Choosing a vice president (VP) is the first truly presidential decision a presidential candidate makes. A VP has to be ready to take over the presidency at a moment’s notice, ready for the awesome responsibility of serving as commander-in-chief of the world’s most powerful nuclear-armed military, ready to lead the country through war, recession, depression, political crises, international incidents, and everything in between. Republican John McCain’s selection of Sarah Palin as his VP in 2008 contributed to his defeat in November because she came to be widely perceived as an embarassing ignoramus unfit for the presidency after a series of disastrous T.V. interviews.
Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein has chosen activist and writer Ajamu Baraka to be her VP. Is he fit for the presidency?
Since Baraka has never held public office, he has no voting record to evaluate or track record in the exercise of political power; instead, we must appraise his fitness for the presidency based on his extensive writings. Pieces dating from summer of 2014 onward have been removed* without explanation from his personal website but can be found using Google’s cache feature which has preserved the original URLs. The removed articles make for an interesting — or rather, incriminating — reading:
1. “The Charlie Hebdo White Power Rally in Paris: A Celebration of Western Hypocrisy”
The largest marches in French history in the wake of jihadist rampages targeting Charlie Hebdo magazine and a Jewish grocery store — marches that included Muslims and French people of North African and Arab descent — were white power rallies, according to Baraka.
2. “The Yemen Tragedy and the Ongoing Crisis of the Left in the United States”
“The world that a President Sanders promises — continued war crimes from the sky with drone strikes and Saudi led terror in support of the Western imperial project” is how Baraka characterizes Sanders’ social-democratic utopia of tuition-free public colleges and universities, paid maternity leave, $15 an hour minimum wage, single-payer health care, and a foreign policy in which war is the last and not the first resort.
To Baraka, the only thing worse than a Sanders presidency is the way in which the Sanders campaign strengthened(!) “racist cynicism”:
“In their desperate attempt to defend Sanders and paint his critics as dogmatists and purists, the Sanders supporters have not only fallen into the ideological trap of a form of narrow ‘left’ nativism, but also the white supremacist ethical contradiction that reinforces racist cynicism in which some lives are disposable for the greater good of the West. And as much as the ‘Sandernistas’ attempt to disarticulate Sanders ‘progressive’ domestic policies from his documented support for empire (even the Obamaite aphorism ‘The perfect is the enemy of the good’ is unashamedly deployed), it should be obvious that his campaign is an ideological prop – albeit from a center/left position – of the logic and interests of the capitalist-imperialist settler state.”
3. “Why Is Cornel West Sheep-Dogging for the Democrats – Once Again?”
In this diatribe, Baraka confidently — and wrongly — claims that West will ultimately endorse Hillary Clinton, accusing West of being “not committed in any way to a national electoral politics outside of the two party system when you decided that instead of voting for the only national third party candidate running in 2012, the Green Party’s Jill Stein, you made a conscious choice not to cast your vote for anyone!”
That West might do something different in 2016 than in 2012 is a possibility that seems to have escaped Baraka’s brilliant mind.
4. “Beyonce and the Politics of Cultural Dominance”
Commenting on Beyoncé’s controversial halftime Super Bowl performance that paid homage to the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, Baraka writes:
“I saw the imagery and symbols of authentic black radicalism grotesquely transformed into a de-politicized spectacle by gyrating, light-skinned booty-short-clad sisters. … No folks, real opposition to this white supremacist, colonialist/imperialist order is not cool, or sexy.”
Scratch a 1960s Black radical and find a 1950s male chauvinist who evidently has something against light-skinned African-Americans.
5. “The Paris Attacks and the White Lives Matter Movement”
“[W]hile the victims of the violence in Paris may have been innocent, France was not. French crimes against Arabs, Muslims and Africans are ever- present in the historical memory and discourse of many members of those populations living in France. Those memories, the systemic discrimination experienced by many Muslims and the collaboration of French authorities with the U.S. and others that gave aid and logistical support to extremist elements in Syria and turned their backs while their citizens traveled to Syria to topple President Assad, became the toxic mix that resulted in the blowback on November 13. Although a number of the dead in Paris are young Arabs, Muslims and Africans, in the global popular imagination, France, like the U.S. (even under a Black president), is still white.”
Even France’s far-right National Front party doesn’t say France is a white nation!
6. “Netanyahu’s Victory Is a Victory for Palestinian Solidarity Movement”
Describing the right-wing Israeli prime minister’s 2015 victory at the polls as a “victory for the Palestinians solidarity movement” is reality-based as the notion that electing Donald Trump president would be a ‘yooj’ victory for Mexican-Americans or Muslim refugees.
These are just 6 of what appear to be 24 articles written after August 6, 2014 that were removed from Baraka’s website. Even if there are no mind-boggling statements in the other 18 removed articles, that still means 25% of the time Baraka rants and raves like the lunatic fringe leftist that he is. That Stein picked Baraka as her VP tells us all we need to know about how bad her political judgment is.
Fortunately neither Baraka nor Stein will ever get America’s nuclear codes because neither of them will ever become president. But like Ralph Nader in 2000, they could win just enough votes in one or two states to tip the Electoral College outcome in Donald Trump’s favor and end up giving Trump the nuclear codes instead which would be much worse.
*UPDATE 8/15/16: The removed articles have been restored. Their disappearance and re-appearance from his site have not been explained.
Better to support a fringe leftist than corporate neocon shills like Clinton and Trump. And to say voting 3rd party causes the greater evil to get in office is just shifting blame away from incompetent/malicious campaigning, corrupt party politics, dysfunctional electoral college system, hacked electronic voting, unfair campaign finance, debate, districting, vote procedural rules, etc.
Trump and Stein both pander to conspiracy theorists and anti-science forces. No thanks.
The attempts to smear Stein as an anti vaxxer has been proven to be lies https://shadowproof.com/2016/08/02/jill-stein-smeared-anti-vaccine-crank-sanders-supporters-consider-alternative-clinton/
Clinton of course believes in conspiracies as well, such as the right wing conspiracy against her husband and the Russian conspiracy to use Wikileaks to suppory Trump. The actual content of the Wikileaks, which you tended to ignore, proves the existence of a conspiracy to fix the election, as suspected by Stein and Sanders supporters.
I didn’t accuse Stein of being an anti-vaxxer, I accused her of pandering to them.
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All politicians need to pander, even to groups one might not agree with. I’d prefer Stein pander to that group rather than Wall Street, war profiteers and neocons as Clinton does or racists and misogynists as Trump does.
Bernie Sanders never pandered to anti-vaxxer loons.
The Stein/Baraka campaign is more than Dr. Stein or Mr. Baraka. While we shouldn’t spend all of our time on electoral work, it is an important way to reach the masses and spread our message. Thus, we need to be active in this election, where there are a good deal of discontented voters who could be receptive to a left-wing message. The Greens and the Stein/Baraka ticket are the most viable vehicle for this, though we should not be wedded to them. A radical left-liberal, social-democratic message has the best chance of resonating, and while the messengers have baggage and flaws, they are the ones with the best chance to convey that message. And if you are worried about whether Stein or Baraka are fit to hold the nuclear codes, don’t be. They won’t get the chance to have them in the first place. This is about building support and the movement, not winning the election (though that would be nice).
^What masses? Stein is barely registering 5% and will be lucky to get 1% of the vote on election day (which would be 10x her previous result).
The masses (people of color in particular; Trump has 1% of the Black vote — 1%!!) want to defeat Trump and you can’t reach them by campaigning for Stein.
Well, we definitely need to be militantly anti-Trump, both to smash him before his movement smashes us and to attract popular support. And yes, Stein is a long shot. But I would still argue that she is the best person of leftists to support this election, and that her campaign has the best chance of some electoral success since Nader in 2000. How else are we to conduct electoral work right now? Simply say that Clinton and Trump are both enemies of the working class and oppressed peoples, without providing an alternative? What would you suggest?
We are more likely, at this point in time, to gain support on a left-liberal social democratic platform (basically Sander’s domestic platform plus a more anti-imperialist foreign policy), and Stein campaign has that. Furthermore, they already have existing ballot access in more places than most, including the SWP, the SPUSA, the PSL, and WWP. They already have some name recognition, small, but bigger than WWP or the SWP. Now, there are definitely problems with the Greens, and with Stein/Baraka. But they do get the CNN interviews, so they are the best to work with at this current juncture. As for electoral success in 2016, I would define it as winning 5% of the vote, which I know is unlikely, and/or, while this is a more nebulous thing to determine, gaining the basis for an active and strong somewhat mass support for a social-democratic program, independent from the Democrats.
She won’t even win 1% of the vote. I think we all need to ask ourselves, “Why Jill Stein?” http://libcom.org/news/real-problem-jill-stein-15082016
^Why support Stein and not the candidates of the Socialist Party, Socialist Workers Party, Workers’ World Party, Party for Socialism and Liberation? How do you define “electoral success” in the context of 2016?
Like why anyone should support any candidate, I support Stein because her values and ideas most closely reflect what I’d like to see manifested in the world. “Electoral success” would be to have a president chosen by election after independent debates and not a rogue state dictator chosen by election fraud after bullshit propaganda.
The question wasn’t directed at you.
This person understands the importance of voting against war and corporatism: https://apocalypticbluesblog.wordpress.com/2016/08/07/counter-activism-or-subverting-democracy/
The answer is that Baraka (from a rational, humanist perspective) is far fitter for the presidency than (neo-liberal hawks) Hillary Clinton or Tim Kaine. Your representations of Baraka as a raving leftist will be easily dispelled when people start reading Baraka’s writings or watching him on Youtube. What they will discover is a consistent anti-imperialist and a calm, strategic thinker unperturbed by hysterical media representations. Picking an experienced and authentic leftist like Baraka (as opposed to opportunistically picking a Berniecrat) is a demonstration of Stein’s revolutionary maturity and commitment to intersectionality.
It’s unfortunate that you have opted to endorse the neo-liberal status quo and its tired lesser-evilist talking points.
Maybe you can explain to me then how Netanyahu’s re-election is a victory for the Palestinians?
You should listen to this: http://store.counterpunch.org/ajamu-baraka-episode-53/
Interestingly he and I have some personal things in common. Too bad his writing is unhinged unlike this particular interview. The notion that there is a ‘movement’ (~16:00) developing behind Stein-Baraka is ridiculous though. They are stuck at ~4% in the polls now and will be until election day. It’s yet another self-defeating fringe campaign by the petty-bourgeois radical Green Party. The vast majority of progressives and people of color are going to use their vote to crush Donald Trump which unfortunately means they will vote for Hillary Clinton.
Re: Holocaust denial, the charge is that Baraka contributed to a book written by a Holocaust denier, not that Baraka is anti-Semitic or a Holocaust denier. And that charge is undeniably true. No socialist or revolutionary should ever lend credibility to a Holocaust denier.
The interviewer, Eric, sounds like a Third Period Comintern reject with his reckless and ridiculous talk of liberal fascism. Come on!
I have to say that I don’t find his writing unhinged like you do, probably do to ideological differences and maybe a difference in mindset between you and I. Now, there is no real big “movement” around the Stein/Baraka campaign, certainly not a popular mass movement, but enough to qualify as something like a movement according to the pitiful standards of the US left that partially reflect our situation. Now, it is true that most will try to crush Trump, and thus fall in line with Clinton and the Democrats. That is the unfortunate reality. But what we need to do is to be resolutely anti-Trump, and if not electorally crush him and his movement, crush it in the non-electoral arena, WHILE ALSO being anti-Clinton, anti-Democrat, showing how they are reactionary and serve the same masters as Trump, and fight for an independent and militant left. That is a tall order. Given the impotence and insignificance of the US left, and the power of our enemies, there is a very good chance that this won’t happen. Put we still must fight for it.
About the Holocaust denial, he did contribute to a book written by a Holocaust denier, and that is bad, and something a revolutionary should never do. If he knew that the author was a Holocaust denier, he should have walked away. If he didn’t know, he should have checked. That is a problem.
Liberal fascism is a bad term, yes. Should’ve been stated as “liberalism helps to create the conditions that lead to fascism, and liberalism will not oppose fascism in any militant or consistent fashion.”
It’s not every line of his writing to be sure but an awful lot of it.