From an RT interview with Jill Stein, 2012 Green Party presidential candidate:
The American public, not President Obama, is the force that can have the most impact on how Washington pulls out of its current acrimony, former Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein told RT on Wednesday.
“I think it’s really the American people who need to kick in here… we need to kick in to say, ‘Let’s stop this government-by-extortion,’” Stein, the most successful female presidential candidate in US history, said.
Of a government shutdown that is already having impacts on vital federal programs, Stein said it is “the extension of a process that’s been taking place for the last decade, or two, or three if you trace it back, whereby money and power have been concentrated in the hands of an economic and political elite.”
Stein believes a unified response is needed now more than ever in the face of the “unhinged one percent” that dominates American politics.
“That’s where an independent party like the Green Party comes in, in that we offer a place to rally, to unify the principled opposition, because it’s only together that we can change course,” she said about seeking solutions to concerns that her party has with the way America is governed.
RT: The country’s in deadlock now after the Democrats and the Republicans have clashed over this. So where does your party fit into all of this?
Jill Stein: Where the Green Party fits in is where the American people fit in, who have also been locked out of a voice and a way forward by this real betrayal of the public trust and the public interest. What Congress is doing really serves no one, certainly not ordinary people who are really taking it on the chin. And the pain and the impacts of the shutdown are really compounding the policies of the past 10 or 15 years, which in turn have been intensified by austerity with the skyrocketing Wall Street bailouts – we’re still bailing out Wall Street to the tune of $85 billion a month; our incredible military budget and the expanding front of our endless wars, which are everywhere; the attack on our civil liberties. One out of every two Americans is now in poverty or [is] low-income according to the Census Bureau. Thirty-nine million students are in debt. And I have to mention just one more figure here, which is what the Department of Labor predicts, and that is that nine out of 10 jobs being created in the American economy over the next 10 years [will be] low-wage and insecure jobs, half of them not even requiring a high school degree or paying high-school wages. So what we’ve seen most recently with the move of the Tea Party, supported by the Republicans, is really the complete unhinging of our democracy and the extension of a process that’s been taking place for the last decade, or two, or three if you trace it back, whereby money and power have been concentrated in the hands of an economic and political elite. And a unified response, to answer your question, a unified response is really, critically important. That’s where an independent party like the Green Party comes in, in that we offer a place to rally, to unify the principled opposition, because it’s only together that we can change course. But we just did that in stopping the expanding war in Syria. So amazing things have happened. The power of democracy and justice is sweeping across the planet. We do have the power to change course. It will take substantial work in organizing and I urge the people to get involved with your state Green Party or national Green Party.
RT: It will take a lot of work and also a lot of time, and time is of the essence. If you had the chance to take Obama aside, what would you say to him in terms of resolving this current crisis?
JS: I think it’s more in the hands of the American people than Obama, to tell you the truth. We should not give in to extortion and blackmail on the part of a wing of the Republican Party that really represents the unhinged one percent. And I think it’s really the American people who need to kick in here in the same way we stopped the war, we need to kick in to say, ‘Let’s stop this government-by-extortion.’ We need to continue with the funding of the budget, we need to raise the debt ceiling, and let’s get down to restoring jobs, to creating our democracy, to solving the climate crisis, to downsizing our military. I think we need consistent public pressure, starting with, let’s fund the continuing resolution on the budget. I think we need to bombard Congress with phone calls.
RT: On raising the debt ceiling, this is an issue that will come around in the next couple of weeks or so. Will we see an agreement on that? And if there isn’t an agreement on that, what are the repercussions? Not just for the US, but for the world? What would you be saying to impact all that?
JS: It’s very frightening already. Just from the shutdown, we’re seeing real impacts on Medicare and Medicaid, veterans’ services, and people who need those services now cannot get them. New enrollees have been forestalled. You have a complete shutdown of food aid through the Women, Infants and Children, the WIC program, which is closing down within a week; the budget of the entire District of Columbia; loans for homes, for students; the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. So we’re seeing big impacts on people who are vulnerable, not only in health care, but particularly Head Start and similar programs are really being held up. Aid to school districts. So we’re being impacted right now and it’s going to get much worse if the debt ceiling is not raised.