TRNN Election Panel: Jill Stein and Marc Steiner
PAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR, TRNN: Okay. We’ve got Jill in my ear. Hello, Jill. Jill Stein is in my ear talking to me. Jill, are you there? Okay. Thanks for joining us.
So welcome back to The Real News Network, and we’re back with Jill Stein.
Also staying with us is Marcâ€”I’m drawing a complete blankâ€”Steiner. This is why I drew aâ€”. How many Steins have I got on here?
Jill, thanks very much. Marc Steiner (local radio host, I’m sure you know) is also with us.
So, Jill, how are you doing so far this evening?
Okay. Now, do we have Jill’s picture here? Guys? Thank you. Jill, do you see any results so far, Jill? And I should introduce Jill properly. Jill Stein is the candidate for president for the Green Party. Go ahead, Jill.
JILL STEIN, U.S. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE, GREEN PARTY: Hi, Paul. I’m catching part of what you’re saying. Unfortunately, I’m not hearing all of it. Would you like me to jump in? Or do you want to try repeating a question for me?
JAY: Sorry. We’re having trouble with the audio. Yeah. Just the question is: how is the Green Party doing tonight?
STEIN: Okay. Great. Thank you. I did get “how is the Green Party doing tonight”. We’re doing great. You know, we are feeling like this election was a coming-out forâ€”not just for the Green Party, but for the American voter, who is being thrown under the bus, really, by both corporate political parties, with the continued offshoring of our jobs, undermining of our wages, attack on our civil liberties, skyrocketing student debt, a generation of students turned into indentured servants with high debts and sky-high unemployment, the expanding wars, you name it.
We don’t have a lot of wiggle room here between the two [crosstalk] parties.
And in this campaign, we have seen such an upsurge of interest and excitement about the Green Party, an incredible flood of volunteers, revival of our state and local chapters, and real commitment to working within this framework of an opposition political party that has been missing in action for far too long. So it’s been a real revival of the politics of courage, our political voice, and we’re not going away.
JAY: Now, Jill, we’re having a little bit of problem with your video, but the audio is still working. Can you hear me okay now? Can I ask you a question?
STEIN: I can hear you, yes.
JAY: Good. Perfect. What were your expectations going in? What did you consider a victory for the Green Party tonight in terms of popular vote? And what are you hoping for tonight? Realistically, what would be a win for you?
STEIN: Yeah, and I’ll just say generally that when the vote is rigged in so many ways, not only electronically at the eleventh hour, not only with voter purges, but far upstream of that, with a system that requires enormous amounts of money in order to buy your way in, a system where alternative voices are shut out, eliminated from the ballot, eliminated from the debates, in such a rigged system, the vote count is actually not what really counts. What really counts, to my mind, is the revival of the party, the revival of our chapters, our volunteers, the participants. So in that sense I feel like we have already achieved what our major goals are.
In addition, if we register at all, if we come up above the radar, we are taking a great leap forward over where we have been over the last decade and more. If we come out at 1 percent, that’s over a million voters who were never voting for the Green Party over the past decade. If we come out at 2 percent, that’s terrific. It’s about 20 times better than what we did in the last several elections. If we come out at 3 percent, we’ve basically beaten the record for an independent non-corporate party in a long, long time. So any of those would be great.
And, you know, as I say, the real win is by reconstituting a politics that’s of, by, and for the people.
JAY: Right. Marc, you have a question for Jill?
MARC STEINER, RADIO HOST, WEAA 88.9 FM: Well, yeah. When, Jill, you and I spoke last on my program, we talked about the Green Party and where it is. And I just wonder, given the state of America now, I mean, why do you think it is that people are reluctant to vote third-party? I mean, and I say that because, I mean, there’s a lot of peopleâ€”interesting two stats real fast. There was an incredibleâ€”. Can you hear me? I’m sorry.
STEIN: I picked up the first half, why are people reluctant to vote for a third party. If there’s more you want me to hear, if you can say it slowly [crosstalk]
JAY: No, that’s okay. Go ahead, Jill. Go ahead.
STEIN: Alright. I’ll take it from there. You know, I think there has been a politics of fear that has been beaten into us over the last decade or more. But we now haveâ€”you know, and that’s fear rising out of the Naderâ€“Bushâ€“Gore election. Coming out of that election, it was drummed into people that you don’t dare stand up for your values, for the solutions we need, for fighting climate change, for ending the dependence on fossil fuels, that we don’t dare stand up for our civil liberties, which are being attacked, we don’t dare stand up for keeping jobs here and for fighting for the good wages that we desperately need as they’re being, basically, eroded. We’re being told we don’t dare to stand up.
So we now have a decade of experience with this politics of fear, and what we’ve found is that the politics of fear actually delivered everything we were afraid of, all those things we were supposed to avoid by being quiet. We didn’t want a president who would expand the wars, who would increase the Wall Street bailouts, who would turn the other way from millions of homeowners being thrown out of their homes, who would bail out the banks rather than homeowners, who would bail out the banks rather than the students. Those were all things that we were told we would avoid if we just went along to go along, if we were good little boys and girls, and took the marching orders from the establishment political parties. But what we found was that a politics of fear delivered everything we were afraid of.
And, in fact, the answer to that losing politics of fear is the politics of courage, in the way that people are standing up to fight the Keystone Pipeline, which this president, if he’s reelected, will deliver, which Mitt Romney will deliver. People are standing up to fight the evictions with eviction blockades. The Chicago Teachers Union stood up to fight. We need that courage in our politics as well. And it’s the union of a social movement on the ground, like the Occupy, with a political movement of courage that actually changes history. To look back over the many centuries, it’s that union of the fight of the labor parties, the socialists and progressives, and farm labor parties, together with the labor movement in the street. The same for women’s suffrage and the right to vote, and they had the Woman’s Party. The abolition of slavery fought with a Liberty Party as well. And throughout history, we see again and again that it’s independent politics of integrity, not those who are apologizing within a corporate-dominated system. It’s the politics of courage on the ground and in our political system that actually moves us forward.
And to go into the voting booth, unfortunately, and count the vote for either Wall Street-sponsored candidate, unfortunately, gives them a mandate for more of the same. And it’s going to be a teachable moment now coming up this next year, no matter who’s in office, because even if it’s Barack Obama, he’s already promised that he will cut that grand bargain, cut Medicare, cut Social Security, cut Medicaid, will continue to offshore our jobs and undermine wages with the next Trans-Pacific Partnership, the mother of all free trade agreements.
The floodgates have been opened [crosstalk] Green Party in this election, and we expect to see people continue to flood into the party to demand a real politics of integrity and to demand the solutions that only the Green Party is calling for.
JAY: Jill, some people and sort of left progressives are making the argument that a lot of effort goes into the Green Party election campaign. You know, you knew going in you had no hope of winning the campaign, and a victory for you is getting the chapters going. But what happens between elections? If is the Green Party primarily an electorial vehicle, how do you sustain something so that an on-the-ground organizing changes things over the next four years?
STEIN: You know, I’m hearing bits and pieces of what you said, and I have to go in a second, so I’ll just quickly respond to some of those bits and pieces. You know, we don’t see the victory here as getting our chapters going. We see the victory here as the politics of courage.
If we continue to sign on to the politics of fear, we will continue getting everything we are afraid of. We will get more of the climate meltdown. It’s not just the climate, stupid, you know, as The Economist ran as their lead story. It’s not just the climate, stupid. It’s the fossil fuels, stupid. And, in fact, it’s the fossil fuel politics that keeps us mired in the fossil fuel.
In the same way, it is the politics of the financial industry that keeps students, an entire generation, locked into being indentured servants. They are not going to hand us our future on a platter, and we are looking at the meltdown of the climate, the continued teetering on the brink of our economy, the continued teetering on the brinkâ€”in fact, the attack, the all-out attack on our civil liberties.
It’s not just okay to stand up and vote and fight for the things that we need. It’s absolutely lifesaving, job-saving, climate-saving. The clock is ticking. They do not have a single exit strategy to offer. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for, as Alice Walker says. She also says the biggest way we give up power is by not knowing that we have it to start with. On every one of these issues, we actually have majority support in poll after poll. It’s time for us to stand up and exert the leadership and the power that we have. The critical event here is flicking the switch in our own minds to recognize the power that we have and to organize on the ground and to organize politically to actually use that power.
STEIN: With that, I will have to leave you. Thank you so much. Really appreciate all that you’re doing to inform and empower voters and to help us create that real politics that goes with The Real News.
JAY: Thanks very much for joining us, Jill.
STEIN: Thank you so much.
JAY: Bye-bye. Okay. Marc Steiner’s still with us. Let’s catch up on what’sâ€”. Let’s catch up on what’sâ€”. (Can you mute this, please, in our ears? Thank you.) So let’s catch up. What’s going on? And can we put that CNN numbers on the bottom again, please?
STEINER: Well, there’s a lot going on. This isâ€”we talked about Virginia a moment ago, just before we went to Jill Stein. And Virginia is leaning towards Romney right now, except the counties in the north that are Obama counties, right by Washington, D.C., only 12 to 15, 20 percent of that vote is in. So Virginia’s still up in the air. All that’s up in the air, in terms of the horse race, as is Ohio up in the air. All these thingsâ€”or the states we’re talking about on the West are just tooâ€”on the East are just tooâ€”too close to call this, in terms of the horse race.
And I think that, you know, I was thinking about what you were just talking about a moment ago, Paul, and with Jill Stein. One thing she said that was rightâ€”the says a lot of things were right, but one of the things you said at the end is that most Americans areâ€”inherently and viscerally take positions that would be considered on the left, but nobody considers themself on the left. But those are the things people want. And I think that’sâ€”I mean, that’s part of whatâ€”.
JAY: Yeah, I think there’s some evidence of that, too. I think one of the things that’s interesting is that we’ll see what the turnout is, but I think it’s not unusual to have at least 35, 40 percent of people don’t vote in presidential elections. Sometimes it’s as high as 50 percent don’t vote. But when they do these polling about how people are going to vote, it’s registered voters, or it’s even likely voters.
But when you actually just poll issues, you’re polling a much broader section of public opinion, including a lot of people who don’t vote in these elections. And when you look at those pollsâ€”I was mentioning one earlier on the show, poll which was do you support preemptive strike, essentially, versus only a defensive posture for America. It was like 70 percent only if there’s a direct attack on the United States should military force be usedâ€”on issue after issue, essentially a progressive left-of-center public opinion in the range of 60, 65 percent, with the exception of capital punishmentâ€”and capital punishment was about a 50-50, and maybe even a 51-52 percent for capital punishmentâ€”but on almost all the other issues what would be considered a left-of-center position. But it never gets reflected in terms of the vote, which always winds up this, you know, crazy 50-50.
STEINER: No, I agree. And I think one of the problems that President Barack Obama faced is that heâ€”since he didn’t take certain positions, that people wouldn’t think [incompr.] left to right, but I think Obama’s as much at fault for his difficulty in being reelectedâ€”I mean, [incompr.] had this close campaignâ€”as are the right-wing Republicans-fueled Tea Party madness, because if he had come out and said, we’re going to have a moratorium on mortgages for the next year until we get this mess straight, I’m not going to allow this to happen, I believe if he had done things like that, closed Guantanamo, which he could have done, stood up to that, I think then they wouldn’t have lost the House, the Democrats [incompr.]
But the reality is is that what we’re watching here is this horse race between these two candidates, and that the real issues are the ones we’re going to be fighting for in this country after this election. [incompr.] one of the reasons why The Real News is here in Baltimore. It’s because it’s on the ground here in these communities where the change is going to take place. And I think that the energy’s out there. You can see it. And I think it has to be galvanized almost outside the mainstream political world, and maybe inside on a local level. And I think thatâ€”.
JAY: Right. I also think we need to start talking about who President Obama represents, who Romney represents. And we began that in the first segment a little bit, about which sections of capital they represent. But I’ve quotedâ€”probably more than anyone I’ve ever quoted on the show I’ve quoted George Will, and it’s my favorite quote of all time. And George Will said in the last election, let’s not get sentimental about Democracy. It’s notâ€”we don’t get to choose whether the elite will rule; we get to choose which elite will rule. And thatâ€”we can’t forget that that’s what we’re talking about. We’re talking about different sections [incompr.] elite. And I think it’s rather clear President Obama was backed by Wall Street with a mission. And one of the reasons he received more money than Hillary Clinton did very early on, which is unusual for the Senator from New York, to raise less money on Wall Street than some upstart senatorâ€”
STEINER: Junior senator from Illinois.
JAY: â€”junior senator from Illinois, was ’cause he was being groomed to deal with the coming crisis, the coming financial crisis, and his first job was to get Geithner and Summers in. His job was to manage this unraveling of the global capitalist system. And from the point of view of the banks, he managed it, and he did it in a way that perhaps a Republican couldn’t have. You know, either a Republican would have been vilified for bailing out the banks, either ’cause he’s bailing out the rich or he would have been vilified from his ownâ€”sections of his own party for you shouldn’t use public money for this sort of thing.
But let me just add one other point to this, which is, if we accept the idea what we’re really deciding is which section of elite is going to rule here, I think if you look at the situation from the global financial crisis and climate-change crisis, this elite really is not fit to rule. They really have no solutions. And theyâ€”both from climate and from economy, they are driving over a cliff, whether it’s a five-year, ten-year massive crisis, or whether it’s several decades of recession.
You can’t have austerity and lower wages and not have recession. And they have no other alternative, ’cause any other alternative means giving up some of their economic power and some of wealth, and that’s not an option for them.
The problem here is if the elites aren’t fit to rule, the problem is neither is anyone else, in the sense that there’s no other class in society, whether it’s workers or others, who are organized enough, ready to do much of anything. And you can see that electorally.
STEINER: I agree, and I think thatâ€”a couple of things. You said a lot there. And when most Americans look at Barack Obama, especially the ones who supportâ€”would be more inclined to support Barack Obama or Democrats than they would Republicans, they see what you’re saying, but they also see that Barack Obama stopped us from going over a cliff. Yeah, he saved it for Wall Street, he saved it for theâ€”patched this hole in the dyke of the capitalist world kind of falling apart around themself, but he saved us from going off a cliff, and that’s how people view it at the moment.
JAY: And there’s some truth to that.
STEINER: There’s some truth to that. And I think thatâ€”now you are seeing this world scrambling, this transnational capitalist world scrambling, trying to figure out how to save itself from itself, and they can’t figure it out. And people are erupting all over the world. And they’re not erupting here at the moment, and little pockets erupting here and there. But I think that that is the issue that will become more and more glaring over the next few years. The question was: in this kind of world where you have media controlled by big business, for the most part, except for, of course, TheRealNews.com, we have media controlled by the [crosstalk]
JAY: And there are a few others. We can’t claim to be the [crosstalk]
STEINER: [crosstalk] Democracy Now! and our showâ€”lots of things are not controlled. But I think that it’s hard for people, not ’cause they’re stupid; because people are not given the information to grasp what their real power is and who has what at stake here. I think that’s part of the problem.
It’s veryâ€”that’s why you see 90 million people not votingâ€”10 million more people than didn’t vote last time. And one of the most fascinating polls came out of Suffolk University, when they analyzed the 90 million unlikely voters, both registered and unregistered. Forty-three percent say they would probably vote for Obama of that 90 millionâ€”forty-three percent. Twenty-three percent said they would consider a third party, and only 14 percent said they would for Mitt Romney. And I think that that says a lot about people who are just disenchanted with the process, you know, what they believe and think. So I think that the fuel is there. People want to see change. It hasn’t been galvanized.
JAY: I mean, I’veâ€”talking to peopleâ€”we had a couple of journalists go to some areas where people were in working-class districts that were likely to vote for Romney, trying to find out why. I mean, I’m sure someâ€”if there are any Republicans watching this tonight, they will disagree with what I’m about to say, but maybe they won’t. Objectively you can measure it. If Romney’s policies are followed, it will be worse for workers. It’s not that Obama’s been great for workers, but it will be worse under Romney. And you can do the math. You can see what these kind of austerity measures would take. There’s simply no evidence that the wealthy keeping more money leads to more jobs. And if they don’t do something on the demand side of higher wages, we’re going to be just in stagnation. So you combine that with massive cuts in public spending, and this economy’s going to be dead for quite some time to come.
But the problem is that people that areâ€”you say this to people, and it sounds like, oh, I can’t get that, and it’s, like, just more information out there. And so [incompr.] choices become, like, faith-based. You know, like, now you justâ€”I believe that this will be better. Or it’s not a positive thing. It’s just, like, it’s been so bad, I just got to go with the other guy, and Obama’s a failure.
STEINER: But I think it is faith-based in a lot of ways. I think that what you’re seeing is an America that is really deeply divided, as I said earlier in the program, and deeply divided becauseâ€”for a number of reasons.
America is shifting, and it’s shifting in terms of demographics, it’s shifting in terms of the racial makeup of the nation. And I think this is frightening to another group of people in America. And the people in power are able to fuel those things to bring people to them, so that you see a multiracial Democratic Party. You look at their convention, and it feels likeâ€”for those who like that, it feels like what America should be.
You look at the Republican Party convention, it’s almost all white. It feels to them like what America should be. And that is fueled by both people who are kind of backing those parties with their money. But what they’re tapping into is the emotion of people in America who have very different views about what it means to be in America.
I think you’re seeing aâ€”in many literal waysâ€”I mean, look at the map, look at the electoral map. The electoral map, where the Democrats winâ€”I’m going to take it back to our 19th centuryâ€”where the Democrats win, except for a few states where they’re battling, it’s the Union. Where the conservatives win, where the Republicans win, it’s the Confederacy. [incompr.] it’s not that simplistic, but there’s a lot there, you know, thatâ€”.
Someone said in an article I read the other day thatâ€”he said that the Republicans were the party of Lincoln. And I think a lot of people are going to hate me for this, but the Republicans are the party of Lincoln, were the party of Lincoln, but now they’re the party of the people who assassinated Lincoln.
And that is the visceral thing in America. Thatâ€”you know, we’re still fighting the Civil War in the United States of America. And that is part of what’s going on here at a very fundamental level, and it has not been translated into any kind of movement for change, because you don’t have the union base you had in the ’30s, you don’t have the fight against segregation that broke out in the ’50s and ’60s in America. And it isâ€”when thatâ€”some people galvanize for change.
JAY: There’s one problem. There’s only one problem. If we’re refighting or still fighting the Civil War here, the Democratic Party, even though it’s led by an African-American, it’s not led by a militant abolitionist, if you want to keep the metaphor going.
STEINER: No, it’s not, no, it’s not.
JAY: So there’s a problem here.
STEINER: But they may force Lincoln to become an abolitionist at the end.
JAY: Alright. We’re going to keep going here. So we’ll take a short break. We’ll be back. We’ll talk about some of the results. Thanks for joining us on The Real News Network. We’ll be back in just a couple of minutes.
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