Thank you. On behalf of myself and my great running mate, Winona LaDuke, welcome to the politics of joy and justice. It was 21 years ago when Madison Square Garden filled with the famous No Nukes Rally, where another generation of artists came together with a massive protest against nuclear power. And after that rally in October 1979, there never was another nuclear plant ordered in the United States of America.
I want to thank the speakers and the artists who preceded me. They were not only demonstrative of their special talents but they have themselves a long record in the pursuit of social justice projects throughout the land and over the years. These are real courageous Americans. They stood proud against power.
People ask me, what's the theme here? What's the theme? We are building more than a new party, the Green Party. We are building an historic, progressive political movement in America, a movement for which November 7th is but one stopping place in order to demonstrate the millions of voters who are going to come to the polls and vote for us, and then on past November, for a major political revolution in our country.
Everywhere, everywhere, all over the country where we've campaigned, from Hawaii to Maine, from Alaska to Florida, every state--many states more than once--all over the country we confront one attitude: no matter what people call themselves, liberals, progressives, moderates, conservatives, whatever--the attitude is that they've lost control. They have lost control over almost everything that matters to them. They've lost control over their government. They've lost control over their workplace. They've lost control over the protection of childhood for their children. They've lost control over their environment. They've lost control over their right to choose a doctor in a hospital. They lost control. They've lost control over their own personal privacies. They've lost control even over their own human genes to these giant corporations. They've lost control of what's in their food. They've lost control over what's in their drinking water and what's in their air. They've lost control over their own ownership of the commonwealth assets of our country. They've lost control over what they already own: the public airways over which radio and TV transmit. They've lost control over the great public lands: one third of America that has been ceded to the giant mineral and timber corporations with their grip on Washington. They've lost control even over trillions of dollars of labor pension monies that belong to the workers in this country. They own these trillions of dollars, but the banks and insurance companies control them. And it is time for the American people to take control of the commonwealth that they already own.
Imagine if we had our own radio and TV stations, our own cable channels reflecting the great creativity of the American people of all ages that are now suppressed by a corporatized, commercialized, homogenized system. Imagine if the radio and TV stations began to pay rent for a change, so the billions of dollars that they've owed us over 70 years for using our public airways free will go to fund the creativity of the American people through these radio, TV, cable, and other creative cultural outlets.
And not just electronic transmission, but people to people transmission, building our own cultures in our neighborhoods, in our schools, in our regions, so that we don't always turn into a nation of spectators, which is what big business wants us to do, of course,--to sit and watch instead of creating, and being dynamic.
Imagine if workers in this country controlled the five trillion dollars in pension monies which are now invested in these giant corporations. If they controlled this money, not only would they invest this money in outlets that reflected worker interest rather than corporate and speculator interest, but if they invested it in those giant corporations, they'd control those giant corporations.
And the great public lands that are being pillaged and plundered by a whole set of large corporations who find the United States of America to be the only nation in the world that gives away its minerals, that gives away its timber for bargain basement prices. That literally gives away its gold, molybdenum, silver, copper--all these hard rock minerals. A Canadian company a few years ago found nine billion dollars of our gold on federal land in Nevada, went to Washington and under the 1872 Mining Act got nine billion dollars worth of gold for $30,000. That's the kind of pillage and plunder. We don't control our own resources. Third world countries strike a harder bargain with these multinational corporations than we do, because our country has been sold to the highest bidders.
Here's what Senator John McCain said earlier this year when he was running in the Republican primary. John McCain--who just lost a valiant battle to the auto and tire industries who watered down a bill that would try to impose criminal penalties on these corporations in the aftermath of their Firestone tire and Ford Explorer disasters--here's what Senator John McCain said all over the country, and I quote him:
"American cynicism about government is born of many factors, but none greater than our defense of a campaign finance system that is little more than an elaborate influence-peddling scheme in which both parties conspire to stay in office by selling our country to the highest bidders."
We've got to put a stop to that once and for all.
There are many ways by which we can heighten our sense of civic motivation, our sense of being able to make a difference, our sense of our own significance in our democracy. A democracy that's been on a collision course by giant corporations, and the democracy's been losing, year after year. One of the best ways we can heighten our civic motivation is to look back briefly at what our fore bearers did.
Think of what it must have been like being an antislavery abolitionist in Mississippi in 1836 or in Virginia in 1854. Think how lonely it must have been, up against the giant cotton plantations. Think of what it must have been--if they were ever caught, they would have been lynched. And it freed the slaves. How can we not be motivated by that? And you know who was fighting the abolitionist move against slavery--it was the dominant business community in that area, led by the giant cotton plantations. Remember that.
Remember also when women started canvassing and picketing to get the right to vote in the women's suffrage movement. Remember how many of those were arrested and kicked and dragged off to jail. For what? For wanting to have the right to vote. It wasn't just men, some men who were opposed to this. It was the liquor industry. It was the industrial corporations, who didn't like women at that time organizing to end the brutalized child labor in those dungeon factories because the women believed their children belonged in school.
And then in the brutalized mines and factories. It's hard now to appreciate just how brutal and cruel and defining those working conditions were in those earlier factories, and the mines, and the foundries. In the coal mines alone in the last 110 years, more coal miners have died from black lung disease, breathing coal dust so thick you could almost cut it in those underground mines. And those who died of mine shaft collapses--more coal miners have died since 1890 than all the Americans killed in World War II. And that's just one industry. That's just one example of what working people in this country had to sacrifice. Not just their health, not just their safety--their very lives. And that's what built the trade union movement--to put an end to this.
And it wasn't easy. It wasn't easy, was it, for workers to put their livelihood on the line at a time when there were no other jobs, when starvation was the only other option. Put their livelihood and those of their families on the line. There was no unemployment compensation, no social security, no disability payments, no workers compensation. Think of the courage. Think of the determination. Think of how badly they wanted justice. And take motivation from it.
And then there were those dirt-poor farmers out in east Texas in 1887 that said to the big banks and the big railroads, who were squeezing their already meager livelihoods with high freight rates and high loan rates. Those were the farmers who had nothing but their heart, their mind and their feet. There was no telephone, no electricity, no motor vehicles, no cell phones, no fax machines. In 1887 they organized 200,000 farmers in a mere six months and then swept across the country, west, east, north, south, to build in the next 25 years the most fundamental political reform movement in our country's history. They wanted it badly, and we're benefiting from it today. And we can take motivation from those farmers.
And think of the courage in the twentieth century of those valiant civil rights workers in the south and elsewhere, facing sheriffs and fire hoses and bloodhounds in order for them to have equal opportunity and equal rights as human beings. Think of the courage it must have taken. Those were very, very high-pressure times. High-pressure times indeed.
Think of those five black freshmen engineering students who walked into a lunch counter that had a "whites only" sign in North Carolina and sat down to order lunch. And the police came and arrested them. And they got a lawyer who took it all the way up to the Supreme Court, which ruled nine/nothing that no public accommodation locations could ever again discriminate against their customers.
All the other drives in the twentieth century that you know about and some which you've participated in: the second-generation women's rights drive for equal pay for equal work. All these other movements--we could list them all, I'm sorry if I leave any of them out--but they had one thing in common: they had civic courage with people who were determined to lift the standards of justice on the country at large and be an example to the world. We have the consumer movement, the environmental movement, the disability rights movement, the gay/lesbian rights movement. The movements in every little town and city and suburb where someone stood up to power, stood up to the abuses of power, stood up to those who would squelch our constitutional rights, who would deprive us of an opportunity on our merits to see what we could be like in life. And I think that kind of civic motivation from our history should stay with us at all times. If we're ever depressed or discouraged, if we ever feel sorry for ourselves, if we ever wonder about the overwhelming odds, think of our forebears, who took on these overwhelming odds and prevailed. And America was better as a result.
Standing against all these social justice movements were the dominant business powers in our country. Always saying, No, no, no. No to the farmers. No to the workers. No to the women's suffrage movement. No to the antislavery movement. No to the civil rights movement, who wanted equal pay, who wanted equal opportunity for jobs. No to the environmental movement, who wanted to reduce the level of environmental violence which we too charitably call pollution, the toxics and the particulates and the devastation of our human biosphere. They said no. They said no to simple auto safety devices that are now in your cars and saving thousands of lives and tens of thousands of injuries. They said no. They said no to disabled people who wanted equal physical access and occupational access to fulfill their dreams. They said no, you're in the way, you're in the way. They kept saying no, and the American people periodically rose up and said, Yes. It's going to be Yes, whether you like it or not. We're going to have the power.
I used to have to demonstrate how similar the two political parties were. We called them tweedledum/tweedledee, look-a-like parties, parties forced into one corporate party with two heads wearing different makeup. The frightened liberals would come back and say, Yes, but there are some differences. And I would say, Well, are they just rhetorical? Well? Sweep aside the rhetoric. Are there real differences? Well, the number begins to shrink when you sweep aside the rhetoric, because they do talk differently, but do they act differently? And then you say, Okay, you've swept aside the rhetoric--these are real differences? Yes. Well, do they fight for them? Do they fight for them? Or do they just put it on a piece of paper and pander to you? I'm sick and tired of white politicians like Clinton and Gore going to black churches and with that rhythmic cadence pandering to them.
What has Clinton and Gore done for the racism and the poverty in this country? Let me give you some information. If any frightened liberal really thinks that the Democrats are different from the Republicans in fact on civil rights, let me suggest to you that the Justice Department lawyers in the civil rights division have informed us that in two out of three enforcement litigation areas--police illegal use of violence and affirmative action--that Clinton/Gore were worse than Reagan/Bush. Only in anti-housing discrimination were they better. Imagine that. They don't say that in black churches, do they?
In the area of civil liberties, just read Anthony Lewis' column after column in the New York Times, where he has pronounced in excruciating detail, in his words, "the abysmal civil liberties record in the Clinton/Gore administration, the worst in over 50 years, on immigrants, lack of due process, on habeas corpus."
One area after another. And then the frightened liberal says, Oh, what about the Supreme Court? Oh, the Supreme Court. Well, who are the two worst justices, oh frightened liberal? Do you dare tell me? Well, the frightened liberal quickly says Scalia and Thomas. To which I reply, Well, why did the Democrats let those two get through the Senate? Did you know that the vote for Scalia was 98 to nothing? Every Democrat, including Al Gore, voted for Scalia. The only two who didn't were absentee Republicans. And did you know that in a Democratically controlled U.S. Senate, in spite of the Anita Hill hearings, Clarence Thomas got through in a 52/48 vote with 11 Senators who are Democrats who took him over the top, while George Mitchell, the majority leader, was not exercising his power to defeat Clarence Thomas, the most unworthy successor you could ever imagine to Thurgood Marshall.
What has Clinton/Gore done on health insurance? Ten million more people are uninsured than when Clinton/Gore took office. It's now 46 million. It was about 35 million in 1993. Maybe that's what Al Gore means when he says he wants to take us to universal health insurance step by step. I guess it's backwards, not forwards.
What about the poverty in the land of the free, home of the brave? Booming economy on the one hand, booming corporate profits, booming executive compensations for the bosses, the heads of whom in the top 500 companies go to work every day and make $50,000 a day, not counting benefits and perks, while their workers are lucky to make $100 a day.
What about poverty? Twenty percent child poverty in the U.S.A., the richest country in the world. There are countries in western Europe that have abolished poverty. They did it in the 1960s and the 1970s. In the disenfranchised colony known as the District of Columbia, child poverty is at 34%, and its been run by Democrats in the Congress and Democrats in the District. Now, what is going on here? Why does California have 25.2% child poverty, which is comparable to 1980, when it was 15%? Because the inequities of power lead to huge inequities of wealth, which lead to huge inequities of income, which lead to cruelty to the children of this country, and to their parents who can't get a decent paying job.
I say it's time to ask why, coming out of war torn World War II Europe, western European governments gave all their people universal health care coverage, along with Canada, and we didn't--and that's because the big health care industry had too much influence in Washington and said no. And we're the only country in the western world that doesn't have it. We're the only country in the western world where there isn't a national mission to abolish poverty. We know how to abolish poverty. There are all kinds of ways. And we can learn from Western European countries. Why are these big corporations keeping America down? Keeping America last? We don't have adequate paid maternity leave. We don't have adequate paid sick leave. We don't have adequate private pensions. We don't have adequate public transit systems for people who can't get a running car to get to their job.
And yet the economy keeps growing. But there's a disconnect. There's an apartheid economy here. The majority of workers in this country, white, black, and brown, are making less in real dollars, inflation-adjusted, than they were 20 and 25 years ago and they're working 163 hours on the average more a year. We're going backwards while the rich are becoming superrich, driving to become hyperrich, within their big corporations.
When I carry these statistics from Washington around the country, I see the human face. I see the human face of children in Central Hartford, Connecticut, the insurance capital of the world, with all these gleaming office buildings for Aetna and all the rest of them. And then I see ministers in churches tell me, with the children a little bit in the corner, shy-- 40% asthma rate. Children whose brains are being damaged by lead-based paint, peeling off crumbling tenement walls. We can support the rich and keep them on welfare, but we can't have the national mission to scrape off the lead from crumbling tenement walls? And when these little children grow up and they go to first grade and second, third grade, and the teacher calls mommy and daddy and says, I'm sorry, your little child has a learning disability. Yeah, some learning disability: brain damage from lead driven into the paint years ago by a corrupt criminal-lead industry that knew the damage, knew what was going to happen. They put it in our gasoline. They knew. They wanted to do it, because they wanted to make more money. And for 90 years they have been doing this to the rest of the world. And it's time to bring them to the criminal justice system. Lead was unnecessary for gasoline and it was never necessary for paint.
Los Angeles, a housing project. Little Hispanic kids running around exposed to all the toxins coming from a pile of toxic dirt because the city is taking its sweet time in cleaning up the benzene-soaked former refinery area on which this housing project was built. Nobody should live like this, much less our children, in the United States of America.
The main public housing project in America now is not affordable housing for millions of working poor, people who can't pay 70% of their income for rent, people are going into the streets, homeless, even though they've got a job, and homelessness is up 200,000 more, even officially, from two years ago. In this booming economy of ours, do you know what the major public housing project in this country is? It's building prison cells in corporate prisons. Just like over 50 years ago, the main mass transit project in America was the Mobile MX Missile System Project, which fortunately never got underway. Some priorities.
Isn't it time to have a political party that shuns the rhetoric and replaces it with reality? Isn't it time that all these citizen groups in the neighborhoods who are fighting to eradicate poverty and its pernicious consequences and the racism that it reflects--isn't it time for a major political party to stand side by side fighting for these [unintelligible due to applause].
I think it's time for a new and progressive political movement, for a new Green Party, that stands tall on the following issues, which are all being advanced, however they may be advanced up against the powers that be--business lobbies. There are just thousands of little citizen groups around the country, trying to advance environmental health, fight environmental racism. You know that situation I described in Hartford with the asthma? Do you know what also is in the greater Hartford area? Five incinerators. And they're not in the suburbs. They're with poor people, where people of color live. And these groups are fighting for health and safety. They're fighting for preservation for the air, water, soil, and food. They're fighting to shift this country from coal, oil, gas, and nuclear power into an era of solar energy, wind power, and alternative energy. All of which is ready to go, but it's the peoples' energy. That's why it's being blocked. It's not being blocked for economic or technological reasons. It's being blocked because corporations want to control our energy supply, and they can't control the sun. They can't eclipse the sun. They cannot bottle the sun. They can't!
Isn't it time that there's an emergent Green Party that stands next to all those people who are trying to expand recycling and solid waste instead of putting it into incinerators so it introduces toxins and dioxins into your lungs? Barry Commoner, the great environmentalist of Queens College, demonstrated one project in a New York City area. Eighty-six percent recycling rate. It can be done. But the incinerator industry wants more solid waste for its voracious appetite, and that's got a big lobby, unlike the recycling industry.
There are environmental groups also that are challenging the out-of-control biotechnology industry that is determined to change the nature of nature and to transfer through genetic engineering the genetic inheritance of the world with 20-year monopoly patents held by Monsanto and Novartis and all these other companies that want to create huge dependence in our farmers on the chemical switches that germinate the seeds, and this is an industry whose technology is way ahead of the science and most these governing disciplines. An industry that's out of control. An industry that has too much power in Washington. An industry that has brought Clinton and Gore to their knees in surrendering any regulatory framework worthy of the name to put the brakes on this industry.
There are political groups all over the country who don't have a political party, side by side, marching forward, who are fighting the ravaging effects of the criminal injustice system, the failed war on drugs, the corporate prisoners, the racial profiling. All these are going on around the country, and you get the rhetoric from the Republicans and the Democrats. Where is their political muscle? Where is their political support for equal rights under the law, equally enforced, not discriminatorily enforced? Instead, Gore boasts, they're both for the death penalty. They're both for cracking down on street crime but ignoring corporate crime, which takes far more lives. It was truly remarkable to see that in the debate a couple of days ago. We agree, say Gore and Bush, we agree like two boxers in a clinch. And Jim Lehrer desperately saying to them, Tell the people the differences. Are there any differences? Well, that debate was a massive, tedious exercise in platitudinous dittos, that's what it was. (crowd begins chanting: "let Ralph debate)
I'll say one thing for you: If I was on those three debates, this election would be a lot different indeed. I pledge to you this evening, before the largest political rally in the entire year in this presidential campaign, I pledge to you that never again will this crooked company called the Debate Commission, run by the Republican Democratic party and funded by beer, tobacco, and auto money, never again will they hold the key to the gateway [unintelligible due to applause]. Thank you. At the Boston debate, I had a ticket for the adjoining auditorium, just to watch the debate. In order to go on Fox News after the debate, which had a trailer right on the premises, University of Massachusetts, and comment on the debate. I disembarked from the bus and I was met with a man who said he was a security consultant for the Debate Commission, flanked by three state troopers, and he said, "Even if you have a ticket, you are not invited. You must leave". A somewhat embarrassed state trooper said that if I didn't leave he'd place me under arrest. I told him he was being given an unlawful political order, Sergeant. Let me tell you something. They threw out the wrong guy this time. I'm filing in Federal District Court a lawsuit against the corrupt Debate Commission. And to the members of the press, you wait and see what the depositions are going to show. And after the election we are going to start a Peoples' Debate Commission, to take over the debate process in America.
How many tens of millions of workers in this country are not working for a livable wage? There are 47 million American workers who go to work every day, longer and longer commutes, who have to pay more and more to get to work--another car, another insurance policy, another repair bill, more daycare expenses--and they're making under ten bucks an hour. Ten million making $5.15 an hour--the federal minimum wage. Listen to this one: The federal minimum wage is $2.15 in real purchasing power less than what it was in 1968, when the economy was half of what it is today in GDP output per capita. I submit if the economy doubles in GDP output, it's because of the American workers, and that minimum wage should be doubled. Doubled! Since 1968 the prices have been going up. Since 1968 the boss' compensation has been going up. But since 1968, the federal minimum wage, which if it was the same in purchasing power would be $7.30 today, per hour, is $5.15. And do you know what Al Gore wants? Al Gore says he wants to raise it a dollar over the next two years.
And do you know what Al Gore didn't do this month? He didn't answer my letter inviting him and Bush to join together in opposing the latest $4,000 per year Congressional pay raise for members of Congress who somehow can't get around to raising the minimum wage. Why don't people in this country have the same universal health insurance coverage that the members of Congress give to themselves?
Just think of this: we have the most restrictive anti-labor union laws in the Western world. It is harder to form a union in the private sector than in any other Western country. In fact, less than 10% of the workers now in the private economy are unionized--the lowest in 60 years. And it shows. It shows because the majority of American workers are falling behind in a period of unprecedented economic growth that is accruing to the top 10%, spectacularly to the top 5% richest, and really crazy lot for the top 1% whose net wealth is equal to the combined net wealth of the bottom 95% of all American earnings. Here's one for you. And what this tells you is that for some this is a great land of opportunity--like Bill Gates. But Bill Gates' net worth in January of this year was equivalent to the combined total net worth of the poorest 120 million Americans. Remember millions of workers who don't have that opportunity, who work decade after decade and they're dead broke. They're dead broke working for paycheck to paycheck--or if they're poor, from payday loan to payday loan in the horrible exploitation by the loan sharks and by predatory lenders funded by Wall Street firms right here in the United States.
So when they tell you what a great economy it is, you're entitled to ask, For who? For who is it a great economy? For people two, three members of the family, commuting, rushing around frantically, exhausted every day, choked by bumper-to-bumper traffic, wondering who's going to pay for grandparents' illness, who is going to be able to buy the goods, who is going to figure out the bills that nobody can figure out because they're written in code, and not surprisingly rip off people for hundreds of billions of dollars a year, like in the health care industry? There's less time for family, for children, for community, for civic pursuits, for the creative impulse of our people. Who designed this economy, anyway? I think it's time to have it designed as if people mattered, not as if General Motors, Exxon, Dupont or the other corporations mattered.
The Green Party stands for initiating a six-month notice for withdrawal from the notorious autocratic systems of governance known as the WTO and NAFTA so we can renegotiate international trade agreements and get them off the backs of environmental health, worker health and safety, proper wages, human rights, and consumer safety. Get off the backs of those key rights. Do not subordinate them. We should never allow any international trade agreement to subordinate these rights of workers, environment, consumers, to the dictates of international commerce under secretive autocratic procedures that shut us off from all the decision making. Do you know that under the World Trade Organization, if Congress passed a law and the President signed it banning the importation of child-labor-produced products, we would be violating the WTO agreement? We'd be taken by the exporting country to the tribunals of Geneva, and we would certainly lose. And we have to either repeal that law or pay economic fines to that country until we obeyed those tribunals. Who surrendered our local, state, and national sovereignty as no President and Vice President have ever done in our history to the World Trade Organization? It was Bill Clinton and Al Gore.
A word about the plight of the small family farmer for New York urbanites and suburbanites. Our country can ill afford to lose the rural life in this country, in the small-farm economy--for our own reasons as urbanites and suburbanites, as well as small farmers.
Clinton/Gore and the Republicans have made sure that these giant agribusiness companies are squeezing the price livelihood out of these farmers who are growing wheat, corn, soybeans, and other products. Thirty, forty percent lower in prices than it was in 1996, and that's not including to us as consumers. It's accruing to build up record-setting profits and executive compensation of the Cargos, the ADMs, the Smithfield Farms, the IDPs, the giant hog farms, and the giant cattle farms that are turning our entire farm economy into peonage, into industrial factory agriculture, laced by increasing encroachments of genetic engineering and all its mischief. The Green Party stands for the preservation of the small-farm economy in this country and of rural America.
And look which workers in this country are paid the least, treated the worst, and damaged the most? It's the workers who harvest our food, including the migrant workers, including the immigrant workers, who are not given the right [unintelligible due to applause].
Some of you may say, "Well, there are a lot of human needs that haven't been mentioned this evening." Indeed there are. Whenever you hear politicians say to you that there is no money to rebuild or repair the schools in this city, or to build or repair the community health clinics, or to expand the public transit system, and if they tell you that there's not enough money to improve the drinking water system, to keep the libraries and the library branches open in this city, and to repair the museums, when they tell you there's not enough money to repair the great public works of this metropolitan area, do you know what you can say to them? You can say, How come the mayor found $500 million for a new building for the bastion of global capitalization, the New York Stock Exchange? Corporate welfare. How come New York City has given all kinds of taxpayer escapes to the giant investment companies who keep saying they're going to go over to Hoboken in New Jersey if they don't get tax-escapee privileges? How come? How come there's always money for another Trump Tower that doesn't pay its property taxes for the schools and the municipal services of New York City--the Fire Department, the Police Department? How come there are hundreds of billions of dollars for gold-plated weapons systems like the F-22, the Osprey fighter, the decoyable Missile Defense system, and all the rest of the weaponry that increasing numbers of retiring admirals and generals have been saying no to. "It's a waste of money, it doesn't have any strategic value, these weapons," as they remind us that the Soviet Union demised ten years ago? Why do we have a bloated $320 billion military budget when we have no know major enemy? When ever they tell you there's not enough money for legal services for the poor, not enough money for prosecutors against corporate crime, when they say there's not enough money for universal health care, when they say there's not enough money for daycare, you just say, How come there are hundreds of billions of our hard-earned tax dollars going to corporate subsidies, handouts, giveaways, and bailouts of corporations [unintelligible due to applause]. Get them off welfare once and for all!
Isn't it time for our foreign policy to stop propping up army dictatorships and oligarchs ten years after the end of the Soviet Union and begin to stand tall for the workers and the peasants in this world of ours? Isn't it about time that America stood for the people who are struggling for justice around the world? Stood for a policy against infectious diseases in our research and development, like tuberculosis and polio? Stood for environmental preservation all over the world? We need to redefine national security as if the six billion people in this world mattered.
I was truly amazed at how arrogant the IMF and the World Bank got. They really think they have the models for economic development in these countries. Let me tell you who has the models. I'll tell you who has the models. It's people like the Brazilian educator Paolo Frer, who taught the illiterate Brazilians how to read, how to write, and taught all over the world to abolish illiteracy. It's people like the late Egyptian architect Hassan Fatwi, who is a great peoples' architect who taught Egyptian peasants how to build elegant small homes right out of the soil underneath their feet. It's people like [unintelligible] in Bangladesh who [unintelligible]. Maybe if we started talking about citizen globalization, citizen globalization, instead of corporate globalization [unintelligible].
The Green Party and this candidacy stands for a prolonged, elaborate effort to bring the best out of our country to the rest of the world, to learn how to wage peace instead of spending all the money preparing for war against no know enemies, no known major enemies.
Every student in this country going to a public university or a public college could be given free tuition. For half of the amount of money we're spending every year keeping our troops 55 years after World War II in Western Europe and East Asia, $70 billion to keep our troops there defending prosperous allies who are perfectly able to defend themselves against no known enemies.
There are other groups in this country who need the support of a new progressive political movement. Those who are trying to get more access to the media--local, state, and national,--the media reform groups. Those who are trying to get little itty bitty community radio licenses that the broadcast giants are lobbying Congress to stop.
The commercialization of childhood by these corporations has gotten completely out of hand--pumping sugar and fat into little bodies; junk food ads on TV, over medicating them. I say it's time to stop these corporate electronic child molesters and get them off the backs of these little children.
The Green Party stands for the proposition that there are many things in this country that must never be for sale. Our democracy must never be for sale. Our government must never be for sale. Our liberty must never be for sale. Our protected childhood must never be for sale. Our human genes should never be for sale. In the nineteenth century, corporations were designed to be our servants, not our masters. And we've got to go back to that original design. They are not persons. They are not real human beings. They should never have all the rights of real human beings, and they should never have the privileges and immunities to erect a corporate crime wave across this country that is not being subjected to prosecution. These two parties have decayed to such a level that Business Week magazine two weeks ago in a cover story called "Too Much Corporate Power?" answers in page after page inside this magazine, Yes, documenting one abuse of corporate power after another, and in an editorial exclaimed exactly with these words: "Corporations should get out of politics."
And quite significantly, in a poll that Business Week magazine conducted, they asked the question, "Does big business have too much power over all aspects of our lives?" Seventy-two percent of the American people answered "Yes," and the Green Party is pledged to make sure that that is not a continuing phenomenon. The sovereignty of the people must prevail over the sovereignty of corporations.
The mass media has reported regularly on corporate crime, fraud, and abuse. They have documented for all who care that more lives are lost, more injuries caused, more diseases promoted by corporate crime, fraud, and abuse, more property taken by far than street crime, bad as street crime is. Just think, 58,000 workers a year dying from occupational hazards, toxins, particulate matter, trauma. Just think of the 65,000 people a year who died from air pollution, consequences preventable, 80,000 just in hospitals from gross negligence, medical malpractice? How about the Dalcon Shield, how about the Pinto, how about the Corvair, how about the Firestone tires, how about all these things that wrap up into a wave of preventable violence that's documented by the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times the Washington Post. Nothing is done about it. It's documented every week by the corporate crime reporter in Washington D.C. Nothing is done about it because we have an underdeveloped democracy and an overdeveloped plutocracy, an oligarchy.
This is why the Green Party pledges in its educational reform program not just to repair the schools and pay the teachers adequately and provide facilities for our children. It pledges to focus on what the students are not learning. They're not learning citizen skills. They're not learning how to practice democracy. They're not learning how to create a force of their personality and idealism [unintelligible due to applause].
We pledge in our political reform agenda after November, the third largest party in America after November will be the Green Party. This Green Party will be rising. This Green Party will be burgeoning. This Green Party will connect with the neighborhood, community and other groups all over the country in an authentic union of democratic forces for justice. This is the Green Party that's going to be a watchdog after November, telling the two parties that they're going to shape up with the American people or they're going to disappear in a few years.
Do you want to know what money is like in Washington? How we have to clean up the corruption of money? Since 1997, the drug industry, lobbying Congress, has spent $237 million. One industry. You know who pays for that in higher drug prices and prescription medicines. If you want to know a lot of the issues that are not being covered in this campaign that are cogently documented, just log into the Web site www.tompaine.com, and you'll see 35 concisely assembled issues that Bush and Gore are assiduously ignoring. Obviously we want public funding of public elections. We want clean money, clean elections. We want to appeal to independent voters. We want to appeal to the millions of voters who supported Perot and Bradley and McCain and whose torch can only be carried to November by the Nader/LaDuke Green Party candidacy.
To the nonvoters, to the 51% of the eligible voters who sat it out in 1996 I say, "Please come in." Don't drop out of democracy. We need you. We even need your skepticism. We need your skeptical eye at all candidates on the ballot. That's why I am proposing for every line of every ballot a binding "none of the above" slot, so if you don't like the candidate, you can vote none of the above and [unintelligible due to applause].
And because our definition of political leadership is to produce more leaders, more leaders, not more followers, more initiators, who in the next three and a half weeks fan out to their neighborhoods, canvass, have a house party political talk, replace small talk with progressive talk, connect with your own circle, your relatives, your coworkers, your friends, your neighbors, and bring them to the polls on November 7th. Remember, the only polls that count are the polls that are open on November 7th, and you can control those polls with your human energy and persuasion to bring out the vote!
I say in conclusion that it is extremism for corporations to buy, rent, and corrupt our elections and highjack our government and weaken our democracy. It is not extremism for the civic spirit behind the Green Party progressive movement to put a stop to it. It is extremism for corporations to defraud and rob and steal from people in the marketplace. It is not extremism to have a political movement that says they're going to have a fair, honest marketplace and the honest businesses are going to be given more publicity and more support so they can be a rebuke to the crooked businesses. It is extremism for corporations to turn their back on the rest of the peoples of the world, as the pharmaceutical industry's doing and as the tobacco industry's doing, trying to hook tens of millions of youngsters in the Third World for a lifetime of smoking, one of every three of whom will die from tobacco-related diseases. I think we ought to redefine extremism so it is in accord with reality, which is an excessive corporate power in too few hands making the decisions for the rest of the people in this country.
In the final analysis, my friends, in the final analysis, this election is about us. It could be, of course, about the concentration of power in too few hands and its antagonism to a democratic society, as Justice Louis Brandeis pointed out in 1941, but in the ultimate analysis, it's really about us. It's about our own sense of our own significance, our own resolve, our own determination, our own belief that we're going to carry that torch of justice as our forebears did for us. And it's also about future generations, once called posterity. It's about whether we're going to be able to look forward to our descendants and hand this world, this tormented world, over to them in much better shape and much more democracy shape and much more justice shape, so they'll look back on us, they'll look back on us with kindness and praise, instead of cursing us for our apathy, for our narcissism, for our refusal to stand up tall for justice and freedom in the world. Let not future generations look back on us and say that this was the last generation that refused to give up so little in order to achieve so much. We have so many assets. We have so many opportunities. We must move forward on our own backs, of our own muscles, we each must take hold of the wheel of justice with others and move it forward, because justice is the great work of human beings on earth, because justice is a prerequisite for freedom and liberty. Because without justice, freedom cannot mean participation in power for the peoples of this world. Let us embark on this great journey. Let us embark on this great journey together. Let us challenge the conventional wisdom of the narrow-minded political pundits who have mislead themselves into thinking that this major surge of progressivism in America at this point in our history is going to stop on November 7. It's just going to get started on November 7. Let us light the spirit of justice within us, let us fulfill our own potential. Let us make our own mark on this world, and let us connect with all peoples of the world who are united by their common humanity. And may I thank you this evening for the most memorable political rally of the year.