Jill Stein: On Debates and "the Politics of Fear"

I may write more about this later, but here's a transcript (based on the C-Span transcript) of my questioning Green Party candidate Jill Stein at a news conference today at the National Press Club that largely addressed climate change and the election. Recommend people see the full video -- there were several interesting exchanges. I tried and failed to get another question in later in the news conference. 

Sam Husseini: "Two questions, in terms of your practical hurdles. One is: the Commission on Presidential Debates and their 15 percent criteria based on corporate polls. And, secondly, isn't part of the issue -- by the way, Sam Husseini with VotePact.org -- 

Dr. Jill Stein: -- Thank you --

SH: -- isn't part of the issue that some people who agree with you are effectively driving down your numbers? Noam Chomsky is basically telling people: Climate change -- the very issue you talked about [today] -- Trump is a climate denier, you've got to vote for Clinton in so-called swing states. How do you get past that hurdle when people who presumably agree with you on the issues are effectively driving down your numbers?

JS: Let me take that in two pieces. The League of Women Voters, when they quit and the commission came in and took over; they quit because they said this is fraud being perpetrated on the American public because of the inordinate power of the commission, which is essentially representative of the Democratic and Republican Parties, of the parties controlling the debates in order to silence political opposition. This is not what democracy looks like in the first place. They quit, saying the commission has essentially granted themselves the power to control the questioning. Because of their control over the questioner, control over the candidates who are eligible, and control over the audience, they could create the illusion that there is popular support for things like more corporate tax breaks, or the Trans-Pacific Partnership or expanding wars. They can basically create the movie to make it look like there is popular support. We considering the Commission illegitimate. It is not a public commission and its name is very deceptive. We think 15% is a disservice to the American public, especially at a time when people are saying that they are extremely unhappy with the two choices and the political parties in the Presidential election. We think there should be another basis for inclusion and that it is the right of voters to know about who their choices are. And that any candidate who is on the ballot in enough states that they could numerically win the election, voters have a right to know about those candidates. We have challenged in the court of law without great expectation that that was going to go anywhere and it hasn't. There is still the court of public opinion. In my home state of Massachusetts we have been able to fight our way into debates in which I did very well, and the public had enormous resonance with what they heard. And then I was yanked out of the debates because a public interest point of view is a great threat to the establishment. Thousands of people are signing up, and I encourage anyone who is interested to go to jill2016.com and sign up to be part of the debates. In the last election my running mate and I were arrested simply for trying to get on the grounds of a college where a debate was being held. I think in the future we won't be going alone. 

SH:  In terms of people driving down your numbers who ostensibly agree with you? 

JS: Ok, yes. The politics of fear that tells you you have to vote against what you are afraid of rather than what you truly believe. Noam Chomsky has supported me in my home state when he felt safe to do so. I think my agenda is far closer to his than Hillary Clinton's, but he subscribes to the politics of fear. Young people growing up today do not see the Democratic Party as the Party of The New Deal. They don's see it as the Party that is going to save us. They see it as the Party of fracking, of opening up the arctic, that pushed for the TransPacific Pipeline until they were forced by the grassroots to stop, the Party of expanding wars and drone assassinations, the Party of immigrant deportations and night raids. Donald Trump says terrifying things. Hillary Clinton has an extremely troubling record, from leading the charge into catastrophe of Libya, to saying, send them home to the children fleeing violence in Latin America, which she herself had a hand in, by giving the thumbs up to the coup in Honduras, ushering in incredible violence from which tens of thousands are fleeing. Hillary has been a major proponent of fracking around the world and has just appointed Ken Salazar, the best friend of fracking, to her transition team. The climate is not looking so good under a Hillary Clinton administration. Coal is terrible but the signs on fracking say that it is probably just as bad. It's not okay to open up an entirely new generation of infrastructure now that is going to wed us to fracking for another 40 years. It is basically curtains the minute we do that. There are many people who take a different point of view and recognize that the politics of fear delivered everything we were afraid of. All the reasons you were told to vote for the lesser evil because you didn't want the meltdown of the climate, expanding wars, off shoring jobs. That is exactly what we have gotten. Democracy needs a moral compass. It's not enough to vote against. We need an affirmative agenda, especially at a time when there are enough people that we can actually drive that agenda forward. We could potentially win this race. I'm not holding my breath but I'm not ruling it out. This is a crazy election. It's not over until it's over.