In USA

Challenging the duopoly: Jill Stein on why she’s running for US president as Green Party candidate

Jill Stein explains why she decided to run for US president on an anti-war, pro-worker platform, challenging the duopoly of the Democrats and Republicans as the candidate for the Green Party. She is interviewed by political economists Radhika Desai and Michael Hudson.

You can find more episodes of Geopolitical Economy Hour here.

Video

Podcast

Transcript

RADHIKA DESAI: Hello and welcome to the 27th Geopolitical Economy Hour, the show that examines the fast-changing political and geopolitical economy of our time. I’m Radhika Desai.

MICHAEL HUDSON: And I’m Michael Hudson.

RADHIKA DESAI: And working behind the scenes to bring you our show every fortnight are our host, Ben Norton; our videographer, Paul Graham; and our transcriber, Zach Weiser.

And today, we not only have a guest, but a very special one. As many of you will know, Jill Stein is running for president of the United States on the Green Party ticket. “Ho-hum”, you will say. “So what? She’s not going to win; third-party candidates never do. So what’s the point?”

Well, things never change until they do. They often take longer to change than most imagine, but then, when the change comes, it happens quicker than anyone might have anticipated.

The reason why Michael and I are advising Jill on policy, why we support her candidacy so fully, and why we are doing everything we can to advance her cause, is that there has never been an election in which a third-party candidate has a greater chance of winning.

Over three decades ago, when the duopoly was much more secure, Ross Perot got nearly 20% of the vote. Today, that duopoly has become a political zombie with only the appearance of life. The opening for others is yawning wide, and Jill is not only the only peace candidate in the fray of warmongers taking our world towards another war, she’s the only supporter for the national and human rights of Palestinians.

She’s also the only third-party candidate with ballot access in most states. This is what matters if you’re going to be actually elected, rather than just popular.

Even if victory remains a distant prospect, there has also never been a time when it has been more possible and more urgent to shift the discourse. When popular thirst for change has been greater, when the tenacity with which the duopoly is fighting to prevent that thirst from being quenched has been stronger. So it’s the meeting of the proverbial unstoppable force and the immovable object. So anything can happen. This is the context.

So without much ado, let us welcome Jill, who is going to kick off our conversation with a brief statement. Jill, please go ahead.

JILL STEIN:  Thank you so much, Radhika, and thank you also to Michael. It’s really wonderful to be with you today discussing so many of the ideas that are really creating this perfect storm right now in this election. Exactly as you put it, Radhika, that we’re in a moment of unprecedented urgent need, and that is sort of colliding with this unprecedented opportunity for very deep and transformative change. There’s never been a moment like this. And I think we’re all familiar with the existential crises that we’re up against in our daily lives between crushing inequality, endless war, verging on nuclear on several fronts, and a climate which is collapsing before our very eyes, as well as this unraveling of our basic democratic institutions.

And this is crashing down on the heads of the American people in a very painful and ubiquitous way between some 60 percent of Americans living paycheck to paycheck, half of renters who cannot afford to keep a roof over their heads, who meet the criteria for being severely financially stressed, spending at least 30 percent of their income just to try to keep that roof over their heads, which doesn’t leave much then to pay your student debt and your health care bills and put food on your table.

Not to mention that some 44 million young people — young and not so young — are locked into basically unpayable student debt in the terms of the current economy. The numbers in child poverty, which have effectively doubled. Homelessness is at an all-time high.

We have the climate crisis, which reaches new extremes every day. What was it last night? This sudden flooding that took place in the airport in the Middle East. I think it was Dubai. Just these unprecedented things, 70 degree elevations on the South Pole and the predictions now that we’re going to see the breakup of major ice sheets much more quickly. The flooding out of coastal areas that contain one third of the world’s populations. We are not entering a world here which is survivable on just about every count.

On one hand, you have this incredible crisis. On the other hand, you have now this resolve of the American people who really are breaking free from these very oppressive political institutions. Often we talk about breaking up with an abusive relationship. It’s hard to do. As the abused, one tends to make excuses for the abuser and say, oh, they had to do it, or I don’t have any other choices, or it’s going to get better next year.

There are so many parallels here to a very dysfunctional, abusive relationship from the political parties, in particular the Democrats, where so many people will make excuses for them now who know better. You have really a loss of this traditional mythology, this excuse, which is that the Democrats have been the lesser evil. Well, it’s really impossible to make that case anymore when the supposed lesser evil is leading the charge in a genocide and really expanding the war and leading the charge on censorship and shutting down freedom of speech and expression and the right to protest and all that.

We have really enormous ability now, and I’ll add to that, that the numbers in the polls also show that it’s over. It’s like a record high, some 63% who are now saying that our political parties are basically throwing us under the bus and that we need other options. So the American people are more positioned now to break up with this abusive relationship, with our whole political structure, than we have ever been. It’s more urgent and necessary than ever.

The political players at this moment, and we’re fairly locked in now, one cannot really launch new campaigns here for any number of reasons. Critical deadlines have passed. So this is pretty much the arrangement going forward. There are going to be, at this point, four candidates. Three of them are pro-war, pro-genocide candidates.

For many people, this is the deal breaker, that genocide is really compelling people to take new actions and new directions in their lives. We’re seeing this coming into our campaign all over the place on the campaign trail.

So we have three of these pro-genocide candidates, pro-war, and I must say, in fact, actually anti-worker and anti-climate to look at the record. So you’ve got those three who are essentially representing the forces of Wall Street and the war machine in their various ways. There are differences among them, but on the core matters, they align.

And then you have our campaign. There are several other candidates who are also people-powered and who have basically a people-powered agenda, but they do not have access to the ballot or experience getting on and are not in the process of doing that. We are actually on track right now to be on the ballot across the country. We have 75% of the work done behind us. I can elaborate on any of that as we go forward.

But the bottom line is that it’s going to be three splitting the pro-war imperial vote, essentially. And then there will be our campaign, which provides a unifying platform of solidarity for a variety of issues that are absolutely critical in our lives and which are causing truly existential crises. So we can be there for really transformative and emergency climate action, for likewise critical action for a more just and sustainable economy.

And likewise, on the war, we have the one anti-war, anti-genocide platform. And by the way, there’s so much the president could do immediately. It’s not as though one has to bring all of Congress along. There are solutions that can be implemented on day one. And in fact, even before day one, simply for building a strong force, which then begins to take on a life of its own and actually exert pressure.

So a four-way race, it depends how the numbers fall out, but it is possible in a four-way race to win the election with as little as 26% of the vote. That is the popular vote. And if the popular vote is won in various states, even a plurality that is less than a majority of the popular vote can then attain the full number of electoral votes in that state. So it’s not hard to envision how we get from here to the White House.

Less than getting to the White House is also a win because one has to begin building. And that would be the more typical course of building a party is to go from some 1.5% in our last race up to perhaps 5% or 6%, at which time very important supports become available by way of matching funds in the next race. A lot of infrastructure development goes forward and so on. And then up to perhaps 15% and so on.

There are many paths forward by which we survive and by which justice prevails and by which the planet also prevails and survives. And if we work together, we can be that unstoppable force. And this is very much what we are experiencing now on the campaign trail. And it’s a pleasure to be here today with you two in particular who have been so very important in helping articulate what the future looks like and what are the concrete plans for us to get there. Thank you so much.

MICHAEL HUDSON: What you’ve described is what’s really unique in this election. There have always been third parties before, but you’ve mentioned the polls of what people really want. And the largest poll of all in the United States is that most people are against the war in Palestine. They’re against funding not only Israel, but funding Ukraine also.

And it’s striking that given this public support for anti-war, that you’re the only anti-war candidate. And if you look at the funding, one of your candidates is the largest single recipient of AIPAC money in history, $2 million. That’s the president, Joe Biden. And what do you have to say about the funding and whether the candidates who are all pro-war are really running to represent their donor class or are they running to really represent voters? Well, to get votes, you need television, you need money, and you end up backing the donor class. What can you say about your donors, their donors?

JILL STEIN:  Thank you, Michael. Yes, I mean, this is a huge issue. We have the best democracy that money can buy, which is no democracy at all. And as money has become more and more concentrated into the hands of fewer and fewer oligarchs, the super one percenters, this impacts our democracy and the rules of our democracy.

In the words of former Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, we have a choice in this country between democracy and vast concentrations of wealth. Unfortunately, we’ve gone the route of vast concentrations of wealth. So the way that wealth and control exerts power are manifold. It happens in all kinds of ways.

And yes, one of those ways is that our political system and our elections have become such a blatant exercise of oligarchy by way of determining which candidates have the finances to run and which can break through the inordinate suppression of political opposition, particularly around the war.

And that pro-war money is funneling in through all sorts of routes. And, you know, that includes not only AIPAC, but also the war contractors and the enormous control that they exert, especially over Congress, not only through lobbying and campaign contributions, but also by way of bills that have very carefully distributed jobs so that people like Bernie Sanders feel like, oh, they can’t challenge the war industry because it employs so many people.

And that’s why our proposal for a Green New Deal, it’s not only a transition out of climate destruction, it’s also a transition away from the destruction of militarism because we need to transition many aspects of our economy to ways that are sustainable and just.

And I want to just make one more comment. Michael, you made the point about how the largest polls show that the American people agree against war. And I want to invoke also the recent very large poll that took place in New York state by way of their Democratic primary, because it’s not widely known. Not only did 12 percent oppose Biden who came out to vote, the so-called, you know, uncommitted vote. That’s a substantial block. But much bigger than that was the 83 percent who stayed home, who refused to come out relative to the last presidential primary, which was also settled. That, too, was a settled Democratic race at that point. The New York primary was very late in 2000. And, you know, the Sanders campaign had long since basically faded into the background. So it was a coronation, again, for Joe Biden, who was already well in power. So the fact that 83 percent stayed home, it was a 17 percent turnout.

The bottom has absolutely dropped out from the Democratic Party. And the fact that you don’t even hear this on mainstream media, I think, speaks volumes about what an obituary this fact amounts to for politics as usual. It’s really a very open race right now in terms of changing course.

MICHAEL HUDSON: Well, it’s almost as if the race isn’t between Biden and Trump. It’s between the three anti-war candidates. And another thing that is not in the news, that I know the political managers for RFK before, Denis Kucinich and his team, they were so appalled by his support of Israel and defense of the genocide that they left his campaign and are now working on your campaign. If we could get the voters to do what his political managers did and leave the other people to go for you. This is a three-way race between the three non-Republican-Democratic candidates. I think that’s how we really should look at it.

JILL STEIN:  Absolutely. Go ahead, Radhika.

RADHIKA DESAI: Yeah, you know, you were earlier saying, you know, before we move too far away from the point that you made about the best democracy money can buy, I just wanted to share the screen:

You know, in my classes, I show this chart, which shows that basically between 1960 and 2016, basically the winning candidate has been always the candidate that outspent his opponent. So it’s Clinton, Clinton, Bush, Bush, Obama, Obama. You can see that the winning candidate has always spent more, except with Clinton against Trump. This was the exception. So what this also shows, and this is not necessarily to praise Trump or anything, but what it shows is that already the duopoly has been breaking down for a long time.

This is the key point I want to make, which is that, you know, the incursion of Trump, although of course he was a Republican Party nominee, the fact was that in many ways he was an outsider. He came at the Republican Party from the outside, took it over, etc. So the decay of the duopoly has been going on for a while.

And the reason for the decay is also very interesting because essentially, you know, particularly over the last four or five decades, what we’ve had is essentially liberal democracy as a way of having periodic elections in which, you know, money is spent in order to allow this or that candidate to win. And both parties are essentially committed to preserving corporate power. And so the people can go whichever way they like. And I think, you know, as you say, leaving an abusive relationship is hard, sometimes even coming to the consciousness that you are in an abusive relationship is difficult.

But finally, you can see that by the 2000s anyway, and certainly the 2010s, it was becoming very clear that this was the case. And so the duopoly has been crumbling. And so this is the kind of thing that we need to emphasize because you are not a flash in the pan.

The reason why you are getting so much support, I mean, at the end of the day, you are, as you say, you are the only anti-war candidate. And the support for your position is ginormous. You can see it in the street every day, every week. You know, people are coming out and demonstrating against the war in Gaza in particular, but also the war in Ukraine has been deeply unpopular.

So in all of these ways, you know, you represent essentially an alternative, which is you are a peace candidate, but you are also a climate candidate and you are a people candidate. You want to have a set of policies that are not for big corporations, but for people.

MICHAEL HUDSON: Yes, they don’t have to stay home anymore. Now, if they can vote for you instead of staying home, they have finally an alternative.

JILL STEIN: Yes, and if you look at the demographic of who stays home in 2016, it was about 100 million people, which is almost the size of the voting bloc for either the Democrat or the Republican candidate. So, it is a, you know, it is a determinative demographic. And it is largely, or shall we say disproportionately, of color, young and poor. So, it’s exactly the demographic that needs our agenda and that mobilizes to support our agenda, if only it can, you know, be informed.

And this is the strategy of the, you know, of the predatory parties is to silence the media and to block the, you know, the informing and empowering of the American people so that they can make decisions for themselves.

And I want to underscore what Radhika said about the long-term breakdown of our democratic system and its institutions. There’s an often cited study, the Gillens and Page study of, I think it was 2014, that basically documented in inordinate detail about how policy at the level of Congress for decades was driven by basically big campaign spenders and lobbyists, period. Virtually no policies, no major policies were passed by Congress that addressed deeply felt needs for which the public was mobilizing. There’s been a complete breakdown in our democratic institutions. And the crisis that the major parties are experiencing now is very real, and they are extremely guarded and alarmed.

And, you know, the DNC has announced that they have hired an army of attorneys in order to try to throw us off the ballot. And they have separately announced that they will also be doing their best to, I think what they call, they use this language to highlight the unsavory aspects of our character. In other words, you know, these are just blatant smear campaigns.

And in 2010, I think they really saw the writing on the wall. The results of 2010 were a real shot across the bow. And what happened? Democrats lost 1,000 seats in state legislatures across the country. We saw many legislatures flip from the Democratic to the Republican camp. We saw 64 congressional seats lost by the Democrats. I think it was 13 Senate seats and about the same number of governorships. So it was a huge kind of political swing where the Democrats had the most so-called “spoiled election” ever in their history. It was truly a spoiled election.

Now, what was spoiling that election? It was not the prominence of third party candidates all across the nation. There were hardly any in 2010 that I’m aware of. What was actually going on, obviously, was that this was the first election following the Wall Street bailouts, following the displacement of millions upon millions of families who were thrown out of their homes so that Congress could, and the White House—

It was the Democratic trifecta, which basically threw out working people and working families in order to embrace Wall Street. This was after the campaign of hope and change by Barack Obama. So this just made it so real that working people have been thrown under the bus in many ways, but in many ways really peaking and culminating in the crash of 2008, the Wall Street crash, after which the crooks on Wall Street who sabotaged the economy were richly rewarded. Young students, for example, who were dutifully following the prescription for leading a good life had taken out loans and gone to college, and they were thrown out, homeowners were thrown out.

So people are standing up. Democrats, yes, their party is being spoiled, but it’s being spoiled by none other than themselves, and they try to invoke third parties here so they don’t have to talk about what’s really going on.

MICHAEL HUDSON: Well, I think to give a background to this, it wasn’t simply a Wall Street bailout that Obama did. There was a wholesale eviction, primarily of Black and Hispanic families, the victims of the real estate fraud.

And when he took power promising to write down the mortgage debts, homeownership in America was 59 percent. It’s now fallen more drastically than at any time in American history. It’s now less than 50 percent.

So by not writing down the junk mortgages to the realistic value and the affordable value, 10 percent of the American population have lost their homes to Blackstone and to other huge absentee landlords, and they’ve turned America in just 15 years from a homeownership society into an absentee-owned landlord society.

And that has all been primarily under the Democratic administration that’s represented Wall Street, but also there’s been no discussion of this in the press. That’s the media problem. How do you break through the fact that the press finds, probably to them, your worst and most culpable quality: [that] you talk about the problems that we’re having, and if they listen to you and they listen to President Biden and say the economy has never been better, he says it’s never been better for the 1 percent, and you’re talking about the 99 percent.

JILL STEIN:  Yes, and this is why polls now show that the majority of the American people believe that the media, mainstream media, is purposefully misleading them and lying to them. The majority of the American people need this. People no longer believe mainstream media, the political parties. There’s been just a huge dropout in the industrial propaganda complex. It just has huge holes in it. People don’t believe it. The hype spinners are madly continuing on their way, but the system is breaking down all over the place.

Yes, of course, the antitrust laws should be brought to bear on our communications industry across the board, not only legacy press. On social media, for example, we should have the rights of free speech. This should be handled really as a public utility, not subject to the whim of whatever billionaire happens to own the platform.

It’s not rocket science how to change this. This is a matter of organizing to make it happen. There’s no doubt in my mind, starting on day one of a “green” administration, when we turn the White House into a greenhouse, which would be a good thing on many levels, there are many policies that can be brought to bear.

RADHIKA DESAI: I just wanted to add here that, Jill, the point you were making about the DNC, or essentially appointing somebody to attack third-party candidates, one of the things they’re going around saying is that these third-party candidates, like you or Cornel West or RFK, they are being funded by the Republicans. This is one of the canards that they are spreading.

Of course, they can find out about the funding, but the other thing as well is that by calling you a spoiler, they’re also missing a point that you were making. You are not a spoiler. The Democrats have already lost the game. People are essentially saying to themselves, since they can’t vote for Trump and they will not vote for Biden, they will stay at home. What you are doing is you are giving them somebody to vote for. You are there on the ballot, and that’s why it’s so critically important for us to get the word out.

And on the media, you know, again, you are so right that something has to be done about the decrepit condition of today’s media. But also, again, this is a much longer process than one imagines, because I remember very clearly some of the first alternative press websites coming out already in the late 1990s, because already there were substantial numbers of people who realized, you know, just at the dawn of the post-Cold War period, when you thought everything would be hunky-dory for the United States and so on, the United States was in sufficient trouble that the media was already engaging in so much spin that alternative news media websites came out reporting both on domestic policy as well as on international policy, both of which have been so awful. So this degeneration of the media is also very old.

And of course, today, with the proliferation of social media, what we have is the availability, the proliferation of social media and also the availability of other forms of media. You can sit in any American city today and access the news as it is being reported from around the world. You can watch media from Latin America, you can watch Telesur, you can watch RT, you can watch Press TV, you can watch Indian news media, and you see that there’s a completely different perspective. The Western and U.S. perspective is completely isolated.

Now, here, finally, a final point one should make is that, of course, antitrust may have its uses, but the real issue is that this kind of social media is actually should be a social utility. The fact that Facebook and Meta and so on are essentially trying to monetize our eyeballs on social media is what’s creating a lot of problems.

You know, in our society, in the U.S. democracy, people spend a lot of time and money fingering Russia and China as the culprits in terms of, you know, they are affecting the electoral process. No, they are only fingering Russia and China because they do not want to regulate the big privately owned corporate monopolies which are vitiating the democratic media sphere. They own it and they are essentially controlling it. And this is what has to be put a stop to.

You use the right words. We should have a substantial part of the media, both broadcast and social media and print media as a public service utility. There should be, you have PBS, but there should be a big national public service media on all— in all forms, whether it is electronic, print, etc.

MICHAEL HUDSON: But the public media, the public broadcasting is totally pro-war today. And there’s an even worse censorship that works against Jill. And that’s the censorship of colleges. You heard the Democrats browbeating the president of Harvard for letting there to be demonstrations against the genocide in Gaza. And the Harvard president apologized for letting the students oppose the war there.

And the New York Times this week had an article about New York University closing down meetings against the war. And these are your candidates, basically. So you’re suffering from the fact that there’s this total censorship of any anti-war and it goes beyond just propaganda. It goes by the deep state, CIA providing talking points to the newspapers.

I think you and I talked before about, what do you think of the idea of having every candidate report how much money they get from the AIPAC and other donors so that the whole country can know if they’re getting funds from a foreign country or lobbying for a foreign country, this should be made a public knowledge and the newspapers would have to publish this as something called basic information that everybody has the rights to know. What do you think of enforcing something like that?

JILL STEIN:  To my mind, that’s an absolute no-brainer. Transparency and accountability for political support, who’s behind your campaign is supposed to be the way the system works.

It doesn’t work that way. Super PACs, for example, can bring in limitless amounts of money via so-called dark money or charitable institutions, which they can contribute. The Super PACs have to report their donors. They have no limits, however. Contributors to the Super PAC can be completely anonymous. A single billionaire can be pumping a billion dollars into a campaign and there’s no way to know about that and to know where it’s coming from.

But transparency is not enough. There are all kinds of holes in that framework. Requiring things to be transparent, it doesn’t do the job.

To my mind, number one, AIPAC should be classified as a foreign agent and not given the right to buy out our elections and our candidates from the get-go.

In addition, we should not have a privately sponsored election system, which is what this amounts to. Private dollars are able to buy out the election system and then the functioning of our representative bodies through their lobbying, as well as the follow-on to their campaign contributions, which come with strings attached. Whether they’re explicit or just implicit, they are always implicit, which is why a system that allows—

For example, Democrats and Republicans, they use a system called or a tool called victory funds. These victory funds allow a single donor to write a check for over $600,000. It changes year by year. But this is a huge amount of money that can come from a single donor. Then the money gets basically laundered in various ways through the system and comes to the candidate or to the DNC. There are huge amounts of money coming from single donors, which gives them enormous influence.

We need to move to a system that does not rely on huge amounts of private money. That should include from the candidate themselves, because there are also no limits on that money. That’s how Bloomberg bought his way forward, for example, as a billionaire. I think he spent more than $1 billion on his own campaign.

We should have a publicly funded system of elections. We should have free media coverage required for all legitimate contestants in a race. That brings the cost way down, but this should be publicly funded, not privately funded. That would begin to align the incentives with the public interest, because the way it works now, it is just corrupt to the core.

RADHIKA DESAI: Jill, what you say also reminds me, there’s a larger program that you’re running on, which is really so important also to draw attention to. Because of course, while we have these obscenely rich people, we will need to have the kind of curbs that you’re talking about.

But we also have in mind, you also have in mind, you’re proposing a type of economy, which will not have this kind of obscene wealth inequality, which will not create the sort of financialized, unproductive economy, which is unable to offer good jobs to people and so on.

So, Michael and I have been talking about this for a long time in our other shows as well. But what is needed is a root and branch reform of the US economy and also of the US financial system. Because remember, it’s not just capitalism that creates inequality. Of course, it does. But on top of that, when you put on top of that a financial system, which is essentially a system of transferring wealth from working people, from productive corporations, and from even the government into a tiny elite, you’re going to have the kind of inequality that we’re looking at.

So, part of your program is also that we need to have this completely root and branch reform of the US economy and of the US financial system. Because for the last 30 or 40 years, the financial system, through its various rules and tax breaks, and of course, the bailouts, has been doing nothing other than transferring income and wealth from ordinary working people to rich people.

And a second point that I think, which is also really central to your foreign policy. I mean, while I completely agree that AIPAC is a really big issue in the United States, it is a tail wagging the dog, etc. But you have to understand that, powerful as AIPAC is, there is a larger scheme. Even if AIPAC did not exist, the United States would support Israel. Why? Because Israel is the United States aircraft carrier in the Middle East, allowing the United States to control that absolutely critical region, thanks to its oil and energy resources, thanks to its strategic location, all of these things.

So, the United States, in a certain sense, you know, people who are, you know, I often say that people who are saying stand up for Ukraine don’t realize that they are contributing to the destruction of Ukraine.

Similarly, I would say those who are, you know, saying that, you know, Israel, you know, think they’re being supporting Israel in the current context are actually supporting a situation in which the United States is using Israel and its Jewish population as a instrument, as a fighting force against Iran and all the other hostile forces in the Middle East. And Jill, you know, I’m sure you have a lot to say about this. So, yeah.

JILL STEIN:  Yes, absolutely. And you take me back to Ronald Reagan’s remarks in the 1980s. Actually, it was the remarks of his Secretary of Defense, Caspar Weinberger, who said that Israel is the unsinkable battleship for the United States in the Middle East. And in the 1980s, the U.S. very much needed those fossil fuels.

Now we are one of the major exporters of fossil fuels. However, it is our explicit policy, so-called “full-spectrum dominance”, articulated by the Pentagon, actually starting in the mid-1990s, and reiterated since then in various forms, that our military will dominate all spheres of potential conflict and competition across the world. So all areas of the world and in all potential dimensions of conflict, we will be in dominance, in full spectrum, and that we will not allow competitors to rise, even on a regional basis, not allow competitors who are friends and not allow competitors who are foes.

And this has created such an absolutely disastrous foreign policy and a series of catastrophic conflicts, you know, from Afghanistan to Iraq and Libya and Syria. It’s just been one unbelievable loss.

I’ve seen some of the, you know, back-of-the-napkin figures, well, some actually by the Cost of War Project at Brown University, to the effect it’s been $21 trillion that we have spent in this futile effort to basically dominate the world. And it only makes us more and more a pariah among nations, which certainly Israel and the U.S. are sharing that position right now.

And I should add, you know, that as someone who was raised in the Jewish tradition, following the Holocaust and following the Second World War, when, you know, in a Jewish community, going to a Reform Jewish synagogue Sunday school, so-called, every, you know, every week until I was about 15 years old, I, you know, my formative years were all about coming to terms with the Holocaust, which had everything to do with that this would not be allowed to happen again. And that Holocaust and genocide is not just the responsibility of the perpetrator. It’s also the responsibility of the witnesses to the Holocaust. This is firmly the tradition that I was raised in.

And, you know, it has everything to do with why I am doing what I am doing right now, because it just became ingrained in my DNA that to justify, you know, the sacrifice of my, you know, ancestors, the 6 million Jews who went up in flames with this, that we had to ensure that this doesn’t happen again. And for us, it was, this doesn’t happen again to anyone. And I could go into, you know, great lengths about Zionism and where it departs from basic Jewish values.

But, you know, pertinent to many of the things that we’ve been talking here about, you know, like the suppression of free speech on campuses, suppression not only of free speech, but our other First Amendment rights as well, which is the right to protest. Campuses, to divert slightly for a moment, campuses are supposed to be the bastions of free speech and debate, especially about things that are important.

What is more important than this conflict, which could go global? We basically have a World War I type, pre-World War I type complex situation right now in the Middle East, with nuclear weapons thrown into the mix. There is nothing more critical than coming to terms with this.

And we already know that the American population, by 68%, in one of the initial Reuter polls about this, opposes this conflict and wants an immediate ceasefire and a diplomatic solution. Yet young people in college are not allowed to take that position, this majoritarian position that is aligned with our key values. It’s absolutely astonishing.

And I guess the last thing I’ll say here to cap off this rant is that the, you know, the accusation that opposing genocide is anti-Semitic is astounding to me. That amounts to saying that it’s okay with Jews, that genocide is okay with Jews. And if Jews oppose genocide, they’re being anti-Semitic. What are you talking about? If anybody opposes genocide, they’re being anti-Semitic. This is so, you know, turned on its head.

And really, to my mind, this is the most anti-Semitic thing one could possibly say to imply that opposing genocide is anti-Semitic.

MICHAEL HUDSON: One of the problems here is that no matter what you or any of the other candidates do, who are elected, the whole policy is being made by the unelected deep state. I think you and I spoke before. What do you think of appointing a modern church committee to investigate what has the CIA and National Security Council been doing to interfere with American, to meddle in American political affairs?

JILL STEIN:  This is absolutely essential. We know that, you know, thanks to the CIA, largely the U.S. has overturned something like 70 sovereign countries. We have basically instigated coups and, you know, internal, you know, color revolutions and all sorts of ways that we have, you know, there are many handbooks about how to do this. And the CIA has its ways. This desperately calls for a church committee.

And if I could say more generically, you know, part of the pathway forward for us in our thinking, you know, about how do you rise as an insurgent, but very principled and, you know, “small-d” democratic political force, you know, you must have a grassroots movement. And if we are so fortunate as to take power, which is democratically constituted and should happen if there is a democracy still in this country, we will rely very much on having many committees because we’re not going to be the majority. If we get into office, there will be a fight.

Hopefully we would get into office along with like-minded representatives in Congress, and there are many other green candidates and socialist candidates and so on who are running against the military industrial machine. We will need to work together, but we above all need to work with the grassroots engine for all of this.

These were the grassroots troops that Barack Obama rose to power with, with great expectations for hope and change. And he broke all kinds of barriers with the power of this grassroots movement. And then he promptly, you know, told people to basically go home and be quiet when he appointed Larry Summers as his first act really before he even took office.

But, you know, we would not take that path. We would keep, you know, continually rely on this grassroots movement. And part of the way that it would function is through holding, you know, congressional hearings and establishing congressional committees that actually hold the feet to the fire of our Congress, because our Congress is absolutely, you know, AWOL on its democratic duties.

And likewise, we would very much encourage and bring back the institution of town hall meetings where legislators have to meet with their constituents, hear them, and answer to them. If democracy prevails, we have a completely different form of government going forward. So what you’re suggesting about the church committee is absolutely essential. And we would do that and basically generalize that as a principle.

MICHAEL HUDSON: Well, I think that the reason Radhika and I have trained your campaign is even if you don’t out-poll the other candidates for president, your campaign can introduce the issues that we’ve just been talking about here.

And this is why I think the newspapers are trying not to discuss your campaign. They don’t want these issues to be open, and yet these are the issues that most voters and nonvoters are most interested in.

JILL STEIN:  It is striking. You know, we are on the ballot in 21 states, have many states that will be turned in in the next couple of weeks. We basically have a ballot access battle going on in all states now, and we have the track record. Actually, in 2016, we were on in 47 states for about 95% of the population, and yet you don’t see any mention about this.

We hear a great deal about RFK being on eight states, Dr. West being, I don’t know, maybe four or five states right now without a real pathway forward. You know, intentions, but not really the wherewithal or the track record to do that, yet you have radio silence out there, not from, you know, truly principled alternative media.

And, you know, it’s wonderful that there is so much of it, including, you know, present company here. So there are many pathways to get the word out, but there are many who are being purposefully uninformed here and disempowered. And I think it does have everything to do with the fact that, you know, we are sort of an elephant in the room here in, you know, a real vehicle for truly transitioning power.

If you’re coming into this race as an independent and you don’t have a grassroots infrastructure, you know, no worries. And media outlets, even some who pretend to be progressive, can kind of do their supposed, you know, duty by covering some of the other campaigns, which are not going to be here for the long haul and really, which do not constitute a threat to power.

We have 75 percent of the signatures collected, if you add them up, totally what the burden is. And we are well on our way to getting the rest of them. And by the way, for those who would like to be a part of this uprising for democracy, go to jillstein2024.com. We badly need your support, your participation as a volunteer, and also your financial support, which is really critical to fighting this ballot access battle when the scales are so deeply stilted against the public interest. We need your help, but we are well along the way. And this has everything to do with why there is very much a mainstream media blackout on our campaign still.

RADHIKA DESAI: Well, you know, Jill, you talked about the uprising of the people, and I think this is key, because I agree with you.

MICHAEL HUDSON: A realistic outcome for this would be that even if you’re not winning the presidential vote, you will have enough votes to force the outcome into Congress, because if neither Biden nor Trump has enough votes, then it goes to Congress. That’s where you can have the voters who vote for you, you can use your voting group to insist on certain things being done; even without being president, you can use your decisive votes to get certain policies. Do you have any particular policies that you would want to insist upon as a condition for resolving the question of who is going to be president?

JILL STEIN:  Oh, absolutely. You know, there are so many of them, from a Medicare for all system, which is really a motherhood and apple pie policy. It’s astounding that it has not been enacted already. And it’s a real, you know, statement about where our so-called leadership is coming from and who they are serving, namely the insurance and pharmaceutical industries, that we don’t have this, because it enhances health care, enhances our health, covers everyone head to toe, conception to the grave, expands so that everyone is included, all your care that’s currently excluded, like home care, like chronic care, like mental health care, like dental care, eyes, hearing aids, and so on, glasses. It’s a wonderful program. Its overhead is reduced from the 33% of the current private system down to 3%, which is the overhead in Medicare. It plugs that money back into actual dollars. So you can actually expand health care and make it total and comprehensive at the same time that we save half a trillion dollars every year. So that would be a no-brainer. That’s one critical policy.

Another one is to back off of these insane wars that are endangering us and impoverishing us as a nation, to insist that there be an end to genocide and ethnic cleansing and occupation in Israel, Gaza, and Palestine, to insist on compliance with international law in our foreign policy, to abolish student debt and make public higher education free, which is kind of among the many false promises that were made by Joe Biden in his last campaign. There are so many things that we could bargain on.

And I want to invoke another possibility for how the vote might divide up, which is that in the popular vote in any given state, one doesn’t need a majority in order to get all of the electoral votes. So if we had actually a 26% vote across the country, state by state, that is enough in a four-way race, mathematically, to actually win all of the delegates. So it’s not inconceivable where you have these three pro-war candidates splitting the conventional pro-war, pro-Wall Street vote. If they were splitting it three ways and we become the unifying platform and the unifying vehicle for the anti-war movement, the anti-genocide movement, which is huge, the movement to abolish student debt, which is also huge, to end medical debt, to make housing affordable, which is a huge need impacting so many voters.

We have the numbers to actually prevail and to potentially even win the White House. So I think it’s really important for people to think big and to envision how we can actually put our system back on course because we are all at risk. This is not an academic exercise. This is about the nature of our lives and whether we will survive to emerge from this decade, let alone what lies ahead. But the potential for these wars to spin out of control.

One single nuclear-armed submarine, and we have 14 of them, which are in undisclosed regions all around the world, and you can be sure that they are in hotspots. A single one contains the equivalent of 5,000 Hiroshima bombs, which is enough to throw us into nuclear winter, to basically take us all the way of the dinosaurs, which was also another form of nuclear winter when that meteor struck the earth and basically inserted debris into the upper atmosphere where it doesn’t weather down. The debris stays there for many, many years, even decades, so that agricultural production basically doesn’t work and there’s mass starvation. These are the risks that are being taken with our lives right now in the way that these wars are being run.

Joe Biden said to Israel, after Israel massively violated international law by bombing the Iranian consulate in Syria, this was something that is not done even in wartime. This was a huge provocative act, sort of the ultimate provocative act. Israel did that, and Biden kind of let it go, said, basically, don’t worry, Israel, we will stand by you. Do whatever you want. He’s given the green light to just unbelievably dangerous foreign policy on the part of Netanyahu.

Now, in the aftermath, when Iran asserted a very limited and targeted response, gave plenty of time to Israel and its allies to defend against that response, and then said, even before it was over, we’re done. The situation has been evened from our point of view. Don’t consider us a combatant on this issue anymore. Israel basically then said, no, we are using this as an excuse, basically, to create the war that Israel has been wanting to wage against Iran and trying to drag the U.S. into it.

Unlike Ronald Reagan, who was calling the shots in a relatively informed way, Joe Biden is doing the exact opposite. He’s effectively made Netanyahu the commander in chief for the U.S. by saying, you do what you want, however reckless and inflammatory that is, you do what you want, and we will be there to support you.

This is an absolute prescription for disaster. In my view, this underscores the imperative that we remove these warmongers from power, these criminals, these war criminals. They must be removed from power as quickly as possible because our very lives are in the crosshairs of their extremely reckless, irresponsible, and arguably insane actions.

RADHIKA DESAI: You know, I think we’re coming close. Yes, indeed. I mean, we’re coming close to our one-hour mark, so I just wanted to say a couple of things and maybe invite both of you to make a couple of concluding remarks.

But I just particularly wanted to say that, you know, you use the word uprising and so on, and Michael earlier spoke about the deep state and appointing a new Church Committee and so on. These are all great ideas, but really what, Jill, I think your campaign represents is really a kind of a massive transformation which will change the nature of the American state, deep or otherwise.

Because what do we mean by the state? We mean by the state not this or that government, but that coterie of interests that remains in power no matter who is in government. At least that’s the way it’s been. And I think if a candidate like you, and I think you’re also really right to point out that not only is the pro-war position divided into three at the moment, but actually I’m sure you could argue that it is now a minority position. So they will be dividing into three what is already a minority of the votes, whereas you will represent the anti-war position which represents the majority of the people of the United States.

And so in that sense, I think you will bring about a very comprehensive change. It’s not going to be easy, it’s going to be difficult, it’s going to involve a lot of battles and skirmishes with people in power. But remember, the people who are in power are sitting on top of a ramshackle structure. It is rotting from within. And the desire of the people in the United States to have a fairer, more just, more ecological, more peaceful system is enormous. So I think that that’s what you represent.

And I would say one other thing, which is what you will bring about. You see at the moment we have a state, a coterie of interests, which are always served by every government, which has no plan B. They want to ensure, they want to continue to promote inequality and an unproductive economy and a financialized economy at home and war abroad. This is what they’ve done for more than a century, I would say. Certainly they have been doing this over the past many decades. This is what has to come to an end. And you will represent that change, that you will essentially change the nature of the American state because you will remove, you will have to remove if you want to implement your program, the interests that hold political power in America and put the people’s power in their place. That’s what I really wanted to say.

JILL STEIN:  Beautifully said. Michael, do you want to?

MICHAEL HUDSON: Nuh-uh. What can I add to that? Never had it again. You’ve said it.

JILL STEIN:  Yeah, exactly. And I’ll just, you know, echo that saying, you know, this is a real moment of reckoning for the American people. I almost feel like I’m playing the role of a therapist in having a public discussion.

Now, this is about coming to terms with a very different world from what we thought we had. We are living in a world of empire and oligarchy, and it is ruinous. It’s ruinous abroad. It’s ruinous at home. Our foreign policy is impoverishing and endangering all of us. This is not survivable. We are all in the crosshairs here, and it feels like there’s a very deeply felt conversation that’s happening right now, and it’s so wonderful to be a part of it and to see just really the vision and the moral insight that is arising up out of this conversation.

And I’m continually being blown away by the insights and the moral fiber of people who are understanding what’s happening and who are really setting everything else aside to seize this moment, this perfect storm, for a major political transition.

We are not going to save ourselves here with the window dressing. We really do need a real change in our, you know, in our fundamental economic and financial and so on system, ecological system. Things are changing right now, and we need to manage that change, which brings the best of ourselves, you know, to that management.

So we are not surrogates for corporations here, which is what most of our politicians are. They are paid surrogates for their corporate masters. And this machine has no heart, it has no soul, and it really has no brain either. So it is a house of cards that is in the process of falling.

It’s like being in an airplane and the engines have stopped, you know, and the airplane is beginning to go into a tailspin here. And we’re in that moment right now when we can rescue the plane, you know, and we can start up a new motor or, you know, a new flight machine or whatever.

RADHIKA DESAI: You can at least glide it down to a safe landing.

JILL STEIN:  Exactly. And people are rising to the occasion now to make this happen. So I really encourage people to be a part of that. And again, to join us at JillStein24.com and consider this the opportunity of a lifetime. And, you know, no pressure, but the future is very much in our hands now. And we are deciding not only what kind of future we will have, but whether we will have a future.

So join the team and know, in the words of Alice Walker, you know, that the biggest way people give up power is by not knowing we have it to start with. We have an enormous amount of power. This is about mobilizing that power for our highest vision of the world that we all deserve and that is within our reach. So let’s do it.

And I can’t thank you, Radhika and Michael, enough for your guidance here for the airplane to help us guide and glide our way forward to a very happy landing and, you know, a better world ahead.

RADHIKA DESAI: Thank you so much, Jill. Thank you all for listening. Michael and I will be back, of course, and we hope that Jill will also be back to carry on this discussion further. See you next time. Bye-bye.

*****

EDITOR’S NOTE: We remind our readers that publication of articles on our site does not mean that we agree with what is written. Our policy is to publish anything which we consider of interest, so as to assist our readers in forming their opinions. Sometimes we even publish articles with which we totally disagree, since we believe it is important for our readers to be informed on as wide a spectrum of views as possible.

Recent Posts
Contact Us

We're not around right now. But you can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.

Start typing and press Enter to search

Translate »
War Parties, the Peace Candidate, and the November Election