Katie Dunne, Passionate believer in democracy and member of UHM's Digital Media Content Crew.
Stephen Jaffe on Single-Payer healthcare, Socialism, Getting the message out, Campaign finance and Clean elections, a Woman’s right to choose, Superdelegates and M.S.M.
#WeThePeople interviewed Stephen Jaffe on May 17th, 2017. He is a Bernie-inspired lawyer and a Democratic Socialist of America, running as a Democratic challenger to Nancy Pelosi in the 12th Congressional District of California
John starts by thanking him for running, and pointing out that he is grateful for lawyers in the era of Donald Trump.
They start with current affairs. Stephen is hopeful that Robert Mueller’s appointment (amid 3 separate investigations which are going on - to varying degrees of effectiveness) will go a long way towards putting national anxiety to rest. He expects that Mueller will uncover all the facts. Uphill Media’s Scott Galindez, John says, kept saying Donald Trump would not be impeached but now he’s now so sure. What do you think Stephen? I don’t think he will finish his first term, like Nixon, he’ll see what is coming and be persuaded to resign, Stephen replies. John thinks that Donald Trump and what he has done to the Republican Party will help Progressives for the midterms. Stephen says that what has happened should wake the Republicans up to what occurs when one lets the fanatic right (Tea Party) take over the party. He reckons that the more moderate Republicans may decide to pull the party back towards the center. Stephen is still optimistic about the judicial system (if it’s left alone to do its job). He says that in 46 years as a lawyer, he has seen biased judges and a lot of decisions he didn’t agree with, but not so much flat-out palpable corruption, although he knows it exists.
Nancy Pelosi John says, stated that Single-Payer won’t be on the 2018 Democratic Agenda. That is just not the case Stephen replies. It is certainly on mine, it’s even one of the central planks of my campaign. I feel very strongly about it. The U.S. needs to join the rest of the civilized world and provide universal healthcare for its people. It’s the only rational thing to do at this point. Miss Pelosi‘s 2nd biggest donors are the healthcare providers. She has a financial incentive to keep Single-Payer off the agenda. John shows a screenshot of Nancy Pelosi’s donors. A whole lot of healthcare lobbies have given her money. This is confusing he says, because we just had a huge outcry from individuals in the industry and healthcare professionals regarding Single-Payer. This seems to me to be another example of those lobbyists’ entities that claim to represent individuals, but really the votes were handed down by 10 people on the board to give money to Nancy Pelosi. Of course replies Stephen. I think healthcare is a moral right and that the government has an obligation to provide that. I find it highly immoral that you have insurance companies standing in-between the healthcare provider and the healthcare consumer (patients) sucking money out of the system and making profit on the illness of people.
The conversation turns to socialism. John shows a clip from Fox news where Stephen schools the anchor and viewers regarding the meaning of socialism. In essence, he says, we are all socialists. The country runs on socialism. Do you like having a military, a library, Medicare, Social Security, Police Departments, Fire Departments...? Anytime when money is pooled by the government for the common good of all the people, you have socialism. It’s not a dirty word! Stephen turns to John. The Right tries to make you believe it is. There are appropriate places for it and not so appropriate places for it. Socialism definitively belongs in the healthcare sector of the economy though.
Stephen, John continues, you’re on Independent Media and Progressives in your district will be fine with your message on Single-Payer, but what about the people who only hear Nancy Pelosi’s message on M.S.M? How do you reach those people? Well replies Stephen, Nancy Pelosi first of all, perceives herself not so much as a Member of Congress from the 12th Congressional District of CA, but as a national leader of the Democratic Party in Congress. She is, I believe and have observed, really out of touch with her own constituents in San Francisco. You say I’ll be okay with Progressives in San Francisco? Well, let me tell you there are a hell of a lot of Progressives here. He continues, I think that Nancy Pelosi is far more popular nationally than she is in her own Congressional District. Two nights ago (May 2017), she held a town hall in Washington D.C. with an audience that I’ve no idea how they picked. Carefully, laughs John. I don’t know, Stephen continues, if questions were provided to her ahead of time, but I’d bet my car they were. A genuine town hall should be held here with her own constituents. I have 13 months to let the voters of San Francisco get to know who I am and what I stand for. To use an old Rolling Stones song. Time is on my side.
John asks about the areas in which Stephen needs the most help. Unfortunately, it’s money. It is a big deal at this early point. It’s the fuel that keeps campaigns going. A campaign is like a train going down the track - he says, hard to get going, but the faster it goes the more momentum it gathers. Donations are important to us. I’ve pushed through more or less 900 individual donors in a little over 3 weeks. Almost all are small, a few are larger and one is a 4 digit donation. Most of them are coming from out-of-State. I’d like to think everybody loves me, but I’m a stranger to most of these people, so I think these donations are a statement of how Miss Pelosi is perceived. They don’t like her. I’m running against her, so they are sending me money. I think as time goes by my actual platform and persona will play a greater role. I am grateful for the donations though, don’t get me wrong! John is encouraged by the fact that donations are coming from around the country. Stephen sees his race as a national referendum on the leadership in the Democratic Party. If I were to pull off an upset victory, he says, that would be major because Nancy represents the Establishment wing of the Party.
John asks what Stephen would do to fix campaign financing. Is it possible on a State level? It would be great if CA could give a progressive example of how we change that for the rest of the nation. Stephen replies that it can be done on both State and Federal level. We have to get money out of politics. It should not be possible to buy votes or candidates. It will not be possible in the immediate, but we have to start.
Firstly: People have to work very hard to overturn the Citizens United Supreme Court Decision. As a lawyer I know how hard that is to do, but it can be done by pushing a law through Congress to limit corporate donations to political contributions directly or indirectly. It will of course be constitutionally challenged in the Court and ultimately in the Supreme Court. Eventually there will be a law passed that withstands that scrutiny.
Secondly: Look towards phasing out private financing of campaigns and phasing in public financing of same, so no one is beholden to anyone. I know other countries do it and I want to find out how and what works best.
John tells Stephen about Markus in Germany and Die Partei (which is a Sarcasm Party) with its 55 000 members. They get a percentage of the public funds, are a legitimate party and have equal say. They have more rights than the Green Party in the U.S. he emphasizes!
In answer to Laura, Stephen says that yes, San Francisco is a very Up-and-Coming, progressive place. The occupants of all those high-rises they are throwing up almost overnight – a lot of them are tech workers. Many live in San Francisco and work in Silicon Valley. There is a river of high-tech buses that run the Peninsula and the South Bay in San Francisco. They are I do think, more progressive-minded than some other portions of the population. Certainly he says, he intends to reach out to as many of them as possible. There are 700 000 to 800 000 voters and more or less permanent residents in the City of San Francisco (his district). The daytime population of the city is 2 to 3 million however. This is due to an influx of workers. People come from the 9 counties in the Bay Area to work in the city. John asks whether the Hi-Tech industry will be affected by Donald Trump’s attempt on banning immigrants from entering the U.S. Well it will, Stephen replies, if there is a significant slowdown of H-1B visas, cos Hi-Tech has a voracious demand for the kind of workers that the U.S. (…) can’t supply and there’s lots of people coming in from the Far East and India who are supplying the labor that is needed. But, says Stephen, they don’t vote.
YouTube chat wants to know about the chances of a clean election in CA in 2018. Stephen worked on the Bernie campaign locally and then nationally. He was sent to Nevada where he helped legally oversee the Nevada caucuses. They were incredibly chaotic. I think in CA the more we depend on technology and electronic voting, the greater the risk is that the votes will be tampered with. It’s invisible and you can’t see it. There’s a push for a paper ballot that I hear about sometimes. People want to revert to several days of counting paper ballots. It’s tedious and old-fashioned but much harder to cheat doing that. He also mentions the voting machines and proprietary software that are owned and maintained by private companies. They lend themselves to the same type of tinkering. John responds to the latter by saying that he doesn’t think though that technology is the problem, but the corruption of that technology, and who owns it and manages it. Blockchain is the same technology that secures your money and all the banks’ money and we can use blockchain to secure our votes. Stephen agrees that there is a fix out there, but there has to be the political motivation to want to fix the problem. True says John which is why we need good people in place, and he goes on to mention long-term strategy and putting in a progressive government. Stephen says that he doesn’t at his point in life plan on a 30 year career in government, but he’d like to be someone who makes a statement about taking back the Democratic Party, the House, and holding a place for another Progressive to succeed him down the line. Nancy, he tells us was appointed to the House of Representatives to fill a vacancy when the previous Representative passed away. Then, she had her only real tough election battle the first time out against another opponent. She has cruised a great deal since then Stephen says. Last time she ran against (Preston Pickett?) who got 20% of the vote and he wasn’t running as a Democrat. I am. I expect to do very well. I really think I have a chance of surprising everyone in this campaign. (Preston Pickett) and Tim Canova have endorsed me. Another lawyer smiles Stephen. John says “the lawyers and the judiciary branch seem to be the last bastion against corrupt government”. There is some truth to that, Stephen confirms.
Another statement from Nancy Pelosi is “For Democratic candidates to be pro-choice the issue is fading.” What does she mean by that John asks? I have no idea says Stephen. The issue of a woman’s choice is never going to go away. I am a strong supporter of Roe v. Wade and I’d like Miss Pelosi to explain to her constituents why she thinks it is fading. They wonder about it and whether it has to do with Nancy Pelosi moving to the Right.
I’d like, Stephen tells us, both as a Member of Congress and as a Democrat, to make some reforms within the Democratic Party itself. I want to start by abolishing superdelegates. They are undemocratic and un-Democratic and an insult to Primary voters. What they say to Primary voters is: You can vote in the Primaries, but – oh, by the way your vote may not count. We reserve the right to tinker with it or not even count it. This is not just a creature of 1972 when they were put in place because George McGovern was nominated and the Establishment didn’t like that, or 2016 when Bernie was threatening to take the nomination and the Establishment didn’t like that either … as late as last week (May 2017) lawyers for the Democratic Party in a lawsuit in Florida, argued to the Court that they (the D.N.C) have the right to support and essentially lie, cheat, steal, and mess around with Primary results in any way they want to - and there’s not a damn thing the Courts can do about it. I find that to be a completely outrageous position morally. Doesn’t the Primary voter have the right when they step into the voting booth to have a reasonable expectation that the vote is going to count? John replies that yes it’s morally horrific, but as a private party it’s kind of like the YouTube Terms of Service. They can do what they want because they are a private party. They are greedy and WikiLeaks made it clear that they are corrupt, so what are we complaining about? I disagree says Stephen, with all due respect. Yes the D.N.C is a private party, but let’s talk about how they conduct their Primaries. They use Precincts and voting machines and they use the machinery of local government, and once you insinuate the Primary process with the machinery of local governments, you remove it from a wholly private activity and now it’s got to become a quasi-government activity. The results for the Primaries are tabulated where? Not in a hotel. They are tabulated here, in the Department of Elections in City Hall in San Francisco. That’s the government, and once the government is involved the rules change. There is an expectation of fairness and there is equal protection … and I think it’s illegal. That’s the first argument, logically placed, against the fact that they are a private party so thank you for giving me that view says John.
They discuss M.S.M. I got a little bit of attention from the giveaway San Francisco Examiner. The Chronicle however is ignoring me. As a trial lawyer I’ve had a lot of high profile cases here in the Bay area in the last ten years, and they have been covered by about half a dozen Chronicle reporters. They know me at the Chronicle, so they are not ignoring me by accident. No doubt there is pressure from the Democratic machine to not pay attention. That has always been Miss Pelosi’s campaign technique - to ignore her opponents into oblivion. My real hope is to be able to persuade her to debate me because that’s one thing I know how to do. John suggests having them both on UHM for a debate. Don’t hold your breath (about Nancy coming on) Stephen says. I won’t John replies. The audience is excited about your running. I must say this is the first time I’ve felt we have the chance to knock out a very solid establishment person in a very powerful district, and I’m excited about your chances. She’s the tip of the pyramid of the establishment (with Clinton) Stephen says. What about Chuck Schumer? Stephen thinks Chuck hasn’t done anything really outrageous (so far?) and likes what he has seen if only on T.V. from the Congressman from L.A. Adam Schiff. John comments that the latter is nailing it on social media where he has been posting a lot of good tweets.
The rarest and most uncommon words you hear in politics are the words yes and no. I try to answer yes and no questions, with those two words. Donations are the hardest thing for me to ask for says Stephen. Send me one dollar and make your statement though. That’s what I want. It means just as much to me as the larger donations because people are reaching out.
John encourages people to donate what they can, and Stephen says that he’ll do the best he can. In politics says John, you have to cut down on the legalese and be straight, and I think that’s great because you can moderate both worlds. That’s powerful. Stephen ends saying that these past few weeks have made him really proud to be a lawyer.
The links are in the video description. Good luck Stephen Jaffe!
#WeThePeople interviewed Stephen Jaffe on May 2nd, 2018. He is running for Congress in the 12th Congressional District of California.
John begins by asking Stephen what has changed in the year since his first interview with us. What have you learned? It feels like 10 years sometimes and a week at other times, Stephen says. Time is relative as Einstein once said.
I’ve learned a lot about people, because I’ve literally talked to thousands of them – one on one or one on two, a lot about the nature of politics, because this is the first time I’ve run for public office and it sure looks a lot different from the inside than it does from the outside, and I’ve learned (the most?) about myself. That’s something that you do when you get the kind of scrutiny focused on you that running for office entails.
I often heard people say thank you for running, Stephen says, but it really does take a lot of guts to stick your neck out and do this – and I’m talking for everyone here. You are really put under the microscope, and when you are asked to discuss very touchy issues involving race, gender, nuclear weapons, foreign policy – you really are forced to examine yourself and what you are willing to say and not say for to promote your campaign. I’ve learned how hard is it to stay true to your own principles when the expedient thing is to be (in plain English) a sellout.
Referring to principles and examining yourself, John says, what about the recent events in Colorado and the conversation with Steny Hoyer? And what about Nancy Pelosi’s admission that she doesn’t see anything wrong with what happened there, and that pretty transparent back room conversation (We’ve already picked somebody. There is no reason for you to run. You’re messing things up. Stop! )? Have you had that experience from the Democratic Party? Stephen answers, do you mean aside from the fact that they cheated me when I was able to gather enough signatures to keep Nancy Pelosi off the consent ballot, and they cheated to keep her on there? My friend Maria Estrada had a similar experience. In my case I was given a phony list to work from. Maria Estrada (another Progressive) had enough signatures when the voting closed. Someone inside the D.N.C (and we know who) gave the names to Anthony Rendon’s staff the very day they were turned in. Rendon’s staff and ultimately Rendon himself started calling the people telling them to rescind, to un-vote and eventually two of them did so. There seems to be a national pattern of this same anti-progressive, don’t run for office against an incumbent thing going on with the entire D.N.C. Agreed says John, move the goal posts, change the rules … and this is how they keep us out. The same kinds of tactics are being used in the Democratic Party of Oregon unfortunately. They tell us that they are about open Primaries and needing to have democracy, but their bylaws say that they won’t provide resources to non-incumbents! We see the same thing in Washington State with other Progressives. It’s weird because the “Western Wall” is supposed to be progressive. Stephen is clearly disappointed with certain individuals and organizations and their behavior over this past year. It’s hard to run as a Democrat and know that the Democratic Party is working hard against you in the name of democracy, John says.
What have I learned about politics? I’ve learned that it is naive to think that if one gets out there, speaks the truth, talks about the issues and is a nice person, then the voters will get it, and if they agree with you they’ll vote for you. Politics is a very dirty business. In politics the first casualty is usually the truth. Perception is reality. Both of those statements are true. Your opponents will go out and say things about you, float rumors which are pure fiction, and they are able to get away with it because free speech in politics is pretty much virtually protected, and there is no consequence in any case for acting like this. It’s disillusioning. He still plans to fight on though. John reminds him that if he is presenting ideas that threaten their status quo, then he is going to be crucified. Remember Bernie Sanders and the $4 000 000 coat and what they said!! They push the same smears around John says. Feel lucky that you’re in that exclusive club. They feel they need to go that low and attack you.
On the subject of integrity of our elections, John tells Stephen that he has learned that the Secretary of State of CA has a lot to do with that, and so he hopes that someone like Ruben Major will get elected. One of my platform pieces, Stephen says, is that I’d like to introduce the Federal Election Integrity Act, which is a federal law requiring and mandating the use of open-source software paper ballots. In every election – period!
In 2012 Stephen did some legal work for some police officers in Richmond. Gayle McLaughlin was Mayor, although he didn’t know her at that stage. He represented 6 African-American police officers in a race discrimination trial that lasted 3 months.
We know that Stephen wants Single-Payer healthcare, and that Nancy Pelosi votes the way her donors tell her to. Check out Open Secrets. John wants to know whether Pelosi would change her stance (as so many Establishment Democrats are doing or pretending to do just now, on some issue or other) if she feels really threatened on that. After a momentary pause, Stephen says no.
Joseph in YouTube chat asks; after your experience running within the Democratic Party, if you could choose again would you run as an Independent? Stephen replies that he still thinks that the damage to the Democratic Party is not permanent, but it is true that the question he hears most is “How do we know that once you get into office, you’re not going to turn into another Corporate Democrat and change your stripes and that you’re not just saying what you need to in order to get in.” He answers that he’s just not wired to do that. “I’ve fought against corporations my entire 47 years of lawyering. I’ve sued big corporations all the time. I don’t like them. They’re not people they are things. They exist to make money. They’ll do whatever they need to do to make money. I will never, never serve the interests of corporations over people.”
How does one attract the attention of the media is another question from YouTube chat. By being really persistent and annoying, and by making an issue or certain issues your own, Stephen answers. Nobody knows everything. There are some issues that I know more about than any of the other candidates running. There’s a few issues that one of the other candidates knows more about than I do. I answer all questions, but I try to focus on what I know most about. Stephen refers to how Bernie attracted attention talking about Single-Payer and expanded on that. Yes, says John, and we’ve come a long way since then, because a lot of the things people said he was crazy for talking about 2 or 3 years ago are now being done in cities across the country. Stephen continues; when I announced, and to my great shock, I was contacted twice by Fox National News. I didn’t solicit that, but because I was the first challenger and am a Democrat, and have a little gray hair, I guess they thought this guy is going against Pelosi, and we hate her so much, give him some airtime and try to get him to say something really nasty about her. That really gave my campaign a great kick-start.
Mental illness is an issue that I know a great deal about. I want to decriminalize it and I have been surprised about how deeply that resonates with so many people, even though it would appear to be not an issue of national and critical importance. It really is because it affects homelessness, medical care, mentally ill people… Everybody in the U.S. knows someone who suffers from this, if they don’t themselves.
Another issue that is important to me is that of our Veterans. I want to introduce the Veterans Citizenship Act, if I get elected. It says that when a non-citizen (documented or not) completes a tour of duty in the military successfully, and gets out with an honorable discharge, they are awarded automatic and immediate citizenship. They’ve earned it! There are horror stories out now about people who have done that and then been deported! There is a gathering of them in Tijuana right now. My colleague David Hildebrand who is running for Senate, went down and met with those people. I praise him for doing so. Stephen is disgusted at what has happened to them.
The housing problem in CA, how would you address that issue? Stephen says that from a federal point of view he would substantially increase HUD programs which have been fading. We need more of them, he says. Here in San Francisco we need vacancy taxes. We need to repeal Costa-Hawkins (Rental Housing Act) and the Ellis Act which are putting people out on the street. We need to stop this insane obsession with building, building, building in San Francisco and Manhattanizing the city I’ve loved for half a century. Tech workers come, work for 6 months and leave, and families and minorities and the middle class are being forced out at a tremendous rate. That has to stop!
Stephen talks about Senator Scott Wiener the puppet of the real estate developers and a bill which he introduced that would have taken away local control of zoning from cities and municipalities and counties and given it to the State. The plan was that people would live along these transportation corridors; bus lines, BART lines, train lines, ferry boat lines … and get to work without owning a car and clogging the streets. The problem was that when you apply that bill to the City of San Francisco and probably most of L.A., it’s 90% of the city. What you’re saying to the cities is, kiss your control of building in your city goodbye. The State now has it. It was so transparently in favor of real estate developers and bankers that the Senate sub-committee couldn’t get it through. There was a huge outcry against it. Hopefully it’s dead for now, Stephen says.
Celeste in YouTube chat asks whether Stephen would use anti-trust laws to sue corporations. Oh hell yeah, Stephen replies. At one time he practiced anti-trust law. The Sherman Act has to do with price fixing between competitors which is illegal. There is however another aspect of anti-trust law which has essentially fallen silent which needs to be resurrected by the federal government, which is the part about anti-competitive mergers. Look at airlines, banks, media companies, they are all disappearing – being merged into one another … then competitiveness starts to disappear. His favorite airline - Virgin Airlines, just got eaten by Alaska Airlines. I’m still in mourning over that he says. We have to stop this and it is a federal issue. We need to put Congress to work on this. A State controlled by a small number of entities - whether individuals or corporations is an oligarchy. This is anti-competitive and everybody loses except the corporations. Excellent, says John, and just to add to that …do you think Google is too big? Right now they have the monopoly on the internet basically. What do we do with that? Stephen is for net neutrality and mentions it here. I’m not sure the issue is over with because the courts may yet weigh in. I don’t know that the internet is not something that is analogous to the public airways for broadcasting that really should be owned and regulated by the government, so I’ m not throwing in the towel just because the FCC voted the way they did. Let’s get back to Google though ... I think you could ask the same of Facebook? Probably they are (too big), but I don’t see that changing in the immediate future. However until it is fixed, we should very closely regulate them to make sure they do not abuse the power and the size that they have acquired gaining that power. He mentions Cambridge Analytica and Facebook and then says that we need to encourage search engine competition. Too late, it’s been tried says John. Google is more than 95% of global search. They discuss possibilities, and Stephen admits that this isn’t his forte. He is still more optimistic than John who mentions that he thinks we’re on the verge of Skynet because Google now works on AI projects for the drones with the Department of Justice…that’s frightening he says.
Laura decides things need lightening up! What were the highlights of this past year and the best things that have happened to you, she asks Stephen? The highlight has been - corny though it sounds, talking to so many different kinds of people. Most of them have been very very nice (a couple blew me off). That’s been very encouraging and where I get my optimism from because people in general are okay, although I wish they were less apathetic about issues that are important to me. People will talk one on one, but when it comes down to doing something they are afraid. They are conflict and confrontation averse and you’ve got to be an annoying jerk like I am to (get people to change?).
John tells everyone that they should donate, help and unite behind Stephen, because he has been under attack for a year. He repeats that he is thankful that Stephen is running, because it is such a hard thing to do. Stephen is pleased that people realize that and thanks John for his comments.
Stephen has a question for John now. What difference do you see between the first time you interviewed me and tonight, if any? John thinks about that, and answers that he sees somebody who is seasoned, weathered. Not that you were young, spry (high?) on democracy a year ago, but somebody who is more calm, cool and collected having weathered some storms, he explains. It gives me hope in the idea that you can get through all that crap, because we see a lot of people really struggling with it. It’s encouraging to see that running against Nancy Pelosi (and all that involves), you’re still here. That doesn’t sound like much, but I find it awesome that you’ve been battling M.S.M. and you’re still here. That’s the biggest thing, you’re ready to go. And you’ve mounted a very Bernie-like campaign. Thank you, Stephen says smiling (at the Bernie comment). That’s a compliment.
You know, Stephen says; after being a lawyer for so long, the universe that I’m used to is very structured, very rigid. Politics is completely different. It’s much more free-form and doesn’t work the same way. I think that’s the difference you’re seeing. I’ve come to understand the difference between what I used to do and what I’m used to now – that’s changed me. Awesome, says John. Stephen is optimistic that he’ll do well, and hopes that the other Progressives and even the Republican will line up behind him for the next stage of the battle (my wording).
He does have one warning for progressive activists though. We shouldn’t forget that we are a relatively small group of people, who sometimes over-exaggerate the influence and importance of this little bubble universe that we are in and forget how big the rest of the world is. Nobody out there asks me whether I’ve been on Jimmy Dore, talking with Tim Black or on TYT (even though we like to think that they are the flag carriers for our movement, and in a real sense they really are), he says. So remember that to get yourself or someone else elected, you’ve got to reach all of those people in the big universe.
John adds that the progressive movement online is being crushed (speed/ delays/ censorship…) by big business because the terms of service let them do it, and that Stephen is right. One needs to be out on the streets. The majority are not watching TYT, but CNN John says. Or not watching at all but struggling to make a living, pay the rent and feed their families, adds Stephen. And it’s my job to go out and tell them why voting for me will help them. Issues such as Medicare, or guns - and not feeling safe with so many of them around, are easy to talk about, even to people who wouldn’t consider themselves progressive.
The links are in the video description. Best of luck Stephen!
Peter Jacob on Special Interest money and what to do about it, Green Clean Renewable Energy, DACA, FDR’s 2nd Bill of Rights, Cannabis and Industrial Hemp, Socialism and Democracy.
On January 17th 2018, #WeThePeople interviewed Peter Jacob, who is running in the 7th Congressional District of New Jersey (the 8th wealthiest Congressional District in the U.S.) as a Democrat. He is a social worker, the son of immigrants who went from modest beginnings to live the American Dream. He is an unapologetically progressive democrat who believes in compassion, integrity and service to the greater community. He is an incredibly engaging speaker - inspiring even, with an irresistible smile and a sense of humor.
His campaign ad speaks of Special Interest money drowning out the voices of voters and of how the cards are stacked ever higher against average peeps. Needless to say he is anti-money in politics and the corruption that comes with it. Get active. We need change. Democracy cannot be a spectator sport.
His opponent, Representative Leonard Lance (Republican) takes lots of cash from everywhere and has been in office for a while. Lance sent out an attack ad that spoke about what Peter stood for, but it actually worked in Peter’s favor. For one, a Republican woman approached Peter’s dad after having seen it, and asked to help with Peter’s campaign.
His Bernie Sanders supported 2016 campaign came very close to winning.
“Nobody expected a brown skinned bearded millennial social worker and unapologetic progressive democrat” to do so well, he tells us. This time his district is flippable he says.
Peter Jacob stands for Medicare for All, $15 an hour, action on climate change, 100% renewables by 2036 - mentions Tulsi Gabbard (H.R. 3671), big money out of politics,
labor unions, women’s rights, net neutrality, equal pay for equal work, fully funded public colleges, universities (and trade schools I think), a fairer tax system, far less wealth and income inequality and fair wages. He’s progressive no doubt about that!
John confirms what Peter is saying about New Jersey. The people are far more progressive than the leaders of the State. Peter is out and about on the campaign trail and he says one needs to make the most of the time one has at someone’s door. It doesn’t matter if it’s a Donald Trump supporter either. Ask them how they feel about Medicare for All, Paul Ryan and all the issues that are of concern to everyone. Peter says by the end of the conversation,
7 times out of 10, people say they will consider voting for him or will vote for him. It is a gerrymandered district yes, but one he loves.
Peter wants to turn New Jersey green and to lead the nation on this issue. He has first-hand knowledge of the severity of the storms that have hit the State in recent years. With regard to climate change (which the new Governor - Democrat Phil Murphy, believes in) he says we should have acted yesterday. There is a lot of renewable energy in parts of the State though, John tells us. Perhaps, but Peter speaks of unnecessary pipelines. The State is over capacity for natural gas. New Jersey has the potential to live up to its name “The Garden State”. We have everything we need to make the change to green clean renewable energy. We’ve the knowledge, skills, intellectual capital and financial ability. We have wind, tidal, off-shore, on-shore, geothermal … Research and Development for solar could be done in New Jersey. The fossil fuel industry is still strong, but even so, 90% of New Jerseyans want to switch over to 100% renewables – at the latest in the next few years. No more subsidies for the fossil fuel industry, and the economy should transition rapidly away from same. Those subsidies cost us $50 billion a year globally, not counting the pollution costs, infrastructure damage, public health issues … Extend the subsidies to renewables though.
Someone in YouTube chat would like to know about the immigration situation in New Jersey. Not surprisingly Peter is well up on the situation. There is both a huge Hispanic community and an Indian-American community in the district (or is it State?). There are 1 500 DACA recipients in his district with another 2 500 eligible for DACA as well. He knows some of them personally. 90% of people there and nationally believe that DACA recipients deserve a path to citizenship and a clean Dream Act. The Democratic Party should withhold their votes. Paul Ryan doesn’t have enough votes without them. Any government shutdown is on the GOP in Washington D.C. They’re on wrong side of history and of morality. It’s also bad for our economy Peter says.
Peter likes using words of wisdom and he does so frequently during the interview. He also tells us some short stories from his childhood, to illustrate how his parents were examples in every way for him. There was one about the time he saved money for a year (after his mother suggested he do so) and sent it to a nun who was looking after the poor. That December he received a personal thank you letter - from Mother Teresa! Another time, several years later, he showed up at a board meeting with his father. A guy with a suit and tie from a large corporation said to them in a snarky voice “How did you get this contract?” He always remembers his father’s response. “We are not greedy!”
A 2014 Princeton University Study (across decades) showed that 99% of the population has no influence on the government. “What we can’t do all goes back to money in politics.” “Corruption has been made legal in our nation.” We must overturn Citizens United (Money is not speech!). We need a Constitutional Amendment to limit the influence of lobbyists, limit the amount of campaign contributions and the way they are being contributed by all these secret organizations like “Americans for Progress” and we need to close the Revolving Door. There is one Act that has been put forth, and 5 Municipalities in the State of New Jersey and many others throughout the country have already passed it as a Resolution. It’s called “The American Anti-Corruption Act” It is by Represent.Us “These days politicians aren’t elected, they are bought.” “Your income determines how you live, it shouldn’t determine if you live.”
John and Peter discuss the Freedom Budget and the People’s Platform, and Peter then talks about the 2nd Bill of Rights by FDR (put forth in his 4th term), which speaks of a right to good employment, fair wages, housing, shelter, food and healthcare. Sadly, he says JFK’s in 1963, and Doctor King’s and Robert Kennedy’s assassinations in 1968, Vietnam etc. put the Progressive movement back big-time, and the PAL memo and Ronald Reagan put the nail in the coffin. John refers to the white-washed version of 1960s history that he learned at school and of how it seemed that the upheaval of the era was all down to the hippies. Peter reminds us though that lots of good things happened in the 1960s too, such as LBJ’s 1965 Immigration Law, the Space program, the Civil Rights Act, bi-lingual education, the invention of the internet…
Peter is for the legalization of cannabis. We in New Jersey have a lot of farmland, he says, and we should also consider industrial hemp. He’d like to see the people with the knowledge and the know-how in charge, not the pharmaceutical industry.
They talk of socialism and the fact that 43% of Americans don’t fear the term anymore. Don’t get caught up in labels Peter says. They discuss the appeal of Bernie Sanders and of accepting that we can’t expect him to do all the work for us. We need to put pressure on Congress and elect a brand new slate of people with values. “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.” We need to stay vigilant. Keep the pressure up when legislators aren’t representing the People, and protest and show up in support of those who do. Peter himself is not taking corporate PAC money. We The People go to Congress when I do he says. His endorsements include Brand New Congress, Justice Democrats and Our Revolution local.
Peter’s is a digital campaign strategy, although he is clearly out on the streets too. He is happy for all help, donations and volunteers. Every dollar will be spent wisely he assures us. Unlike Representative Leonard Lance, his support for issues and Presidential candidates won’t swing with the wind.
Today’s audience was impressed, even those who are not usually so. If you are feeling the blues then this interview is for you. Peter Jacob is courageous in word, and I feel will be in deed.
I end with a quote from his campaign ad. “Together we will inspire vision and hope. Together we will create progress and prosperity. And together we will ensure the American Dream for generations to come.”
The links are in the video description. Good luck Peter Jacob!
David Hildebrand on Obamacare, the Value of face to face contact with the voters, the Media, Election reform, Deciphering legislation, Church and State, Wars and Foreign policy, Real representation, Single-Payer healthcare, Marijuana, Ending mass incarceration and SB 562.
On June 14th, 2017 #WeThePeople interviewed David Hildebrand, who is running as a Democrat in California for the U.S. Senate. This unapologetic democratic socialist, son of a union carpenter and member of a union himself, has a Bachelor’s degree in Government (and Communication Studies). David volunteered for Bernie for Sacramento – did some phone-banking, canvassing and eventually was a Staging Location Director for California’s 6th Congressional District. He knows the value of organizing - and that’s good, because he’s running against Dianne Feinstein.
After the Bernie Sanders campaign David started helping out elsewhere … local school board, canvassing with the SB 562 campaign and with the Democratic Socialists of America in order to get the word out and get people to call their Senator. In March 2017 he decided to go up against Dianne Feinstein. He has a small volunteer staff right now (06.14. 2017) and a presence in several cities in CA. He and his campaign handed out flyers to just about everyone at the Democratic Convention in CA, were around for the Kimberly Ellis business – and he mentions that an independent review of the strange occurrences there was necessary, and were at the People’s summit - although here they were more selective with handing out the flyers. Stephen Jaffe was there and they got to meet. They make natural allies, David says.
John and David talk of Obamacare and how in reality mandatory sign-ups helps out insurance companies because they now have to cover all these other people, but they are getting money for doing so and the health insurance costs continue to rise despite Obamacare. Single-Payer is the only way going forward. They talk of Dianne Feinstein and David explains that when he asks a question, such as “Do you support SB 562?” he wants to hear a yes, and now let’s get it right - not babble! Is there another plan that the Democrats have? Yes, it’s the federal Single-Payer healthcare bill: H.R. 676, but surprisingly she didn’t mention that. Bernie Sanders wrote it and an Assembly or House Representative introduced it.
What was it like working for the Bernie campaign? Great - until the last day, David replies. When his volunteers (he was canvass captain for the area) canvassed his own neighborhood, it ended up leaning Bernie heavily. All the ones around leaned HRC lightly, so he reckons they did make a difference. That’s the importance of face to face contact and at least leaving information (on Bernie) if the people are absent. David talks in more detail about what that entailed.
In reply to a question in YouTube chat; about how local television, radio and newspapers were covering the fact that he is challenging D.F. in the Primary, David says that they are obviously trying to ignore him as much as possible. One local newspaper did a short interview with him, but it didn’t make it out. He has another article out with an on-line source – we’ll see he says, what happens with that. But, more importantly he just got his first attack article today (06.14.2017), - great piece and poorly written. Thank you to my establishment opponent! He says he’ll deal with the media next week, but that that has given his campaign a boost.
David is against the Patriot Act and would repeal it if given the chance. It would be possible to introduce legislation, but co-sponsors and other signatories would be necessary. He is for net neutrality.
What is David’s stance on election reform and does he have a plan for verifiable ballots in California’s elections? Difficult one he says. Paper ballots are possible but there are issues with them. They may be proof of the way people voted, but if they are stored somewhere then what? Open source (software) maybe, but we’re still dealing with machines that can be hacked. We have to figure which way we are going to go as a State, or even individually as counties, because on a federal level it’ll be a while before we get the Voting Rights Act straightened out because the Republicans are in control. We need a national discussion on where we need to go. A single corporation holding the keys to our balloting machines isn’t a good thing. Have you heard of blockchain John asks? What do you think of that technology in terms of securing a vote? John talks of how that would play out and how it could give a Senator information (anonymous or public) as to how thousands of people feel about how he should be voting. David is interested because he aspires to be a representative of the People. There is an app out there where you can do exactly that, he says. He hasn’t looked at it yet, but a friend had him download it. You can go in and text, call or e-mail your Senator, Assembly person or House Representative on the National level and see how they voted. (Follow my vote?). This would not help though if your Representative was bought. He’d just pretend he didn’t get any messages.
Chad in YouTube chat asks about the complications of modern legislation and omnibus bills that are thousands of pages long and such a deep dive into legalese. David doesn’t like Omnibus bills and says that they don’t have them in CA anymore. A huge (but still under 100 page) transportation bill just passed. All the information concerns transportation though. On a federal level you can just mash whatever you like together and call it a bill. That’s an issue with me, David says. He is a legislative analyst for the State of California. All he does right now is transportation related. He can “tear apart” a bill and tell you who the interest groups are that are interested in that bill, which way they are going to lean, what agencies are going to be affected … so the learning curve going into the Senate wouldn’t be quite as steep, David tells us.
Deniz - in chat, wants to know what David’s views are on how the American way tends to let religion influence politics. David answers that the American way is actually about separation of Church and State. Some legislators promote hard-core right-wing Christianity (which really isn’t and we all know that). It’s just a bait used to get people to vote for them. They wouldn’t like the same thing to come from a different religion! John says the solution is education. David says “Go vote and get them out of office”.
Like Bernie David thinks we should speak to everyone. Back away from the Red vs Blue business when talking to people. Talk about their health etc.
I am against wars for any reason other than defense, David states. Take our military interests out of every foreign country where combat is going on. We don’t need to be over there getting ourselves involved. He speaks of the mess in Syria. Drop food or clothes to them of course, but going in with the military won’t solve any problems. Stay out of the Middle East. We are bombing civilians, more than any enemy combatants. John adds, and then we’d have to stop being the global arms dealer that we are. David continues, and we don’t need to be the global police. It’s no good for anyone and the American People get nothing out of it. We get collateral damage John says … we can sell more weapons, reap more oil and continue the perpetual war. We don’t feel safer though. However the People are paying attention and not just accepting what they are being told anymore. They are realizing that all this has been going on for decades…but we need a lot more activity all across the spectrum. As to violence in the U.S., had Bernie won the Presidency in 2016, we wouldn’t be having these conflicts because people would see they‘d be getting help, David says. We had a false choice.
David has just calculated the number of votes he needs to get, in the General election in order to win, he says … 12,800,000 (and gobs of money says John, David smiles). Donations needed even in amounts of 27$ or less. What of Super PACs and Corporate Donations? I’m on this show, so I’m not getting them, David says. He smiles and adds “no offense”… the team laugh. My first issue he says, is campaign finance reform and my second issue is Single-Payer healthcare. I take money from Unions (such as Nurses Unions) if they end up donating money, which is what Bernie did. He did accept money from Interest Groups that helped people, but not from corporations or Super PACs. How about a debate with Dianne Feinstein, John asks? Well, she wouldn’t debate her challenger at the last election, so I highly doubt she’ll debate a Berniecrat this time, David says. Her campaign won’t allow that Nixon-JFK image to get out. It would be over no matter what I said, as soon as we stepped on stage.
Why should people vote for me, David asks? We The People (America) need more real representatives (even for Republicans) in office. Due to corporate dominance of our government and our electoral system, we are not really being represented at all - and they aren’t even shy about stabbing us in the back. We need people in office who have experienced life, so that they are not so far removed from those they are supposed to be representing, that they don’t even care about them. I work 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day, iron my own clothes and cook my own food. I live a life based on a limited income. I’ve barely gotten to the point where I can afford repairs to my car right away. I make decent money right now working with the State, but I still have to hold a budget. Look at Donald Trump, he couldn’t throw away money fast enough to go broke, which is why everyone thinks he is a successful businessman.
What else would I like to get done? I’d like to get Single-Payer and funding for election reforms passed. Public elections would be a great idea. If we legalize marijuana and possibly even the use of all other drugs, while still criminalizing the dealing and producing of them, then we could empty out the prisons. We’d have no use for private prisons anymore and we’d end mass incarceration immediately that way. Then we’d have to go back and expunge the records of the people who’d had typical drug-use crimes in the past. Next stop would be to get rid of that box on applications asking about prior convictions if you have served your time. Now people can re-enter the work force. We set up all these obstacles. People were set up for failure. Smoking a joint leads at some stage to a decade in prison. Look too at the issue of enforcement differences. It shows in the number of African-Americans that are pulled over and you see this in prison populations afterwards. Many of my campaign points are also Bernie points. They are anti-discrimination in nature, even the issue of climate change. For the sake of corporate donors there so many issues are being ignored.
John says that David will have to come back, that there are so many issues in California that if dealt with properly could set a precedent for the rest of the country. David points out that the business friendly Democrats are still in power in California. They would have to do it right and have the political will to even do it, given that they are still voting on some stuff based on their corporate donors. We still have that issue here, he says. John and David speak about an article (mentioned above) thrashing Progressives and referring to David Hildebrand himself as a phone-banker for Bernie. Any press is good press though. They joke around.
Barack Obama was a community organizer - John says, which we thought was really good until we realized that he was really good at organizing global arms sales as well. So I’d rather take a phone-banker that is focused on the issues. Throwing people’s lack of experience at them is stupid - David says, because even at a State level they literally have classes after you get elected to teach you how to legislate. These people who get corporate money have lobbyists who write their bills!
The complaint about SB 562 - the Nurses healthcare bill in California, David tells us, was that it was passed in the Senate without a funding mechanism. This was because they were waiting on a study to come out. There were however two studies. The opponents’ one only mentioned costs not benefits. The Nurses’ study cited all of the costs but also all of the savings we’d have. Everything is now complete except for funding. One legislator complained that it wasn’t long enough. It’s about 37 pages. David is a nerd regarding legislation though, and he has read it. It is BS he says to say it isn’t “all there”. Those who say so must be Republicans or bought (or both).
The links are in the video description. Good luck David Hildebrand!