Cornel West, fresh from Democratic platform committee, endorses Jill Stein

Cornel West, who is supporting Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont in his presidential run, at a fish fry on Saturday in Charleston, S.C., organized by Representative James E. Clyburn.

New York Times photo

Cornel West, whom Wikipedia describes as “an American philosopher, academic, social activist, author, public intellectual and prominent member of the Democratic Socialists of America,” recently finished his stint as one of the 15 members of the 2016 Democratic Party platform-drafting committee (he was one of Bernie Sanders’ only-five picks to the committee) — only to endorse Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein. West, shown above campaigning for Bernie in Charleston, South Carolina, in January, correctly calls Stein “the only progressive woman in the race” for the White House.

Here is Cornel West’s piece for The Guardian, in full (the links are the original links, not mine):

A long and deep legacy of white supremacy has always arrested the development of U.S. democracy. We either hit it head on, or it comes back to haunt us. That’s why a few of us have pressed the president for seven years not to ignore issues of poverty, police abuse and mass unemployment. Barack Obama said it very well, following the shootings of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling, that some communities “have been forgotten by all of us.”

And now – in Dallas, Baton Rouge, Falcon Heights and beyond – this legacy has comes back to haunt the whole country.

Obama and his cheerleaders should take responsibility for being so reluctant to engage with these issues. It’s not a question of interest group or constituencies. Unfortunately for so much of the Obama administration it’s been a question of “I’m not the president of black people, I’m the president of everyone.” But this is a question of justice. It’s about being concerned about racism and police brutality.

I have deep empathy for brothers and sisters who are shot in the police force. I also have profound empathy for people of color who are shot by the police. I have always believed deliberate killing to be a crime against humanity.

Yet, Obama didn’t go to Baton Rouge. He didn’t go to Minneapolis. He flew over their heads to go to Dallas. You can’t do that. His fundamental concern was to speak to the police; that was his priority. When he references the Black Lives Matter movement, it’s to speak to the police. But the people who are struggling have a different perspective.

The very notion that Dallas is the paragon of policing is something that needs to be interrogated. The Dallas mayor said we have done nothing wrong, but look at your history. Ask people in southern Dallas about the police. Ask Clinton Allen, an unarmed black man fatally shot by the Dallas police in 2013. I was with his mother, Collette Flanagan, the founder of Mothers Against Police Brutality, last year. Countless people came up and told us about all the struggles black communities are having with the Dallas police.

Unfortunately, Obama thrives on being in the middle. He has no backbone to fight for justice. He likes to be above the fray. But for those us us who are in the fray, there is a different sensibility. You have to choose which side you’re on, and he doesn’t want to do that. Fundamentally, he’s not a love warrior. He’s a polished professional. Martin Luther King Jr., Adam Clayton Powell Jr. and Ella Baker – they were warriors.

Obama’s attitude is that of a neo-liberal, and they rarely have solidarity with poor and working people. Whatever solidarity he does offer is just lip service to suffering, but he never makes it a priority to end that suffering.

Obama has power right now to enact the recommendations made after Ferguson: better training, independent civilian oversight boards, body cameras. But he has not used executive orders to push any of these changes through.

This November, we need change. Yet we are tied in a choice between [Donald] Trump, who would be a neo-fascist catastrophe, and [Hillary] Clinton, a neo-liberal disaster. That’s why I am supporting Jill Stein. I am with her – the only progressive woman in the race – because we’ve got to get beyond this lock-jaw situation. I have a deep love for my brother Bernie Sanders, but I disagree with him on Hillary Clinton. I don’t think she would be an “outstanding president.” Her militarism makes the world a less safe place.

Clinton policies of the 1990s generated inequality, mass incarceration, privatization of schools and Wall Street domination. There is also a sense that the Clinton policies helped produce the right-wing populism that we’re seeing now in the country. And we think she’s going to come to the rescue? That’s not going to happen.

The American empire is in deep spiritual decline and cultural decay. The levels of wealth inequality and environmental degradation is grotesque. The correct response to this is: tell the truth about what is going on. Bear witness. Be willing to go to jail to fight for justice if need be.

When the system is declining, it can bring despair. That’s why Black Lives Matter – and all other young people of all colors who are mobilizing – is a beautiful thing. We are having a moral and spiritual awakening. It gives us democratic hope. Its not about having hope but being hope. It’s time to move from being spectators, to being actors.

Among his many other points, I share West’s contention that Barack Obama hasn’t done enough for black Americans, irrespective of Obama’s race.

In fact, I’ve long speculated that Obama has done even less for black Americans than would a president of another race even with a similar political ideology — out of Obama’s fear of being accused of doing too much for black Americans because he is a black American himself.

And yes, of course all lives matter and of course Obama is supposed to be every American’s president, but these assertions often if not usually are made to whitewash the fact that black Americans still struggle mightily — by most socioeconomic measures more than any other racial group — in a largely racist, white supremacist nation.

As I’ve noted, I don’t hold it against Bernie that he endorsed Billary. Because he ran as a Democrat, he pretty much had to. But he didn’t have to do so wholeheartedly, and he didn’t do so wholeheartedly. In my view, he did it with a major wink-wink.

And, of course, we Berners are free to vote for whom we wish, and like Brother Cornel (who, again, helped to write the Democratic Party platform, for fuck’s sake), I intend to vote for Jill Stein, who is not only the only progressive woman in the presidential race, but is the only progressive, period, who still is in the race.


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7 responses to “Cornel West, fresh from Democratic platform committee, endorses Jill Stein

  1. I like Stein, Cornel and Bernie’s personalities better than either Clinton or Trump. However, the Green Party platform has a lot of anti-science stuff in it, and I can’t get behind that. I blame Stein directly for allowing the anti-vaccine/pro-homeopathic nonsense to stand. A physician should know better, and be ethically consistent enough to say there’s no empirical evidence for these beliefs.

    • Robert

      Truthfully, the vaccine and homeopathic debates (or “debates”) alone aren’t enough to sway my vote, but that said, I believe that vaccines should be mandatory for public school children (I suppose that I could exempt home-schooled children, but probably not private school children), as is the law here in California, and while I believe that we should be open to things that are outside of Western (and corporatized) medicine, I can’t support homeopathy as I have seen it defined (such as by my go-to source, Wikipedia, which isn’t for academic purposes but which I think is fine for blogging).

      And all of that said, Wikipedia says this (in its entry “Jill Stein”) of Stein’s stance on these two issues:

      “Stein has stated that ‘vaccines in general have made a huge contribution to public health,’ but suggested that it is reasonable to be skeptical of mandatory vaccinations due to allegedly close connections between corporate interests and regulatory agencies. Regarding homeopathic medicine, which the Green Party supports ‘the teaching, funding and practice of,’ Stein has stated that it is problematic that ‘agencies tied to big pharma and the chemical industry’ test medicines.”

      I share Stein’s concerns with Big Pharma and the conflicts of interest associated with it. Capitalism doesn’t belong in health care.

      I can’t say that I support the mandatory vaccination of every single individual, as that seems pretty totalitarian to me, but again, yes, the vaccination against the common childhood diseases should be required for public school attendance.

      I disagree with the public funding of homeopathy as I understand it, if it’s public funding of it that the Green Party supposedly supports, and this is the first that I’ve heard that the Green Party is pro-homeopathy. I will need to look into that more, but does it turn me off from the Green Party entirely? No.

      P.S. I look much more to the Green Party’s “four pillars” and “ten key values” in my support of it. Its “four pillars” and “ten key values” are here:

      Even that said, I don’t know that I’m on board with the Green Party’s apparent stance of total non-violence (while the state still routinely uses violence against us commoners), and while decentralization has its benefits, decentralization also (such as with “states’ rights”) historically has been used to shit and piss upon the rights of the individual. (In the Green Party’s defense, it argues that “Decision-making should, as much as possible, remain at the individual and local level, while assuring that civil rights are protected for all citizens.”)

      I agree with the Greens in most respects, more than I agree with any other American political party.

      There are some kooks on the left (inside and outside of the Green Party), indeed, and I’m going to have to look more into Jill Stein’s views on vaccinations and homeopathy, as Wikipedia’s explanation above isn’t very helpful, although, again, I can’t see those two issues being deal-breakers for me, but points of minor concern.

      • I agree with much of their platform as well. I just agree with more of the Democratic party platform, especially after the changes Bernie influenced. No candidate or party is perfect. We all have to weigh the total package in the context of our own priorities. I also hold that stopping Trump by any non-violent means necessary is of paramount importance, and that influences my choice.

      • Robert

        Hmmm. Again with the issue of non-violence, I, for one, can’t say that I’d take violence off of the table altogether where it comes to stopping Trump or a similar fascist, if it came to that. Maybe some pre-emptive violence from the commoners would have stopped Hitler and other fascists from the past. Letting fascist bullies be violent while we, their victims, whimper “Non-violence! Non-violence!” hasn’t historically worked out very well for us…

        That said, I do believe in non-violence in general, where possible, with emphasis on “where possible.”

        As I have blogged, if you live in a swing or toss-up state, then your theory that voting for Billary is the best way to stop Trump might be correct. If you live in a solidly blue or red state, however, you have no reason to vote for Billary (or for Trump), as with the winner-takes-all Electoral College, the result of your state is foreordained.

        If we truly valued democracy we’d choose our president on the popular vote, and there would be some credence to the claim that everyone must vote for Billary in order to block Trump.

        Instead, everyone voting for Billary just enables the Democratic Party to continue to be a pro-corporate, pro-plutocratic, Repugnican Lite Party that can put out a decent platform but certainly won’t actually follow it, since its corporate sponsors won’t have that.

  2. I agree with you on the issue of where one lives and the relative importance of choices in swing states. Since I have been a committed pacifist for over 40 years, I do not compromise in supporting non-violence. But I must always compromise if voting for major party candidates, because they haven’t nominated any actual pacifists. Most candidates appear to accept the theory of “just” wars. I don’t.

    • Robert

      So the Allies shouldn’t have bombed the Nazi regime to smithereens? The use of violence is never, ever justified? What else would have or could have stopped the attempted Axis takeover of the entire planet? (The nuking of Japan I believe was unnecessary; let me make that clear.)

      I believe that actually defensive violence is justified and is sometimes necessary to save more lives. If the other party that is committing unprovoked, unjustifiable violence makes counter-violence necessary, then that’s on the other party. No one should just have to sit there and be a pacifist victim of someone else’s unprovoked violence perpetrated upon him or her.

      That said, the last “just” war that the U.S. fought was World War II; it’s relatively rare that counter-violence must be used. And/but, again, I have to wonder if counter-violence had been used against the budding Nazi regime in Germany, World War II never would have happened in the first place.

      Among many other things, I can’t get over Billary’s October 2002 support for the Vietraq War. That was a wholly unprovoked, unjust, immoral and illegal war.

      To me there’s too much chance of us getting involved in another unjust war under Billary or Trump, although I put the chances of an unjust war being launched under Trump as a bit higher than under Billary.

      But I won’t vote for either war hawk.

  3. Robert

    P.S. I found some quite recent info on Jill Stein’s stances on vaccination and homeopathy.

    Per this website, she supports vaccination and does not support homeopathy. Links:

    As the authors point out, Stein, who received her medical training at Harvard, does not necessarily agree with many or perhaps even most of the members of the Green Party on certain medical issues.

    Members of the Green Party who are anti-science can be brought along, I believe, as do the authors of the two pieces I linked to above.

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