‘Lesser evil is not a solution’: Green Party candidates debate on RT America
Voting day should be a national holiday, while the US should stop acting like a predator across the planet and work to address the challenge of climate change. These were just some of the arguments advanced at the RT-hosted Green Party presidential debate.
Three out of five candidates for the party’s presidential nomination – Jill Stein, Kent Mesplay and Sedinam Kinamo Christin Moyowasifza Curry – joined RT America’s Tyrel Ventura, Tabetha Wallace and Sean Stone to make their case. The debate was broadcast live using a 360-degree camera.
In the candidates’ opening remarks, Moyowasifza Curry argued that America’s problems started back before the founding of the US, and said she would teach “truth, love and honesty” to heal the nation’s wounds.
Mesplay said he wanted to give a voice for the indigenous people worldwide, mistreated by the nations that surround them. Stein, a physician who was the party’s candidate in 2012, said her goal was to apply medicine to politics, “the mother of all illnesses.”
Appealing to the middle
As the Green Party becomes more visible, it will become more viable in a general election, Mespley argued. “We get away from lesser-evilism by growing the Green Party early,” he said.
Moyowasifza Curry said that she was reaching out to people in person, explaining that “We could win the White House and paint it Green.”
The candidacies of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have created the “perfect storm for independent politics we need,” Stein argued, describing Clinton as the candidate of fear and Trump as the candidate of hate. “Hate and fear are not what democracy needs.”
Reforming the process
Asked what they would do to reform the US electoral process, every candidate offered something different.
“Election day should be a legal holiday,” Moyowasifza Curry said. She also called for early voting, extending the vote to children and youths, and abolishing the Electoral College, since it was based on the enslavement of African-Americans.
Mesplay said he would lower the voting age to 16, while keeping the paper ballot, since the machines could be tampered with.
Stein was also in favor of paper ballots, but proposed ranked-choice voting in order to eliminate the concept of “spoiler” parties and two-way races.
China and Russia
“We have one planet, we are one race,” Moyowasifza Curry said, urging the US to learn from “older, more mature” civilizations like China and Russia. “We need to step back and understand that we’re the baby here.”
“It would be helpful to find common ground for the Eagle and the Bear to come together,” Mespley said of Russia. He expressed concern that China was emulating the US in a “race to the bottom,” becoming “more predatory” and consumerist. Instead of fighting each other, nations of the world should join forces in the great war against “climatic instability,” the common enemy of all, he said.
US policy toward Russia is a “marketing strategy for the weapons industry,” Stein said, used to justify expensive military projects like the F-35 fighter jet. She described the US encirclement of Russia as a “Cuban missile crisis on steroids,” and said the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade pact is “creating a trade war with China right now.”
Nuclear weapons and energy
All three candidates were adamantly opposed not just to nuclear weapons, but nuclear energy.
“We don’t need that,” Moyowasifza Curry said, adding there were enough nuclear weapons in the world for the human race to commit collective suicide.
“We really need a nuclear-free world,” said Mespley, explaining that he opposed nuclear energy because it gave legitimacy to the existence of nuclear weapons.
“It’s not only shameful, it’s extremely dangerous” that the US has been modernizing its nuclear weapons, said Stein, voicing opposition for Washington’s abandonment of the ABM treaty.
How to deal with terrorism
“We created every enemy we have by our actions and our behaviors,” Moyowasifza Curry said, noting that domestic terrorism was just as dangerous as its international cousin. She urged compatriots to reach out to allies in the Islamic world.
Mespley agreed, saying that “perverted and corrupted Islam” was behind terrorism, while authentic Muslims have been horrified by it.
“More people were killed by toddlers since 9/11 than by so-called Islamic terrorists,” Stein argued. “Our wars in Iraq, Syria and Libya have fanned the flames of ISIS.”
Modern Islamic terrorism was created by the CIA and Saudi Arabia in the 1980s to fight the Russians in Afghanistan, she said.
Guns and violence
“We need to get automatic weapons off the streets” and hold gun manufacturers and distributors accountable for violence, Stein argued as the debate on domestic policy issues kicked off with a question about gun control.
Moyowasifza Curry said she would “outlaw and eliminate by decree guns” within the first 100 days, if elected. Mesplay acknowledged that this was the party stance, but said he personally supported Second Amendment rights in the face of a heavily armed US military “acting like a predator across the planet.”
Mesplay went on to advocate a “Green New Deal” to create jobs, while promoting local self-sufficiency as the way to go forward. Stein pointed out that “vast concentrations of wealth corrupt our political system,” while Moyowasifza Curry denounced capitalism altogether.
“I am a socialist, and capitalism is barbaric,” Moyowasifza Curry said.
Food waste and social safety nets
Moyowasifza Curry also denounced corporate welfare as “criminal,” and argued that companies which can’t make a profit without taxpayer support “don’t deserve to be in business.”
Mesplay pushed for a “universal agreed income,” but noted it would require changing the infrastructure to prevent individuals from gaming the system.
All candidates agreed that industrialized food production has been creating problems, and advocated a focus on organic agriculture, local sustainability, and banning genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
Feminism and police brutality
They likewise agreed that feminism – or “post-patriarchal values” as Mesplay phrased it – was a core value of the party. Moyowasifza Curry referenced a Ghanaian proverb about educating women helping the entire community, while Stein said that reproductive rights were a human right off-limits to government intrusion.
“End the racist war on drugs,” urged Stein, further advocating for release of nonviolent offenders imprisoned on drug charges. Moyowasifza Curry, who wore a ‘Black Lives Matter’ button, echoed that sentiment, adding that she would mandate sensitivity training for police officers. The entire concept of “whiteness” was misconstrued, she said, a product of ignorance.
“We need a cultural shift, to not have a militarized police force,” Mesplay said, adding that he would establish a commission to document police killings.
Whistleblowers and secrets
Whistleblowers like Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden took great risks to expose the government’s shadowy operations, and should be praised for it, Mesplay said. Both of them, as well as Julian Assange, should be “welcomed home heroes,” argued Stein, because they revealed things “American people desperately needed to know about.”
Moyowasifza Curry added she would give the whistleblowers a “ticker-tape parade in Washington, DC.”
Reigning in the Pentagon
The $600 billion US military budget is actually understated, since it does not account for the costs of Veterans Affairs and the chronic traumas that exact a cost on the society as a whole, Mesplay argued. He would transform the military’s logistics capability to serve peaceful purposes.
Moyowasifza Curry agreed that the US military would be better used to build peace at home, advocating cutting the military in half and establishing the Department of Peace.
“We can fix this – we started it, we can stop it,” Stein said, arguing that the US foreign policy based on economic and military domination has been “absolutely catastrophic,” resulting in failed states, mass refugee flows, and terrorism. “We have a trigger finger on an extremely bloated military,” she added, saying that every dollar spent on clean energy would create three times more jobs than if spent on the military.
All of the candidates came out against corporate finance in politics, criticizing the current electoral system is outdated and in need of reform.
“We won’t get to 300 if we allow this buying of democracy,” Moyowasifza Curry said, pointing out that 158 families account for the bulk of political donations in US elections. She urged the passage of a constitutional amendment to “end corporate personhood.”
Currently, corporations are “super-people that never die,” Mespley noted, likewise opposed to the ruling.
Stein pointed out that Citizens United was not the only SCOTUS verdict corrupting the political process, and pointed to the “incredible corrupting influence of the corporate media in this race,” with the amount of coverage given to mainstream candidate Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.
Stein was the Green Party’s presidential nominee in 2012. She is a medical doctor who has led initiatives promoting healthy communities, green economy and democracy. She was the principal organizer for the Global Climate Convergence for People, Planet and Peace over Profit.
Mesplay describes himself as “Euro-American Blackfoot,” and has comedienne Roseanne Barr as his running mate. An engineer by education, he was born to American parents in a Papua New Guinea rainforest. Mesplay has been active in the Green Party since 1995. Indigenous issues are a major plank of his campaign platform.
Moyowasifza Curry is a California native who has extensive experience in project management, and joined the Greens after becoming disillusioned with Democratic politics. She has served as a political strategist in the West African nation of Ghana.
The Green Party convention will be held from August 4-7 in Houston, Texas.