And when I was being recruited by the Green party to start running for office, all of this congealed in my own mind and the process of running for governor against Mitt Romney was incredibly uplifting and really exciting. I entered the race in desperation and I came out of it with a whole lot of inspiration after seeing how ready everyday people were. And this was like in the day of the Tea Party, but long before Citizens United and stuff like that, in fact, I don't even know if it was called the Tea Party back then, this was around 2000. But there were all these conservative groups where people were actually like really receptive, because for once it was a candidate who wasn't talking like a robot and could actually have a real human conversation. It really just gave me incredible hope that if we just get rid of the predator straitjackets that were put into the political process that we could reclaim this process and it could be a very healing thing.
CJ: Well, it should be about the people, shouldn't it? A democratic process should be about the will of the people but somehow that's got skewed.
JS: (Laughs) Yeah, like, totally, like - disappeared! Missing in action. The opposite is what this political process has become.
CJ: You get ridiculed and ignored but very rarely listened to. Why do you think the media is afraid of you?
JS: I have no doubt that this kind of people's politics is an incredibly scary threat to a system which is already a house of cards that is falling down and they're extremely insecure and worried. All of this was really driven home to me when I ran for office back in 2002 when we fought our way into a televised debate by turning out huge mobs that were fighting and angry and they felt like they had to placate us and they said, "Okay we'll let you into a debate." It was a televised debate for governor along with the other independent candidates.
In that debate, I articulated our usual Green agenda – green energy, demilitarizing our budget, putting our dollars in security and home, ending high-stakes testing, teaching to the whole student for lifetime learning, healthcare as a human right – you know, just plain old common sense things like that.
They went over like lead balloons inside the TV studio which had no live audience. Between the moderator and the candidates, these things were not worthy of rebuttal. Not worthy of discussion. They were just like "Oh, she said that? Um, back to the real discussion here..."
So I'm in this debate thinking "Oh it's really sad that our agenda is so far afield, it's really too bad. But you know, I'm doing due diligence here, I feel like I have to do this."
And then we walk out of the TV studio and I get mobbed by the press for the first time. And what they say to me is that "Well, you won the debate on the instant online viewer poll."
CJ: Because you were talking to the heart of the people! This is common sense. This is what we want. This is all we want.
JS: Exactly! And suddenly the curtain went up for me and I saw what an utter ridiculous scam this political system is that tries to tell us, the public interest voices, that we are the lunatic fringe, when actually it's exactly the reverse. They create these incredibly concocted debate scenes where the audience is hand-picked. This has since been documented in other ways, but those audiences are hand-picked for all the televised debates in order to create the illusion that there's popular support for this stuff, but there's absolutely not. You know they did the same thing in their polling, they really skewed the polls.
They engineer hopelessness. That's their strategy. Engineer hopelessness because if you're hopeless, then you're powerless.
These are the two are the most disliked and distrusted candidates in our history, and people are there. So the system is more scared than ever.
And by the way, when I won that debate, I was yanked out of the debate because then it became really clear how dangerous it was for a true public interest voice to be in the debate. This regularly happens with Green party candidates. It happened to Howie Hawkins who was kept out of the governor debates for New York. This is the rule, not the exception, for true public interest candidates. It happened to Kshama Sawant running as a socialist in Seattle.
So you realize wow, we actually do have the power. Just the number of young people locked into student loan debt alone, young and not so young, is 43 million. That is a winning plurality of the vote. And that's why John Oliver went after the student loan debt [policy] because it's a stick of dynamite. It's absolutely explosive. So he had to really fuzzy it up and confuse it and make it the brunt of the attack.