Please tell us about yourself and about your experience organizing in the Green Party
I am a retired Teamster living in Syracuse, New York. I have been active in movements for civil rights, peace, labor, and the environment since the 1960s growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area. Repelled by the racism in both major parties, I was asking in 1964, “Where is my party?” I became committed then to independent working-class politics for a democratic, socialist, and ecological society.
I have been active in the Green Party since participating in the first national meeting to organize a US Green Party in St. Paul, Minnesota in August 1984. As a Green Party candidate many times for local office in Syracuse, my vote grew from 3% for at-large councilor in 1993 to 48% for a district council seat in 2011. In 2015, I received 35% of the citywide vote for city auditor.
I was the first US candidate to campaign for a Green New Deal in 2010. That campaign was first of three times the Green Party of New York nominated me to run for governor in 2010, 2014, and 2018. Each time we received enough votes to qualify the Green Party for a ballot line for the next four years.
My articles on politics, economics, and environmental issues have appeared in Against the Current, Black Agenda Report, CounterPunch, Green Politics, International Socialist Review, Labor Notes, New Politics, Peace and Democracy News, Roll Call, Society and Nature, Z Magazine, and many other publications. I am the editor of, and a contributor to, Independent Politics: The Green Party Strategy Debate (Haymarket Books, 2006). I have a new ebook just published by my campaign, The Case for an Independent Left Party: From the Bottom Up.
Why are you seeking the Green Party nomination for President?
I am running because I was asked to run by Greens across the country. My campaign has two basic purposes: putting Green solutions into the national debate and building the Green Party.
Green Solutions: I am leading with three programs to address immediate life-or-death issues.
Ecosocialist Green New Deal: To avert climate catastrophe, I have published on my campaign website a program and budget for a full-strength Green New Deal to achieve zero-to-negative greenhouse gas emissions and 100% clean energy by 2030.
Economic Bill of Rights: Inequality kills. Working-class life expectancy is declining in the US due to economic inequality and despair that has been growing for 45 years. The Economic Bill of Rights provides government guarantees of a living-wage job, an income above poverty, affordable housing, comprehensive health care, lifelong public education, and a secure retirement.
Nuclear Disarmament Initiatives: The new nuclear arms race is an immediate threat to our existence and none of the presidential candidates are talking about it. I am making it a top campaign issue for 2020. I call for a US pledge of No First Use, unilateral nuclear disarmament to a Minimum Credible Deterrent, and, on the basis of those tension-reducing initiatives, mobilizing world public opinion behind urgent negotiations among the world’s nine nuclear powers for mutual and complete nuclear disarmament.
I am also answering the invariable accusations by media and Democrats that a Green presidential ticket will “spoil” the election with the solution to the spoiler problem: replacement of the Electoral College and plurality winner system with a ranked-choice national popular vote for president.
In order to force Green solutions into the national debate, we need to be on the ballot with credible levels of funding and organization to make a difference. That means building the Green Party in 2020 in the following ways:
Ballot Status in all 50 States and DC: My campaign was helping states with paid and volunteer petitioners until the COVID-19 stay-at-home measures made street petitioning untenable. My campaign has assembled a team of lawyers and ballot access activists who are helping the state parties appeal to state government leaders for relief from petitioning and placement on the ballot, and if state governments fail to provide relief, we are suing in court for relief.
Federal Primary Matching Funds: My campaign is the only presidential campaign in any party that is seriously seeking to qualify for this program. It will double all contributions up to a cumulative $250 from individuals, which will be crucial to support our ballot access efforts in particular, which now will involve legal fees in many states.
Organizing: My campaign is encouraging and helping local Greens focus on organizing, not just mobilizing. If the Green Party is going to become a major party and force in American politics, it needs to do more than just mobilize its existing base for issue and election campaigns. We need to broaden our base among the working class, youth, and people of color, the people who participate in public affairs and vote in lower numbers. We are helping Greens learn the practices that union and community organizers use to build and maintain diverse organizations. We are projecting a goal for the Green Party of building the party from the bottom up by electing thousands of Greens to local, state, and then congressional offices as we go into the 2020s.
What is your reaction to the response or proposed responses to COVID-19 from Donald Trump, Joe Biden, and Bernie Sanders? What response do you think needs to happen in response to this national pandemic/crisis to avoid history repeating itself if pandemics become the new normal?
Trump’s response is negligent homicide. Biden is AWOL except to say it is “too harsh” to say Trump has blood on his hands because of his incompetent and self-serving response. Sanders was right to call for Medicare to pay for all COVID-19 treatments.
To respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and be prepared for future pandemics, I am calling for:
– Medicare to immediately start paying for COVID-19 testing and treatment.
– Using the Defense Production Act to immediately enact a federally-guided plan to produce and distribute medical resources—tests, personal protective equipment, hospital beds, ventilators—to where they are needed.
– An improved Medicare for All program so every person can afford the medical care they need.
– Increase funding for CDC, NHS, HHS, NSC, and other agencies that work on global infectious disease and public health programs.
– Socialize the pharmaceutical and medical supply industries as public utilities supplying the healthcare system what it needs at cost for public benefit, particularly the research and development of vaccines, antivirals, and antibiotics that the private pharmaceutical industry has stopped doing.
– Enact a permanent, universal system of paid leave for sickness and family care.
– Convert 75% of the military budget to providing health, human services, and environmental protection at home and abroad.
The economic response to the coronavirus depression should include:
– A Crash Program of Testing, Contact Tracing, and Quarantining of the Infected in order to establish as soon as possible a safe basis for re-opening the economy.
– A Moratorium on Evictions and Foreclosures during the coronavirus economic shutdown.
– A Rent, Mortgage, and Utilities Forbearance Program for the duration of the economic shutdown where households and businesses only make payments they can afford and the federal government pays the difference in a way that is progressively scaled to household and business income.
– Federal Universal Rent Control for the duration, like the US did during the World War II emergency.
– A Guaranteed Minimum Income Above Poverty
– The full Economic Bill of Rights to end poverty and economic despair with government programs to guarantee not only income, but also jobs, housing, health care, education, and retirement.
-A full-strength Green New Deal to spur economic recovery as well as confront the climate crisis.
– Monetary Reform that replaces the Federal Reserve System and debt-based government funding with a Monetary Authority in the US Treasury Department charged with gearing the money supply to the real needs of commerce and the people by issuing public money—United States Notes, or Greenbacks, in paper and digital form—that are spent into the economy through the federal budget.
Many citizens of Colorado experience negative health reactions (i.e. asthma, elevated rates of cancer, etc.) because of the practices of the fossil fuel industry, what consequences should there be when this occurs?
The fossil fuel industry should be nationalized so a democratically-accountable public authority can ensure that what fossil fuels still need to be used during the transition to 100% clean energy are produced as cleanly as possible and that the revenues from fossil fuels are reinvested in renewables instead of more coal, oil, and gas infrastructure and production.
Pending nationalization, the federal government should enforce the laws on the books against air and water pollution by fossil fuel companies. The laws should be strengthened to hold the executives of fossil fuel companies personally criminally liable for breaking those laws.
In Colorado just one fracking pad uses one to five million gallons of water per year. There are 60,000 wells now in Colorado and more are being built. What is your plan of action to address this impact to our state’s environment?
Enact a federal ban of fracking.
Enforce water pollution laws against fracking pads and make the industry pay for clean up.
How do you plan to address people who work for the oil/gas industry to ease their fears/doubts about transitioning away from carbon fuels?
Enact a Just Transition program that guarantees all workers displaced by the transition away from fossil fuels to clean energy at least five years of previous wages and benefits until they find comparable work or retire.
The budget for the Ecosocialist Green New Deal projects the creation of 38 million new jobs to implement the energy transition. There will be plenty of jobs for oil and gas industry workers to go to.
What is your stance on “border security” and the role of ICE?
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (BPE) should be abolished and replaced with a new immigration agency with personnel committed to an Open Borders policy. Too many people staffing ICE and BPE have a documented record of racism and abuse toward immigrants for those agencies to continue.
What is your position regarding DACA?
The federal government should end its defense in court of Trump’s executive order attempting to end the DACA program. The federal government should start properly administering the program.
What is your plan to revamp the immigration system?
I support a policy of Open Borders where movement between nations is free, like it is within the European Union. International borders should be authentic fair-trade zones where people are free to travel across borders for work, shopping, recreation, and residence. People crossing international borders would be required to present their identification at a border crossing. Only people wanted for criminal charges would be detained. People who cross without checking in at a border crossing would be prosecuted for illegal entry. Open borders will benefit the US and Latin American economies and will uphold the basic human right of freedom of movement.
What would be your immediate first steps to address the crisis at the US/Mexico border and in Central America?
I would immediately repeal Trump’s immigration executive orders. The detention camps would be immediately closed and the migrants freed. The status of undocumented immigrants would be legalized and immigrants provided a timely path to citizenship.
What is your response to the immigration practices of Democrats and Republicans? How is your position different from Trump and Obama?
The “border security” policies of the Democrats and Republicans are about using the border to divide and conquer workers on both sides of the border, not protecting us from terrorists and illicit drug runners. The lower wages outside the US are used against US workers by employers who threaten to—and often do—move abroad when US workers demand better wages, benefits, and working conditions. Preventing the free movement of labor hinders cross-border organizing by workers to raise wages across borders to a common high level.
I want migrants and immigrants to stay as long as they wish. Obama, the “deporter in chief” focused aggressively on removing recent arrivals and criminals without publicly demeaning immigrants. Trump goes after every immigrant no matter long they have been in the US and has publicly and consistently demonized immigrants since his first campaign announcement. Trump’s anti-immigrant bigotry has instigated violence against immigrants by white racist terrorists, who have committed by far the most acts of terrorism in the United States. “Border security” didn’t stop them. Law enforcement should.
Beyond simply reversing the policies Trump put in place, what plans and ideas do you have to help asylum seekers and to strengthen family reunification?
The federal government should devote the resources necessary to swiftly re-unite families that have been separated. The migrants seeking asylum and immigration now at the southern border should be let into the United States immediately.
Knowing how unjust and inaccurate the criminal justice system can be, what would you do to protect all immigrants, even those with a criminal record?
I would increase funding for public defenders through a federal program that ensures everyone, including immigrants, can have good legal representation in criminal cases. The program would ensure that public defenders are paid the same as prosecutors in the same jurisdictions.
Tech companies receive large contracts to support the immigration system, and those contracts keep getting bigger each year. What will you do about tech’s role in immigration and policing?
The problem is rooted in immigration and policing policies, not tech contractors as such. If we change to legitimate immigration and policing policies, the work contractors do will be legitimate.
The big problem with tech is data mining. Our personal data should be our personal property, not that of government or tech, as Edward Snowden has emphasized. I would pardon Snowden and ask him to join the administration to develop policies and programs for legitimate intelligence gathering that do not violate privacy rights.
If immigration detention facilities cannot guarantee the safety of detainees and in particular vulnerable populations, what solution do you propose to address those people in detention centers who catch COVID-19 or experience other medical/mental health problems?
I would immediately release migrants from the detention centers. Medicare would cover COVID-19 treatment and the other health problems of migrants.
Do you support adapting elections nationwide by implementing nationwide mail-ballots? How would you support implementation of Ranked Choice Voting?
The uncertainties of the coronavirus pandemic make mail-in balloting the only way to ensure all voters can vote in November. The federal government should enact a program with funding and standards to mail all registered voters a mail-in ballot for the November election. The program should provide sufficient funding to print and pay postage for tens of millions of mail-in ballots and envelopes, including postage for pre-paid return envelopes. It should ensure that all registered voters receive a ballot automatically, can request a replacement if they don’t, and can return it by Election Day. It should provide sufficient funding to ensure that the human and technological resources, like ballot scanners to count votes quickly and accurately are in place. This program should be enacted immediately in order to get the system in place by the November election. The mail-in ballot program will have the added benefit of creating an auditable paper trail for recounts.
I am calling for a constitutional amendment to abolish the electoral college and replace it with a ranked-choice national popular vote for president. I am making this demand a leading issue in my campaign. To those who say a constitutional amendment is impossible, I say look at how the 27th Amendment, which prohibits congressional pay raises from taking effect until after the next congressional election, swept through the states in the 1980s. Even though it had been introduced over 202 years earlier as part of the original Bill of Rights, it was an idea whose time had come. We have to make a ranked-choice national popular vote for president an idea whose time has now come.
When voters are relocated due to disruptive events such as natural disaster or imprisonment, how should the federal government ensure voting rights follow the voter?
I would require states to make printable mail-in ballots available online. I would require under an all-mail general election program that the post office be required to extend indefinitely mail forwarding for election ballots.
Which other voting reforms do you view as vital?
– Proportional Representation in the US House: Each party elects representatives in proportion to its total vote in multi-member districts.
– Ranked-Choice Elections US Senators: Federal legislation to require each state elect its US senators by ranked-choice voting. The US Senate is the most disproportional and undemocratic elected legislative chamber in the world. It should be abolished or made proportional to state populations. Because the US Constitution requires unanimous consent of the US Senate to change its own composition, it will require a constitutional amendment to abolish or make the US Senate proportional to population.
– Fair Ballot Access: Federal legislation to require each state to enable a new party or any independent candidate to qualify for the ballot through a petition of no greater than 1/10th of 1% of the total vote cast in the district in the last gubernatorial election, with a 10,000 signature maximum.
– We The People Amendment: The We The People Amendment pending in Congress would repeal the Corporate-Personhood and Money-Is-Speech legal doctrines and establish that only human beings, not corporations, are natural persons entitled to constitutional rights, including the right to vote, and that money is property, not protected speech. This amendment would repeal the Buckley v. Valeo, Citizens United v. FEC, and McCutcheon v. FEC decisions that have increased the domination of campaign financing by the super-rich and the giant corporations and further corrupted elections with “dark money” from unknown sources.
– Right to Vote Constitutional Amendment: As the Bush v. Gore decision by the US Supreme Court stated in 2000, there is no right to vote in the US Constitution. A Right to Vote Amendment will give voters stronger legal recourse against voter suppression measures.
– Restore the Preclearance Provision to the Voting Rights Act: The striking down of the preclearance provision of the Voting Rights Act by the US Supreme Court has instigated widespread voter suppression policies in the states. Congress should enact legislation to restore the preclearance provision.
– Mandatory Voting: Vote or pay a moderate fine, as practiced in Australia, Belgium, and much of Latin America. Mandatory voting will be a strong suppressor of voter suppression laws and practices.
– Voting Rights for Felons: People convicted of felony crimes should retain their voting rights during imprisonment and parole and after. Allowing felons to vote is part of the rehabilitation process of reintegrating them into society.
– None of the Above (NOTA): A NOTA option on all ballots. If NOTA wins, it triggers a new election with new candidates.
– DC Statehood: Taxation without representation is tyranny.
– Public Campaign and Party Financing: Equal public campaign financing grants and free broadcast media time for all ballot-qualified candidates who agree not to use private money. Equal free broadcast media time for party broadcasts. Public financing of parties through matching funds for party dues and small donations up to $300 a year.
– Automatic Voter Registration: Make it the responsibility of the state governments to register all qualified citizens.
– Same-Day Registration: Allow eligible voters to register to vote and cast their ballots on the same day.
– Election Day Holidays: Make election days state holidays to enable more people to vote.
– Early Voting: Allow in-person voting for a designated period before election days to enable more people to vote.
– No-Excuse Absentee Voting: Allow early mail-in balloting for a designated period before election days to enable more people to vote.
– Eliminate Mandatory Primaries: Allow parties the right to nominate by membership convention instead of state-run primaries in which anybody can register in a party in closed primary states or take a party’s primary ballot in open primary states and vote on the party’s nominations, even if the voter’s politics are opposed to the party they are voting in.
Many in Colorado see charter schools as a threat to students from families in low socioeconomic households while others see them as viable alternatives to public schools. What is your stance on this issue? Do you have any other ideas in the realm of education reform to help innovate education beyond the traditional K-12 paradigm?
I oppose privately-managed charter schools because they drain money from public schools. Charters are no more public schools than Lockheed Martin is a nationalized corporation just because 90% of its revenues come from Pentagon contracts. Student achievement in charters is no better than public schools on average despite charters’ ability and tendency to expel students who perform poorly. No new charters should be established and those that are performing poorly should be closed.
Educators have many innovative ideas for improving education. These can be done in public schools.
First, educational policy should be made primarily by teachers and parents through locally elected school boards. Mayoral and state control of schools have become a way of closing public schools and imposing educational policies, especially charter school privatization, from the top down. Local parents and teachers have more interest in good local schools than top-down administrators.
Second, we must end high-stakes testing, which has reduced education to teaching to the test. It punishes students, teachers, and schools in high-poverty school districts simply for being poor. The punishment is often school closures or privatization into charters. High-stakes testing is the front edge of the charter school privatization agenda. High-stakes testing takes away from the many other qualities that should be developed by an education, including intellectual self-confidence, creativity, critical thinking, problem solving, teamwork, and tolerance.
What is your plan to address student loan debt?
I would establish a progressively graduated repayment program of 10% of income above the poverty line for 20 years after leaving school, after which all remaining debt would be forgiven. The federal government can do this because 92% of student loans are federal. The program would take possession of the remaining 8% of student loans. This program would cover student debt for tuition incurred going forward at accredited private institutions.
For public institutions, I support free tuition.
I support expansion of the Pell Grant program to cover for low-and moderate-income students the non-tuition and fee costs of both public and private institutions, including housing, utilities, books, personal computers, supplies, transportation, and other normal student and living expenses.
I oppose forgiving all student debt because working-class people should not pay for all the loans of wealthy students and high-income graduates, such as a Harvard graduate who goes to work for Goldman Sachs as a researcher or financial analyst with a starting salary of $75,000.
Decriminalization of Sex Work
The Denver Green Party’s platform calls for the decriminalization of sex work, and a platform plank change failed in the National Committee in 2017 without achieving a super majority of votes. What is your position?
I support the decriminalization of sex work. Adult, voluntary, and consensual sex should not be a crime. When it involves a commercial transaction for sexual services, it should not be a crime for either those who get paid or those who pay. Criminalizing adult consensual sex of any kind is incompatible with the human rights to personal autonomy and privacy. Sex workers should have the same protections and rights to organize as any other workers.
Human trafficking and sexual exploitation of children are not sex work. They are crimes. They should always be investigated and prosecuted.
Would you be supportive of creating Public Banking? If so, how would you work to make this a reality?
I support public banking at the municipal, state, and federal levels. At the federal level, I support nationalizing the big six US banks by taking a controlling interest in JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, and Morgan Stanley. These banks control over half of US banking assets, deposits, and personal and business accounts. When banks fail, public money to revive them should become equity that gives the public representation on their boards of directors.
Federal public banks will extend consumer credit without discrimination and redlining and business lending will prioritize financing the zero-waste, clean-energy production systems that the Green New Deal will build.
A new Glass-Steagall Act should be enacted to separate commercial depository banking from speculative investment banking in order to protect deposits from losses on risky financial investments.
I support reinstituting the postal banking system the US had from 1911 to 1967 (where I had my first savings account). The US Postal Service should offer at its post offices checking and savings accounts, debit cards, direct deposit, online banking services, and low-interest consumer loans. Postal banking will be especially helpful to low-income people and communities who now have no banking services because the commercial banks do not find it as profitable to serve them, leaving these communities vulnerable to pay-day loans and other predatory lending schemes.
How do you view yourself in terms of economic philosophy (capitalist, socialist, etc.) and in what direction would you like to see the national Green Party move?
I am a democratic and ecological socialist. I believe socialist economic democracy based on social ownership of the major means of production is the best way to ensure political democracy. Concentrated economic power translates into concentrated political power. Democracy needs socialism.
Ecology needs socialism. Capitalism’s institutionalized drive for endless profits and growth is incompatible with ecological sustainability on a finite planet. We need socialist economic democracy so that we the people—not private corporate tyrannies—have the power to choose to meet everyone’s basic needs within ecological limits.
Justice needs socialism. Capitalism is institutionalized theft. Workers receive a fixed wage and all the surplus value they create is taken by the ownership class. Socialism means workers receive the full fruits of their labor. It means an equitable distribution of income to those who work, not unearned income to owners who don’t have to work.
Economic security needs socialism. Capitalism is prone to economic crises due to over-investment in booms and under-investment in busts. Socialist democratic planning enables us to direct the right amount of investment to the right places, notably for completing a Green New Deal on a fast 10-year time table—and now, for producing and distributing medical resources in time to where they are needed to address the coronavirus pandemic.
Peace needs socialism. Capitalist competition extends into the international arena as imperialism and wars. Competing nation-states and corporations enlist their home-nation militaries to compete for control of labor, resources, markets, and governments around the world, often leading to war. Socialist internationalism creates the basis for international cooperation in solving common problems like climate change, pandemics, poverty, and the threat of nuclear war.
Economy and Jobs
Our current and immediate past governors tout Colorado’s state economy as being strong, but upon examination, it’s clear that the economy is built on the service industry, which is also tied to Colorado’s environment. What is your understanding of Colorado’s economy, what are the potential pitfalls, and what can the President do to assist Colorado’s future economic focus?
Colorado’s economy is relatively diverse but suffers from the same maladies that plague the overall US economy: high income inequality; high levels of low-wage, low-hours, no-benefit jobs; racial and gender discrimination in employment, education, and housing; underinvestment in infrastructure, education, public services, and anti-poverty programs.
The biggest pitfall for Colorado is its commitment to fracking for oil and gas that pollutes the environment and that is vulnerable to boom and bust due to market volatility and the coming transition to clean energy.
A president could help Colorado’s economic future with:
– A federal ban on fracking to protect Colorado’s environment and economic stability.
– The Green Economy Reconstruction Program in the Ecosocialist Green New Deal to create new economic activity and living-wage jobs retrofitting buildings with heat pumps; building new public housing; building clean Green New Deal factories; building intra-city commuter, freight, and inter-city high-speed electrified rail networks; and converting farms and ranches to organic regenerative methods.
– The Economic Bill of Rights in the Ecosocialist Green New Deal to end poverty and economic despair in the working class.
– A Just Transition Program for oil and gas, military, and other workers displaced in the transition to the sustainable production of civilian goods and services that guarantees up to five years of previous wages and benefits until comparable work is obtained or retirement.
– Stronger enforcement of anti-discrimination laws to enable women and minorities to have equal opportunities for jobs, education, equal pay, and housing.
– Stronger enforcement of environmental laws to protect Colorado’ air, water, forests, and open spaces, the environmental assets that are so important to the state’s tourism sector.
What is your position on the new USMCA trade deal? How do you foresee its ratification impacting Colorado’s economy?
I oppose the USMCA, the renewed NAFTA. It continues a corporate-managed trade system that hurts workers, consumers, the environment, and democracy.
The USMCA retains the secretive authoritarian Investor-State Dispute Settlement process from NAFTA that includes corporations and states and excludes labor unions and the public. That enables the deregulatory agenda of big business.
USMCA favors corporate agribusiness over small farmers and ranchers working the land.
Labor standards will remain as unenforceable under USMCA as under NAFTA.
USMCA overprotects patent and copyright intellectual property monopolies at the expense of consumers.
USMCA is a climate killer that enables Big Energy to frack the hell out of the whole continent, to build more pipelines and other infrastructure to move oil and gas to refineries, and then burn it for power and transportation. It’s the protection of fracking and the oil and gas industry is where Colorado will feel it most.
What is your view on the de-commodification of housing? If you are in favor of this, what are the land reforms you would like to see?
I support the progressive decommodification of housing. Quality affordable housing should be a human right, not something you get only if you can afford to pay for it.
My Ecosocialist Green New Deal calls for a 10-year, $2.5 trillion program to create 25 million new units of public housing. This public housing will be mixed-income with professional, working-class, and low-income people living in the same developments. 40% of the units will be reserved for low-income people who are today short nearly 10 million units of housing they can afford. After ten years, public housing would become about 20% of all housing units, up from 1% today, and force the private market to compete on price with public housing provided at cost instead of cost plus profit.
In the private market, I favor the decommodification of housing through Community Land Trusts. By capturing the unearned increase in value of the land underneath buildings for the common use of the community land trust through a ground lease, the cost of the use value of a building for living is separated from the price of the exchange value (commodification) that the building can command on the market for landlords and sellers.
I also favor land value taxation to accomplish the same end across society, but I would structure the Land Value Tax to support the grassroots democracy of CLTs. Specifically, the federal government can promote CLTs with the following measures:
– Establish a HUD Community Land Trust Development Program to provide grants, loans, and technical and organizing assistance for CLT development. The program should pay for community organizers to help develop community participation and ensure that professional staff work is under the direction of the community, not grantmakers. The goal is to build neighborhood governments for grassroots political and economic democracy.
– USDA Reparations for Black Farmers: Establish within the USDA a program to help black farmers acquire land and develop farms and cooperative farms on CLTs.
– Dedicate a National Land Value Tax to Neighborhood Governments with Community Land Trusts: Establish a national Land Value Tax on the unearned increase in land values due to social investments and improvements. A national Land Value Tax would achieve the same protection as CLTs do from rising land values due to social investments that can price home and business owners off of their land. The Land Value Tax would go to Community Land Trusts where they are organized, thus incentivizing the creation of Neighborhood Governments with Community Land Trusts as a foundation for grassroots political and economic democracy at the neighborhood level.
– Allocate a Portion of Federal Income Taxes to Neighborhood Governments with Community Land Trusts: Allow members of Community Land Trusts to give a portion of their Federal Income Taxes to their Neighborhood Government with a Community Land Trust. This tax policy would also incentivize the creation of Neighborhood Governments.
What is your reaction to the Georgia Green Party’s recent vote on medical treatments for transgender people?
I issued a public statement urging the Georgia Green Party to reconsider their position. I believe trans rights are human rights and should not be counterposed to women’s rights.
Do you support reparations? If so, please describe how they should be distributed.
I support reparations for African Americans. It is time to enact the longstanding reparations bill in Congress, the Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African-Americans Act (HR40/S1083). A study commission is an important next step for many reasons, including enabling African-Americans to study and state what they need and want in a reparations program. The study commission should not be an excuse for the federal government delaying reparations that have already been committed, such as for the land and farms lost by black farmers due to USDA discrimination.
I think any serious study of reparations will conclude that they should be distributed as a combination of individual reparations to African-Americans and collective reparations to African-American institutions.
Obviously, African-American families are due compensation for centuries of unpaid labor under slavery and under-paid labor due to discrimination after slavery. Most African-American families, whose average net wealth is about $20,000 and 1/10th that of whites, need additional wealth for economic security.
But if only cash reparations are given to African-American families in a society that remains based on a capitalist economy with entrenched institutional racism, the disparities in income and wealth are likely to be reproduced. That is why the Black Manifesto presented by SNCC veteran James Forman at the National Black Economic Development Conference in Detroit in 1969, which sparked the contemporary reparations movement, demanded that churches and synagogues make reparations with funding for a Southern black land bank, black publishing and printing industries, black TV and radio stations, and a black research center.
I believe a mix of individual and collective reparations should be considered by the reparations commission.
Colorado sits on land originally inhabited by the Utes, Cheyenne, Arapahoe and other peoples. What is your plan of action regarding indigenous peoples in what is now the United States?
My plan is to honor the Treaty Rights of American Indians and Mexican Americans (under the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo).
There are more than 6 million indigenous people living in the United States and its territories—American Indian, Pacific Islander, and Caribbean. They represent 573 federally-recognized Indian nations, plus state-recognized nations, unrecognized nations, Mexican-Americans with land rights established by treaty, and Pacific Island peoples.
Each group has a distinctive history of colonization since European contact, including obligations taken on by the US government in 370 ratified treaties, which vary from nation to nation but generally grant internal governmental powers to the nations and obligate the federal government to provide education, health care, housing, and other services and to protect Indian nations’ resources, such as land, timber, water, and hunting and fishing rights.
The US should honor the treaty obligations it has taken on, reconsider the Indian treaties it never ratified, grant federal recognition to unrecognized nations, and respect the self-determination of Pacific Islander and Caribbean territories.
Federal funding must be increased to meet the social services obligations in the treaties.
Land stolen in violation of ratified treaties must be returned.
Can you speak to racism and intersectionality and how you plan to address these issues in your presidency?
All forms of domination and discrimination against oppressed groups must be opposed. These different forms of hierarchy and domination reinforce each other. We must oppose all without counterposing any form of oppression against any other.
Immediate measures must include:
Strengthening and enforcing antidiscrimination laws in the political, employment, education, housing, immigration, and criminal justice systems.
Enacting the Equality Act, which will extend federal antidiscrimination protections to LGBT people by prohibiting discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity in public accommodations and facilities, education, federal funding, employment, housing, and credit.
Securing a woman’s right to abortion by codifying Roe v. Wade in federal law.
To address racism specifically, ending racial oppression requires both race-specific remedies and universal economic rights that are guaranteed by the government in a race-conscious way.
We must take affirmative action to reverse the growing race and class resegregation of housing and schools.
The solution to white racism is black power. We must empower racially-oppressed communities to practice self-determination through collective community ownership and control of public housing, schools, police, and businesses.
Racist attitudes can be deeply ingrained and slow to change. But we can disempower the racists by empowering oppressed communities so that they are no longer subject to the decisions of the racists among employers, bankers, landlords, real estate agents, union business agents, lawyers, judges, police, and assorted professional-managerial gatekeepers, including politicians.
Empowerment means democratic community control so that the masses of racially-oppressed people participate and benefit, not merely a more “representative” professional-managerial class that simply replaces the white professional-managerial class in soaking up most of the funding in salaries, grants, and contracts. Our goal should be equality, not merely “diversity” within the unequal social hierarchies of capitalism.
Universal economic human rights will undermine the material basis of white racism based on fear of economic competition from oppressed groups. The Economic Bill of Rights must provide universal programs for economic security in a race-conscious way that guarantees that all people without discrimination have the rights to a living-wage job, an income above poverty, decent housing, comprehensive health care, a good education, and a secure retirement.
That is what the socialist leaders of the black freedom movement—A. Philip Randolph, Bayard Rustin, Martin Luther King Jr., and others—demanded as they moved “from civil rights to human rights.” They believed that in order to secure the civil rights of black people, they had to lead a movement for the economic rights of all people. With the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, the 1966 Freedom Budget, and the 1968 Poor People’s Campaign, they demanded the implementation of FDR’s Economic Bill of Rights, updated to prohibit racial discrimination in education, employment, and housing.
By linking racial justice to economic justice for all, we can build a majoritarian interracial movement of working people that can win these reforms.
How would your administration address the epidemic of police violence against people of oppressed communities?
I would provide federal leadership and funding to encourage community control of the police. I have enumerated ten ways that can be done in a policy paper on Community Control of the Police that is on my website and published in Black Agenda Report. Crime has declined steadily for 30 years but police killings remain stable at about 1,000 a year. Review boards haven’t worked. It is time to bring the police under community control.
I would also push for the Jonny Gammage Law that Greens have campaigned for since 1995. Gammage was a young black man from my city of Syracuse who was suffocated to death by suburban Pittsburgh police, who were never punished. The Jonny Gammage Law would bring in a federal Department of Justice investigation for every case where police are accused of violating the human rights, including violence and death, of a citizen. Local district attorneys and state attorneys general are too close to local and state law enforcement to do an independent investigation.
White racist organizations have been systematically recruiting their followers into the military and law enforcement agencies. Community control would enable local communities to rid police departments of racists and sadists.
The federal government must do the same in the military and federal law enforcement agencies, starting with ICE and the Border Patrol. Federal law enforcement and national security agencies, including the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, and the National Security Council, should devote more of their resources to monitoring and prosecuting crimes by white racist terrorists.
A portion of Colorado’s economy is based on the defense industry, including companies like Martin Marietta, Lockheed Martin, as well as the presence of several military installations like the US Air Force Academy and NORAD. What is the federal government’s role in helping Colorado transition away from such industries?
I am calling for a 75% cut in US military spending accompanied by a Peace Conversion program to develop alternative uses for military/industrial facilities and a Just Transition program to guarantee displaced defense workers and members of the armed services at least five years support at their previous wages and benefits until they find comparable work or retire.
Do you support the United States’ continued participation in NATO? Why or why not?
The US should withdraw from NATO, which it effectively runs. NATO is not acting as a defensive alliance but as a military platform for intervention and regime change operations in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. Its newest aggressive war, which began last fall, was by NATO-member Turkey, which invaded northern and eastern Syria in alliance with ISIS and Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, Syria’s native al Qaeda derivative, in an attempt to destroy self-governing communities in Idlib and especially Kurdish-majority Rojava.
The Denver Green Party was the first Colorado political party to endorse Denver’s Initiative 301, the decriminalization of psilocybin mushrooms, which has resulted in similar legislation being adopted in Oakland and Santa Cruz, CA. Some advocate for psychedelics being implemented in a traditional medical setting (therapist’s office), while others advocate for people being able to treat themselves at home without medical supervision/guidance. What direction do you think the federal government should pursue on the potential of psychedelics being used medicinally?
I support decriminalization of psilocybin mushrooms and other psychedelics. Decriminalization renders the question of medical treatment or self-treatment moot from a legal point of view. The federal government should fund research and remove barriers to research on the medical applications of psychedelics.
What other drug policy reforms do you see as necessary (outside of psychedelics)?
Drug abuse should be treated as a health problem, not a criminal problem.
I support federal legislation to legalize, tax, and regulate marijuana.
I support decriminalizing the use and possession for personal use of hard drugs on the model of Portugal’s drug policy. It would eliminate criminal penalties for low-level possession and consumption of all illicit drugs and treat these activities as violations.
A person found in possession of personal-use amounts of hard drugs will no longer be arrested, but ordered to appear before a local “dissuasion commission”—comprised of a lawyer, a doctor, and a social worker—who take a health-centered approach. The commission determines whether and to what extent the person is addicted and can refer that person to a voluntary treatment program and social services, or order payment of a fine or other administrative sanctions.
Drug trafficking would remain illegal and processed through the criminal justice system.
Since Portugal instituted this program in 2001, the number of people voluntarily entering treatment increased and overdose deaths, HIV infections, problematic drug use, and incarceration for drug-related offenses plummeted.
Decriminalization and drug treatment on demand are the best way to stem the epidemic of deaths from opioid overdoses.
I support freedom and criminal record expungement for all drug war prisoners who have been convicted for non-violent drug offenses. The savings from reduced incarceration should be invested in re-entry support for former prisoners and for reparations for the communities most damaged by mass incarceration.