Preview: Challenging Power, Changing Politics

September 5, 2012

This week on Moyers & Company, Bill talks with Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who’s been an independent in Congress for 21 years — longer than anyone in American history. In 2010, Sanders made national news when he delivered an eight-and-a-half-hour speech attacking the agreement President Obama and the Republicans had made to extend the Bush tax cuts for the rich.

Bill also talks to Green Party presidential and vice presidential candidates Jill Stein and Cheri Honkala about what they’ve learned about American politics. Stein graduated from Harvard Medical School to become an internist specializing in environmental health. She was a Massachusetts gubernatorial candidate in 2002, co-founded the Massachusetts Coalition for Healthy Communities in 2003, and represented the Green-Rainbow Party in state races in 2004 and 2006. Honkala is an anti-poverty activist and community organizer who co-founded the Kensington Welfare Rights Union and the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign. A formerly homeless single mother, Honkala became the first woman ever to run for Sheriff of Philadelphia in 2011.

Challenging power and changing politics. Next on Moyers & Company.

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  • Anonymous

    I’m so, so glad to see Moyers interviewing Stein & Honkala! I hope Sen. Sanders spends some time with them so he can see that there is in fact a definite alternative to Obama in THIS election. How wonderful it would be to have the three of them hooking up between the Executive and Legislative branches of government to begin the desperately needed reform to sanity in our country.

  • Kitty M

    I’m voting for Jill Stein…..I don;t care if the dems are worried I’m throwing away my vote. It’s time to take a stand.

  • Anonymous

    Good to see Dr. Stein and Cheri Honkala getting some media attention. They have my vote. We can’t and won’t change this system unless we are part of it in standing up to the dysfunctional relationship between Wall Street and the two party system. It it time.

  • MBrecker

    I know I shouldn’t be surprised. But it’s mind boggling that the MSM outlets will cover the Green Party ONLINE. However, in print or on air? No. Just like everyone knows that Sanders is a Socialist Senator from Vermont. Yet, to publically say the word socialist is almost an insult.
    Whatever you do before the election, just make sure you base it on actual facts. And not what someone else tells you is a “fact”.

  • Ben Manski

    This will be running on the air all across the country this coming Friday night! Spread the word!

  • Anonymous

    So excited to be voting Green this November! You don’t have to vote your fears! Anyone who tells you your vote for a third party is only for the party they oppose is a bully threatened by your ability to do what they can’t: think.

  • Dissenta

    I wholeheartedly join you. If all the millions who agree with Jill Stein’s values actually vote for her instead of second-guessing for a lesser of two evils who turns out to be virtually the same as the other guy in most major policies like economy, healthcare, environment, energy, education, trade, wars — she’ll be elected president handily. As she has framed the situation brilliantly, vote not with fear but with courage! Forget ‘hope,’ done that 4 years ago and no help — courage is the emotion for our times! Don’t have to tell you this. Bravo for taking a stand. Exactly what we need multiplied thousands of times.

  • Dave Manary

    I agree with Jill Stein on more policies than I do with Obama. However, I’m pragmatic enough to realize that she has zero chance to win, therefore a vote for Stein is, in effect, a vote for Romney. Please don’t forget how in 2004, Nader threw the election to GW Bush, and downhill we all went because of that. And this old argument that the two major parties are the same is utter nonsense. Please be sensible, set your high morals aside for a moment and vote for Obama, in order to keep Romney from taking us down farther.

  • Mike Noble

    Sanders self-identifies as a “democratic socialist” to be fair. Not exactly the same thing. But I completely agree that we should call him that rather than shove him into the almost meaningless, namby-pamby category “independent”.

  • Val D Artak

    Is she on all of the ballots? Because on a lot of them you can’t write in for a candidate. I’m not sure how accurate the following page is but I’m know you all can check in your own state and maybe do some math to add the possible electoral votes your candidate will get with you voting for them.

  • gerald berke

    people that throw away their vote are doing just that… `you could also hold your breath.
    And I will contribute to the Green Party… but then, what about the Working Families Party?

  • Rene Nitz

    Hi Dave. She has a zero chance to win only if we keep saying she has a zero chance to win. I feel voting for crooks and corps is a wasted vote. I don’t believe Nader threw the election (that is Dem’s propaganda machine) because really, the Dems did not earn those votes. I hope you’ll join us and reconsider your position. Jill is making history by getting matching funds, getting the Green Party on tv ads, and she’s starting to turn heads. Please join us in letting Washington know that we are sick of corporations over people. If you really believe things have been better with Obama, then by all means vote for him. I voted for him and kind of feel duped.

  • Cynthia Almy Savage

    You need to learn a few electoral facts, then. A vote for ANYONE not voted for by a majority of your neighbors is a “wasted” vote in this country. I have voted for Reagan, Bush 1, Clinton, Gore, Kerry, and Obama. All my votes except for the ones for Reagan and Bush 1 were “wasted” because I live in TX. I could vote for Mickey Mouse this year and all 34 electoral votes in my home state will still go for Mittens. In fact, 49% of Texans could vote for Mickey Mouse and all our electoral votes would still go to Mittens.So, I’m going to vote for Jill Stein. The Texas Democratic Party isn’t even bothering to run candidates in a significant number of races this November. If 5% of TX voters show up in the popular polls-they are completely meaningless, BTW, in terms of actually electing someone-maybe, just maybe-we can push the DNC back to the left. Two neoliberal parties are NOT what America needs. As for those people who STILL claim Nader cost Gore the election, please. Gore won the popular election nationwide by 500,000 votes. He won the Florida election when the recount was unofficially conducted by USA Today. It’s not Nader’s fault Bush 2 won-it is our activist SCOTUS’s fault.

  • Alice Patience

    I think the perception that “Nader threw the election to Bush” has been pretty well disproved. If more people voted their conscience, this two/one party oligarchy could be laid to rest.

  • Dave Manary

    I understand your points but you have to keep focused on the net result of your actions. Given, some people live in states that are not swing states. The electoral college is an antiquated piece of garbage that needs to be replaced with a cumulative popular vote. But I don’t see how anyone can argue the fact that the Nader votes in Florida in 2000 (not 2004, sorry) cost Gore the win. The Nader voters were almost surely more aligned with Al Gore than GW Bush. Gore has done a lot for environmental causes and would have done so much more as president. Bush set us back so far in those 8 years it makes me sick. And it could have been prevented by 1/3 of those Nader votes going to Gore. Just picture how different the world would be today if Bush had not won in 2000. I’m 44 and I’ve given up on a third party ever being able to gain a foothold in national elections in my lifetime. Common sense tells me that, like it or not, that mountain is just too steep to climb. There’s just too much at stake to vote for a Green Party candidate, even though I respect very much their ideals and policies.

  • Dave Manary

    Hi Rene. Jill has zero chance to win because that’s just the way it is and probably always will be. It’s a bitter pill to swallow but the reality is that the two-party system is too big, too powerful and too entrenched. I think Jill Stein could be effective as a policy adviser or in a cabinet position possibly. There is no doubt she has great ideas. People that get things accomplished though, learn to play within the system. And if the system shows no signs of changing, that is our only chance to move forward.

  • Alan

    It literally brings me to tears that Moyers & Company is hosting Jill and Cheri this week. After being ignored by virtually every media company, including shamefully the other PBS hosts and pundits, you giving voice to these candidates shows genuine respect and honor for all persons, and the moral backbone that some just talk about.


    A vote that is cast for a third party candidate, regardless of the reason, is certainly a wasted vote. If you do that, you are not contributing to that candidate’s success. Many people feel they’re “making a statement”by doing the above; others make the foolish beyond words “statement” by not voting. It’s this way of thinking that can, cumulatively, decide which turn our country takes. Voting is a right and a privilege. Earn it, use it constructively. And don’t waste it.

  • thegreengrass

    Definitely agree and will be voting for Stein too.

  • thegreengrass

    She’s on 33 + DC so far! Here’s the map as updated on August 16th.

  • thegreengrass

    Tens of thousands of people died in the Revolutionary War because they believed the people of the country they were trying to establish deserved the freedom to think however they wanted. To hear anyone insinuate that it is our patriotic duty to curb that freedom of thought and vote for people we do not like is insulting on levels you cannot begin to comprehend.

  • Laurence White

    The Japanese have a saying about waste “1 grain, 10,000 grains”
    Ghandi effectively sat in the way of the powers that be, I sit with him, and I’ll be voting green and encouraging everyone I know to do the same!
    We live in the “information age” and there are many opportunities now for independent thought to be heard, in spite of the money controlled media.

  • Chris Bergsten

    Dave, with all due respect, you sound like a kid who’s been punched by a bully and now you’re afraid to cross him because he might punch you again.

    Occupy Wall Street got one very important thing right: the biggest fight in this country isn’t Left vs. Right, it’s the common people (the 99%) vs. the wealthy elite (the 1%). The two parties aren’t exactly alike – but they’re both in the pocket of the 1%. Obama and Romney are both “approved” by the 1% – which is why they get so much free publicity in the corporate media – and they’re both filthy with corporate bribes. We can vote Democrat for a million years and they’re never going to side against their paymasters. The only way – the ONLY way – to boot the 1% out of our government is for the people to stop voting for the two corporate parties and start voting for alternatives. That’s people as in you and me, not just “someone else, somewhere”.

    No one wants to get punched by a bully again – but there comes a point where enough is enough and you have to stand up to him. I don’t know if America is quite there yet, but we’re sure getting close. We’re mad at the government, mad at the economy, and mad at big business. Occupy gave us a taste of that – but Occupy had no leadership, poor messaging, and couldn’t decide on goals or strategy, so it lost momentum. Jill Stein becoming president wouldn’t magically solve all our problems – but she offers leadership and a clearly-articulated platform that a lot of people can agree with, and her winning would be an important strategic victory for the 99%.

    We’ve been punched enough. It’s time the people came together to face our bully. It’s time we started punching back – as hard as we can and as many times as it takes.

  • MBrecker

    Here’s an idea. The two main parties keep saying that social media must be used. Why not then beat them at their own game? We all know that the Green Party has the basic mix of tools (You Tube, Twitter, and other outlets). Strategically placed posts in high visibility sites bring more traffic. Make Stein and Honkala as visible as possible. This takes a sustained effort by millions. I’m like you. I can’t do this by myself.
    People know that the Green Party is there. Just make them as visible as possible.

  • M D Solomon

    I’m voting for Jill as well. The Democrats and the Republicans are the left and right wings of the same party, owned by the banks.

  • jules

    time has come…Repubi-Crats have had too much power and it has divided us. I’m voting for Jill Stein,

  • Neal Becker

    So let me get this straight,,,if I vote the way my “intelligence” tells me to vote, even though it might not be for a “major” candidate I am wasting my vote? Hmmm, I am sure if Jefferson were here(Thomas,,,you know him, he might disagree with you and he was the first to start partisan politics).
    He would tell you it is your duty to vote your principles, no matter what the obvious seems! We fought a revolution to assure that right for our “posterity” (us!).

  • thegreengrass

    Er I think you meant to reply to Susan; I completely, 100% agree with you.

  • SUSAN M.

    I guess if it makes no difference to you which party prevails. or whose philosophy determines the direction this country goes in for the next many many years, then don’t vote R or D. I firmly believe you are entitled to your opinion, and to act on it. I agree to so much of the platform of The Green Party. I also feel the need to try to weigh in on the side of the party who might actually do something to save our planet, rather than hand it over to the warmongers who do not care whether this planet lives or dies. I am particularly worried about the Supreme Court appointees the next President will make. That’s why I vote for the Democratic Party. I still have hope.

  • SUSAN M.

    I AM voting my principles, the foremost of which is to try to make a difference in the direction our country goes. Whatever your intelligence tells you to do, your vote will only make a difference to you – self satisfaction. You will have no influence on the outcome which will decide whether or not the things you care about have a chance to succeed. That’s what my intelligence tells me.

  • thegreengrass

    There are some interesting ideas you’re bringing up here. When does any vote move from the “self-interest” column to the “making a difference” column? When you live in a swing state whose outcome isn’t already so expected that the candidates aren’t even campaigning in it, as they aren’t in mine?

    I understand why you feel the way you do, but I refuse to believe that any vote for any party is ever merely self-satisfying. I don’t know if you’ve ever worked for a campaign, but the amount of effort put out by volunteers, most of whom are very unpaid, is staggering. If nothing else, my vote is a thank you to the people who spend months of their lives and thousands of their dollars supporting their candidate; it is a validation of their hard work.

  • SUSAN M.

    Listen, I understand and respect your your reasons for voting the way you do. It would be nice if you felt the same. And it is interesting to note the move from one column to the other. I guess you’d also have to define self-interest, which is almost impossible since we are not able to bring to awareness all the things that motivate us.

  • SUSAN M.

    I just want to try to make a difference.

  • Chris

    I cannot begin to express the respect that I feel for Bill Moyers for hosting Jill Stein and Cheri Honkala this week. After so many media outlets have ignored these two viable candidates it is refreshing to see one show stand up and do what is right by allowing the Green Party candidates air time. If these two were given the media coverage that Obama and Romney are they would be the next president and vice president of our nation. I will be voting for Dr. Stein and Cheri Honkala in November.

  • Ron

    Let’s say the margin of victory is 5% or less. If one of the corporate parties realizes that the Green vote is bigger than the margin of victory, they’ll start courting the Greens –especially if the Green Party pulls an even bigger percentage of the under-30s.

  • thegreengrass

    Oh I do, totally. I never didn’t. I was just trying to convey some sort of reasoning for something so seemingly unreasonable as voting differently.

  • Anonymous

    Susan, I don’t understand your reasoning or logic. By constructively, I assume you mean to vote for the D or the R, but what if they don’t align with our values based on their record? My vote is not owned by any candidate- it is earned. My vote also has the power in my state to help our party keep our ballot line and run other candidates. That is the rule that the Dems and Reps have established for us.

  • Anonymous

    It’s just refreshing to see the media opening up to new ideas and voices. I am frustrated that this isn’t happening at other liberal and progressive media venues like Huffington Post. There is so much frustration being vented at the role of obscene amounts of money in politics yet the tickets doing it the way it should be done are ironically ignored. Today, the Huff Post highlighted a piece by Roseanne Barr about money in politics, and it was good. She is a candidate as well, but why is the Green Party ignored? We are on the ballot in many states now. Our ideas, like those of many other third parties in history founded around suffrage, abolition, equality, civil rights, may have widespread influence on our overall politics, but they face an uphill battle if they can’t get equal press in the marketplace of ideas.

  • Pat

    If everyone always took the lesser of two evils route, we’d still be whigs and tories.

  • Anonymous

    As a Stein supporter, I won’t set my morals aside for anyone for any length of time. If Romney wins it will be awful. If Obama wins it will be awful. At least there will be some vocal opposition to Romney from you Obama (the wanna-be emperor) supporters who have set your morals aside for 4 years now for . You’ll suddenly rediscover them when it’s a Republican in charge. Actually we’ve had a Republican in charge since 2009!

  • Anonymous

    Absolutely! And consider this. Pressure is growing to include Johnson & Stein in the debates. Not accomplished yet, but there is still time. If they do get in, they will pull votes from both Obama & Romney – instantly changing the entire nature of the race.

    “It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare. It is because we do not dare they are difficult.” – Seneca

  • Anonymous

    Exactly Chris! And I venture to say that many of the advances that will be made within a Stein Presidency will seem magical as they lift the weight of oppression and abuse from the shoulders of the people.

    Don’t give in to the reasoning of enablers. They’re as guilty of the continuing abuse as the abusers themselves.

  • Anonymous

    If a child in a dysfunctional family speaks out about the abuse perpetrated by his/her parents, is that considered a “statemet?” Should there be no intervention at all because it would be “useless?” What a tragic outcome for that child!

    Ending dysfunctional systems takes courage and present action. And we are embroiled in a dysfunctional family system on a larger scale. Make no mistake about that.

  • Anonymous

    Yes Neal. In fact true intelligence incorporates wisdom. This is something both Obama & Romney lack in huge quantities. So indeed the “intelligent” vote in 2012 will be for Jill Stein!

  • Anonymous

    Susan, Are you actually saying that there’s a big difference between what Obama’s done (not said!) and what Bush & Cheney did? We know Romney will be the same. So since 2000 (and before that to a degree as well) we’ve gone in one direction: Empire building at any expense. On both financial and human terms that expense has been enormous. Governments are toppling due to “Shock Doctrine” tactics, People are starving & living in poverty way, way beyond the numbers before this period. And the earth itself is starting to send messages of enormous consequences to come due to our abuse of the life system within which we live. If you REALLY want to change directions, Jill Stein is the only candidate who will do so.

  • Natalie Dandekar

    If it were not for the nightmare of George W redux, I would vote Green, But not till Obama has his four more years to dig us out of this mess W left us with.

  • Jasmine Sailing

    I think you mean 2000. I voted for Nader in both 2000 and 2004, but 2000 was when Al Gore ran. I can say with certainty that I would not have voted for Gore if Nader wasn’t an option. I would’ve looked for anyone else I could have felt any level of respect for. 3rd parties don’t “steal” votes, they earn them by giving people someone they can stomach voting for. Even if I didn’t already feel this way, the God & Israel debacle at the DNC this year would’ve turned me toward other options. I’m voting for Jill. Winning isn’t everything, building strength against a 108 year Democrat/Republican monopoly matters too.

  • SUSAN M.

    Not a cogent argument. OF Course you intervene for that child. I just don’t get your analogy as to voting and speaking up for an injured child.

  • SUSAN M.

    Vote your conscience.

  • Scott Rickard

    Way to go Green Party @gpus Jill Stein ‏@jillstein2012 &
    Cheri Honkala @CheriHonkala

  • WOW

    Throughout history, the American people have eventually “persuaded” our leaders to do the right thing. Today, the peoples’ task is challenged by influential global leaders with separate interests and desires. A vote for Ms. Stein is a wish/prayer for better, but our current crop of global leaders need to be challenged by all three branches of our government to elicit change. We need to dissuade any leader, in whatever party, from the current path.

  • Anonymous


    By saying I don’t make a cogent argument are you saying that my comparison of dysfunctional systems, on one hand the immediate family of origin for individual families, and on the other hand the larger scale system of government which is structurally similar in function, doesn’t make sense? Certainly our government can be viewed as a Parental component with citizens viewed as existing under the rules laid down by the government, courts, etc.

    So my example of an abused child is meant to be taken as similar to the citizens of our country, who, except for the exceptionally rich, have suffered repeated attacks from the two main parties that make up the government. That is our abusive “national family system”, and we indeed show many bruises for it.

    And what is our way of communicating to this government? Voting is our primary method. That is how voting relates to “speaking up for the child.” It is merely taken on a larger scale.

    I hope this clears up my original argument for you.


  • Lynn Williams-Porreca

    Thank you for providing a forum for a worthy candidate, Jill Stein. I will vote for her and share this program.

  • Lynn Williams-Porreca

    completely agree!

  • Lynn Williams-Porreca

    dave, dont you see the system only works if we each take an independant stand in what we believe in? The two major parties are COUNTING on that exact “dont throw your vote away” mentality to win. Take a chance Dave…..we are!!! :)

  • Lynn Williams-Porreca

    well said….

  • Lynn Williams-Porreca

    also, this Country was founded on the basic principle that ANY citizen (w/ a few stipulations) can run for office, even President. They can also gather constituants together FREELY as a group, and create a party. More the merrier. The fact our country has dwindled down to the 2 parties it has now is for 1 reason….$$$$. How dare anyone say it is a “wasted vote” to vote for someone other than the richest parties when that is the ESSENCE of what our Country was built on!! CHOICE AND FREEDOM. I am voting for JILL STEIN. I am exercising my right as a citizen. You want a two party system? go back to England and create one. :)

  • MelvinTheBarbarian

    I had the privilege of marching with Dr. Stein on Labor Day. While the Dems held their media orgy behind steel barricades and armies of police, Jill Stein was out in the streets with The People.

  • Cathy Talbott


  • NOTsamWalton

    If the senatorial candidate for The Commonwealth of Massachusetts would consider joining Bernie’s party I might consider voting for her.

  • Frank Luke

    Off the wall idea, but if President Obama loses the election (heaven forbid !!), what if he were to head the Green Party and run in the next election as their candidate? He seems someone who’s likely to embrace Green Party values and would boost their profile no end, IMO. All respects to Jill, I don’t intend to push her aside but just proposing Barack as more high profile if he would see his way to espouse the Green Party’s ticket. ??

  • NOTsamWalton

    What happened to what I wrote about plurality voting? I must have hit the hiperspace button by mistake and lost it.

  • di

    me to kitty. I think we need more women controlling this country I have been sitting here wondering if I am throwing away two votes but that is how the Green party can win.

  • getoutthevote

    I completely agree. This election has too much at stake. It feels selfish and very anti-green to divert votes from O. If Republicans get in as a result of diverted votes, our environment will go to hell faster than you can say “Ralph Nadar”.

  • getoutthevote

    nader…..that is…..

  • Jody Hassel

    This interview changed my vote. I’m with Stein and Honkola!

  • SUSAN M.

    Sadly, I think that’s true. No argument there.

  • Anonymous


    Thanks for your response. Yes the truth is indeed very, very sad in this case. I guess it’s the environment that leads the pack on my worries list. Nature isn’t about to give us a pat on the head and say, “I realize you humans were just confused and afraid. Let’s let bygones be bygones and I’ll return everything to the way it was.”
    Even if we were to turn everything around 180 degrees from the way we’ve been treating the environment this instant, it will still be many decades before we’ll have a chance to possibly lower the danger level to palatable. It’s quite a task for our remaining years, and will be much harder on our children.
    If we don’t turn it around soon the Earth will become an extremely difficult planet on which to live, if indeed we or any other life form has a chance. I’m always an optimist, but even we optimists can be challenged beyond our abilities.