Outreach and Exploratory Candidate questionnaire for the 2016 GPUS presidential nomination
Submitted by Bill Kreml on 11/15/2015 to the the GPUS Presidential Campaign Support Committee and amended on 11/30/2015
1. Are you interested in seeking the Green Party 2016 presidential nomination? Are you considering seeking the nomination, but have not yet made up your mind? What factors are you taking into consideration?
I am actively seeking the 2016 presidential nomination of the Green Party.
2. What do you believe the goals should be of the 2016 GPUS presidential campaign? If you were the GPUS presidential nominees, how would your campaign work to achieve them? (Will your campaign succeed?)
Although achieving the highest possible popular vote should remain an essential part of our 2016 presidential effort, I believe strongly in the building of both intellectual and practical foundations that will assist subsequent candidacies, at all levels of the party, in the future growth of the Green Party. We are on a long journey and we must lay groundwork for those who come behind us.
3. Please list five issue areas that you feel are most important and what would you do about them. (Who are you?)
a) The environment, and the increasing urgency of solutions to the oncoming, and in some cases already existing, environmental disaster should be our number one policy concern. We are losing our planet, in everything from species loss to the loss of critical vegetation resources. My own campaign emphasis may be different from what I think the party should be primarily concerned with, that focusing on what I believe I am most qualified to speak to, specifically the issues surrounding governance and democracy.
b) It is long overdue time for our government to resist the war footing that has been imposed on us by the Military/Industrial/Religion Complex. Note that I add a third variable here to what some call only the Military/Industrial Complex. There is no question but that the Abrahamic Civil War, which goes on in what others improperly call the Middle East, is in large part the result of religiously motivated violence on behalf of citizens of divided national loyalties. As a veteran, and as a patriotic American in the best, progressive sense of the word patriotism, I deplore the carnage that we have visited on peoples around the world as well as the loss of life and limb of my fellow citizens in uniform. This violence stems from those with a military motive, those with an industrial, essentially profit, motive, and those in the Abrahamic community who war mongering is religiously motivated. Full disclosure: I am a Taoist.
c) The growing inequality of Americans, the result of everything from rich-favoring tax law changes, union busting, the shipping of jobs overseas, and the unwillingness of the federal government to sponsor adequate job training programs that keep our workers current with ever more complex technologies, are only the most significant of the causes of our growing inequality. The fecklessness of anti-trust enforcement, along with the subversion of such agencies as the SEC, the FDIC, and so on only further evidence our pathway to becoming an oligarchy. I predicted we were becoming an oligarchy in political campaigns I ran as early as 1980.
d) Although there has been some improvement over the years, the fact that women still receive only 77 cents for jobs that pay a full dollar for men, and that African-Americans and other minorities still suffer inadequate job opportunities, education, housing, health care, and the like, means that our government has a long way to go in leveling the playing field for all citizens.
e) There is no question that America’s most precious civil liberties have been eroded by legislation such as the Patriot Act, NDAA, and other nefarious authorizations of internal spying. The Snowden episode alone is evidence of how Americans who in any way oppose the elites who bring us war, poverty, and discrimination are imperiled. Such authorizations must be withdrawn. The intelligence community must be reined in.
4. What parts of the GPUS platform do you feel most closely aligned with? What parts do you disagree with, if any? Are there parts you would improve upon and how? (Who are we?)
As above, the portion of the Green Party platform that I feel myself most closely aligned with deals with the issues of governance, and more specifically the decline of democracy in American politics. I am not in serious disagreement with any portion of the party platform although there are areas that I do feel need embellishment and there are topics that I feel should be in the platform and are not. Clearly, the American government no longer works for the average citizen and I will comment here on what I believe needs to be done to remedy this condition. In part, I believe that the democracy issue is important because I see it as the portal to the solution for all other issues. I must also report, as above, that it is the area that both my political campaigns beginning thirty-five years ago and my academic writings beginning thirty-eight years ago have focused on over the years. The system is broken. We must fix it. Let me begin with what I think we all agree is the most salient current issue within the broad category of democratic breakdown.
I believe strongly in a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United v. The F.E.C.(2010). Please know that the campaign finance issue has been with us for at least as long as the case of Buckley v. Valeo (1976). In 2006, I published The Twenty-First Century Left – Cognitions in the Constitution and Why Buckley Is Wrong. I reviewed a pattern of judicial decisions that were inimical to our democracy, suggested a legal strategy for reversing this pattern, and predicted that a conservative Supreme Court would only make matters worse. It soon did.
4a. The GPUS platform contains specific planks that address how presidential elections are conducted and financed (gpus.nationbuilder.com/democracy#DemPoliticalReform). Do you support or oppose these planks and if you support them, how would you include them in your campaign, if at all?
I agree with a host of Green suggested electoral reforms, including proportional representation, Instant Runoff Voting if not Approval Voting, lower thresholds for minor party ballot access, automatic registration at age 18, election day holidays, independent redistricting commissions, reform of the moribund F. E. C., the election of senators when vacancies occur (an issue I discussed in my 2014 book, The Bias of Temperament in American Politics, Second Edition), a public sector debate authority, and others. But the core issue deals with Citizens United and similar preceding and following cases.
Let me address the issue of structural reform. America’s short constitution contains but seven original articles and twenty-seven amendments, one of the latter negating one of the earlier. Let me focus on two phenomena that I believe to be importantly coincidental. First, the end of the Civil War, and the freeing of the slaves, required a constellation of three amendments in order to establish the status of the newly liberated Americans. Similarly, the rise of the industrial economy, and the need for reform of the distortions that the economy visited upon citizens in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century required a constellation of four amendments, they dealing with a progressive income tax, the direct election of senators, prohibition, and women’s suffrage. Now, we are at a time when the government works poorly; it also works inequitably. What constellation of structural amendments do we need?
In 1980, I ran for the U. S. Senate against veteran Senator Ernest “Fritz” Hollings. I called for the formation of a citizens’ blue ribbon committee that would study the government and make recommendations for modernization and fairness at the 1987 bicentennial of the constitution. My campaign was covered in the TRB column of The New Republic, The Washington Post, The Christian Science Monitor, and other journals. The Committee on the Constitutional System grew out of my campaign. CCS met frequently and made recommendations to the president and the congress at the two hundredth anniversary of the constitution. In its purpose, CCS believed, and I believe still, that the American governmental structure is excessively fragmented. James Madison’s highly centrifugal arrangement of structures and processes has brought nothing but gridlock to the government, and increasingly undemocratic outcomes.
I will mention but three structural reforms here, the first being the movement to a four-year term for members of the House of Representatives. Even Ronald Reagan endorsed our proposal on this. The second reform would omit that portion of Section 6, Article One which forbids a member of Congress from simultaneously serving in the executive branch. You see where we were going. We felt a need to address the inadequacies of an eighteenth century elitist constitution and move our government somewhat closer to a European parliamentary system.
The third necessary amendment is my own, not stemming from CCS. After the Bush/Cheney confrontation at the end of W’s second term as president, it is clear that we need to complete the work of the 12th Amendment on the presidency and the vice-presidency. The vice president must serve at the pleasure of the president. We dodged a bullet in 2008.
You all have been visited by some mesomind at a party or wherever and been regaled with the cure-all for our political problems: term limits. My suggestion, as I mentioned in Craig Seemans’ interview that is available on You Tube, is that the corporations, not the Congress, be subjected to term limits. If we cannot pierce the corporate veil to imprison the likes of Blankfein, Dimion, Lewis, and the rest of the gang that appeared before Congress when the 2008 bubble popped, we can at least legislate limits for interstate corporate charters, thus enforcing structural and personnel changes within corporations that have abused the corporate veil.
Some of you have seen the Molly Ivins column on me celebrating my acts of civil disobedience regarding F. E. C. regulations during my presidential campaign of the year 2000. If and when I am the Green Party presidential nominee in 2016, I intend to engage in civil disobedience again, this time by campaigning around the world for the American presidency as well as inviting Greens from around the world to support my campaign in this country. I have long believed in global political parties, I discussing this privately with Mikhail Gorbachev during a Moscow conference in 1992. Gorbachev, in his wonderful dialectical way, agreed with me that the global political party was coming. If the private sector multi-nationals can act with impunity across nation-state borders, we must respond at the same level. My article “A Global Political Party: The Next Step”, co-authored with the president of the International Studies Association Charles W. Kegley, Jr. in Alternatives (1996), spoke to the need for global political parties. The citation, and first page, is available on the web.
Finally, many of you know that much of my half century in the Academy was spent in the creation of an original political philosophy. Space does not permit full review of that theory here. But suffice it to say that the theory returns to the classical, that is mind-first, dialectic, figures like Plato, Kant, Hegel being of far greater intellectual heft than figures like Feuerbach, Marx, and modern material dialecticians like Richard D. Wolff. The classical dialectic’s roots in philosophy, including the human nature or psychology question, ranks far higher on the Pyramid of Knowledge than the material dialectic’s reliance on the sub-field of economics. Philosophy is the Queen of the Sciences. The classical dialectic follows the admonitions of Kant regarding what was called the Copernican Revolution, wherein the mind precedes, and defines, the object. The observer gives meaning to the observed.
My contribution to the classical dialectic is to show that the human nature question in classical political philosophy is now capable of understanding different kinds of minds with different cognitive preferences. We should all be deeply concerned with the cognitive preferences of those we elect to office. We should be even more concerned with the cognitive biases of the American constitutional order, as I have researched and published about (see above). Let us also not forget that in the election year 2000, regular attendance at a religious ceremony replaced income (SES) as the principal correlate of voting choice. The axis has rotated beyond 45 degrees. The classical dialectic with the marriage of philosophy and psychology that was rent asunder by experimental psychology at the turn of the twentieth century is both possible and mandatory.
Just as there are different human natures, there are different preferences for cognitive forms, or ways of thinking. The Green Party must speak to the cognitive biases of our Republican and Democratic politicians and the American constitutional order itself. Both favor what philosophy calls the analytic cognition, for our purposes nothing more than the apples to apples understanding, while they largely exclude philosophy’s synthetic cognition, or the apples to oranges understanding. It is the latter understanding which I believe has its natural home in the Green Party. It is long overdue time for the progressive position to hold the greatest of American conservative thinkers, Alexander Hamilton, to his promise in Federalist # 80 that Americans should be “relieve(d) against what are called hard bargains” in wages, in prices, in loans, and all other economic transactions. We Greens educate the American public and build the foundation of political understanding that I referenced at the outset of this questionnaire if we a) embrace a classically dialectical, psychologically driven political philosophy and b) embrace those fundamental changes in our government that permit majoritarian, cognitively synthetic aggregations of our citizenry to retake control of public life.
f. Abolish the Electoral College and provide for the direct national election of the president by Instant Runoff Voting. As a step in that direction, support National Popular Vote legislation which would guarantee the Presidency to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and the District of Columbia), which would take effect only when enacted, in identical form, by states possessing a majority of the electoral votes — that is, enough electoral votes to elect a President (270 of 538).
Surely, we must abolish the Electoral College and I am comfortable with IRV, although there are Greens who favor other methods. I very much approve of National Popular Vote Legislation that would guarantee the presidency to the candidate receiving the most popular votes in the 51 jurisdictions, it taking effect only when enacted, in identical form, by states possessing a majority of the electoral votes, as above.
g. Create a new publicly-funded People’s Commission on Presidential Debates, and open its presidential debates to all candidates who appear on at least as many ballots as would represent a majority of the Electoral College and who raise enough funds to otherwise qualify for general election public financing. Any candidate who refuses to participate in such debates would lose general election public financing for their candidacy. Amend federal law to remove the non-profit tax exemption status that allows corporations to fund the existing Commission on Presidential Debates and other such exclusive privately controlled debate entities.
Completely agree and will discuss this in my campaign.
h. Amend the Federal Election Campaign Act to change the percentage of the presidential popular vote required for a new party’s candidate to receive first time General Election public funding from 5% in the previous General Election to 1%; and change the percentage of the presidential popular vote required for a new party to receive public presidential convention funding from 5% for its candidate in the previous general election to 1%.
Completely agree and will discuss this in my campaign.
5. What in your background qualifies you to be a credible presidential candidate? What assets would you bring to your campaign in addition to those already existing within the Green Party? (What do you have to offer?)
I am a fourth generation political Chicagoan. My entrance into the 1980 South Carolina Democratic Senatorial primary received sufficient national publicity to encourage Prof. Charles M. Hardin, a Harvard educated political scientist, to help me form CCS. I ran for president in selected primaries in New England, and two other states, holding forums at colleges and universities, in 1984. I campaigned for president in the Middle Atlantic States in 1992, holding forums from Haverford College down to The Thomas Jefferson Society at UVA. In 2000, as above, I entered the South Carolina presidential primary in order to commit civil disobedience and challenge The F. E. C. to sue me. They did not bite but columns like that of Molly Ivins helped the public understand how corrupt the American political system was. I have published nine single authored, non-edited books on the American government and its inequities. There is no candidate running for the Green presidential nomination who has the length and breadth of participation in both politics and the study of politics that I have.
6. Presidential campaigns are legally independent entities from the political party whose nomination they received. Yet most successful political campaigns meld candidate and party synergistically. If you were the GPUS nominee, how would you envision that working relationship? (How can we work together?)
As a two-term member of the Finance Committee, and having served on the Fund-raising Committee for almost that long, I have come to know, and like, a large number of Greens from a large number of states. I can envision no obstacle to full cooperation with these folks, as well as the people I am happily coming to know in this campaign.
6a. The Green Party both supports transparency in campaign finances and privacy rights for donors guaranteed under local, state and federal law. Given that according to federal law, it is public information that all donors of $200 or more are listed on each presidential candidate’s campaign finance report, Given that such information can only be legally used for fundraising by a political party, if the list is donated to the party by the candidate as an in-kind donation; and given that candidates may donate such lists to political parties as in-kind contributions, without any limit as per the reported in-kind value of such a list; would you donate your list of all donors of $200 or more to the GPUS after the election, and if you planned on doing so, would you give your donors an opt-in/opt-out option to have their information shared with the Green Party after the donation to your campaign is made?
I am raising money at the time of this writing, including donors of more than $200. I will gladly share a list of these donors when the campaign is over. No, I do not feel the need to give my $200 plus donors the opt – in/opt-out option. I will tell them that they may be contacted.
7. Do you believe that an independent party like the Greens can succeed in the US? How would you define such success? How can it happen? (Will we succeed?)
I believe that the Green Party can succeed in the United States, just as it is increasingly succeeding in other countries around the world. I do believe, however, that it must participate at all four of the levels that I discussed in a thought piece I sent out to roughly forty Green Party members some time ago. We must embrace a) a wholly original and radical political philosophy, b) embrace significant structural changes in our government that make our public decision-making both more efficient and more fair, c) a progressive stance on a wide-range of contemporary issues, including everything from the environment, income, homelessness, war, health issues, housing, education, etc. and d) an introspective look at ourselves as a party, that look to include questioning whether the Key Value of Decentralization at the federal level enhances our position, and the position of those we attempt to assist. My position at this time is that it does not.
7a. How would you respond as a candidate to the accusations of ‘spoiler’ that are often leveled at Green candidates, especially for president (optional to answer this one)
I would reference the generally poor legal approach of the Gore campaign that has been discussed by many writers since 2000. I would also refer to the Mark Whittington congressional campaign in 2002, wherein we picketed the national office of The Bank of America in 2002, calling for the end of predatory lending, which would have forestalled the 2008 Global Recession. As a political scientist I feel qualified to speak to the Teddy Roosevelt campaign of 1912, the Robert LaFollette campaign of 1924, and the John Anderson campaign of 1980 as instances where the third party choice might well have been the best president. Obviously, I would argue the same for Nader in 2000
8. There is some interest within the Green Party of having the party’s nominee run together with a Green Cabinet, that would feature prospective cabinet members and federal agency heads that would serve in your government, should you be elected president. Such an approach could demonstrate what a Green government might be like and would do so during the election, promoting transparency. It could expand the number of people campaigning, with Cabinet members on the road and in the press in addition to the nominees. What do you think of this approach? Who might hold positions in a Green Cabinet? How would you see your candidacy interacting with those individuals during the campaign? (How might we connect the dots?)
No, I would not run with a cabinet. I have no “shadow cabinet” that I work with now and do not feel I would be comfortable with people I had not worked with for some time as part of such a cabinet. There would, of course, be a vice-presidential nominee and I would be comfortable asking individuals whom I feel could accurately reflect my views speaking on my behalf in settings where I was not appearing.
9. Can we publish your reply on the GPUS website in a public section reserved for such responses?
Yes, you may publish my reply on the GPUS website.