Q&A with Jarrod Williams, Independent Socialist Candidate for U.S. Senate from Nevada

by Jim Brash, Editorial Board member, The North Star website on June 30, 2016


TNS: First off, thank you for taking out the time to respond to our questions.

And I thank you for taking the time to interview me.

TNS: How is your campaign going?

A bit better than I had at first originally foreseen, thanks to social media and connections Ive made in the socialist community and other leftist communities across the country. But, in comparison to the two corporate front runners, its still quite small and very grass roots.

TNS: Does it seem to you, that the corporate media is ignoring your candidacy but is at least mentioning the other non-democratic socialist independents?

Oh, very much so. I have not been contacted by anyone involved in statewide or local corporate media regarding my campaign. And, it seems that almost all attempts Ive made to contact them on my own behalf have fallen on deaf ears, as they havent even acknowledged any of my inquiries.

The only response I actually received, after lodging a complaint about heavily biased and lopsided coverage, was from our local NPR station at KUNR. There was a report on an issue regarding the use of public lands in Nevada, and the journalist had questioned and reported on answers from the Democratic and Republican front runners, but no one else. There had been absolutely no attempt to contact me for my thoughts or opinion. In response to my complaint, the station manager of KUNR invited me to the station, gave me a tour, and met with me privately. In the meeting he explained that it was a story from the Associated Press and that they had no control over the content, and then sent me on my way.

TNS: How has the Left and progressive media been as far as speaking with you and covering your campaign?

There has been a bit of traction in that regard, but not much. This interview, and one I recently gave to the Progressive Party News website, has been the only media exposure that Ive had. As to the reasons why, I could hazard a few guesses, but no certainties. One would think that an openly socialist candidate running in what has been proclaimed as one of the most hotly contested Senate races this election cycle would generate some interest.

Perhaps, after the primary, when the field of candidates has been whittled down from 18 to about six or so, things may change, but only time will tell.

TNS: Why are you running this election year?

Ive always had an interest in politics, and to hold public office. I have twice previously run for city council in Sparks, NV, quite unsuccessfully and with little interest generated in the campaign locally.

I would say that sometime in 2014, after putting up with the neo-conservatives and tea partiers for far, far too long, I made the determination that I would seek a higher office and set my sights on the U.S. Senate election in 2016. It seemed almost fortuitous when Senator Harry Reid announced his retirement in 2015, meaning that the Senate seat in Nevada would be an open election. Sensing an opportunity that I could not pass up, I filed for candidacy

TNS: Bernie Sanders has brought democratic socialism to the main stream this year. What are your thoughts on his campaign? How do you think it’s going to affect non-Democratic Party progressive campaigns going forward?

I think Senator Sanders has energized the progressive elements of the left in this country in a way that I havent actually seen before. In 2008, President Obama also seemed to be able to do so, but it was in a more generalized way, with words of hope and change.

However, I think that while Senator Sanders will invigorate a large number of progressives, they will ultimately be disappointed in the Democratic Party. With any luck, they will not because disillusioned with politics and changing the system, but will instead filter into the various progressive parties and form vibrant and active leftist groups.

TNS: Do you think more left-wing candidates should present a populist message?

I think that, in some ways, as we see with Donald Trumps campaign, naked populism is actually quite dangerous. It can often lead to cults of personality and the like, which are best to be avoided. However, it will require a strong, and well-crafted populist message to overcome the establishment and its corporate-backed oligarchy.

TNS: How do you define democratic socialism?

Its a radical democracy that places peoples lives under their own control, a non-racist, classless, feminist society in which people cooperate at work, at home, and in the community. Its a social and economic order in which workers and consumers control production and communities control their own neighborhoods, homes, and schools.

TNS: What caused you to become a socialist?

Ive been a socialist since I was about 13 or 14 years old, so almost 25 years now. This was just before the birth of the internet, so as the hungry-for-knowledge teenager that I was, I spent a considerable amount of time borrowing books from the local library and found myself gravitating towards books on political theory.

The idea of a world in which people care for each other and work to better themselves and society, free of exploitation, discrimination, hatehow could this not be appealing. Star Trek: The Next Generation was also on television at the time, and further captured my imagination with their portrayal of a socialist utopia.

TNS: Why do you think the public, especially youth are finding socialism and socialist ideas more favorable? It can’t be all because of Bernie???

Part of me wants to say that it is because of the complete lack of the Soviet Union in their collective consciousness. As Millennials and even the younger Generation Xers were growing up there was no giant Soviet Empire for their parents and teachers to point to and mindlessly state Socialism Bad. In its absence, we have a large number of younger people who can critically read and think about socialism without an automatic, albeit incorrect, bias.

TNS: Why are you not running on the PSL, SALT, ISO, SWP, SPUSA, or even Green Party tickets?

Of the above political parties that you listed, the Green Party is the only one that is actually a valid political party in the State of Nevada, thus I couldnt be a candidate for any of the other parties and had to run as an independent. I also wanted to convey the message that I was running for the people of the State of Nevada and only answerable to them. As running for an independent required me to obtain signatures on a petition to gain ballot access, it was a great way to meet with people and spread word of the campaign.

As to why I chose not to run under the Green Party, they dont have anything to say about the injustices inherent in the capitalist system. They talk more of reform and not complete transformation. While I believe that, if properly motivated, they would be welcome allies in the struggle against capitalism, they dont seem to acknowledge any aspects of class warfare in their platform.

TNS: Any association with any of the above mentioned organizations or with their members?

Shortly after filing for candidacy, I contacted and joined the Socialist Party USA. I had always had an interest in joining the party, and decided there was no time like the present. Through joining the party, I contacted Mimi Solytsik, the partys presidential candidate, as a way of introduction, and Mimi networked me in with the rest of the party.

TNS: How do you think the American Left, be it organized or disorganized, should/could overcome its sectarianism?

As with all ideologies, there will always be individuals who view their take on things as more pure than others, someone is always more closer to the truth. Its not necessarily a bad thing as it has its roots in the passion felt by those on the far and deep left. In the United States, to break with the status quo requires a certain amount of passion, which unfortunately can often go against the passion felt by others for their particular brand of left-lean.

If it were an easy answer, it would have been found already, but I believe that if we all agreed on the most important aspect of almost all leftist ideology, e.g. removing the capitalist system, we could unite around that and then hash out the minutia later.

TNS: I have several questions about your campaign. Let’s start with the most important one. Win or lose, what do you expect to accomplish with your campaign this year?

Well, I expect to win, of course. Im not running a vanity campaign or attempting to achieve any type of notoriety. I have a litany of bills that I would like to introduce in the first 100 days of my time as the next Senator from Nevada that would radically and drastically transform the United States of America into a democratic socialist nation.

TNS: How does your time with the Nevada National Guard inform your views about the military industrial complex?

I enlisted in May of 2001 at a time when the world was, arguably quiet. I think I enlisted more out of a sense of interest in what I believed at the time was more of a culture of service, civic duty, and contributing meaningfully rather than out of any sense of patriotism or belief in the American Way.

TNS: How can we scale back military spending; reduce if not completely eliminate the influence of defense contractors, and dismantle the U.S empire?

I think we need to pass legislation which immediately cuts the defense budget by 50% of its current levels.

I think we need to immediately withdraw ourselves from every corner of the Earth that we are currently fighting in or have troops based. Im not advocating isolationism or anything like that, as I believe that we definitely need to be involved diplomatically throughout the entire world. But, in the end, that is the quickest and most expedient way that I can think of to dismantle the empire.

I think that once the driving force of the Government of the United States is not securing the empire, the influence of defense contractors will wane.

TNS: What foreign policy changes would you like to present to the Senate and the American public?

Most importantly, I think that we need to seriously reconsider our network of friends and allies throughout the world. We are currently allies with many nations throughout the world either through expediency, or for the stake of stability, which are just as radical or commit just as many atrocities or violations of basic Human Rights as those we are currently identifying as enemies, i.e. Saudi Arabia.

TNS: What are your thoughts on the role of the USA in Syria, Yemen, Iraq, and Afghanistan?

In all four cases, I think we need to have no role in those nations. I support the disengagement and withdrawal of all of our military forces from those nations, immediately. I know that there are many who would protest that action, stating something about the humanitarian crisis that would ensure in that case, but the military should not be deployed for humanitarian reasons; as that is one of the main problems of neoliberalism. We should trust that the people of those nations can look after themselves, and if they turn towards democratic socialism themselves, we can encourage them diplomatically.

TNS: What are your positions on Palestinians right to self-determination and the BDS movement?

Ive always been a strong proponent of self-determination, and I believe that the Palestinians deserve the right to remain in the land that they have lived on since the times of Roman Empire. I strongly support the BDS movement and all businesses and organizations who dont want to help prop up and/or support the Israeli apartheid state. As we have seen in recent news, there was a backlash against the BDS Movement when the State of New York declared a blanket boycott of any businesses or organizations that were exercising their Right of Free Speech and supporting BDS. As the next Senator from the State of Nevada, I would encourage Nevada to boycott New York for as long as the boycott of the BDS-supporters was in effect.

TNS: The USA doesn’t have friends, it has interests. Which interests do you see as detrimental to the American public and to the world at large?

I see our continuing relationship with nations who dont have our same values and interests as highly detrimental. We are continuing to support nations which have atrocious records in regards to Human Rights violations because they help to provide stability to a region, or their government is the enemy of whosoever we happen to currently consider an enemy, and thus out of convenience, our government seems to turn a blind eye to these violations. Any time we sacrifice out values for any reason, we degrade our values and our strength.

During the cold war we made many regime changes, often overthrowing nascent democracies and replacing them with horrific dictators because we did not like the results of the election. More often than not, these newly created free peoples would vote socialist or communist and the United States would locate and support some right-wing military leader who would lead a coup to stop them.

TNS: What type of relationship would you live to see the U.S. government build with Bolivia, Cuba, and Ecuador?

I would love to see the United States establish strong diplomatic ties with all nations across the planet; including those that we traditionally see as our enemies. I think that we should encourage people in those nations to embrace their own destinies, particularly if they see democratic socialism in their future.

TNS: What are your thoughts on what’s happening politically in Honduras, Venezuela, and Brazil?

As always, we are witness to the never ending struggle between the working classes and the wealthy elite. And, of course, we sprinkle in a little CIA manipulation, of course.

TNS: What are your thoughts on the maidan, the annexation of Crimea, and the nature of the government in Kyiv, and what’s happening in the eastern parts of the Ukraine?

If the people of Eastern Ukraine and the Crimea were allowed to hold a free and open referendum, and through that process show that they desire to be part of the Russian Federation, then I would not oppose Russian annexing those areas through a diplomatic process handled through the United Nations.

TNS: What are your thoughts on the TPP & the TTIP?

I am opposed to any trade deals in which nations that violate basic Human Rights are allowed to benefit from that practice. I would expect that any trade deals we negotiate with other nations would demand that they address their own inequities and exploitative practices, and require that they begin to address those issues as soon as possible.

TNS: What would you do as a Senator, if elected, to combat the machinations of hedge funds and transnational corporations in sovereign nation’s political affairs?

Well, as a Senator, I would most definitely work on democracy in the workplace, of giving workers control of the businesses that employ them. I would hope that, under those circumstances, we would see far less corporate manipulation around the world.

TNS: What is your viewpoint on affordable housing? Is housing a human right? How did your time working with regulators of the Manufactured Housing Industry affect your viewpoint, if at all?

Housing is most definitely a Human Right. We live in a world that has housing crises not because there arent houses for people, but because no one is building affordable housing because its not profitable, or because no one wants affordable housing ruining their neighborhood. We have more empty houses than we have homeless people, that shouldnt be a thing.

The Division of Manufactured Housing regulated the ownership and repair of mobile and manufactured homes, and didnt really affect my viewpoint on housing. But, it did show me the pointlessness of government regulation that lacks enforcement. In Nevada, a contractor is required to be licensed by the Division of Manufactured Housing to conduct repairs on a mobile or manufactured home. If they arent licensed, they get a cease & desist order. If they ignore it, nothing really happens, as there is not enforcement authority.

TNS: You’ve spent time working with Sparks Police Department as a civilian and the Sex Offender Registry. How has those affected your views on police brutality, mass incarceration, and the criminal justice system in general?

As to police brutality I can not speak much as I never witnessed any instances of brutality while I worked for the Sparks Police Department. Im not saying it didnt happen, as I have seen far too many eye witness videos of brutal police actions against civilians, but I was not directly aware of anything occurring while I worked there.

In regards to mass incarceration, it seems that much of our judicial system is simply based around the idea that if we make someone disappear for a time theyll get better and reenter society, no questions asked, and no problems to be had. The reality is that we, as a society, seem to be unwilling to address the true issues which lead to the need for certain individuals to commit certain types of crime to begin with. If we had the resources and facilities available, I believe that the majority of people who end up incarcerated would be better suited to probationary and rehabilitation programs.

Of course, well also have to address what we are actually imprisoning people for. Many of what we would call crimes of vice are, in my opinion, not necessarily something that we should consider illegal. Many forms of drug possession and abuse should be decriminalized, etc. The criminal justice system is far too heavily focused on locking people away and not helping them overcome their problems.

TNS: How do you think we could dismantle the prison industrial complex?

One of the biggest changes that needs to made in this regard is the reformation of the penal system to focus on probation and rehabilitation. Simply locking people away in a small room for months or years is not going to suddenly turn them into a functioning member of society,

Whats even worse is that we have begun to take this process in some areas and turn it into a profit-driven enterprise. This not only incentivizes the criminal justice system to incarcerate ever more people and turns people into commodities to be bought, traded, sold, and exchanged by those who runs these prisons; but it also exchanges the mind-set of the jailors from incarceration to profit-earning. Under that, its not hard to see what are already dismal services and conditions degrading to even worse levels as every penny is pinched and every cost cut.

I believe that we need to recognize that crime is, by its very nature, a product of society

TNS: What are your thoughts on the Black Lives Matter Movement?

I think its very important for awareness to be drawn to the issues that are of great concern to the Black Lives Matter Movement. There are clearly a large number of situations in this country where African Americans are being treated atrociously by law enforcement and the judicial system is, far too often, not finding anyone at fault.

I support Black Lives Matter wholly and completely.

TNS: Do you think or believe that mass incarceration is the New Jim Crow? If so or if not why?

Without a doubt, yes. The simple fact that arrests and convictions are far more common and frequent for African Americans serves as enough proof of that for me. There seems to be a fundamental problem with both law enforcement and the judicial process that treats African Americans almost as a different class of people with separate rates of conviction and different levels of punishment.

TNS: What are your thoughts on cannabis decriminalization and legalization?

I completely support the decriminalization of marijuana possession and the legalization of its use recreationally. I have never smoked marijuana, nor do I plan to do so even if it becomes legal, as its just not something that interests me.

We have far too many people who have been incarcerated, often for extended periods of time, for nothing more than the possession of a small amount of marijuana. I believe that this does nothing to deter anyone from its use and does nothing but fill our prisons with individuals who may have no other criminal inclinations, until, of course, they are forced to spend months or years with more criminally-oriented individuals.

I would support a system where marijuana is treated, transported, taxed, and its consumption is regulated in a manner similar to alcohol.

TNS: Why do you think Nevada still uses mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines for marijuana possession?

I think that the Legislature of Nevada jumped on the bandwagon of passing these types of laws when they were popular, believed to be effective, and for whatever reason, the Legislature felt that Nevada had to become a zero tolerance state. Not to mention the fact that appearing tough on crime is always a popular go-to method to try to win an election or a re-election.

However, the problem now is that the Nevada Legislature only meets once every two years, and of course, the election cycle for the Assembly is also every two years. So, using the tried-and-true, but utterly meaningless, tough on crime campaign, someone will get elected, spend the next six months legislating, and then has to run for re-election twelve months later, most likely continuing the tough on crime campaign. There is no real political will to try to change anything, and with such a rushed legislative process there is no time for a newly elected Assemblyman or woman to learn the outcomes of their votes before they are off on hiatus and then running for re-election.

TNS: What is the current mood of Nevada politics?

There is an interesting dichotomy in Nevada where we have a populous metropolitan area, Las Vegas and by extension, all of Clark County, competing against a very large rural area spread out across hundreds of miles. Then, you add the Reno-Sparks area into the mix, which is sort of a combination of both, depending on the election. Clark County is typically reliably Democratic, the rural counties reliably Republic, and Washoe County (where Reno is) going back and forth, again, depending on the election.

There are competing interests between the north and the south, particularly in regards to water, as well as the aforementioned political divide. Many of the rural counties often feel that they are neglected while Clark County gets everything, and Clark County often complains when any type of improvements or infrastructure spending are done in the north while they have inadequate facilities. Some have even referred to it as the State of Clark County, or feel that Clark County has interests aligned more with the State of California than it does with Nevada.

We also have a very large contingent of registered non-partisan, or independent, voters, which was close to 40% (according to a Pew Research Poll conducted back in March of 2016), reflecting the independent attitude that I think a lot of Nevadans feel reflects them best. This fact also explains our horrible turn-out for our primary elections, as they are closed primaries inaccessible to nearly 4 out of 10 voters.

TNS: Is there really a divide between the politics of the northern and southern parts of Nevada?

Tremendously, yes. If you were to drive a car across Nevada, passing through Las Vegas, Reno, Elko, and everywhere in between it would be starkly apparent. As one drives through the rural areas, you will see many signs, most often homemade, in peoples yards, on their fences, as billboards on the side of the highway, decrying Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, and/or President Obama as the worst people that could ever hold office. Those will also often be interspersed with signs warning of the second coming of Christ, or the eternal damnation awaiting all who dont repent immediately. And then youll enter Reno or Las Vegas and those signs will disappear. All one has to do is see any results map of Nevada on election night to see the blue southern tip, the blue western strip (most of the time), and nothing but red in between.

TNS: How has the term limits amendment affected the political climate?

From my own perspective, I cant really say Ive seen any effects of it, or been affected by it myself. With most of the candidates running typically being different flavors of Republican, replacing one with another seems to have the same net effect. Or rather, I should say, Ive never lost the ability to vote for someone I supported because they were term limited out.

TNS: How does the None of the Above or None of These Candidates option work?

Its sort of a protest vote, really. Except as possibly having a so-called spoiler effect on an election, it matters not to the outcome of an election. And even the claims of it having a spoiler effect are spurious as it serves the same effect as someone not voting for either candidate anyway. There have been I believe, three occasions in which None of the Above received the highest number of votes, but the election was still won by the person who got the second highest number of votes.

The idea was that the vote would serve a message to politicians that they are so widely unpopular that the votes would rather have someone else than the people who are running. However, there is no binding result and no action is required by anyone regarding the outcome.

Im not opposed to it, as I believe that a protest vote is important. However, it would be nice if there was a result behind it. Perhaps, if None of the Above achieves the highest number a votes, a special election can be held for that particular position, in which anyone regardless of party affiliation, is allowed to file and campaign for an abbreviated period, say three or four weeks.

TNS: Why do you think Nevada failed to pass it’s version of the Voter ID Bill in 2015. Do you think Republicans in the state will make another go at it? What are your thoughts on all these voter id bills which basically results in voter suppression?

The proposed Voter ID bill in Nevada didnt make it out of committee for whatever reason and thus, no vote was made by the Legislature on it; however, with both Houses and the Governor being Republican it was expected to pass. I imagine that they will try to revive it for the 2017 Session, but if the Democratic Party regains control of the State Legislature it may die in committee again.

Voter ID laws are indeed voter suppression and discrimination. I think the fact that there are few, if any, verifiable and documented cases of voter fraud in Nevada argues that the laws are completely unnecessary and seeing that they disproportionately affect the working class and minorities, they are nothing more than legalized discrimination and suppression.

TNS: What is your position on the various Right To Work laws being passed around the nation? Do you envision Nevada passing similar legislation?

Nevada is already a Right To Work, or rather Right To Fire as I call it, State, and I am opposed to those types of laws as well. It is sold to the public as their right to be free from forced association with a union or labor organization, but the reality of the situation is that the State has granted employers the ability to deprive their employees of any rights or protections that they would ordinarily have if they were able to organize. States which have Right To Fire laws have lower pay, lower instances of employer-sponsored insurance, and lower instances of employer-sponsored pensions. And, as anyone who works in the private sector in Nevada can tell you, we are all At Will employees who can be fired from any job, anywhere, at any time. This contributes directly to high-stress, which contributes to poor health, etc.

TNS: A Nevada state Senate committee considered a controversial package of gun-rights legislation last year. What are your thoughts on gun control and ‘Stand Your Ground’?

I stand in complete opposition to the slew of Stand Your Ground laws. Those are designed as nothing more than antagonistic, gung-ho laws that encourage violence. Im not trying to downplay the trauma felt by those who have had their home broken into, but I think that the majority of criminals who are breaking into houses are looking for items to steal and not necessarily to hurt anyone, and giving anyone the right to deprive another person of their life over the possession of an item of property is absurd.

Weve seen instances where someone in Texas killed two men whom he suspected were burglarizing a neighbors home; a man in Louisiana fired into a car full of teenagers as it was driving away because of a bad drug transaction; a man in Wisconsin killed an unarmed person who was on his porch; a man in Arizona shot and killed someone who walked in front of his car in a Taco Bell drive threw and waved his arms (the shooter thought he had a metal pipe he had a dog leash and was mentally disabled); and in Florida a man chased a burglar for over a block before catching him and stabbing him to death.

These are not the acts of sane, reasoned individuals. These types of laws give license to people to resort to the highest level of violence to a possible perceived threat that, as you can see in the above examples, did not exist. The fact that some people are willing to trade a persons life for an item of property is absurd.

Of course, if we address the fundamental inequities in our society, many of these underlying reasons for crime would simply disappear.

TNS: Let’s now talks about a few major positions from your platform. You advocate up to six months of paid family leave. Have you studied the economics of this proposal or how it would impact small businesses with 15 to 75 employees? What has been the response about this from labor and women’s groups you’ve shared your position with? What would be the ramifications of congress and state governments passing such legislation?

I have not studied the full economics behind the issue, as Im more concerned with proposing and doing what I believe is right for society as a whole and not the cost-benefit analysis behind it. That being said, I can understand that it would probably prove a bit burdensome to smaller businesses with few employees and I believe that it would be within the governments capabilities, under a democratic socialistic form of economics, to subsidize the employer to cover the expenses of the leave.

So far, I have received nothing but positive feedback from everyone that I have spoken to of this issue. And we can look to many nations in Europe which provide extended periods of family leave without crashing their economies and failing as a society.

TNS: You support a Universal Basic Income. Please explain what is it? Where would the money come from? How would it be fair? How would it change how work is defined and what a career or job is?

A Universal Basic Income is essentially a form of social security in which all Americans would be paid a base sum of money, tax-free, at regular intervals, say weekly or bi-weekly. This money would be an amount determined to cover the base cost of living expenses for the average individual. Its purpose is to ensure that no one ever falls behind or below and provides for everyone. It would no doubt be most helpful for new mothers, students who usually dont have time to work, and those who have been recently laid off from their job. As we transition into a more automated society, it also becomes the solution to all of those who have lost their job due to the automation. It would provide them with a means to care for themselves while they receive training for a new job, or go back to school to pursue a new career.

It would also serve to replace all existing forms of welfare or other forms of State-provided assistance, thus removing much of the bureaucracy, loopholes, and convoluted laws involved in the current welfare system. The savings involved by transitioning to a basic income system would go part of the way to funding it. Other funding could come from a variety of sources including the increased taxation of the wealthy, profits earned from publicly-run industries, cuts to defense spending, etc.

There has been a fear stated by some that if money were simply provided to people, the motivation to work would evaporate and disappear, and this is simply not true. There have been small scale experiments with basic income in parts of Africa and Canada, and the results show that the vast majority of people continued to work at the same level that they did before. A basic income changes the nature of work from forcing people to work to allowing people to work under their own control and own initiative, and cooperatively with others.

Basic Income also provides the last necessary pillar in true freedom. A truly free society is built upon the pillars of Freedom of Speech, Political Freedom, Freedom of Religion or Spirituality, Freedom of Association, and Economic Freedom. Without Economic Freedom, the other four Freedoms are essentially meaningless as the driving goal of life becomes simply earning a living and worrying about how to pay for everything, thus depriving a person of their ability to Speak, Associate, Participate, and Reflect.

TNS: Currently we have the insurance industry written and supported Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare. How do we get from that to single payer or Medicare for all?

Well, for a start we’d need to abolish the private health insurance industry, and then switch everyone over to a single-payer system, which could be a Medicare for all model, or some other type of single-payer health care. Im not going to lie and say that this would be easy, and I know that the insurance and health care industries have very powerful lobbying arms, but with enough strong-willed politicians I believe that passing such legislation is still possible.

Of course, moving to a single-payer system is just a step on the road. The true goal would be to move to a no-cost full Federal Health Care system, which provides all medical services at no cost in a non-discriminatory manner to all Americans. And which also provides for community-controlled health care facilities run by a board of democratically-elected health care professionals, patients, and other citizens.

TNS: Free college tuition – which you advocate, sounds like a pipedream. How do we make it a reality? Do we really need to create another tax to fund it or could we fund it from existing sources such like reducing the portion of the president’s discretionary budget that goes towards the military?

It may sound like a pipedream, but there are many nations which currently offer college with no tuition costs, so it is obviously possible.

I believe that there are a large number of ways in which we could fund free college tuition without raising any additional taxes. At first, though, I believe that we need to abolish all for-profit colleges and universities, turning them into public institutions. I strongly believe that once the motivation for profit is removed from system, tuition fees would drop precipitously.

Reducing spending in areas, such as the military, and corporate welfare and subsidies can also be applied to subsidize the tuition fees and other expenses. Ive seen that the estimation for tuition-free college is roughly $75 billion per year, and the cost of maintaining our nuclear missile arsenal is roughly $20 billion per year, so I believe that it is highly possible to reallocate funds in the current levels of government spending to easily cover the cost of something that will benefit society far more than thousands of death rockets.

TNS: What LGBT laws would you like to see enacted that are not already on the books?

I would like to see that every state be required to recognize everyone in the LGBT community as a protected class, making it illegal to discriminate against them in any way, coast to coast. I would like to see that all laws about religious freedom in the context of protecting those who want to deny services to those in the LGBT community be repealed.

TNS: What has been the response from Nevada’s LGBT community about your ideas?

Those in the LGBT community that I have spoken to are very supportive of my campaign and what I stand for.

TNS: Why are women’s rights important to you?

I was raised by a single mother who had to work full-time to pay the rent, bills, etc. I feel like I had a great childhood, and was never deprived of any encouragement or support. She was there when I needed her and never failed to provide for my needs. It boils my blood when I hear people speak ill of single, working mothers.

TNS: What type or kinds of advocacy from the Senate would you attempt if elected, on behalf of women’s rights?

I would ensure that we dont just push for or encourage equal pay, but that it becomes enshrined and codified in law. I would speak out against those who continue to propose laws which restrict a womens right to choose or affects womens health rights. I would shed light on what they are doing and embarrass them in as many forms of media as possible. I would speak at and sponsor any event I could which promoted womens rights. I would bring awareness to these organizations on the floor of the Senate. And I would invite those running these organizations, or helped by these organizations, to speak on the Senate floor and share their experiences.

TNS: What are your thoughts on a Wall Street or financial transaction tax?

We definitely need to restore and increase the Capital Gains Tax. I would also be for a Securities Transaction Tax or a Financial Transaction Tax in which all transactions on Wall Street are subject to a tax.

Investors profit from the value of labor more than any other, stealing capital while essentially doing nothing.

TNS: Do you think we will see term limits in congress and real campaign finance reform within the next 5 to 10 years?

I think that, depending on how the next few elections go, and if Americans continue to embrace progressive ideals, it is possible that well see some type of campaign finance reform, but I think that it will require a number of politicians with real political will and a desire for progressive change instead of a desire to be reelected to continue to push the issue. We need to start electing far left candidates who will push us towards a public financing system for political candidates, divided equally amongst all parties.

As to term limits, I know that the idea is often popular with certain segments of the population as a desire to clear out congress or get rid of dead weight, etc.; however, there are times when I can see that a term limit can prove harmful or disadvantageous, particularly if it disqualifies a popular politician in the middle of passing a series of legislation. Arguably, we have a sort of term limit simply through the voting mechanism. If a politician were truly unpopular, and if the electorate were fully involved, that person would not be reelected.

TNS: What does grassroots democracy mean to you?

Grassroots democracy is where the candidates themselves are not only accessible to the voters during their campaign, but also after their election. Where contact with the electorate is not made through a proxy or a representative, but through direct contact. In our modern age, that should be something that is even easier for a candidate or a politician to do, through social media, e-mail, text messaging, etc.

In order to get myself on the ballot, my campaign needed to collect 250 signatures from registered voters and it way myself, a friend, and my wife out there on our feet, collecting those signatures. I spoke to those willing to sign; answered their questions, met them eye to eye, and listened to their concerns. Thats what this is all about; representing the people and their concerns.

TNS: Is independent political action spreading?

I cant speak for the rest of the nation, but at least in Nevada, I believe that it might be. We already have a strong independent streak in Nevada, wanting to go our own way. I believe that our largest percentage of voters registered as non-partisan.

TNS: How do we break the stranglehold the Democratic Party has over many progressives?

From what Ive seen in this election cycle, the simplest answer is to leave the Democratic Party. The Democratic Party has shown that it loves to cater to the far and deep left during the primary season, but during the general election, and more importantly once in office, they slide right back to the center, and support their business interests.

TNS: The Democratic Party is the place where movements go to die. What can progressives, left-liberals, social democrats, socialists, and greens do to keep their activism from being co-opted?

I would like to see the Democratic Party finally be recognized as the center, or center-right even, party that it is and a vibrant and vocal true left party, or multitude of parties, rise up to represent progressives, greens, and socialists.

I would like to see greens, progressives, and socialists run for political office at all levels, and even if there isnt a party in your State or area that represents your views or party preference, run as an independent.

TNS: As a democratic socialist, what will the revolution in America look like from your POV?

I see a handful of politically strong-willed, outspoken progressive candidates obtaining office and aggressively pushing a socialist agenda. I also see them proclaiming such as loudly as possible, over social media, and through press conferences, in an effort to energize the populace into contacting their own representatives to voice their support of this agenda. I see that this will either force those resistant politicians to either support the agenda, or choose to stand against it, which with any luck, will cost them their next election where they will be replaced by another active, outspoken progressive or socialist.

Along with this, I see people on their local level, demanding additional rights in the workplace, organizing themselves, and their communities. I see communities pushing for more progressive and socialist agendas in how their cities are planned and built. I see a radical change in our democratic system from both the top and the bottom as we work together to create a United States which follows the principles of democratic socialism.

TNS: What advice would you give to young people just becoming politically aware and active in social justice?

Dont be discouraged and dont give up. I know that everyone says those things and that it can often seem like just empty platitudes and empty rhetoric; but you can and you will find peers, though they may be hidden in places you least expect. Be consistent and persistent; always vote, always be aware, always speak your voice. Every election is an opportunity to get people who share your views into office; local, County, State, and Federal. Likewise, every election is an opportunity for you, yourself, to run for office. I would love to see every election flooded with a field of young, politically active, progressive candidates.

TNS: What are your thoughts on the building of a mass left movement and mass left parties in America?

I think were at a perfect time for this to be occurring on a serious basis. As of now, we have a party of far right extremists, and a party of right of center moderates, who continue to claim to be progressives. I think a large number of people are finally awakening to the fact that the Democrats will only ever provide lip service to progressive and socialistic ideals, but when it comes time for actual change, they are forever beholden to their true interests in the business community.

All those who have been discouraged and defeated by the establishment Democrats need to find peers in their area and organize. Find out if there is a currently existing party in your State, such as the Socialist Party, U.S.A., or the Green Party, or the Progressive Independent Party, etc. Check out their information and see which ones matches most closely to your ideals and join them. If one doesnt exist, see about creating a local chapter in your area. Or if you find that your ideals are just too different to fit in to an existing party, see about creating your own.

TNS: Would you like to add anything?

For the first time in my life, I actually feel like some type of radical or revolutionary change is not only possible, but its supported by a large percentage of Americans. If we can keep this up, change is not only on the horizon, but its within sight.

TNS: Jarrod Williams, thank you for your time and all the best to you with your campaign. Solidarity comrade!

Solidarity, my friend, to you and your readers!

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Hector Lopez June 30, 2016 at 6:30 pm

By Stephen Kinzer JUNE 23, 2016
‘DO NOT MAKE peace until we get Porto Rico,” Theodore Roosevelt wrote in 1898 to Senator Henry Cabot Lodge, his closest friend and political partner. Lodge’s answer was reassuring: “Porto Rico is not forgotten and we mean to have it.”

A few weeks after that exchange, American troops landed in Puerto Rico, seized it, and proclaimed it part of the United States. The colonial experiment has not gone well. By most standards — health, education, per capita income, rates of violent crime — Puerto Rico compares poorly to even the most backward US states. Now it is broke.

Puerto Rico’s governor has restricted withdrawals from the government development bank and placed the highway authority in a “state of emergency” so creditors cannot seize its assets. Hundreds of businesses have closed. Schools lack electricity. Hospitals have reduced their services. The Zika virus is spreading and, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, may afflict one-fourth of the population by the end of this year. Planeloads of Puerto Ricans are emigrating each week, including many teachers and other professionals. The remaining population is older, poorer, and more in need of services the government cannot provide.

This parlous state of affairs is called “fiscal emergency.” Puerto Rico’s economy is shrinking, and it cannot service its $72 billion foreign debt. Last week the US Supreme Court ruled that although any of the 50 states may permit cities and utility agencies to declare bankruptcy and begin restructuring, Puerto Rico cannot. Congress is working to create a “control board” to direct the island’s finances, but even if it succeeds, the board will only address immediate issues, not the deeper problem.

Puerto Rico occupies an extraordinary position in the global cartography. It is property of the United States and its residents are US citizens, but they have no voting representative in Congress and may not cast ballots in presidential elections. As a result, Puerto Ricans must obey laws they play no role in shaping, follow the rulings of judges they have no role in appointing, and accept a range of US policies without being able to influence them. The island is called a “commonwealth,” an “unincorporated territory,” or a “free associated state,” but those are semantic tricks invented to disguise the fact that Puerto Rico is one of the world’s last colonies.

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Congress must act to give Puerto Rico relief
It’s time to pass legislation that lets Puerto Rico restructure its massive debt.

In 1901 the Supreme Court ruled that Puerto Ricans are not entitled to the rights of other Americans. “The Constitution does not apply to foreign countries,” it found. “There may be territories subject to the jurisdiction of the United States which are not of the United States.” That principle still guides Washington’s relationship to Puerto Rico. Caught in seemingly eternal limbo — neither a state nor an independent country — the island is doomed to be ignored until trouble erupts. Even if fiscal and social catastrophe can be temporarily avoided, the central question remains.

The operation in which the United States seized Puerto Rico was an afterthought. Puerto Ricans had just accepted a far-reaching autonomy agreement with Spain and installed an elected government, but that meant nothing to American invaders of 1898. The United States had defeated Spain on the battlefield in Cuba, and expansionists in Washington reasoned that by the principle of war conquest, the United States had won the right to own Puerto Rico, the last remaining Spanish colony in the Western Hemisphere.

As is often the case after Americans intervene abroad, we quickly forgot about Puerto Rico. Sugar companies took over much of the island’s land, depriving many small farmers of their income. In the 1950s, embarrassed by terrible conditions in Puerto Rico, Congress enacted a series of measures aimed at making it a “showcase” for American beneficence and a “shining star” in the Caribbean. That created a short boom, followed by a long decline that led to poverty and a culture of dependence. Puerto Ricans pay no federal income tax, and more than one-third of them receive food stamps.

In a 2012 plebiscite, 54 percent of Puerto Ricans pronounced themselves opposed to the island’s current political status. They disagree on whether statehood or independence would be a better alternative. Congress, however, is highly unlikely to accept Puerto Rico as the 51st state. That makes sense. When asked their nationality, Puerto Ricans usually reply “Puerto Rican,” not “American.” Most do not speak English. They send their own team to the Olympic Games and are even more passionate than Texans in guarding their native heritage.

Puerto Rico has a population of 3.5 million, larger than that of 20 American states. Holding it was considered essential during the Cold War, but that argument has evaporated. The current political arrangement has failed to serve the needs of either Puerto Ricans or mainland Americans. Since Congress is not prepared to admit Puerto Rico to the union, it should consider laying the groundwork for decolonization and eventual independence.

Arguments about the 1898 invasion — and whether Puerto Ricans would have been better off without American tutelage — are now the province of historians. Charges that Puerto Rican leaders bear much blame for creating today’s crisis, though true, are also beside the point. This crisis is a disaster for the island and an unwelcome distraction in Washington. It will prove a blessing in disguise, however, if it leads us finally to address the root cause of Puerto Rico’s trouble: its eternally uncertain political status.

Stephen Kinzer is a senior fellow at the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs at Brown University. Follow him on Twitter @stephenkinzer.


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