WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, speaking at the Green Party’s presidential convention, offered praise for political outsiders — specifically, Jill Stein, Gary Johnson, and Bernie Sanders — for bringing to the fore issues so often ignored in the midst of presidential races, from environmental degradation to government surveillance.
As Politico notes in a short piece on the convention, Assange did not endorse the Green Party’s Jill Stein or anyone else. Though he did repeat a quip he often uses to describe being forced to choose between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.
It is like, he said, “asking if I prefer cholera or gonorrhea.”
In his remarks on the presidential race, Assange highlighted the role that independent candidates play in challenging the complacency of the political class. But, Assange emphasized, personality politics is never sufficient. Keeping important issues on the national stage requires movements, not just politicians, and persistent effort, not just several months of commitment to a presidential campaign.
“With the Green Party, and Gary Johnson and the Bernie Sanders campaign, it is very, very important but it must be seen past this moment, past the political moment,” Assange said. “That’s a moment to build a movement and build pressure and having built it, then one can discipline and hold to account and check the abuses of government during the next four years.”
Assange, over the last several weeks, has inserted himself and WikiLeaks into the presidential race by releasing thousands of emails from the Democratic National Committee, a leak that forced out DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz and other officials.
The emails — now available on the WikiLeaks website — showed a rather shameless bias against the campaign of Bernie Sanders; staffers openly mused, for instance, about how they could concoct a narrative that would use Sanders’ religious beliefs (or lack thereof) against him.
More broadly, the leaked documents underscored what Sanders supporters, and Bernie Sanders himself, had been saying since his candidacy began to take off: The Democratic Party had already decided that Hillary Clinton would be its presidential nominee.
In his talk at the Green Party’s convention, Assange went on to highlight the arguments currently in vogue on the Democratic side: Namely, arguments that one should feel obligated to vote for Hillary Clinton because of the danger posed by a Trump presidency.
Assange insisted, in response, that we reject fear-driven voting, Heavy‘s Stephanie Dube Dwilson reports.
“What the Clinton campaign at the moment is trying to say is…Maybe we’re connected to arms dealers and to Saudi Arabia and yes maybe we subverted the integrity of the Democratic primary,” Assange said. “But you’ll just have to swallow that or else you’ll get Donald Trump. That’s a form of extortion.”
Voters, Assange urged, cannot continue to reward political parties that betray their trust.
“It’s very important not to allow the political process to suffer from extortion or even yourself to be susceptible to extortion…It’s important for those people who feel their principles have been violated in the way the Democratic primary process has been run or how Chelsea Manning been in prison for 35 years… to go OK, there’s a cost to violating principles, even if there’s also a cost to yourself, even if you don’t like the risk that Donald Trump becomes President. One has to have a line somewhere, otherwise as each election cycle proceeds you’re pushed further and further into the corner.”
Assange’s decision to release the documents just in time for the Democratic National Convention has prompted hysteria among the political establishment, as Democrats attempt to portray the leaks as Russian subversion.
In the face of abundant speculation and accusations, Assange has remained firm in his insistence that he — and WikiLeaks broadly — is committed to revealing the truth, not to partisan politics.
“When we published the DNC leaks, the New York Times…said that I intended to harm Hillary Clinton. This is what we’ve been doing for 10 years. That was a completely fabricated story,” Assange said. “We are in interested in power and publishing the truth about power so people can work out however they choose to reform power.”
[Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images]