(9:00AM EST – promoted by Nightprowlkitty)
A few days ago I interviewed Cindy Sheehan, half as an blogger and half as an interested citizen activist. Below the fold is the audio of the interview. I’ve also typed up a brief summary of the interview, or at least what I could write down of her answers while holding a tape recorder in my other hand. I’ll be posting a picture of both of us that a press photographer took if it makes it into a local newspaper, or if he sends me any pictures.
She talked about her political future, taking action locally, prosecuting Bush, Afghanistan, and more. I had previously taken questions here and on a few other websites.
Note: This interview was originally posted to independentpoliticalreport.com, a blog I write for that focuses on third party politics. That’s why a lot of the questions have to do with third party politics (duh), but there are also some great questions from Daily Kos users, so I figured I’d post it here.
The theme of the talk that Ms. Sheehan gave before taking questions and the interview was that local action is the best way to change the status quo for the better. “Work where you’re gonna make a difference,” she said. “Work where you can celebrate victory!” She continued on that she had tried practically every method she could think of in order to take on “the establishment” head-on, but now she realizes that taking it on head-on on a large scale simply isn’t the answer.
I started by asking Ms. Sheehan about the National Initiative for Democracy, and I will not hide the fact that I’m a staunch advocate for national ballot initiatives. I do volunteer work with Mike Gravel and his Democracy Foundation for this cause.
Below are summaries of what she said, not her exact words. Some of the questions were submitted by commenters, some might have been slightly rephrased. Phrases that I wrote down word for word are in quotes.
What’s your opinion of the National Initiative for Democracy?
I like the idea of a more direct democracy, but you can look at Prop 8 for an example of what can go wrong with initiatives. I’m conflicted about this.
Do you still live in San Francisco? Do you have any political plans in that city or elsewhere?
Yes, I still live in San Francisco. I plan on moving soon because it’s expensive and I want a simpler life. If I ever ran for office again, it would be federal office.
Do you have any plans to go to Minnesota soon?
No, but I would love to if someone could organize a visit.
When you ran for Congress, why did you run as an independent, instead of running with the ballot-qualified Green or Peace and Freedom Parties?
I wanted to run for office in a “non-partisan way.” Our slogan was “people over politics,” and I wanted to live that out by being “tied down to any ideology.
What kind of future do you see for yourself within existing third parties? Will you be attending the Green Party national convention this July?
“None” – no future within existing third parties. I’m booked for July already.
Why are you the leader of a separate anti-war movement, rather than working with Obama and the Democrats in power to reach your goals?
The Democrats and Obama aren’t anti-war.
What was it like to see your perception among the mainstream left/Democrats go from paragon of motherly virtue and innocence to that of some kind of pariah in just two years?
The Democrats used the peace movement, and what they think “doesn’t matter to me.” I am “speaking the truth” and the “person that matters most to me is me.” I don’t step back just because a Democrat is in power.
Do you have any regrets from the past five years?
I have one regret – during the summer of 2005 I wish I was more aware of efforts to co-opt the peace movement in order to elect Democrats and more able to fight them off.
Is there something that most progressives or liberals who criticize you fail to understand about you?
Progressives who criticize me aren’t real progressives. I’ve come up with a name for them: faux-gressives.
What have you learned about the media, and getting a message out nationally, since you started your activism?
I used to think that the media is right-wing, but now I realize that the mainstream media simply exists to serve the establishment.
After your congressional run last year you mentioned forming a new political party. Has any progress been made with that?
I’m focused more now on political action on a local level. Many local elections are actually non-partisan. If there is going to be a new, successful, progressive party it will have to be “organic” and organized around labor. Unfortunately, labor union leaders are in bed with the Democrats.
You are against Obama’s plan for a kind of surge in Afghanistan. What would you propose as an alternative to that policy?
I would bring the troops home and use dollar diplomacy to promote things like jobs. There is “no US military solution in the Middle East.” If I were president, I would release the torture photos and prosecute the previous administration, as well.
One of the chapters in your new e-book is called “Myth 2: Elections Matter.” Are you writing off elections entirely, or do you think that with significant reforms – like an alternative voting system and reliable paper ballots – they could be meaningful again?
Elections have always been compromised because they’re easily manipulated. We need things like instant runoff voting, paper ballots, public campaign financing, and term limits.
If we had a strong initiative process, would term limits still be necessary?
Term limits keep out career politicians and open up public office to more people. They perform a valuable service.
You ran against Nancy Pelosi because she wouldn’t impeach Bush and Cheney. Now that they’re out of office, are you hopeful that they will somehow be held accountable?
I also left the Democratic Party and ran for Congress because of other issues they disappointed me with, like how they still funded the wars. I’m “still waiting for accountability.” Prosecution would also limit the powers of future presidents in a very good way, although I’m not hopeful it will happen. That doesn’t mean I will stop working for it.
Note/update: FYI, I’m going to camp then vacation, and I’ll probably only be on the computer once or twice until mid August. I leave tomorrow. Just a heads up for anyone who cares.