11/02/20: ‘Stop voting from a place of fear’ – the other candidates deserve a hearing – openDemocracy

The following is an excerpt:

“Which candidates are actually talking about measures that will change the system that enables police to continually murder Black people and other people of colour with impunity? The system, this system, is inherently flawed. And we are the only party talking about that.”

That’s Angela Walker, Green Party candidate for vice-president. She’s on the ticket in thirty states, yet most voters have never heard her name.

They haven’t heard of her running-mate, Howie Hawkins, either. “The campaign that Angela and I are running on,” he says, “according to public opinion polling, is the most popular platform. People want a Green New Deal. They want Medicare for All. They want the cancellation of student debt and free tuition at public colleges and universities. They want to get out of these endless wars.”

Many of their ideas on climate change follow the lead of top researchers, scientists and the United Nations. But they are treated as marginal.

Many of the people I’ve spoken to don’t talk about ideas for how to invest in the sustainability of the planet, their health and their communities. Instead, they tend to talk about their fears.

And for Walker this is how the Democrats and Republicans retain their grip, “Stop voting from a place of fear… How about we look forward to what it is we actually want, the kind of country we actually want to live in?”

Broken politics

The US political system places numerous blocks between third-party candidates and voters.

“Ballot access is a huge issue” says Hawkins, describing how he spent a month campaigning in Pennsylvania only for the Democrats to succeed in getting him struck off the ballot, because a Green Party official had sent documents in separate envelopes rather than together. “In New York, we need 3,500 signatures. We had six weeks to collect them. In Indiana, over 40,000.” In the UK, he points out, each candidate for Parliament needs just ten. In India, it’s two.

Jorgensen managed to get on the ballot in every state, but believes the media plays a huge role in preserving the two-party system. “Having a third person on the ballot in all fifty states who every single American in this country can vote for and they’re not reporting on it. I would say they aren’t doing their job.”

Dark money

Greens and Libertarians agree that fighting the amount of corporate money funneled into politics is an uphill battle. “Corporations will actually write the law, hand it to a congressperson, and the congressperson introduces it as a bill,” said Jorgensen.

An investigation by the Center of Public integrity in 2018 revealed that these ‘model laws’ push an agenda by special interest groups including limiting access to abortion and the rights of protesters. By pushing these laws through, politicians make friends who in return will donate to their campaigns in the future.

For the Greens, the solution is “full public campaign finance, on the clean money model”, explains Hawkins. “They do this in Arizona and in Maine for state elections…. You qualify by getting a reasonable number of small $5 donations, then you run on public money, not private money.”

‘I don’t do smoke and mirrors: I’m a socialist’

Greens and Libertarians agree that America’s political system is broken. They agree that America needs to end its foreign wars. But their domestic solutions are radically different.

“I don’t do smoke and mirrors. I am a socialist,” says Walker. “Black people in this country have a very proud history of being socialist. I know that they’ve been using “socialist” as a curse word to hit each other back and forth. And you know, all we do is laugh: I mean, you want to talk to some socialists, we right here!

“Our job in this country is also to educate people about what socialism is, how it improves people’s material conditions, and how we can align it with the needs of the planet.”

If the polls are right, Biden is going to be the US president. The system will hold itself together. For now. But anyone who can smell the air can tell that something is going to break.

Howie Hawkins and Angela Walker

Howie Hawkins, Angela Walker, Joni Hess, full transcript (unedited)

Joni Hess

Hello, Hello.

Hi Howie Hi, Mr. Hawkins. How are you?

Howie Hawkins

I’m good. Call me, Howie.

Joni Hess

Howie?

Yeah. Is will Angela be joining us?

Howie Hawkins

Yes. We’re just on another call. So

cool.

Joni Hess

Y’all have planned for today?

Howie Hawkins

A lot of these kind of calls. drafting a statement for election night.

Joni Hess

Okay.

Yes. Where will you be watching the election?

Howie Hawkins

We’ll be right in here. We’ll be having a live stream, having people speak getting reports from Green races around the country. That won’t be reported on the cable news. And commenting on what’s going on. Whether it’s election protection or results, whether we got enough votes for ballot lines I don’t even know if we’re gonna know Tuesday night.

Joni Hess

Yeah, it might take some time. You have to do it by hand.

Howie Hawkins

There are a lot of contingencies…

What the reports will be with Florida and North Carolina, they’ll report early. A Biden wins those. It’s hard to see how Trump did it, you know, he just wouldn’t have a path but so we might know, but then again, we might not.

Joni Hess

yet it’s gonna be a toss up. We shall see.

Okay.

Here she is.

Hi, Angela.

Angela Walker

How are you today? I am doing I think I had a I had two different links. I think I was sitting on the wrong one.

Joni Hess

Yeah, yeah, we had some issues with the first link. And I’m glad I’m glad both you guys could could join us today. My name is Joni. And I’m over here in Kentucky, covering the elections right now. So yeah, let’s just get get let’s go ahead and get started. So why do you think in the United States, we have to be defined by a particular party? I mean, we can’t even really vote in the primaries if we’re a registered independent. So why can’t we simply vote for the candidate who we aligned with most do you think?

Howie Hawkins

Ballot access is a huge issue. You know, majority of people or the biggest group of people are not aligned. They’re neither Democrat or Republican. We know from public opinion polls, majority of people would like to see another major third party, you know, major party. So the problem for Greens is getting on a ballot. This country’s off the charts. You want to run as an independent for Congress. If your party doesn’t have a boundary line takes thousands of signatures or tens of thousands of signatures. Actually, I think Kentucky’s exceptional. It’s easier to get on but you know, in New York, we need 3,500 signatures. We had six weeks to collect them. In Georgia, it’s over 15 or over 20,000 signatures, Indiana, over 40,000 signatures. You want to run as an independent For the House of Commons in the UK, it’s 10 signatures. You want to run for Congress in India, the world’s largest electoral democracy in this country is thousands or tens of thousands. And then when we file our signatures, in our case, the Democrats challeng us, sometimes it’s very trivial objections, just to, you know, bog us down documenting our signatures. Like in Pennsylvania, we spent a month and then we proved our signatures are good. And the Democrats dropped that objection. But they got us on a technicality that was irrelevant to what the board of election needed, which was Angela’s address. No, it was actually the stand-in that petition was stands before our national convention. And a woman, it was the vice presidential stand-in, sent her withdrawal form, she mailed it in rather than attaching it to the petition. You know, so they, the Board of Election had what they needed, but because it wasn’t attached to the petition. Technically, we’re in violation. So we’re off the ballot.

Angela Walker

I would argue, but also speaking to your question, you know, why do we have to be defined by two parties? We don’t have to. But I think we’ve become so this country, you know, folks in this country have become so used to only thinking in terms of a duopoly that anything else feels radical, you know, and like how Howie, said around the world, this, you know, this parliamentary systems around the world, we don’t have to be defined in this way. But fighting that is going to be an uphill battle and changing people’s minds.

Joni Hess

Exactly. And to your point, you know, many of my family members were decided on voting for Biden, as soon as he announced his candidacy, I think in his environment in his camp played on this on their confidence and his confidence in Black voter turnout, by consistently aligning himself with Obama, name dropping Obama every chance he could in debates and in interviews and stuff. So why do you think that many, not all, but many Black voters get right behind Biden so quickly?

Angela Walker

I think you just said it, you know, his proximity to former President Barack Obama, you know, a lot of us are conditioned to vote Democrat. We don’t think outside of that, you know, the Republicans for whole lot of us are not an option. I think, you know, there’s a lot of rumbling around, you know, celebrities and some of the inane things that they’re saying, but by and large, you know, Black folks in this country vote Democratic, they know that. And when they chose Biden they understood, you know, the folks that chose Biden understood that people are going to align him with former President Obama, he should be a shoo in. He shouldn’t have to earn the vote. Wasn’t this Obama’s wing man. So um, yeah, I think, you know, any any rumblings coming from Black folks? Because Biden has not made? I would argue he hasn’t made any gaffes. He has said exactly what he thinks about Black voters. He’s been very clear about that. So I think that’s a that’s an intra-family discussion that Black folks is having right now.

Joni Hess

Yes, right.

Howie Hawkins

Yeah. Yeah, people are voting so much for Biden as against Trump. And Biden got the nod for a lot of Black folks once he wants South Carolina, and Cliburn endorsed them. And then all the Democratic leadership close ranks behind Biden except for Sanders. And I think the signal to people was this is the guy who could be Trump. So I think it’s more, you know, the Republicans, for Black folks is the White man’s party’s it’s like the Klan. And so you may not be enthusiastic about Biden, but you want to get Trump out of there. I think that explains a lot of the, you know, Black vote going to Biden, it’s against Trump more than is for Biden.

Joni Hess

Yeah, he’s a safe bet. You know, if they’re putting their faith in Biden to get Trump out of office, definitely. Angela, you consider yourself a socialist? Correct. All right. I know that conservatives love to play on certain trigger words, you know, to rev up their base. How do you feel about aligning yourself with that term? Are you concerned about it limiting your ability to advance in politics in the future?

Angela Walker

I’m not running for anything else electorally. And I think in a lot of ways, for my feeling about it has always been because I ran as an independent socialist for Milwaukee county sheriff in 2014. Don’t… How can I say this? I don’t do smoke and mirrors. I am a socialist, I stand on that. That is that is my ideology. That is the way that I think that things need to be handled. Black people in this country have a very proud history of being socialist, which a whole lot of people don’t know, because we’ve been red baited for so long that, you know, it’s not something folks really talk about mainstream. But as far as, you know, if I’m going to run for an elected office, you need to know who you’re voting for. You need to know exactly where I stand on policies, you need to know where that came from. And, you know, I, I know that they’ve been using socialist as like a curse word or something to hit each of the two, you know, mainstream candidates hate each other back and forth. And you know, all we do is laugh because we’re real socialists, like y’all are nowhere near the mark. I mean, you want to talk to some socialist, we right here. But I’m not concerned with the propaganda around it. Our job in this country is also to educate people about what socialism is, how it improves people’s material conditions, and how we can align it with the needs of the planet.

Joni Hess

There you go. There you go. I gotcha. Shifting gears a little bit. A lot of people think that there’s a big problem with hidden money in politics. You know, money comes in through certain ways, and lots of powerful organisations don’t have to reveal that whether funding comes from so do you think there should be more transparency as far as where their money comes from?

Howie Hawkins

Well absolutely, you’re talking about dark money and both Biden and Trump are taking hundreds of millions of it. And we don’t know who: could be a foreign country could be organised crime, could be just another billionaire doesn’t want you to know, where their money is going to give it to a, what’s called a 501c4, social welfare organisation, those organisations don’t have to report to donors, those organisations can spend on politics, they can also pass it on to Super PACs, who say they got it from the 501c4. But they don’t have to say where the 501c4 got their money. So we got hundreds of millions of dollars being flooding, the campaign’s into both parties. And that’s wrong, but you could close the loopholes for dark money, and you’re still gonna have rich folks buying the politicians. So we call for a public full public campaign finance, on the clean money model. They do this in Arizona and in Maine for state elections. So you opt in every candidate that qualifies you qualify by getting a reasonable number of small $5 donations, then you’re qualified, then you run on public money, not private money. And in Arizona, you have to participate in a publicly sponsored debate as well. And that’s what we would like to see, you know, get the private money out, have a level playing field, give the candidates equal resources to speak to the voters. And that would level the playing field. And we also are opposed to this matching fund system, which is an HR1, a bill that has a lot of good things in it, but it’s a six to one match. So if you’re a congressional candidate running with $100,000, that can be matched against the congressional candidate with the million dollars that can be matched, you end up with 700,000, they end up with 7 million. So it actually increases the gap between the lower finance and the higher finance candidates and also allows all the private money to continue to be donated. So when you opt into that system is just putting a little public money on top of all that private money they’re already getting. So it’s reform that won’t really reform but they’re calling that public campaign finance. And, you know, one of the things we want is real solutions, not saying we did something that doesn’t solve the problem.

Joni Hess

Thank you.

What’s, um, yeah, this election is impacting people on a global scale. We touched on it a little bit earlier. You know, everyone’s watching. What do you think is the hardest thing for other countries to understand about US politics?

Howie Hawkins

how we ended up with Donald Trump is president, I think that’s what most people are wondering, how did this buffoon end up? The leader of the so called leader of the free world, and how could the Democrats put up a guy that really has trouble articulating a positive programme? I mean, all he said is ‘I’m not Trump’. When you think of Joe Biden what reform or policy is he the champion of? It’s all about Trump. I mean, I think people wonder how we can be so focused on that. And I’ll just take one issue. The US has deployed new strategic and tactical nuclear weapons, they call it nuclear modernization. It’s destabilise the world. 22 nations agreed to a new treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons. Three years ago, they agreed to the test, the 50th country just ratified it this week. So it goes into effect for those 50 countries. International campaign for the abolition of nuclear weapons, got the Nobel Peace Prize for that achievement three years ago. And this has not been talked about in this whole campaign. It should be a top campaign issue. And people around the world are scared because the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, their doomsday clock, the closest ever been to midnight. And a lot of people around the world are wondering, you know, what is going on in the United States where this issue isn’t even mentioned? You know, in the whole coverage by the mainstream media, and in all the presentations from the candidates, because both parties are committed to deploying these new nuclear weapons. It’s grossly destabilising, and the rest of the world scared to death. So I think, you know, they’re wondering, why doesn’t anybody raise that issue? You know, Angela, and I have been trying to, but we’ve been blanked out in the corporate media

 

Link: https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/stop-voting-from-a-place-of-fear-the-other-candidates-deserve-a-hearing/

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Posted on

November 2, 2020

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