Siva Vaidhyanathan, UVA’s Robertson Professor of Media Studies, is the director of the University of Virginia’s Center for Media and Citizenship.Siva Vaidhyanathan, UVA’s Robertson Professor of Media Studies, is the director of the University of Virginia’s Center for Media and Citizenship. (Photo by Dan Addison)

Recent changes announced by social media giant Facebook have roiled the media community and raised questions about privacy. The company’s updates include a higher level of news feed priority for posts made by friends and family and testing for new end-to-end encryption software inside its messenger service.

As Facebook now boasts more than a billion users worldwide, both of these updates are likely to impact the way the world communicates. Prior to the company’s news-feed algorithm change, a 2016 study from the Pew Research Center found that approximately 44 percent of American adults regularly read news content through Facebook.

UVA Today sat down with Siva Vaidhyanathan, the director of the University of Virginia’s Center for Media and Citizenship and Robertson Professor of Media Studies, to discuss the impact of these changes and the evolving role of Facebook in the world. Naturally, the conversation first aired on Facebook Live.

Excerpts from the conversation and the full video are available below.

Q. What is the change to Facebook’s News Feed?

A. Facebook has announced a different emphasis within its news feed. Now of course, your news feed is much more than news. It’s all of those links and photos and videos that your friends are posting and all of the sites that you’re following. So that could be an interesting combination of your cousin, your coworker, the New York Times and Fox News all streaming through.

A couple of years ago, the folks that run Facebook recognized that Facebook was quickly becoming the leading news source for many millions of Americans, and considering that they have 1.6 billion users around the world, and it’s growing fast, there was a real concern that Facebook should take that responsibility seriously. So one of the things that Facebook did was cut a deal with a number of publishers to be able to load up their content directly from Facebook servers, rather than just link to an original content server. That provided more dependable loading, especially of video, but also faster loading, especially through mobile.

But in recent weeks, Facebook has sort of rolled back on that. They haven’t removed the partnership program that serves up all that content in a quick form, but they’ve made it very clear that their algorithms that generate your news feed will be weighted much more heavily to what your friends are linking to, liking and commenting on, and what you’ve told Facebook over the years you’re interested in.

This has a couple of ramifications. One, it sort of downgrades the project of bringing legitimate news into the forefront by default, but it also makes sure that we are more likely to be rewarded with materials that we’ve already expressed an interest in. We’re much more likely to see material from publications and our friends we reward with links and likes. We’re much more likely to see material linked by friends with whom we have had comment conversations.

This can generate something that we call a “filter bubble.” A gentlemen named Eli Pariser wrote a book called “The Filter Bubble.” It came out in 2011, and the problem he identified has only gotten worse since it came out. Facebook is a prime example of that because Facebook is in the business of giving you reasons to feel good about being on Facebook. Facebook’s incentives are designed to keep you engaged.

Q. How will this change the experience for publishers?

A. The change or the announcement of the change came about because a number of former Facebook employees told stories about how Facebook had guided their decisions to privilege certain things in news feeds that seemed to diminish the content and arguments of conservative media.

Well, Facebook didn’t want that reputation, obviously. Facebook would rather not be mixed up or labeled as a champion of liberal causes over conservative causes in the U.S. That means that Facebook is still going to privilege certain producers of media – those producers of media that have signed contracts with Facebook. The Guardian is one, the New York Times is another. There are dozens of others. Those are still going to be privileged in Facebook’s algorithm, and among the news sources you encounter, you’re more likely to see those news sources than those that have not engaged in a explicit contract with Facebook. So Facebook is making editorial decisions based on their self-interest more than anything, and not necessarily on any sort of political ideology.

Q. You wrote “The Googlization of Everything” in 2011. Since then, have we progressed to the “Facebookization” of everything?

A. I wouldn’t say that it’s the Facebookization of everything – and that’s pretty clumsy anyway. I would make an argument that if you look at five companies that don’t even seem to do the same thing – Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Apple and Amazon – they’re actually competing in a long game, and it has nothing to do with social media. It has nothing to do with your phone, nothing to do with your computer and nothing to do with the Internet as we know it.

They’re all competing to earn our trust and manage the data flows that they think will soon run through every aspect of our lives – through our watches, through our eyeglasses, through our cars, through our refrigerators, our toasters and our thermostats. So you see companies – all five of these companies from Amazon to Google to Microsoft to Facebook to Apple – are all putting out products and services meant to establish ubiquitous data connections, whether it’s the Apple Watch or the Google self-driving car or whether it’s that weird obelisk that Amazon’s selling us [the Echo] that you can talk to or use to play music and things. These are all part of what I call the “operating system of our lives.”

Facebook is interesting because it’s part of that race. Facebook, like those other companies, is trying to be the company that ultimately manages our lives, in every possible way.

We often hear a phrase called the “Internet of things.” I think that’s a misnomer because what we’re talking about, first of all, is not like the Internet at all. It’s going to be a closed system, not an open system. Secondly, it’s not about things. It’s actually about our bodies. The reason that watches and glasses and cars are important is that they lie on and carry human bodies. What we’re really seeing is the full embeddedness of human bodies and human motion in these data streams and the full connectivity of these data streams to the human body.

So the fact that Facebook is constantly tracking your location, is constantly encouraging you to be in conversation with your friends through it – at every bus stop and subway stop, at every traffic light, even though you’re not supposed to – is a sign that they are doing their best to plug you in constantly. That phenomenon, and it’s not just about Facebook alone, is something that’s really interesting.

Q. What are the implications of that for society?

A. The implications of the emergence of an operating system of our lives are pretty severe. First of all, consider that we will consistently be outsourcing decision-making like “Turn left or turn right?,” “What kind of orange juice to buy?” and “What kind of washing detergent to buy?” All of these decisions will be guided by, if not determined by, contracts that these data companies will be signing with consumer companies.

… We’re accepting short-term convenience, a rather trivial reward, and deferring long-term harms. Those harms include a loss of autonomy, a loss of privacy and perhaps even a loss of dignity at some point. … Right now, what I am concerned about is the notion that we’re all plugging into these data streams and deciding to allow other companies to manage our decisions. We’re letting Facebook manage what we get to see and which friends we get to interact with.


Clinton Endorsement Backfires as Sanders’ Supporters Look to Jill Stein

Instead of falling in line, blindly loyal to Clinton just because she’s a Democrat, Sanders’ supporters will vote for values

Jumping for Bernie.

Jumping for Bernie. (Illustration: Clay Jones)

“Today, I endorsed Hillary Clinton to be our next president,” Bernie Sandersannounced to supporters on July 12, shortly after formally endorsing Clinton at a campaign rally in New Hampshire. “I know that some of you will be disappointed with that decision. But I believe that, at this moment, our country, our values and our common vision for a transformed America are best served by the defeat of Donald Trump and the election of Hillary Clinton.”

This was, unfortunately, the best Sanders could do ahead of the Democratic National Convention to ensure Clinton and her superdelegates don’t vote down every progressive concession he squeezed into the Democratic platform. But fear mongering Donald Trump is not a valid or viable reason to vote for Clinton, and many of Sanders’ supporters won’t be following suit.

Over the past few weeks, Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein’s social media presence has increased exponentially. Stein, whose platform shares more similarities to Sanders’ campaign than Clinton‘s, recently tweeted a Sanders quote from 1989. “I think we need to go in the direction of Canada, which has a third party, a democratic socialist party,” Sanders said. “We may not win right away. But our job is to bring together workers and poor people, minorities, environmentalists. Let’s come together, articulate the issues, and I think we’re gonna make some real progress.”

View image on Twitter

The Democratic Establishment hasn’t progressed over the past several decades, and the recent Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) vote is a prime example of the Party’s inability to move forward. Progressives and Bernie Sanders alike have vehemently opposed TPP, with Sanders surrogates on the Democratic National Platform Committee voting against TPP in the party platform. But even though Clinton vocally opposed TPP, her surrogates and those appointed by DNC ChairDebbie Wasserman Schultzvoted in favor of the agreement.

On July 10, former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich took to Facebook to reveal he was told—by an acquaintance currently advising Hillary Clinton—that Clinton and other Democratic Establishment leaders would never oppose TPP because Obama is in favor of it. As with most of Clinton’s stances, they favor political expediency rather than true principles.

Because of her propensity to flip-flop on important issues, Sanders supporters aren’t going to trust Hillary Clinton to push forward Sanders’ ideals. In contrast, Jill Steinhas been an adamant opponent of TPP, calling to “Flush The TPP” more than six months before Clinton ever took a formal position on the matter.

When Bernie Sanders formally endorsed Hillary Clinton, several of his supporters walked out of the campaign rally—just as many more will walk out of the Democratic Party to support Jill Stein.

“I am currently trending on both Twitter and Facebook. Why? Because Americans want more than warmongers and fools,” Stein tweeted on July 12, shortly after Sanders’ endorsement.

Sanders’ supporters won’t fall victim to the emotional blackmail of propaganda like “Unite Blue,” “Vote Blue No Matter Who” and Clinton’s most recent “Stronger Together.” Instead of falling in line, blindly following Clinton just because she’s a Democrat, Sanders’ supporters will vote for values. Bernie Sanders sparked a political revolution that will continue strong with Jill Stein.

“Millions are realizing that if we want to fix the rigged economy, the rigged racial injustice system, the rigged health care system, toxic fossil fuel energy and all the other systems failing us, we must fix the rigged political system, and that will not happen through the riggedDemocratic Party,” Stein said in a statement on Sanders’ endorsement. “Right now we have a real chance to change our rigged political system, and we must not squander this opportunity by pledging allegiance to a corrupt political insider who the majority of Americans do not like, trust or believe in.”

Clinton Endorsement Backfires as Sanders’ Supporters Look to Jill Stein

Brexit and the New Global Rebellion

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Boris Johnson is tipped as the next Prime Minister as British voters opt for Brexit. (Photo: PA wire)

Things are changing. A major crack has appeared in the edifice of globalization, and the neoliberal order that has dominated the world’s economy since the end of World War II is now in danger.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing, by any means. But poisonous weeds are just as likely as green shoots to grow up through those cracks. To paraphrase John F. Kennedy: Those who make constructive evolution impossible may be making destructive devolution inevitable.

We now know that Great Britain, itself an amalgam of older nations, is divided. England and Wales voted to leave Europe, while Scotland, Northern Ireland, and ethnically diverse London voted to remain.

This vote was a stunning rejection of Great Britain’s political establishment. “Leave” prevailed despite opposition from all three major political parties. Prime Minister David Cameron, who will now step down, called on voters to “Remain.” So did socialist Jeremy Corbyn, the most left-wing Labor leader in a generation. Barack Obama crossed the Atlantic to stand beside Cameron and offer his support.

Voters rejected all of them.

The uprising has begun. The question now is, who will lead it going forward?


Globalism’s Shadow Self

The world’s financial and political elites must now face the fact that resistance to their economic order, which has shaped the world since the Bretton Woods conference of 1944, is a major phenomenon. These elites are apparently more out of touch with the citizens of the industrialized world than at any time in modern memory.

Make no mistake: The “Leave” vote was a rejection of globalization, at least as it’s currently structured. This was a revolt of working class Britons who have seen their postwar prosperity erode around them and their social contract eviscerated by the corporate and financial oligarchy.

But it was also the sign of a darker and more sinister worldwide phenomenon: the resurgence of global nativism and xenophobia. This worldwide turn toward fear of the Other is globalization’s shadow self.

Revolt of the Powerless

That’s not to say that there wasn’t a legitimate left-wing case to be made for leaving the European Union. The “Left Leave” movement, or #Lexit, had its own advocates. “Why cling to this reactionary institution?” asked one.

But this near-victory wasn’t won with leftist arguments about resisting the global oligarchy. The left was too divided to make that case clearly or forcefully. It was largely won by stirring up bigotry against immigrants, cloaked in flimsy arguments about excessive regulation. Legitimate economic grievances were channeled into nationalist hostility.

Many “Leave” voters felt powerless, that they no longer had much of a say in their own destinies. They weren’t wrong. The European Union was largely a creation of transnational financial forces driven by a self-serving neoliberal ideology of “free” markets, privatization, and corporate economic governance.

But ,even at its worst, the EU is a symptom and not a cause. Great Britain’s citizens haven’t been losing control over their fate to the EU. They’ve been losing it because their own country’s leaders – as well as those of most other Western democracies – are increasingly in thrall to corporate and financial interests.

The British people have lost more sovereignty to trade deals like NAFTA and the TPP then they could have ever surrendered to the European Union. Their democratic rights are trampled daily, not by faceless EU bureaucrats, but by the powerful financial interests that dominate their politics and their economy.

Low Information Voters

This vote won’t help the middle class. British workers will no longer be guaranteed the worker rights that come with EU membership. British corporations will be less regulated, which means more environmental damage and more mistreatment of employees and customers. They will not, in the words of William Blake, “build Jerusalem in England’s green and pleasant land.”

Most “Leave” voters probablydon’t know that, because the media failed them too. Instead of being given a balanced understanding of EU membership’s advantages and disadvantages, the British people were fed a constant diet of terror fears and trivial anti-government anecdotes meant to reinforce the notion that EU was needlessly and absurdly bureaucratic.

As Martin Fletcher explains, Boris Johnson played a key role in degrading the performance of Britain’s corporate press back in his days as a journalist. Other outlets were all to eager to mimic his anti-government and anti-Europe stereotypes. And now? It’s as if Sean Hannity’s deceptive sensationalism had made him a top presidential prospect.

Johnson and UKIP leader Nigel Farage played the same role in the Leave campaign that Donald Trump is playing in US politics. Like Trump, they have used economic fears to stoke the anti-immigrant fear and hatred that is their real stock in trade. Their slogan might just as well have been “Make England Great Again.”

The campaign’s fearmongering and hate has already claimed a victim in Jo Cox, the Labor MP who was violently martyred by a white British racist. Tellingly, her murder was not described as an act of terrorism, which it clearly was. The decision to restrict the “terrorist” label to Muslims, in Great Britain as in the United States, feeds precisely the kind of hatred that fuels movements like these.

Great Britain’s immigrant population grew by 4.5 million under EU membership. But in a just economy, that would lead to growth for the existing middle class. Britain’s immigrants didn’t wound that country’s middle class. They’re scapegoats for rising inequality and the punishing austerity of the conservative regime.


What happens next? Markets are already reacting, retrenching in anticipation of new trade barriers and political uncertainty.

Before the voting, estimates of a Leave vote’s effect on Britain’s economy ranged from “negative” to outright “calamitous.” The outcome will probably fall somewhere between the two.

Will the reprehensible Mr. Johnson, who pushed aggressively for Brexit, now lead his party –perhaps even his country? How much will this boost UKIP? By rejecting the EU, will Great Britain soon experience even harsher economic austerity measures than Cameron’s?

Scotland may once again pursue independence so that it can rejoin Europe. Sinn Fein is calling again for the reunification of Ireland. Suddenly anything seems possible.

There are already calls for a similar referendum in France.

British workers are likely to be worse off without EU protections, especially if the far right prevails in future elections as the result of this vote.

Trade deals will need to be negotiated between Britain and the EU, along with the terms of separation. Judging by its behavior toward Greece, Germany prefers to punish any nation impertinent enough to try guiding its own economic destiny. These negotiations won’t be pleasant.

The New Resistance

The current order is unstable. The uprising has begun. But who will lead it?

All over the world there are Boris Johnsons and Nigel Farages poised to capitalize on the chaos. The US has Trump, who was quick to tie himself to the vote. Greece has Golden Dawn. Germany has the far-right, anti-immigrant AfD party. Scandinavia has the Sweden Democrat Party and the Danish People’s Party. Hungary’s ruling Fidesz party, itself nationalistic and totalitarian by nature, is in danger of being outdone by the racist and anti-Semitic Jobbik party.

Hungary is already building a Trump-like wall, in fact, a barb-wired fence meant to keep Syrian refugees out of the country and Jobbik out of political power.

There is also also a growing democratic counterforce, poised to resist both the global elites and the nationalist bigots. It includes Syriza in Greece, Podemos in Spain, and the Corbyn movement in Great Britain (although Corbyn’s fate is unclear in the wake of this vote). In the US it has been seen in both the Occupy movement and, more recently, in the newly resurgent left inspired by Bernie Sanders’ campaign.

The global financial order is fracturing. But will it fall? It’s powerful and well organized. Even if it does, what will replace it: a more humane global order, or a world torn by nationalism and hate? Should these new parties and factions form a transnational movement?

That’s the goal of economist Yanis Varoufakis, among others. Varoufakis confronted the EU’s economic leadership directly when he negotiated with them as Greece’s first Finance Minister under Syriza. They prevailed, and Varoufakis is now a private citizen.

The Greeks chose economic autonomy when they voted for Syriza. They didn’t get it. The British aren’t likely to get what they want from this vote either. No matter what happens, British citizens will still be in thrall to corporate financial forces – forces that can rewrite the rules they go along.

Greece’s fate has been a cautionary tale for the world, a powerful illustration of the need for worldwide coordinated resistance to today’s economic and political elites. We can vote. But without economic autonomy, we aren’t truly free. In the months and years to come, the people of Great Britain are likely to learn the truth: We are all Greece now.

The question is, what do we do now?

Richard (RJ) Eskow is a senior fellow at Campaign for America’s Future.

Berning Illusions: Why Sanders Can’t Concede to the Clinton Democrats

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This portrait of Bernard Sanders was adapted from a Creative Commons licensed photo from AFGE’s Flickr photostream. (Image: Donkey Hotey/flickr/cc)

With a pitched battle over ideas and policy looming at this July’s convention in Philadelphia, the angry chorus urging Bernie Sanders’ concession and “Democratic unity” grows deafening, even among some who voted for him. But the reality is, Bernie can’t (and shouldn’t) concede—he would lose all his leverage to negotiate a more progressive Democratic Party and would be neglecting the very ideas that inspired his remarkable campaign with its 12 million-plus voters.

Even as Bernie intimates that “It doesn’t appear that I’m going to be the nominee,” and delivers a “Where we go from here” speech in New York today, the fight for all that his campaign has stood for powers on.  As his Washington Post op-ed makes clear, Bernie isn’t backing away from his challenge to the political power structure and the changes so urgently needed. And Bernie’s millions of supporters aren’t backing away, either.

It’s worth considering why Bernie and so many of his supporters are not “ready for” unity with a party establishment that has spent decades consolidating a centrist corporate-friendly agenda. Why won’t Bernie Sanders’ supporters, particularly the “Bernie Or Bust” folks, fall in line with the presumptive nominee? Don’t they see the terror and blatant awfulness of Trump? Why are they still snarling and yelling as Clinton purports to extend an olive branch their way in the name of unity and victory?

First, the olive branch may be slippery and poisonous, or at least thorn-bedecked. What’s really on offer as Clinton “reaches out” to cultivate Sanders support—concrete policy commitments on core principles, or electoral fear-mongering?

Have the media and politicos conveniently “forgotten” why more than 12 million Americans, and 22 states in a majority, eschewed the pre-anointed Clinton for a once-relatively unknown elderly socialist? Have they forgotten how and why Sanders has gripped these millions with his message of fundamental systemic change, not trickle-down tinkering with our chronically corrupted and inequitable political and economic system?

Although many Berners detest Hillary Clinton and her politics, the potent currents behind Sanders’ mass appeal run deeper than Bernie. Folding up our political tents and subsuming them in a supposedly “Big Tent” Democratic Party run by the Clintons and other corporate centrists would be to ignore and deny the long-brewing and well-informed politics behind Sanders’ phenomenal appeal.


Whether you prefer Clinton or not, or are electorally motivated out of Trump phobia, consider the well-documented reasons why so many Bernie supporters are nowhere near “Ready for Hillary” even if they loathe and fear Trump. Here are just a few of the realities that motivate so many to be so passionate both for Bernie and against (or not for) Clinton:

  • Despite some accomplishments, both the Clinton and Obama administrations presided over the greatest inequality divides in modern U.S. history, with minimal investment in antipoverty programs or living wages (and in Clinton’s case, a radical undermining of poor people’s economic protections).
  • Under (Bill) Clinton, with Hillary’s vocal support, we witnessed the ending of welfare, the central safety net protecting poor Americans from the ravages of poverty and hunger. And NAFTA, which robbed America of hundreds of thousands of jobs, while impoverishing Mexican farmers, millions of whom fled north enduring scapegoating, death, and poverty.
  • Under Clinton, again with Hillary’s vocal support, we got the disastrous crime bill, the further criminalizing of millions of African Americans; we got the legislative pre-cursor to the Patriot Act (which Hillary later supported), in the form of the Anti-Terrorism Act, which paved the way for invasions of privacy and greater police powers at the expense of liberty and privacy; the Telecommunications Act which abetted mega-mergers that have decimated our media democracy.
  • Under Obama, we got 3 million deportations of immigrants—far more than under GW Bush. Likewise, Obama’s drone strikes have far exceeded those under Bush, killing thousands of innocent civilians and maintaining war and tensions.

What Bernie and his supporters have awoken cannot be reduced to Bernie v. Hillary—it’s a fundamentally different politics that demands more than the lesser of evils, a politics of urgency that insists on addressing the power structure that prevents progress on climate change, inequality, and political change.

The larger point is this: are you okay with the current state of affairs on inequality, poverty, hunger, homelessness, US military aggression (and the 51% of the budget behind that), corporate power, invasions of privacy, police militarization and abuses, and the ongoing migration of wealth and profits and resource control into the hands of fewer and fewer corporations and insanely wealthy individuals?

To understand why so many Bernie supporters (still) reject Clinton and her politics, you have to understand not only Hillary’s record, but the corporate centrist Democratic leadership of the past 25 years—a leadership that has never been so starkly and effectively countered as by Sanders. It is a long dispiriting and deflating record of using the specter of the right to justify a triangulating center that strangles the progress urgently needed on poverty, inequality, climate change, campaign finance reform, corporate power, and more.

Berners are still mad, not because “our candidate” lost, but because the country lost a unique chance at a profoundly different leadership in the White House. Berners are mad because the Democratic Party has abided unprecedented levels of inequality in America. We are mad because the Democratic Party has abided, and often outright aided, the deepening centralized corporate power over American politics and economics. We are mad because the Democratic Party has, for decades, taken labor, unions, and workers for granted—failing to push strongly for a $15 minimum wage, for union organizing rights, for real worker health and safety protections instead of public-private partnership regulations that let foxes guard henhouses.

We are mad because the Democratic centrist leadership, for decades, has put corporate compromise at the center of its “pragmatic” (read: defeatist) politics. We are mad not at compromise, per se, but because, empirically, the world desperately needs far more, and now.

We are mad because the Democratic centrist leadership trots out Republican bogeymen to excuse a politics that has not, for decades, challenged extreme wealth and corporate power. As Bernie and his millions have said, over and over—enough IS enough. It’s not just a slogan or a meme: when are more people going to wake up and be fed up by the utterly insane and untenable divides of wealth and power in our country? When are more people going to wake up and be fed up with waffling and tiptoeing (yes, by Clinton and Obama) on climate change? Carbon tax to fund massive renewables initiatives, anyone? Rapid coal phase-out, and outright ban on fracking, anyone? Courage, anyone?

Ultimately, the larger importance of this election is not about whether you “like” or “dislike” Hillary Clinton, whether you fear, despise, or laugh at Trump, or whether you love or loathe Sanders. It’s about the brutal realities of power that undergird our biggest crises today—inequality (propelled by race and class, with its nightmarish corollaries, poverty and hunger and homelessness), and climate change. At the root lies corporate power and the underlying structure and economy of maximizing profits and wealth, and, when the rubber meets the road, the bipartisan centrist support for this power. This is what Bernie has so powerfully challenged, and what Clinton and Trump defend and uphold, with albeit quite different verbiage.

The extent to which one represents real fundamental change is the extent to which one is willing to directly challenge this inequality and power. This challenge and courage is what has fueled Bernie and ignited millions. Finally, a viable presidential candidate has had the guts to say what has needed to be said for decades. You don’t get the change we so urgently need by nibbling at the edges, tinkering and tweaking within a compromised, concessionary, trickle down system.

The next phase of this long-winding elections battle is not about “licking our wounds” and uniting with a corporate Democrat who represents a fundamentally different politics—it’s about uniting behind an urgently needed progressive agenda that challenges corporate power, concentrated wealth, radical inequality, entirely preventable poverty and homelessness and hunger, a deeply corrupt and purchased elections system, an unsustainable energy and food system that imperils the planet, and much more.

The coming platform battle in Philadelphia will decide both very little, and a great deal. On the one hand, party platforms are vague, nonbinding values statements that have little (if any) bearing on a nominee’s policies. But what the platform says or doesn’t say, says a great deal about the party and its leadership. Sanders can (and should) withhold his support for Clinton until the battle plays out, and force Clinton and the party establishment to say “yes” or “no” to things like Medicare-for-all single payer healthcare, a carbon tax to address climate change, and a $15 minimum wage. It’s a fight worth having: Democratic voters have a right to know whether their presumptive nominee is willing—as Clinton so far has not been—to take courageous steps toward justice and equality.

Bernie Sanders has opened a tremendously compelling and vital new space in the American political discourse, one that’s far too important to shut down in the name of partisan “lesser evil” unity. Now is not the time to concede a “political revolution” that is only getting started.

Christopher D. Cook is an award-winning journalist and author of Diet for a Dead Planet: Big Business and the Coming Food Crisis. Cook has written for Harper’s, The Economist, Mother Jones, The Christian Science Monitor and elsewhere. See more of his work


JUNE 17, 2016

jill_stein_ap_img 2016

Hillary Clinton is leaving a lot of Democrats feeling cold, as Bernie Sanders hopes for the presidency slip away. Many disenfranchised and disillusioned Sanders supporters are considering their options. A good percentage of them could go Green. Salon quoted a recent poll showing 47 percent of all American voters would consider a third party candidate in this election if Clinton and Trump are the Democratic and Republican choices.

Jill Stein and the Green Party are making a major drive to get the Green Party on the ballot in all 50 states. This is something that they have never accomplished in the past. Additionally, Jill is working to get her name on the ballot in states where it is easier to get an individual candidate listed than a party.

Hillary Clinton as the Democratic Nominee will automatically appear on the ballot in all 50 states. That is the advantage of being a leading and long-established party, but there are regulations that make it difficult to start new parties. Laws in some states are very restrictive, making it hard for new parties to make it onto ballots. Jill Stein and the Green Party must circulate petitions and get thousands and sometimes tens of thousands of signatures in order to get on a single state’s ballot. Significant progress is being made but circulating petitions every four years is often necessary, according to Rick Lass, quoted in CounterPunch.

“Well that’s just one of the many obstacles that the major parties put up to voter choice, and so we may have to do it again in four years, even if we get on the ballot in all 50 states, because in most states, there’s a vote test. If a Green candidate… [Jill Stein or another major candidate like someone running for Governor] doesn’t get maybe one percent, maybe three, or maybe five percent, depending on the state, then that state’s election officials will disqualify us and we’ll have to start again from scratch the next time. This clearly never happens to the two major parties.”

Jill Stein is the presumptive nominee for the Green Party. Interestingly, she has repeatedly offered her spot on the ticket to Bernie Sanders if he wants it. So far, Bernie has said no. He made a promise to support Hillary Clinton as the nominee. He also says he does not want to hand the election to the Republicans by dividing the Democrats. Jill is making it clear if he changes his mind before their convention in early August, she would gladly step aside for Bernie, as she explained to Democracy Now.

“If Senator Sanders made the case that now he understood, after the very, you know, disturbing experiences of the last many months and the way that he’s been mistreated and beaten up by the party, perhaps he has a different view of the potential to create revolution inside of a counterrevolutionary party… That would be a game changer if he made the case that he has come to understand the critical need to build the Green Party as the political voice of that revolution.”

Hillary Clinton would be very unlikely to make such an offer. She’d do just about anything to be the nominee for her party, so that is one huge difference between the two. Jill Stein definitely puts her country and her party ahead of her own ambitions.

Jill Stein explained her feelings about running for president far differently than anything Hillary Clinton has said. Stein doesn’t want to be a politician, but she does want to create a country in which human beings can survive. Very few presidential candidates understand the struggle of ordinary and poor Americans just to survive.

“I’m a physician, not a politician. I don’t have a vested interest in a particular political career or a particular political office. My job is to do everything that I can to create an America and a world that we can live in and that we can survive in. And I would be very interested in having this discussion [Bernie running in her place on the Green Ticket.] I am not holding my breath that it’s going to happen. And I think it’s important that our campaign be plan B, if not for Senator Sanders, then for his supporters.”

Does Hillary Clinton care if people survive in the same way Jill Stein and Bernie Sanders do? Most people assume she does, but she’s never specifically said so. She seems to assume everything is fine with all American people now, and the question of survival doesn’t arise with her. Does she think the Obama administration solved all the problems already? The question of survival does arise with millions of Americans from one day to the next, especially the poor, the homeless, the jobless and those who need medical care and cannot afford it. As political analyst Dan Payne points out in the Politicker, her message is not about what she can do for the American People, and it has no real tangible goal that helps Americans.

“[Hillary Clinton] has no overarching and enduring message. ‘Fighting For You’ lacks what strategists call tension. If she wins, who loses? How is she fighting, and most important, who is she fighting for and on which issues?”

Jill Stein, unlike the kindly Bernie Sanders, is quick to explain what is wrong with Hillary Clinton. She doesn’t exactly mince words, and her speech is detailed and to the point. Unlike Trump, she isn’t just handing out insults. Stein tells the Observer why she thinks the FBI should move forward.

“The investigation should go forward. This is sort of typical Hillary Clinton; to do things that are not legal, to say that they are, and then try to cover them up. Hillary Clinton severely chastised other whistleblowers for using Internet channels that were not secure and yet she herself was doing that.”

Jill Stein also mentioned the Clinton Foundation before bringing out the big guns on foreign policy.

“In war there is hardly a more horrifying example of the head-long plunge into reckless militarism than what Hillary Clinton led the way on in Libya.”

Jill Stein is not at all certain the Greens can win in 2016, especially without Bernie Sanders, but she does have a powerful plan for change if she were to be elected, according to the Jill 2016 website. She has a Green New Deal, to create jobs, and those are $15 an hour jobs at a minimum, by transitioning the entire country to green energy by 2030. She believes that having a job is a human right, and employees deserve to keep their fair share of profits. She also wants medicare for all and a healthier environment. She will insist on making trade agreements fair, and increasing taxes on the wealthy. Her plan does resemble the Bernie Sanders plan, with breaking up big banks and encouraging small business.

Hillary Clinton has made very few promises to the voting public, except a general understanding she will supervise a continuation of the Obama administration. The American people have seen what the last eight years have brought. The voters who recognize the economy is still broken, income inequality is a very serious issue, and the Middle East is becoming increasingly destabilized, are not likely to vote for Hillary.

Jill Stein told the Observer she wants to continue Bernie Sanders movement, even if he does not join her. At a time when Sanders supporters are feeling powerless after a close race was thwarted at least in part by a complex web of disadvantages dealt out to outsiders, she speaks hope.

“It is time to reject the propaganda that tells us we are powerless, to recognize we have the numbers here for a transformational political change and to stand up on our own behalf—not to use your vote as a weapon against yourself, but to use your vote to move us forward,”

Jill Stein is a Bernie Sanders type alternative to voting for Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump.



California primary voters speak on social inequality, war


By our reporters
8 June 2016

Voters went to polls on Tuesday in the final six primary contests of the 2016 election cycle, with the exception of the District of Columbia, which will vote next week. Hillary Clinton declared victory in the Democratic Party nomination contest Tuesday evening.

WSWS reporters spoke to voters throughout the state of California. California, while traditionally having relatively little influence on the nomination process due the voting schedule, nonetheless is a significant gauge as it is the largest state in the country.

More than 650,000 Californians registered to vote in the final six weeks of the registration period, pushing the state’s total registered voters to 18 million, the most ever heading into a primary election. Many of these newly-registered voters were under the age of 45, a group that has favored Sanders heavily over Clinton.

In Los Angeles, many voters said the growth of social inequality and poverty were motivating factors in their election decisions.

“We have so many problems here,” one voter said. “I take the bus down 7th street and there’s homeless people everywhere. It’s ridiculous for us to continue spending money in places like the Middle East. But at the same time we’ve caused everything that’s going on over there.”

Another expressed frustration with the media’s declaration of Clinton as the presumptive nominee the day before the California vote. “They shouldn’t have done that,” he said. “They should have to wait until all the ballots are counted to make sure people feel free to vote for the candidate of their choice.”

WSWS reporters also spoke to voters in Berkeley, California, many of who expressed illusions in both the Sanders and Clinton campaigns.

Bob, an engineering student in Berkeley, said that he voted for Sanders. “I believe he has good policies for social change that will represent the younger generation,” he said. “Public education is a big deal for me. I believe it’s important to have an educated population.”

Asked about Clinton, Bob replied, “I think she’s an acceptable candidate. I would have nothing against her as a candidate, but Bernie Sanders seems to have much more audacity.”

Helcio, a Brazilian national, expressed a growing and widespread resignation about the US election system. “It’s pretty sad,” he said. “There is not much hope anymore. All the top 1 percent are in control. It doesn’t matter what you do, it will take a long time for people to get power again.”

Chris, a database architect, said he voted for Sanders because of concerns over income inequality. “Paraphrasing Robert Reich, I think Hillary Clinton is the best candidate for the system we have, and Bernie is the best for the system we would like to have. I’m voting my conscience in the primary.” Asked about the lack of discussion of war in the presidential election, Chris replied, “We’re to the state of a forgotten war.”

Rishi, an engineer, also voted for Sanders. His primary concerns are “the environment, climate change, and having a good foreign policy that doesn’t lead to war,” he said. “Trump is out of his mind. Hillary is a little too pro-war, pro-involvement in all the things she voted for. That was probably the biggest reason I voted for Bernie.”

When asked what kind of issues were of particular concern to him, Patrick, a voter in the San Francisco area, said, “The big one for me is medical debt. It hits me personally because I have kidney failure. I was diagnosed last November. For just a four-day stay in the hospital, it would have been $80,000. Luckily, I was able to qualify for Medi-Cal,” the state’s Medicaid health care program.

Many voters in San Diego also expressed distrust in the election process and a disbelief that anything would significantly change regardless of which candidate wins in November.

Alex, a student worker, said, “The super delegates can do whatever they want instead of doing what the people want. I read last night that Hillary Clinton is now the nominee. Why should we even bother voting now? The election process is rigged, we don’t have a voice.”

WSWS reporters in San Diego also spoke to voters from City Heights, a mostly Hispanic working class and immigrant community.

Freddie a telecom worker told reporters he was voting because, “I’m tired of blue-collar workers like myself suffering due to the financial institutions, Wall Street banks and corporations.”

When asked if he felt that this framework could adequately address the democratic rights of the population, he responded, “No! It doesn’t feel like it is a democracy when the politicians can be bought and sold. I don’t feel like it’s a democracy if hundreds of police can get away with killing people.”

Freddie was engaged in the strike by 1,700 workers for AT&T, which was contained by the union to San Diego. When our reporters asked why the union, the Communication Workers of America, made strikers return to work without a contract, Freddie responded that he was disappointed in AT&T. When pressed why the union had allowed them to even work without a contract, he agreed that the unions were no longer organizations of the working class.

Speaking on the difficulties of making ends meet, Freddie also said, “It’s not [quite] the [official] poverty line, but it’s paycheck to paycheck and that’s poverty. We work our whole lives and what do we get in the end? To pay off our car, maybe pay off a house that we can pass on to our children. That’s it?! You work so hard and you’ve got nothing to show for it at the end of your lifetime.”

Juan is a 30 year old military veteran who spent time in Afghanistan. He said he was there to vote for Sanders because he agreed with the way Sanders spoke about Wall Street and the difficulties of life for average people. Despite Sanders saying he would support Hillary Clinton if she won the primary, Juan maintained the impression that Sanders would never support Clinton. He said he would refuse to vote for Clinton, believing the Democratic and Republican parties are thoroughly corrupt and can only be reformed by Sanders.

When asked about Bernie Sanders’ support of the wars in Libya and Syria, as well as his votes to fund the wars in Iraq, Juan said he believed that Sanders did not really support the current wars in the Middle East.

A young mother also spoke to our reporters briefly saying she was going to the polls because it was her obligation. Expressing her disapproval of US military interventions abroad she said, “It’s my taxes that are paying these people to send soldiers to war and kill thousands of people in other countries. We are paying these people and they should answer to us.”

Daniel, a cook and student at a local community college said he was disgusted with growing social inequality, and expressed disbelief that it could be in any way addressed through either of the two big business parties. “The election is controlled by the 1 percent of both parties, the Democrats and Republicans. The race has become a popularity contest, we have no idea what politics is.”

Daniel continued, “We can’t trust anything Hillary says, she is two-faced. There will be no difference if Hillary or Trump wins.”

Green Party’s Jill Stein Shares Her “Plan B” for Bernie Sanders Supporters: A Green New Deal

Tuesday, 24 May 2016 00:00By Candice Bernd, Truthout | Interview

Jill Stein, the presumptive nominee of the Green Party

Jill Stein, the presumptive nominee of the Green Party. (Image: Jared Rodriguez / Truthout)

As Bernie Sanders’ voters begin facing the question of whether or not to support Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton if she becomes the party’s nominee, many of his supporters have pledged never to support her. In fact, voters in both major parties are seeking alternatives in this year’s presidential election — and third-party candidates are seeing an explosion in social media interest in their campaigns.

Jill Stein is the presumptive nominee of the Green Party in 2016. The main planks of her presidential platform include a “Green New Deal,” ending mass incarceration and police brutality, ending wars and drone attacks, a $15 per hour federal minimum wage, a single-payer health care system, universal public education and the abolition of student debt, breaking up big banks and nationalizing the Federal Reserve, initiating a global treaty to reverse climate change and ending extreme forms of extraction.

Truthout spoke with Stein before she headed out to Seattle as part of her ongoing “listening tour” of frontline communities struggling for justice. The following interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Candice Bernd: Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have all but clinched the major party’s nominations, even though they are generally unpopular among voters. While Sanders still has a narrow path to the Democratic nomination, the media and political establishment are beginning to pivot toward a Trump vs. Clinton general election match. Why is the Green Party a “Plan B” for Sanders’ supporters, and what do you have to say to those supporters at this juncture in the presidential race?

Jill Stein: So, I think the Green Party and my campaign [are] “Plan B” for Bernie supporters because the Democratic Party is the opposite of everything they’ve been working for and building for the last eight months or so, and to simply be dumped into Hillary’s campaign right now is kind of unthinkable.

“It is very hard to have a revolutionary campaign inside of a counterrevolutionary party.”

The sabotage of Bernie’s campaign by the Democratic Party really makes the point about why we need an independent party, because it has shown that it is very hard to have a revolutionary campaign inside of a counterrevolutionary party. What’s happening to Bernie is similar to what happens to other candidates, not only Dennis Kucinich, who never got the momentum that Bernie did, but you can go back to Jesse Jackson, who certainly did have it, or even to Henry Wallace, who was vice president and had a huge amount of momentum. [The Democratic Party] basically shut off the microphone and adjourned the convention in order to block his nomination in 1944.

So this is what the party does, and it has only become more corporatist, militarist and imperialist even while it has allowed very inspiring, progressive campaigns like Bernie’s to be seen and heard for awhile. After George McGovern was nominated in 1972, the party changed the rules of the game over the course of the next decade so that that kind of a grassroots campaign could never happen again. So Bernie had to fight on a very steep playing field and it’s just that the machine is powerful. Over the decades, as the Democratic Party continues to fake left, it continues to move right. I think that is the take-home lesson here — that we are not creating a more progressive, more grassroots party; it is only becoming more of a corporate instrument.

“Bernie supporters only need to be informed that they have another place to go where they can continue building the revolution.”

What’s really interesting right now is that Clinton and Trump in many ways are kind of converging around corporatism. Clinton is going after Republican donors and Republican voters. It’s hard to tell who’s the greater hawk on foreign policy. Trump, at this point, is all talk, but Clinton is a first-class war hawk by action and has really led the charge, from Iraq to Libya to Syria. Bernie supporters, I think, only need to be informed that they have another place to go where they can continue building the revolution in a way that it will not be dismantled by the party infrastructure.

You offered a public letter to Sanders to discuss a potential third-party run with him, even though he’s indicated that he would endorse Clinton and seek to unify the Democratic Party if she becomes the nominee. Why would it be strategic for Sanders to run on a third-party ticket?

He didn’t expect, from everything that I’ve seen and read, to see the surge of interest around his campaign. He did not expect to build the momentum that he has. I think he’s a little bit taken off guard here, and maybe he didn’t expect to be so badly beat up by the Democratic Party either. So maybe these two things will come together and in his own mind, and he’ll see a way forward.

Bernie has been quite clear that he considers third parties a big liability, but I think that’s kind of old-school thinking here that looks to the Democrats of the New Deal, which we don’t have anymore. I’m hoping Bernie is still a living, thinking person who can actually learn with experience and maybe his thinking will change here, but it’s clear where his revolution will go inside the Democratic Party, and that is to a graveyard. The party does not tolerate reform, and there have been many efforts to do so.

“The Democratic Party is funded by predatory banks, fossil fuel giants and war profiteers, and a few other usual suspects.”

The Democratic Party is funded by predatory banks, fossil fuel giants and war profiteers, and a few other usual suspects. At the end of the day, that’s who calls the shots. So if Bernie would like to see his hard work live on, I think it really benefits him to get outside the box and do right by himself, and his supporters. Instead of letting that just become gobbled up by the predatory Democratic Party, head in a new direction. If there’s one thing I can say to Bernie Sanders, it’s to recognize the power of this movement. If he were freed of the constraints of the party, he could, for example, join my call, the Green Party’s call, to cancel student debt that has a 43 million-person demographic that has no other place to hang its hat.

So, for all those reasons I think it’s really important for Bernie and his base to stand up and do the right thing, and if Bernie is too much a creature of the Democratic Party to do that I think his base has every reason to stand up on their own behalf and take charge of their future.

Green Party presumptive presidential nominee Jill Stein stopped at a Unitarian Universalist church in Fort Worth, Texas, to hear from residents about the impacts of fracking in their community after touring three gas well sites in the city of Arlington, October 16, 2015. The stop was part of her ongoing tour of frontline communities struggling for justice. (Photo: Garrett Graham / Don't Frack With Denton)

Jill Stein stopped at a Unitarian Universalist church in Fort Worth, Texas, to hear from residents about the impacts of fracking in their community after touring three gas well sites in the city of Arlington, October 16, 2015. The stop was part of her ongoing tour of frontline communities struggling for justice. (Photo: Garrett Graham / Don’t Frack With Denton)

That leads me into my next question, which is that some Sanders’ supporters may feel hesitant to “stand up for the right thing,” in your words, by voting for your platform in the general election because they fear a Trump victory. How do you respond to those fears?

I think the clear loser, with either Trump or Clinton, is the American public and especially millennials, who are really carrying this collapse around on their shoulders. We don’t have solutions here either from Clinton or from Trump, so this is a very liberating moment.

When you add into that the student debt issue, you’re talking about 43 million people, which is a winning plurality of the usual turnout for a presidential race. I think this is how you really bring out the overwhelming force into the election — that by joining our campaign, voting for our campaign and helping to get the word out, that this is the pathway forward for millennials … That’s how we truly mobilize, and millennials are the demographic best positioned to self-mobilize. I think debt here is ironically the secret weapon of transformational change because the same people who are carrying the burden around on debt, are carrying the injustice burden on everything else.

“The president has virtual control over canceling student debt.”

What I should add is that the president has virtual control over canceling student debt. That’s why the appointment of the chair of the Federal Reserve, which the president picks, can then basically create quantitative easing [to cancel student debt]. We bailed out the crooks on Wall Street to the tune of about $4 trillion in quantitative easing, so if we saw fit — as far as our misleaders in Washington, DC, saw fit — to bail out the crooks on Wall Street, it’s about time we bail out the young people who are carrying around the burden of predatory student debt in an economy which lacks the jobs to pay back that debt.

Doing this kind of quantitative easing is not just a favor for young people; it is the stimulus package of our dreams for the economy. Unlike the Wall Street bailout, this is a productive bailout that unleashes enormous productivity on the part of young people to do what they love to do and do what they were trained to do, instead of working a low-wage, part-time job — or two or three of them — in order to make ends meet. That’s the opportunity of this election.

Don’t let the self-serving propaganda of the political establishment intimidate you out of casting a vote that is powerful because it has the numbers behind it, and powerful because it is the moral high road.

Both the dominant parties are undergoing internal crises as they respond to the angry grassroots voters at their base. In your view, what is happening to the major parties, and do these internal crises leave an opening for third parties to disrupt the two-party system in the US?

What’s going on right now, I think, is a hostile takeover in the Republican Party and the attempt at a takeover in the Democratic Party. It’s interesting that the Democratic Party turns out to have more repressive control than the Republican Party does. The hostile takeover has succeeded inside the Republican Party. It has not inside the Democratic Party, and unfortunately it doesn’t look likely to because of the vice grip, the stranglehold that the Democratic Party leadership has on the party apparatus and machinery.

The Democratic Party has sort of maintained the lip service of the base. It’s had a progressive agenda, although that’s been increasingly dismantled and hard to find. It hardly gets the lip service anymore…. There are remnants of it that I think the Sanders campaign represents, but that progressive agenda has been really stripped of power by the Democratic Party.

The Republican Party has its own language that has more to do with hate, fear, racism and xenophobia. Meanwhile, you have the elite that control the party, with its own corporatist agenda as well as some racist policies — not nearly as flagrant as Donald Trump and what the base seems to be getting behind right now.

So there’s just this total divergence within both parties of what the base wants as opposed to what the elite in control of the parties is committed to. The house of cards is falling down, as it should. For every bad policy of the Republicans, you can find another bad policy of the Democrats. While [the Democrats’] lip service has been much more progressive, the actual track record is pretty darn dangerous.

Interest in the Green Party has jumped recently, with a more than 11.3 percent growth on social media as voters begin seeking alternatives to the possibility of a Trump vs. Clinton general election match. What is the Green Party’s strategy to increase this momentum moving forward?

I think as the Democrats continue to sideline Bernie there will be continued awakening. Word is spreading among Bernie supporters that there is another place to go, and that writing Bernie’s name in amounts to basically staying home because those votes will not be counted. They will not even be reported.

We are setting up college chapters on college campuses across the country. We’ve only, within the last week or so, gotten [federal funding] and have only begun now a review process so we can hire to begin our organizing. We hope to have some hands on deck very soon so that we can start organizing the enormous interest that’s out there.

“Word is spreading that writing Bernie’s name in amounts to basically staying home because those votes will not be counted.”

We intend to take action to open the debates. We have two cases in court. I take it as a good sign that they haven’t been dismissed yet. We will be undertaking actions. In 2012, Cheri Honkala and I were arrested trying to get in to watch a debate that we should have participated in. We were arrested for just trying to get onto the grounds of the campus, because, as you know, they carefully control the audience of these things. It’s a rigged debate like it’s a rigged election, with a rigged audience to create the impression that there’s public support for the outrageous things that these candidates are talking about. So we intend to begin actions about this soon that may include, for example, an economic boycott of sponsors of this sham called the Commission on Presidential Debates, and other direct actions.

How is the Green Party working to get on the ballot in all 50 states, and what do you think the impact of voting barriers in this year’s election cycle has been? To what extent do you think voting barriers will impact the integrity of the general election moving forward?

We are fighting to get on the ballot. We are currently on the ballot for a majority of voters, but we want to be on the ballot for 100 percent or as close to that as we can get. We’ve been challenging ballot-access laws in court and we’ve been winning many of these cases so we’re very optimistic moving forward. We were able to bring down, for example, in Georgia, the toughest ballot requirement in the country.

“It’s a rigged debate like it’s a rigged election.”

We are currently on the ballot for all the big states. There are two difficult states, which are large, that are in process … Illinois and Pennsylvania. Those are going full tilt now. Twenty-two states are over and done, and there are about 22 ballot drives that are under way, with a few more to come down the road. All of our dollars go into these ballot drives and that’s why these rules were designed that way, to give us some very high hurdles. There’s a lot of energy out there now to get over those hurdles, so we’re very optimistic.

As far as voting barriers go, it’s very disturbing that these voting barriers continue, whether you’re talking ballot access or voter ID laws, the shutting down of polling places that happened in New York. We’re seeing the Democrats do this as well as the Republicans. The question is can we overcome this with overwhelming force by having a super-powered turnout. Can we overcome those barriers? I don’t know, but I think we have to give them as hard a time as we can to assert our democratic rights.

I would add to those voting barriers the fear campaign that discourages people from voting outside the corporate box because we could solve that fear problem with the stroke of a pen and that’s through rank-choice voting, which enables voters to rank their choices instead of just voting for one and rolling the dice. Instead you can rank your choices, knowing that if your first choice loses, your vote is automatically reassigned to your second choice. It’s a voting system that’s already used in many major cities around the country. Maine will have a referendum on it this election — to create rank-choice voting as a statewide voting system. There are countries around the world that use it. So there’s every reason to use it.

In your view, how can social movements like the Black Lives Matter movement and the Fight for $15 best influence the presidential debate in the general election?

I think what they are doing is really critical because at the end of the day it’s the social movement that is the real driver of transformational change. It’s always the social movements. So, they need to keep doing what they’re doing. What I would add to that is also using their power in the political realm as well. So not to step back one baby step from a full-powered social movement, but to also give that social movement political voice, and don’t be talked out of their agenda. Don’t compromise for candidates that aren’t really serving the cause.

In our campaign, our goal from the start [was] to lift up the voices of the frontline communities and bring them into the front lines of the presidential election. It’s crazy that the presidential election should represent anything other than the struggle of frontline communities because that’s who America is now. America is these battles to end police violence, to create a decent living wage, to get people out of poverty, to end student debt, to stop the climate crisis.

Bernie Sanders has compared his democratic socialist platform to Franklin Roosevelt and the New Deal. You are calling for a “Green New Deal” to answer many of the nation’s economic and social crises. What’s the difference between them, and what would you say is the most important difference between yours and Sanders’ platforms?

The difference between the Green New Deal that I’m talking about and the New Deal-type programs that Bernie is offering is one of scale, scope and time frame. So, my campaign is declaring an emergency of our economy and an emergency of our climate. We’re calling for a plan of action that is as big as the crisis that is barreling down on us. We are calling for 20 million jobs. I think Bernie is calling for about 9 [million] last time I saw. It started out less than that, but it’s been getting bigger. We’re calling for 20 million jobs, which is enough jobs to put everyone to work in a full-time job, and those jobs are focused on creating a just and sustainable economy, with a just transition to 100 percent clean, renewable energy, to a healthy and sustainable food system, to public energy efficiency, renewably powered transportation and to include restoring infrastructure, including ecosystems. So there is a green component here that is not addressed in Bernie’s plan.

The time frame of our plan is, like, now — meaning, start now on an emergency basis, so that by 2030 we have achieved clean, renewable energy and fossil fuels and nuclear power are shut down by 2030. The reason for that is that is what science demands if we are going to get out of here alive.

“Our goal from the start [was] to lift up the voices of the frontline communities and bring them into the front lines of the presidential election.”

When Pearl Harbor was attacked, when the US actually entered the Second World War, we basically declared an emergency, and it took six months to go from 0 to 25 percent of the US economy being put into wartime production. So certainly in 15 years, we can move 100 percent into clean, renewable energy, food, transportation and ecosystem restoration.

The other piece of this is that we would declare an immediate ban on all new fossil fuel and nuclear infrastructure. I know Bernie talks about phaseout; I haven’t heard about an immediate ban. So, I think those are the differences. Ours is really a survival plan. It is an emergency program with emergency implementation.

Our platform shares most domestic policies with Bernie, but we differ on foreign policy in that we call for foreign policy based on international law, human rights and diplomacy — not on the current paradigm, which is economic and military domination — which Bernie is beginning to move away from, but he hasn’t quite done it that clearly. There’s still a little foot-dragging I think, but there’s only so far you can go within the Democratic Party.

We call for ending subsidies as well as weapons sales to countries that are violating international law and human rights. So that means we stop funding the Saudis, and selling weapons to them and collaborating with them on this. At this point, Bernie is still kind of pointing to the Saudis as the solution where reality and history tell us that the Saudis are the problem, not the solution.

“We would declare an immediate ban on all new fossil fuel and nuclear infrastructure. Ours is really a survival plan.”

We look to global demilitarizations. We look to the US to lead the way, not only on nuclear disarmament, but also on demilitarizing our budget. China, Russia, we are all facing devastating consequences of climate change right now, and all of our economies are in very difficult straights. All of us benefit from redirecting our resources out of military concentrations and into rapid green transformation, which is great because it makes obsolete the causes of our military conflicts to start with — which are largely about securing energy sources and routes of transportation.

But I think as Bernie has gotten stronger in his campaign, he has been much bolder about departing from the constraints of the Democratic Party, and my hope is that if he is able to step away, that he would share our agenda, entirely. I think we’ll continue pushing. I don’t think the movement should wait for him, but I hope he will join the movement.

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Candice Bernd is an editor/staff reporter at Truthout. With her partner, she is writing/producing Don’t Frack With Denton, a documentary chronicling how her hometown became the first city to ban fracking in Texas via ballot iniative and its subsequent overturn in the state legislature. Follow her on Twitter: @CandiceBernd.