angela Walker: We have to be completely honest. This violence is rooted in this system. And the system in this country is rooted in the genocide of indigenous people, the enslavement and exploitation of the labor of African people. We need to be clear about that. This is where it came from and going forward, the violence that we’re seeing now, you have a lot of people who are serving on police forces who are racist, misogynist, transphobic and homophobic, and sadist. I can speak to Milwaukee Police Department. I am from Milwaukee. They’ve been killing people. I remember back to 1980 with the murder of Ernest Lacy, suffocated to death by the MPD.
This isn’t something that just happened, all of a sudden appeared on the scene with Trayvon Martin. This is a systemic issue. And so when we’re talking about defund the police, first off, just for a ticket like Biden/Harris to claim or purport that they align themselves with the people and then to like, absolutely don’t hear what they’re asking for in the street. They call for defund the police, and a lot of quarters around the country. It’s pretty deafening. And so with our administration, where we stand with defunding the police is defunding the police. I mean, 5% of what police actually do is addressing violent crime. And they’re not doing that very well either.
I’m thinking of the backlog of rape kits in so many police administrations around the country. But 5% of what they do is actually violent crime. So we need to be downsizing police forces, which eat up the lion’s share of most municipal budgets. I know Milwaukee, definitely that is the case. Downsize police budgets, root out people who are racist, who are sadist, who are transphobic, homophobic, misogynist, and otherwise violent and makes sure that the people that you are keeping on the force are people who actually want to serve their community. Take the money that you have taken from the police forces, which is also what the movement for black lives has called for and reinvest that money in wraparound services for communities.
So you don’t have an armed police officer who is absolutely not trained in substance use issues or in mental health issues showing up where people are acting out because of those issues with a gun. And I’m thinking of Tony Robinson in Madison, Wisconsin, a young man who was murdered in his hallway by the police who was having a substance use issue. He was just a kid. And so we need to have counselors. We need to have social workers. We need to have people who are trained in dealing with these other issues funded to show up in our communities and help people and not be sending armed police officers. We need to be reserving cops for things that cops should be doing, which is addressing violent crimes.
Kim Brown: So, Angela, I have a question here from our Real News Climate reporter, Steve horn, Steve wants to know, Ms Walker, so you and Howie Hawkins are running on an eco-socialist green new deal. How does that differ from the progressive Democrats vision of a green new deal? And why do you think public ownership is a key part of what’s lacking and what AOC and Ed Markey are pushing for?
Angela Walker: We advocate for community control, people’s direct control. It gives people accountability. We’re big fans, obviously, we’re socialists, of cooperatives, putting the resources in people’s hands and they have direct control over how these things are administered. And that, I would argue is the biggest difference between the eco-socialist green deal and what the Democrats are calling a green new deal. I mean, one of the things that they were absolutely adamant, both Biden and Harris, we are not going to stop fracking. That’s problematic. If you are truly interested in reversing climate change, you’re going to have to ban fracking. We’re not going to support new fossil fuel infrastructure under a Hawkins/Walker administration. We are going to ban fracking under a Hawkins/Walker administration and also retrofitting buildings for clean energy.
We are not kicking the can down the road until, I think Biden has a minute in himself. Excuse me, before I misspeak. I think he amended it to 2025. That’ll be interesting. Our plan is to move to a hundred percent clean energy by 2030 and zero waste manufacturing, retrofitting buildings, as I mentioned, organic agriculture is something we want to move to. The restoration of forest, soils, and wetlands is absolutely crucial to that. And putting people to work, which is part of the economic bill of rights that’s attached to the green new deal. Doing work, rebuilding our infrastructure. So, I mean, this is all completely doable. And we see these things being done in other countries. There’s no reason we can’t do this here.
The Democrats have no political will to do it for the simple fact that, that would involve them removing themselves from receiving money from fossil fuel industries, oil and gas industries, things like that. They’re not going to, they’re not going to cut off the hand that feeds them.
Kim Brown: Lastly, Angela, looking back to 2016 and the defeat of Hillary Clinton, the rise of Donald Trump, the Green Party and the 2016 Green Party presidential nominee, Dr. Jill Stein received a good chunk of some blame game pointing, finger pointing after the fact, especially coming from establishment Democrats pointing to the fact that Dr. Stein was able to get thousands of votes in some crucial swing states that Hillary Clinton ended up losing. And for some reason, your party took a lot of the blame in part for Hillary Clinton’s defeat. What do you have to say to those people who are for one still got Jill Stein’s name in their mouth in 2020? And as we look ahead to election day, we’re so close to it now. Do you think that your ticket will actually factor in, in some of these more tightly decided states in your opinion?
Angela Walker: As far as the election goes, I think anything is possible. So many people have been very vocal around the country about supporting and being enthusiastic about a green new deal, and also about Medicare for All. And being that we’re the only party championing those things, it could be, we could pull quite a chunk of voters in swing states. We’ll see. I think that the Democrats also know that, which is why they pushed us off the ballot in a couple of those swing states. One of them being my home state of Wisconsin and that’s gone, that’s gone. I’m not going to be a candidate forever. So we’ll have that talk after this is over, because I got something for them. But as far as us being, we’re receiving so much flack for even daring to run in this absolutely, most crucial election of our lives, which is what they say for all of them.
We’re taking that flag now. And our thing is very simple. The people who show up and vote green or libertarian, because it ain’t just us, libertarian or constitution or marijuana party, whomever they support are people who are not going to give their votes to the Democrats or the Republicans. If we were not on the ballot, and even in places where we’ve been pushed off the ballot, people are writing us in. These are people who would otherwise not vote. And I’m thinking mainly of the Democrats, because we don’t too much rock with the Republicans, but thinking of this sense of entitlement that the democratic party seems to have to people’s votes. And if we don’t exist, they’re going to show up for you. I really need them to understand our people are not going to show up for you.
What will happen is what happened in 2016 with a hundred million people abstaining, period. And I hope that that’s not the case this year. I hope that people have found something, even if it’s third party, some reason to show up, but non-voters won in 2016 and the Democrats need to stop blaming Dr. Stein for that. We had nothing to do with that. They ran a candidate that did not, again, did not resonate with people and you all lost. It is what it is, but you can’t blame us for that. The people who showed up us will only show up for us, those votes weren’t for you.
Kim Brown: We’re going to leave that right there. We have been speaking with Angela Walker. She is the vice presidential nominee for the Green Party running alongside Howie Hawkins for president and vice president in 2020. Angela, we appreciate you making some time to speak with us. I think, again, Real News and Burn It Down do not make any political endorsements. However, I feel as though your message and your position on the issues is something that is of interest to this audience and to the Real News audience. So I do appreciate you making some time to speak with us and elaborating on some things.
Angela Walker: I appreciate you all making time for me to be here with you. It’s an honor.
Studio: Taylor Hebden
Post-Production: Taylor Hebden