‘US people realizing system not for them’ – Hip-hop star Boots Riley to RT

Boots Riley © John Vizcaino
America’s problems will only be solved outside of the electoral system, rapper and activist Boots Riley tells RT. Neither Hillary Clinton nor Donald Trump has the true interests of Americans at heart, he said in a wide ranging interview.

In an interview with RT’s Caleb Maupin, Boots Riley, lead singer of hip-hop group The Coup, gave his thoughts on the recent US election. Riley, who hails from Oakland, California, has been involved in political activism since an early age and is known for his left-wing views.

“They had us choosing between two warmongering, Wall Street lapdogs,” Riley said. “People are realizing that this system is set up not for them. They don’t want to engage in that game anymore. Two-hundred-million people didn’t vote.”

Riley takes some comfort from the low voter turnout, saying, “That means that most of the country thinks of themselves as to the left of both candidates.”

However, he also blamed the rise of Trump on the failure of the progressive left to provide any real change.

“That coming to be is the result of so many progressives trying to play the inch-by-inch game, which only ends up serving the interests of the rich. And the people want something much more radical!” he said, adding, “The Democratic Party ran somebody that was clearly not very left. So you’re picking between two people that are totally supportive of the capitalist system.”

Boots believes the answer to America’s problems lies outside the electoral system, which he said was “not something that’s built for liberation.”

“We have to not just protest in the street, not just make a spectacle to show we are against it,” he said, adding, “We need changes that come from having people organize and able to control profit. Everyone knows that the capitalist system is based on money; five-year-olds know that. What we also know that is the capitalist system cannot exist without the worker – that’s where our power is!”

A global perspective is also needed, Riley stressed, but he has been disappointed by the inconsistency of antiwar movements so far.

“Unfortunately when a Democrat gets in office,” he said, “not as many people want to protest the things he does. So for instance, Obama’s been killing people with drones and all sorts of wars going on, helping the invasion of Libya, all sorts of things.”

Riley extended his criticism to Hillary Clinton, going so far as to say: “In reality a lot of these Democratic presidents will go to war just as much as Republican presidents. And I would say that Hillary is all about invading and bombing countries to protect US interests.”

However, he also warned against thinking of Trump as a president for peace.

“I wouldn’t trust what Trump says. If you take what he says on face value, he thought the US military was involved in too many wars. But he goes back-and-forth, because he was saying things that were in support of the Iraq invasion, as was Hillary. He’s definitely not a pacifist and he’s definitely not above killing to make a profit,” he said.

Riley added that ordinary Americans, no matter what their political persuasion, are generally anti-war.

“Shortly after 9/11, we did a tour with my group, The Coup, with an MTV-sponsored band, and we were opening up. And every day I would be speaking up against the bombing of Afghanistan, which was not protested anywhere near as much as the invasion of Iraq,” he recalled.

“And we touring through Texas, Montana, Florida, the Midwest, all of these places, and I spoke out against the war every day to audiences that were not The Coup’s audiences; we didn’t know if they were politically down with us or not. And in all of these places that were considered right-wing, everyone hooped and hollered for antiwar statements. But if you listened to the media at that time, they’d have told you that the US population was for the war, and we know that’s not true!

“Not only are people tired of imperialist wars, they never wanted them in the first place,” he stressed.