Stein & Baraka to Bernie Sanders Supporters: Vote Green & Abandon the Party of War and Wall Street

August 18, 2016


Jill Stein

2016 presidential nominee for the Green Party. She was the Green Party’s 2012 presidential nominee.

Ajamu Baraka

2016 vice-presidential nominee for the Green Party.

For months, Jill Stein of the Green Party attempted to push Bernie Sanders to join the Green ticket. While he ignored the call, Stein is now reaching out to Sanders supporters for their votes in November. But is Stein afraid of tipping the election toward Donald Trump? We get response from her and running mate Ajamu Baraka.


This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: Now, here I am talking to both of you, but it’s conceivable that you would have occupied Ajamu Baraka’s position as vice-presidential nominee, if you got the deal you were trying to cement with Bernie Sanders to be top of the ticket of the Green Party, once he lost the Democratic Party nomination. What happened there?

DR. JILL STEIN: Well, you know, it was—it was an offer that we made to Sanders, that—let’s sit down and talk. Let’s collaborate, because this is an incredibly historic moment. He had an incredibly historic campaign that really unveiled how much momentum there is for deep change here—not that we aligned completely. Especially around foreign policy and on issues of student debt and so on, there was some distance between us. But he was beginning to move in our direction. And we said, "Let’s sit down, and let’s explore how we can collaborate and we could bring this to the Green Party convention," because, as a candidate, I obviously couldn’t say, "Here, Bernie will be our nominee," any more than I could say I would be our nominee. It’s up to the delegates.

But if we saw eye to eye, and if Bernie came to understand why it is that we need an independent, third-party politics, why you cannot have a revolutionary campaign inside of a counterrevolutionary party, that essentially sabotaged Bernie’s campaign in so many ways, as we saw from the email revelations, from the very fact of the superdelegates that took decision-making out of the hands of the democratic process, you know, it just wasn’t going to—

AMY GOODMAN: Did you ever speak to Bernie Sanders about this?

DR. JILL STEIN: We tried many times. I was able to get—

AMY GOODMAN: Meaning, "we," you mean you tried? Not—

DR. JILL STEIN: I tried. The Green Party tried. We had many people trying for us. We had emails that were delivered to him and that we know did get into his hands. But, you know, Bernie said from the start he was in this to basically support and continue building the Democratic Party. He has, ironically, not been a supporter of independent third parties, although nominally he’s been one, but he doesn’t believe in actually standing up and challenging power in an electoral way. And I think there’s a generational difference between Bernie and his vision of the Democrats as the party of the New Deal and a younger generation that sees the Democrats as the party of war, Wall Street and drone attacks.

AMY GOODMAN: Although he certainly mobilized them. Ajamu Baraka, from outside and inside this country, what is your assessment watching Bernie Sanders and his campaign? Where do you agree? Where do you differ?

AJAMU BARAKA: I think that Bernie Sanders was responsible for really broadening the conversation here in this country. There’s no doubt about that. We were concerned, though, that the—the silence on the foreign policy issues was troubling, because we understood that the American people were ready for real change, and we wanted Bernie Sanders to understand that he didn’t have to embrace the aggressive policies of the Obama administration. He didn’t have to embrace the drone warfare. He didn’t have to be silent on the Saudis and Yemen. So, we had some concerns.

But we know that there are young people who were very committed to this revolution. And many of them have come over to the Green Party. And more, I think, are considering, if they—I think when they see that we’re serious about this, that we’re serious about really continuing this political revolution. I think that, from outside of the country, people see that the only alternative for real progressive politics in the U.S. is, in fact, the Green Party. And they see that there is real opportunity for us to expand the democratic process in this country, and they support it.

AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to go back to the Democratic convention, when Juan González and I hosted a debate between the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Chris Hedges—used to be with The New York Times—and former Labor Secretary Robert Reich about the presidential race. Hedges has endorsed the Green Party ticket, the two of you. Robert Reich is now backing Hillary Clinton, after endorsing Bernie Sanders during the primaries. This is what the former labor secretary, Reich, had to say.

ROBERT REICH: I’m just saying that your conscience needs to be aware that if you do not support Hillary Clinton, you are increasing the odds of a true, clear and present danger to the United States, a menace to the United States. And you’re increasing the possibility that there will not be a progressive movement, there will not be anything we believe in in the future, because the United States will really be changed for the worse.

That’s not a—that’s not a risk I’m prepared to take at this point in time. I’m going to move—I’m going to do exactly what I’ve been doing for the last 40 years: I’m going to continue to beat my head against the wall, to build and contribute to building a progressive movement. The day after Election Day, I am going to try to work with Bernie Sanders and anybody else who wants to work in strengthening a third party—and again, maybe it’s the Green Party—for the year 2020, and do everything else I was just talking about. But right now, as we lead up to Election Day 2016, I must urge everyone who is listening or who is watching to do whatever they can to make sure that Hillary Clinton is the next president, and not Donald Trump.

AMY GOODMAN: That is Labor Secretary Robert Reich, who supported Bernie Sanders but now is supporting Hillary Clinton. Dr. Jill Stein?

DR. JILL STEIN: Well, you know, I mean, it’s one thing to say that in the future we will build a party of resistance, and another, you know, to say, well, we just can’t do it now, you know, because when is this going to get better? You know, we’ve been really in a race to the bottom between two corporate parties that enable each other to continue moving to the right. And it’s not going to get better unless we make it get better. This politics of fear has basically delivered everything that we are afraid of. All the reasons people are told to vote for the lesser evil—because you didn’t want the expanding wars, you didn’t want the meltdown of the climate, the massive Wall Street bailouts, the attack on immigrants—that’s exactly what we’ve gotten. The answer, you know, to this crisis and this right-wing extremism is to stand up with a truly progressive agenda. And we have to fight for that. If we’re ever going to get out of this mess, we need to begin building our power now.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, Donald Trump visited a Milwaukee suburb, West Bend, on Tuesday, where he called for more police to patrol low-income communities. His visit came only days after the uprising in Milwaukee, sparked by the fatal police shooting of 23-year-old African American Sylville Smith. Trump spoke in front of an overwhelmingly white audience in West Bend, Wisconsin, which is about 95 percent white.

DONALD TRUMP: The problem in our poorest communities is not that there are too many police. The problem is that there are not enough police. More law enforcement, more community engagement, more effective policing is what our country needs desperately. Just like Hillary Clinton is against the miners, she is against the police. Believe me.

AMY GOODMAN: So that’s Donald Trump. In fact, it was billed as his appeal to the African-American community, Ajamu Baraka. They said next he’ll be appealing to the Latino community. So far, his support sort of floats between zero, 1 and 2 percent support in the African-American community. Your response to what he said?

AJAMU BARAKA: Well, you know, that’s—we can’t afford those kind of appeals, because that was basically an appeal to neofascism. That was an appeal to his base. It was an appeal to say, basically, the only way we can be safe—that is, white folks—is to make sure that we have those dangerous black people under full control, that any kind of oppositional activity, any kind of expressions of resistance, has to be crushed by the state. So, we understand his game. And he won’t be successful. It’s clear about that. But he is playing with some very dark forces here in this country. And that’s why people are concerned. That’s why they are fearful. And that’s the weapon that the Democrats have used to herd people back onto the Democratic plantation.

But, as Dr. Stein just said, you know, we can—we’re not afraid of Donald Trump or anybody else, because, you know what, we believe in the ability of the American people to resist, to defend democracy. So, we say, when do we begin to confront these right-wing forces? Because every four years, they’re going to have someone to present that’s going to scare many, many people. But you know what? If those scary individuals are confronted by an organized and determined electorate, an organized and determined people, we’re not going to be concerned about that.

AMY GOODMAN: Earlier this week, Donald Trump repeated his call for immigration to be suspended from parts of the world and for new ideological tests for all immigrants.

DONALD TRUMP: In the Cold War, we had an ideological screening test. The time is overdue to develop a new screening test for the threats we face today. I call it extreme vetting.

AMY GOODMAN: Dr. Jill Stein, "extreme vetting"? He talked about vetting for people who criticize the Constitution or express bigotry.

DR. JILL STEIN: Thought police is what he’s talking about. Let’s exercise thought police over people coming into this country. Next up will be thought police over people who are in this country already. And, you know, the idea that we could control terrorism by exercising thought police over people coming in is preposterous, when—you know, when it’s people here, as well, you know, who are subject to being radicalized and becoming extremists, because their lives are miserable, because they’ve been locked out of society. You know, as Ajamu was saying, we are an organized resistance. We are a different way forward. We don’t need to simply, you know, sit in terror of what Donald Trump represents, because we not only have solutions to these crises, we have the numbers that it takes. We don’t need to be a movement that splits the vote. We could, in fact, actually flip the vote. There are—

AMY GOODMAN: Well, let me play an ad that Hillary Clinton has released. I believe tomorrow Donald Trump will be releasing his first. We don’t know exactly the role Roger Ailes is playing, famous for his advising George H.W. Bush, Reagan and others. We know what is said behind the scenes is he is helping Donald Trump prep for the debate. But this is Hillary Clinton’s ad, that has been titled "Role Models." It’s about Donald Trump.

DONALD TRUMP: I love the old days. You know what they used to do to guys like that when they were in a place like this? They’d be carried out on a stretcher, folks. And you can tell them to go [bleep] themselves. I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn’t lose any voters, OK? It’s like incredible. When Mexico sends its people, they’re bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime, they’re rapists. You know, you could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever. You’ve got to see this guy: "Oh, I don’t what I said. Ah, I don’t remember." He’s going like, "I don’t remember."

HILLARY CLINTON: Our children and grandchildren will look back at this time, at the choices we are about to make, the goals we will strive for, the principles we will live by. And we need to make sure that they can be proud of us. I’m Hillary Clinton, and I approve this message.

AMY GOODMAN: This ad is being seen as, whether—whatever position you take, as one of the most powerful in many years, Donald Trump in his own words. But it is a challenge to you. It’s probably the most powerful challenge to third parties, is—what Hillary Clinton is saying is: Can we afford this? Is this who you want to be? For our radio listeners, what they continually showed, as Donald Trump was saying those things, was children watching. The children are watching.

DR. JILL STEIN: Yes, and, you know, what this ad says is we must vote against Donald Trump. It doesn’t tell us what we are voting for. And that’s exactly the problem. That Donald Trump represents this right-wing extremism, this neofascism, that doesn’t go away by bringing in another set of neoliberal policies. Remember where this economic crisis came from, that is lifting up the insecurity and the economic misery that undergirds Donald Trump. This comes from the policies that were led by the Clintons, by Bill and advocated by Hillary, including Wall Street deregulation, including NAFTA and the offshoring of our jobs, including the 1990s crime bill and the opening of the floodgates to mass incarceration. The solutions that Hillary Clinton provides are more of the same. It will be more of that economic security and misery that feeds right-wing extremism. This is not the alternative to Donald Trump. And we agree: Let’s not vote for Donald Trump. But let’s vote for a future that actually serves the needs of the American people. That won’t come from a candidate like Hillary, who’s sponsored by the banks and the war profiteers.

AMY GOODMAN: Dr. Jill Stein and Ajamu Baraka, Green Party presidential and vice-presidential nominees, I’d like to ask you to stay. We’re going to go to North Dakota, but we’re going to speak with a former vice-presidential nominee, Winona LaDuke, about an energy struggle that’s going on in North Dakota. And maybe she has some advice, having run in 1996 and also in 2000, along with Ralph Nader, as a Green Party candidate, and what that process was like. This is Democracy Now! When we come back, we’ll be in Bismarck, North Dakota. Stay with us.

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