YouTube video

Lawrence Wilkerson Canadian Tour

Tuesday October 7, 2014

2:00 PM Special guest speaker in Glendon’s Colloquium series at the Senate Chamber of Glendon College followed by a Q&A session – Moderator: Professor Michael Barutciski

Glendon College – York University

2275 Bayview Avenue

Toronto ON, M4N3M6

5:00 PM Talk to the graduate students at the Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto as a part of the F. Ross Johnson – Connaught Speaker Series.

Munk School of Global Affairs- University of Toronto

1 Devonshire Place, Room 327N
Toronto, ON M5S 3K7

Wednesday October 8, 2014

7:00 PM The CIGI Signature Lecture series featuring experts on international affairs, speaking to a broad public audience on international military involvement in Iraq, and the western and regional responses to the threat of ISIS. – Speech followed by Q & A

Centre for International Governance Innovation Campus Auditorium

67 Erb Street West, Waterloo, Ontario Canada N2L 6C2

Thursday October 9, 2014

5:30 PM CIC Winnipeg: Politics at the Pub: The Rise of ISIS and the Current Situation in the Middle East. – Speech followed by Q & A

CIC Winnipeg

437 Stradbrook Avenue
Winnipeg, MB R3L 0K9

Friday October 10, 2014

12:30PM Open lecture at University of Winnipeg on the Security Situation in the Middle East and the Rise of ISIS – Speech followed by Q & A

University of Winnipeg

3D01 (Duckworth Building)

8:00PM Interview with radio host Geoff Currier on “The Night Hawk” radio show CJOB

Story Transcript

SHARMINI PERIES, EXEC. PRODUCER, TRNN: Welcome to The Real News Network. I’m Sharmini Peries, coming to you from Baltimore.

On Tuesday, November 4, in less than one month, U.S. citizens will vote in the general midterm elections, in which all 435 seats in the United States House of Representatives and 33 of the 100 seats in the United States Senate will be contested. The battle for control of the Senate is a close one, with Republicans positioned to win by a narrow margin, says the latest online poll of hundred thousand respondents conducted by The New York Times, CBS News, and YouGov. It found that GOP is leading by a clear statistical advantage of at least four percentage points in a race to finish with 50 seats, just shy of one vote control that the Democrats had with Joe Biden having power to break a tie.

Now joining us from Falls Church, Virginia, to discuss these developments is our regular contributor Larry Wilkerson. Larry is a Republican and former chief of staff to the secretary of state Colin Powell.

Thank you so much, Larry, for joining us today.


PERIES: Larry, I understand you’re on your way to our favorite state north, to Canada, to talk about the midterm elections. What will you be saying?

WILKERSON: I’m going to tell Canadians a little background, I think, just to see how knowledgeable they are about our situation south of their border. And then I’m going to talk about the specifics, as you just did, a few, of the midterm elections.

The general background I’m going to give them is one of–well, let’s just look at, for example, Zephyr Teachout, who’s running, you may know, against Governor Cuomo in New York for the governorship, her book that’s just come out on corruption in America. So I’m going to tell them about the corrupt environment in which these midterms are going to take place. And I don’t use that term lightly. I use it, I think, as a precise description in a general way of what the situation is in this country right now. With Citizens United, which she talks about a great deal in that book, and with the money flowing into politics, it’s hard to believe, to anyone who really wants to look at it from a sane and sober way, that our politics are not corrupt with the way money can flow into campaigns.

Let’s just look at the campaign in Kentucky, for example, where Mitch McConnell, a long-serving senator, a very powerful senator, a very powerful man in the Republican Party, is essentially in a race that’s topped everything so far–over $100 million, some speculate, has been spent in that race. So that is a part of the corruption.

Another part of the corruption is the general effort by the Republican Party–my party, I have to add–to essentially disenfranchise voters by very restrictive voter requirements. That’s going on across the country. We also have outright fraud, that is to say, with the new automatic data processing systems, computer systems that most states are using for the elections, a real high potential for fraud, for hacking, for actual build-up votage that doesn’t occur and so forth. That just happened to be in Virginia, for example, last year when I did my ballot. My ballot was scanned, and everything froze. And in that particular moment in time, some 200 ballots were discounted, and I had to wait for a week or two before the state of Virginia told me that my vote actually counted. And I still to this day don’t know that it actually counted.

PERIES: Will that be corrected in this electoral process?

WILKERSON: I certainly hope so. But I think anyone who knows anything about these computer systems would tell you that the capability to manipulate them now is far greater than it ever was with paper ballots–or stuffing ballot boxes, as we know in the old historical terms. It’s much easier for a technically sophisticated entity, whatever it might be, to get into these systems and to manipulate them in the ways that are beneficial to one party and not beneficial to another. We can go back to the election of John Kennedy and against Richard Nixon in the ’60s, and we can see where probably Nixon conceded a little too early. He didn’t want contention in the country. But there was a real question about the votes in Chicago. And more recently, there was a real question about, of course, the Bush administration in 2000, with the Supreme Court having decided finally, with hanging chads in Florida and so forth.

So I’m just going to illuminate this situation for the Canadians who might not be aware of just how our democracy, in terms of elections and election paraphernalia, has devolved to a certain extent to a place where one can’t be certain that one man, one vote, one woman, one vote, and that all counts in the general scheme of things.

The other aspect I’m going to point out to them is the massive disorientation of our system right now. You have a situation–I’m going to try to be very simple here in order to be clear–but you have a situation where you have a massive accumulation of basically minorities, Hispanics, and others who normally would vote Democratic or who–by majorities would vote Democratic, who are in an entity where its, let’s say, one vote. And then you have all these little disparate entities out in the hinterland that are basically Republican and that will vote Republican–red, they say, in the color jargon. And those will vote. And so we have one, two, three, four, five votes in a population that’s less than this very concentrated population which also has one vote. That’ll correct itself over time, but it’s going to have an impact on this election.

And then you’ve got the disequilibrium of wealth in this country that now, as Thomas Piketty has pointed out in his book Capital in the Twenty-First Century, is approaching 1929 proportions, again, giving more power to that big money, more power to the people who have that big money. Less than 1/1,000th of this country, 1/1,000th–I’m not even talking about the top 10 percent or the top 1 percent; I’m talking about the 1/1000th that owns about 40 percent of the wealth in this country.

So these things create voter apathy, if you will, also. The highest expectation I’ve found from a political scientist who knows what he or she is talking about is about 40 percent will come out to vote. That’s about 90 million of eligible voters. Well, 40 percent–that’s not even half–and I might point at the we haven’t even elected a president in this country in decades with more than 25 to 30 percent of the eligible voters voting for that particular candidate.

So all of these things I’ll point out, and then I’ll go into a discussion of the specific midterms coming up and I’ll talk about some of the close races, like those in Iowa, Alaska, Arkansas, and so forth.

PERIES: So, Larry, when you think of the United States, [such a big (?)] democracy on earth, election fraud, ballot rigging, money in politics is the last thing that really comes to mind in an election process. But what has happened to the American electoral process that it has come to this?

WILKERSON: That is an interesting question. You know, I’ve often said, particularly in the last few decades, that perhaps the European Union or some other entity that’s equivocal to us or nearly equivocal to us should send observers to our elections. Maybe we should have observers all over the place watching our elections, because I don’t think that they’re much better than some of the other countries in the world, against whom we rail all the time about having unfair elections or unfair politics.

That said, I think to deal with the amount of people who have to go to the polls, with the amount of people who are probably going to go to the polls and so forth, is an accomplishment in itself. You may know that India just conducted probably the largest, most extensive, and complex democratic elections in the world. I would suspect, I would even offer that perhaps there was, on a per capita basis, less corruption in those elections than I think there will probably be in the ones in the United States. We cover it real well. Like in many cases where we’re hypocrites, railing at other people for doing what we do in our own country, whether it’s torture or oligarchies, plutocracies, or whatever, the United States continues to get away with a lot, because its rhetoric overwhelms everybody else’s. I must add, though, that I don’t think the rest of the world really buys our rhetoric. I think the rest of the world judges us by what we do, not what the say. And increasingly the world knows that our democracy in many respects is suspect.

PERIES: Larry, former president Jimmy Carter has an election monitoring center that is dispersed to different parts of the world where elections are to be contested or suspect. Do you think he’ll be monitoring the U.S. elections in the same way?

WILKERSON: I don’t know if the Carter Center’s going to be doing that or not. It wouldn’t surprise me if they were, but I’m not sure how public they’d be about the results if they found anything untoward occurring. I just don’t think we look very hard at ourselves. And those who do look hard at us often don’t get the limelight, because the corporate media keeps them from doing so. All we have to do is look at some of the things that have happened in the last ten years with regard to truth-telling and how much the mainstream media has avoided that truth-telling, whether it’s Thomas Drake or Edward Snowden about the NSA, or whether it’s other truth-tellers about torture and U.S. participation in torture programs. It seems the mainstream media would prefer to stay away from those subjects. Being in the hands of corporate America, one can understand that, I think.

PERIES: For those Canadians who are interested in hearing more from Larry Wilkerson, he is on a speaking tour starting this week in Canada. And The Real News will send out an email to our Canadian members with a schedule of his speaking engagements.

So thank you so much for joining us, Larry.

WILKERSON: Let me just say that the two major cities I’ll be in are Toronto and Winnipeg.

PERIES: Very well. Thank you so much for joining us, Larry.

WILKERSON: Thanks for having me.

PERIES: And thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.


DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.

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Distinguished Adjunct Professor of Government and Public Policy

Lawrence Wilkerson's last positions in government were as Secretary of State Colin Powell's Chief of Staff (2002-05), Associate Director of the State Department's Policy Planning staff under the directorship of Ambassador Richard N. Haass, and member of that staff responsible for East Asia and the Pacific, political-military and legislative affairs (2001-02). Before serving at the State Department, Wilkerson served 31 years in the U.S. Army. During that time, he was a member of the faculty of the U.S. Naval War College (1987 to 1989), Special Assistant to General Powell when he was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (1989-93), and Director and Deputy Director of the U.S. Marine Corps War College at Quantico, Virginia (1993-97). Wilkerson retired from active service in 1997 as a colonel, and began work as an advisor to General Powell. He has also taught national security affairs in the Honors Program at the George Washington University. He is currently working on a book about the first George W. Bush administration.