09 Mar Jeff on Advocating for Justice with Arthur Schwartz
I joined my fellow Justice Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez live on the air on for WBAI’s Advocating for Justice with Arthur Schwartz earlier this week. We had a conversation that spanned a long list of topics, from how we both came to be endorsed by the Justice Democrats, to how we are building a movement for social and economic justice. Listen for yourself by clicking the play button above, or read a few highlights from the interview below:
On my Justice Democrats endorsement:
I’m standing for a people’s platform and running a grassroots campaign that turns down big dollar donors and PACs, and corporate fundraising from the usual sources that fund the Democratic party. They also chose me because I am the candidate in this race that has the most federal government experience, and can go to Washington and hit the ground running as a strong voice against war and a strong voice against these corporations, because I’ve faced them down before. But I think they also frankly looked at this race that I’m running, and it is one of the pivotal races in the country— this is one of the most vulnerable freshman corporate congressman in the country, the race is rated a toss-up by the Cook Political Report, and as a result a tremendous amount of corporate money has flowed into this race to try to prevent it from going to a progressive Democrat, because there’s a lot of people who realize that this district can indeed flip, and they don’t want to see it flip toward someone who is only answerable to the people. So they looked at the other candidates too and they supported me for that reason as well.
On building a movement
There are probably over a hundred Indivisible groups, positive action groups, and there has been a huge upsurge in electoral participation from people of all stripes. I’m encouraged by it, but I want to take advantage of it and make it mean something. I lived through being a diplomat in the Middle East, I joined the Occupy protests when they happened on Wall St., and they were inspired by an Occupy movement that happened in Egypt. If you remember that one, they never really resolved what they were all protesting, except that they were fighting their tyrant. Because the people didn’t unify around a really clear agenda, the difference they were able to make was short lived. The situation now in Egypt is worse than before the uprising there. It’s been on my mind since the beginning, maybe since I have that experience from living abroad, that this upsurge in activism has got to be looked at really strongly and understood to be a movement for progressive ideals for social and economic justice in our time, and not specifically just to unseat a president or push forward some little wave election. We have to address the fundamental things that got us to this terrible moment, and those things are abandoning the working people of this country for corporate interests, selling them out to the oil industry, selling them out to the health insurance industry, selling them out to the financial sector, and not doing the obvious things we need to do to ensure a better life for working people, like improving wages, providing paid family leave and sick leave, and making sure that small businesses can thrive and they’re not all out of business while everyone is forced to work for Walmart where nobody gets health benefits. We have that upswing, but we have to make it mean something. That’s what my campaign is trying to do.