Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein says the Republican National Convention is glorifying war abroad and the police state at home – it’s about “Make America Hate Again”
SHARMINI PERIES, EXEC. PRODUCER, TRNN: It’s The Real News Network. I’m Sharmini Peries, coming to you from Baltimore. On day one of the RNC, former mayor of New York City Rudy Giuliani called for killing the nuclear agreement with Iran. He described Iran as “the world’s largest supporter of terrorism.” Giuliani he also said, and I quote, “we must commit ourselves to unconditional victory against” Islamist extremists. Also on day one of the RNC, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Sheriff David Clarke celebrated the acquittal of Baltimore police officer Brian Rice in the death of unarmed African American Freddie Gray. He also described the protests in Ferguson, Baltimore, and Baton Rouge as, and I quote, “a collapse of the social order.” Clarke also said that Occupy movement and Black Lives Matter were, quote, “anarchy”. Does all this rhetoric coming from the RNC tent represent the growing fascistization of America? Joining us now to discuss all of this is the leader of the Green Party and 2016 presidential candidate Dr. Jill Stein. Dr. Stein, thank you so much for joining us today. DR. JILL STEIN, CANDIDATE FOR GREEN PARTY PRESIDENTIAL NOMINATION: Great to be with you, Sharmini. PERIES: So, Dr. Stein, let me first get your reaction to the Republican national convention underway, particularly what the speakers are saying, as I referred to, and what that now represents. STEIN: Really what we see is kind of a microcosm of the corporatization of U.S. policy across the board. We’re seeing the glorification of war abroad and the police state at home. And we’ve seen thousands of additional FBI and Secret Service agents brought in, thousands of new suits of armor, riot gear, basically, brought in. We have police that are equipped with sniper rifles and AR-15s–in a state, by the way, which is an open-carry state. Yet they have confined free speech and our right to protest and to petition for redress of grievances. It’s being restricted to a free speech zone. And in fact back packs and canned goods–and I’ve heard even umbrellas–have been restricted so as to keep poor people out. This is sort of a microcosm of what is wrong with the American political system. And it’s a system of militarization and of the growth of a police state to which both Democrats and Republicans have contributed. The Republicans are perhaps more out front and frank and scary in their talk, but this has been a process that both political parties have massively contributed to. So indeed it’s like watching a theater of the absurd or a kabuki theater to see all that’s wrong in our society being celebrated at the RNC. And I would include that it’s not “Make America great again”, it’s Make American hate again. And it’s an attack also on immigrants, on the rights of women and on the LGBT community. That’s all kind of brought together in this circus that we refer to as the Republican national committee meetings. PERIES: And the state of militarization at the convention–and, of course, across our country here, as we are seeing demonstrated in various cities, like Texas, the state of Texas, and of course what we’ve seen in Baton Rouge early this week–all contribute to a state of fear. And as you rightfully put it, both parties–the Democratic Party and the Republican Party–has contributed to the creation of this state of fear. And of course the Trump camp is benefiting from all of this. What do you, as the head of the Green Party, bring to the table in terms of diffusing this situation? STEIN: Yeah. I think it’s a combination of fear, but it’s fear that has been whipped into a frenzy because of this economic misery that working people and even middle-class people in the white community have been confronting over the past decade or so. And this is a consequence of real policies to which the Democrats have–they’ve been leading the charge on this in particular, on NAFTA, for example, passed by Bill Clinton, celebrated by Hillary Clinton, and the deregulation of Wall Street, which sent 9 million jobs up in smoke and allowed the theft of 5 million homes, especially in communities of color. This was basically brought to us by Bill Clinton again and celebrated by Hillary Clinton. And I think the solution to this, as Bernie Sanders himself said and many others have, is truly progressive policies. I think we also need to defuse the hate and the fear mongering. We need a truth and reconciliation commission because there is a culture of racism and the legacy of the criminal institution of slavery that pervades all aspects of society. It’s not only police violence; it’s economic violence, it’s violence in the area of health and the outrageous and unbelievable health disparities that take 12 years off the average lifespan of the African-American person in the area of Cleveland. So we really have a cultural challenge here. And what we can do as Greens, because I am the one candidate that is not poisoned by corporate money, by lobbyist money, or by PAC money, so I actually have the liberty to stand up and carry forward the full agenda that Bernie Sanders received so much support for and which we are beginning to receive some of that enthusiasm for, it’s not rocket science about how to fix this. We need to address it in its many dimensions, including the dimension of racism and fear and gun violence, rampant gun violence. But in addition we need to address the underlying economic drivers here. And Trump has been able to sort of make hay out of those issues because Hillary Clinton carries that baggage for having supported these policies. So I don’t carry that baggage. I can actually help fight Donald Trump in a way that Hillary Clinton, unfortunately, doesn’t have the credibility to fight him on, because what the American people need is not another member of the billionaire club and not an advocate for the billionaire club; they need a true proponent of the transformative changes that we need in our economy: fair trade agreements, not free trade; stopping the Trans-Pacific Partnership; ensuring that we bring back jobs. And we’re calling for a Green New Deal like the New Deal that got us out of the Great Depression. That will solve the emergency of our jobs crisis at the same time that it solves the emergency of climate change and makes the wars for oil obsolete. PERIES: Dr. Stein, now in the political scheme of things leading up to the presidential elections, there is the pragmatic question here of who do we support. And Bernie Sanders himself has said at this point we have to support the lesser of two evils, as Chomsky has said as well. And what do you think the options are here? And do we come to a situation where we might end up electing Trump in an effort to vote in the Green Party at this point? STEIN: There are a few things to say to that, and I’d like to mention a couple of them. One is that what’s really critical here is that we build our power. If we’re ever going to get out of this death spiral, we have to step outside of a counterrevolutionary party. We’ve seen the Sanders revolution devolve into the coronation of Hillary Clinton and the author of those policies that are driving the economic misery lifting up Donald Trump and his movement. So putting another Clinton in the White House is not going to solve this problem; it’s only going to fan the flames of this economic revolt with more of those policies of austerity, the policies of the prison state from a candidate who’s not only sponsored by the predatory banks–and I’m referring to Hillary here, Hillary Clinton–but who’s also sponsored by the private prison industry and the war industry. And so many of the things that we just abhor about Donald Trump and what he says, Hillary Clinton has already done. So what more catastrophic a war could there be than what she led the charge to, not only in Iraq, but particularly in Libya, where this was basically her idea and her momentum? So we’ve already seen as horrific a warmonger as we have ever known in the form of Hillary Clinton. Inasmuch as we might be afraid of what Donald Trump could do with his finger on the button of nuclear weapons, well, we already know what Hillary Clinton intends to do, which is to start an air war over Syria by declaring a no-fly zone, which means running right up against another nuclear-armed power–whom she’s been very busy isolating and provoking, surrounding him with missiles and troops. And how would we feel if Russian troops were along our border in Canada and in Mexico? So we have an extremely scary situation that we would be coming to if we put Hillary Clinton in charge of the nuclear issues. And on the immigration front, here also: scary horrible things that Donald Trump says, but Hillary Clinton’s record is to not only give the thumbs-up to the terrible and violent corporate coup in Honduras, but then to bar the gates against the women and children who are fleeing for their lives and to support what’s coming out of the Democratic White House, which is not just hate and fearmongering, but actually a campaign of detention, of night raids, and deportations to the tune of 2 million. So I think it’s really important to sort out the fear campaign from the reality. This politics of fear that tells you to vote against your fears rather than for what you believe has a terrible track record. A lot of people have been following that policy since Bush-Nader-Gore. And the politics of fear has delivered everything we were afraid of. All the reasons you were told to vote for the lesser evil because you didn’t want the offshoring of our jobs, the meltdown of the climate, the massive expansion of the war, the bailouts for Wall Street, we got all of that from the Democrats even when there was two Democratic houses of Congress. So it cannot be blamed on the Republicans. It’s time to forget the lesser evil and fight for the greater good like our lives depend on it. It’s not to say the two parties are exactly the same, but the differences between them are not enough to save your job, to save your life, or to save the planet. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. And if I could just add one thing briefly, Sharmini, that is this effort to dismiss the likes of the Green Party. And remember, right now the majority of Americans are saying they repudiate the Democratic and Republican nominees. It’s the majority of Americans who don’t like and reject both of those candidates who have the highest levels of mistrust and dislike ever in history. Right now we actually have the power to turn this around–not to split the vote, but in fact to flip the vote–if word got out that people actually have the choice that they are looking for. In fact, there are 42 million students, millennials and former students, so people on into middle age now, ’cause you can’t get out of that debt, so they are locked in predatory student loan debt without any hope of getting out of it–I’m the only candidate who will cancel that debt like we did for the crooks on Wall Street. We owe this to the young people who’ve been trapped in an economy that was crashed by the waste, fraud, and abuse on Wall Street. So if that word gets out to those 42 million who could come out and vote to cancel their debt, we can actually win this race, because 42 million in fact is a winning plurality of the vote. And if everybody brings out a sympathetic family member, we have enough to win a two-way race, not just a three-way race. PERIES: Alright, Jill. I thank you so much for joining us. And all the best in your campaign. STEIN: Thank you, Sharmini. PERIES: And thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.