Vote Your Values: An Interview with Rosa Clemente

from Z-Net

Rosa Clemente is one of the most prominent activists of our generation. She is a nationally renowned speaker, writer, and journalist – one of the most important independent journalists covering the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina – and in 2001 was a youth representative at the United Nations World Conference against Xenophobia, Racism, and Related Intolerance. She continues to organize conferences focused on the empowerment of young people of color, working in colleges, community centers, and prisons. In 2008, she accepted the Green Party nomination for vice-president on the Cynthia McKinney presidential ticket. This is an interview conducted by Adele Nieves in mid-October.


AN: Tell me how the Green Party is different from the Republicans and Democrats?

RC: Our core principles: democracy, social justice, ecological wisdom, and economic sustainability. Right there, our priorities are different in principle. Concretely, our party does not take any corporate or lobbyist PAC money. The Green Party was founded 30 years ago with the intention to break up the two-party system, and promote visionary environmental strategies and social justice.


Many people are hungry for a third party (or more) in our elections, but are fearful of voting for one because they are convinced their vote won’t count, or will help the Republican Party. While disillusioned with the Democratic Party, they vote the lesser of two evils. What will it take to persuade voters to support a strong third party?

First, I don’t consider it progressive if you blindly accept the Democratic Party. I’m personally not trying to persuade anybody. If you want to be a Republican or a Democrat, that’s fine. I’m trying to get at the 49% who don’t vote; the millions of African American and Latino young people who are not registered to vote. I’m trying to get to the young people who aren’t caught up in the Obama hype. I’m trying to persuade working-class white people who are not caught up in the Republican hype, and have disengaged from the system. So I’m not trying to persuade somebody to vote differently.

As far as the “lesser of two evils,” I think that says it right there. I don’t understand why we have to have an evil, period. Both parties are corporate parties. In every policy that one puts forth, one might be less devastating, but eventually it will hurt you. That’s what we’ve seen with Democrats and Republicans. I don’t think my generation can afford the lesser of any evil at this point.

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