Third Party & Independents Archives

Exclusive Interview with Green Party Gubernatorial Candidate in Connecticut Cliff Thornton: Part One

The following is the first part in a interview with Green Party Gubernatorial candidate Cliff Thornton.

Rhodes: Could you discuss your educational background, and how this experience has helped shape your views on education during your campaign?

Thornton: Well my education has been like this, I am sixty one years old and when I went through the public education system I got a great education and it afforded me the opportunity to go to college and further with the background to succeed in college. Students today coming out of public school even in the areas that have a lot of money and are supposed to have a good public school system they are not getting a good education. When you start looking at statistics that say that one third of high school graduates cannot locate various countries on a map that is telling you that they are not even getting the education that they should get.

What I would do with my education platform is to first of all start at the higher education level and we would offer any student coming out of high school with a 2.0 grade point average free tuition to a community college, but of course we would need a lot of remedial courses to bring them up to speed but that’s the price you pay for dumbing down America. Secondly anyone coming out of high school with a 3.0 grade point average would get free tuition and room and board for a four year institution, those are my plans for higher education.

Public education needs massive funds to rebuild the public school infrastructure, because currently it is virtually non existent. Most of the teachers in the public school system across this country, not just in Connecticut, are spending their own money for basic things like pencils and books and paper for the students. That says a lot, because when I went to school there was never a shortage of pencils or books or paper. But this is the way that we have gone, we are putting more emphasis on law enforcement than we are on public education. And when you start to look at the budgets of cities in this country two items stand out, education and law enforcement, and anytime that the law enforcement budget is one fifth of the education budget your in trouble, and every single school system in this country is in trouble. I don’t care what they say, this No Child Left Behind is a bunch of bull crap. And I would work to not go along with it if elected governor of Connecticut, and go with the landmark case Shef vs. O’Neil which offers the students not only learning capabilities to succeed in life but also it integrates racial and socioeconomic background.

Rhodes: In many areas of the country funding for K thru 12 schooling comes primarily from the property tax. This system creates a reality where the economics of the neighborhood dictates the quality of the schools. Thus the quality of the schools in a poor neighborhood will differ drastically from those in a middle class neighborhood which will differ drastically from those in a rich neighborhood. What are your thoughts on this, and if elected what will you do to further equality of educational opportunity in Connecticut?

Thornton: What we need to do especially in Connecticut, and I am glad you asked this question, as I was up in the Northeast corner of Connecticut where it was basically farmland and what the possibilities are there are growing just tremendous amounts of hemp to generate tremendous amounts of revenue for the school systems. Because once you start growing hemp and producing products from hemp the tax base grows exponentially. And this would therefore relieve the real estate tax burden of funding education.

Also Connecticut has earmarked I think about 1.1 billion dollars in the rainy day fund to go toward education, but it never has. And this is another thing that I would do to help with the disparities within the school districts within the state of Connecticut. It’s going to take an individual with big balls to do something like this, because this will definitely threaten big business as it currently exists today. But it is time for it because big business cannot run the country, because we will get what we have right now tremendous disparities in all areas of the state, as well as the country.

Rhodes: Could you please explain your proposed program to fund higher education in Connecticut with lottery funds?

Thornton: The lottery funds go into basically in this state what we call the general fund or the rainy day fund and that particular fund has never been used for education. What we have to do is hold these people accountable for it. We have to have a system that is responsible that is accountable and right now we don’t have that. Because even the people of the state of Connecticut when this was announced that this rainy day fund would fund education no one has come forth to stand up and fight for that. And instead the politicians they use it for whatever it is that they want to use it for, therefore the funds have not yet ever gone to public education. We are talking about a billion dollars just for the state of Connecticut and no one is using it. So I would work to do that and hopefully relieve some of this property tax that is going for the funding of our public school system.

Rhodes: It has been my experience that too often third party candidates get pigeon holed by the media as a one issue candidate. What are your thoughts on this and why do you think this is?

Thornton: There are a number of reasons why they have done that, first of all we have to understand that this is no longer a two party system, this is a one party system, and by being in a one party system that tries to appear to be a two party system third parties make it very hard for the so called mainstream parties. It’s all about money, when you start to look at things and how they are working you see patterns, you will see things like eight years for Clinton, eight years for Bush, it depends what deals they have been making.

I just don’t believe in a two party system anymore and we need a strong third party, because they are happy with divvying up the goodies between themselves in the way in which they are doing. The people of this country are being shortchanged. So I think it is really the time for a strong third party, and we are going to make a run for it. When you start to look at the polls conducted by CNN you see that a majority of the people are fed up with the federal Congress that is saying a lot. That shows that people are looking for the real issues, and the Green Party at this particular point in time is the only party that is really talking about the issues.

Rhodes: Recently voters in Humboldt County, California passed Measure T, an initiative which repeals the legal status of corporations as persons and drastically limits corporate power in politics. What are your thoughts on this occurrence, and if elected would you push a similar philosophy for Connecticut?

Thornton: Yes if elected I would definitely look to pass legislation that keeps corporate influence out of the state legislature. Because you are absolutely correct, when you look at Bush and his staff they are mere corporate figureheads doing the bargaining for giant multinational corporations. I believe that they deliberately let this tragedy of 9/11 happen, and I also believe by doing so they were able to start a war with the approval for the most part of the American people. It’s very simple, and they have gotten it down to a science first of all they single out a particular opponent and than they create a fear campaign, and once they start doing that it’s perfect. It leads into other things that would be very beneficial for them, you look at the contracts that are going out in the Middle East during the war and unequivocally they are all tied in one way or another to the Bush administration. So yes I would definitely love to keep big business out of state government.

Cliff Thornton official campaign website: http://www.politicalgateway.com/cand.php?id=314&page=cand

Green Party of Connecticut: http://www.ctgreens.org/index.shtml

Green Party of the United States: www.gp.org

Posted by Richard Rhodes at August 15, 2006 9:09 PM
Comments
Comment #175750
Thornton said: There are a number of reasons why they have done that, first of all we have to understand that this is no longer a two party system, this is a one party system, …
That is really more true than most realize.

Richard, I strongly agree with the following …

Thornton said:
Yes if elected I would definitely look to pass legislation that keeps corporate influence out of the state legislature. Because you are absolutely correct, when you look at Bush and his staff they are mere corporate figureheads doing the bargaining for giant multinational corporations.

Our incumbent politicans are bought-and-paid-for.

About 90% of congress are long term incumbents. Many have been there for decades. Perhaps voters will see the connection between that high re-election rate and our pressing problems that continue to grow in number and severity?

83% of all federal campaign donations ($200 or larger) come from a mere 0.1% of the U.S. population. How can the remaining 99.9% of the U.S. population compete with that? Government is FOR SALE, and the average American does not realize they are being out-spent. When 99.9% of Americans send in their $20, $50, $100 (under $200) campaign contribution, do they realize how little influence they have? If voters really want to have influence, they should not play this game. Just stop re-electing irresponsible incumbent politicians.

But, what do you think of this ?

Thornton said:
I believe that they deliberately let this tragedy of 9/11 happen,

That’s debatable, but after it happened, the following is not hard to believe …

Thornton said:
… so they were able to start a war with the approval [for the most part] of the American people.

… as evidenced by flawed intelligence, and subsequent lies about finding WMD (of any significance). This may be veiwed as the biggest blunder ever.

The U.S. is on the wrong path. It’s 2 steps forward and 1.999 steps backward. We’ve been going backward for decades, and it will get worse before it gets better.

The only consolation is that the worse it gets, the closer we get to finally having an incentive to make it better. But, how bad will it have to get, first ?

Nobody knows, but it’s not hard to guess. Not based on what we know. Most Americans are not going to like it, but they truly have themselves to thank for it, since they keep re-electing the same irresponsible, bought-and-paid-for, corrupt, greedy, incubment politicians, over and over.

Posted by: d.a.n at August 15, 2006 10:12 PM
Comment #175776

I agree with Thornton that America needs a strong third party, but you guys lost me with the hemp and never got me back.

First of all: Hemp in Connecticut? Is that even possible? And if hemp is the cash crop you guys think it is, how come America doesn’t import billions of dollars worth of hemp t-shirts and bandanas and sandals — or even rope — every year?

Why don’t you guys come clean and admit it’s all about smokin’ dope?

And every state in he union has a “rainy day” fund that gets used for… well, rainy days. For bailing out pension plans, for covering Medicaid and Medicare costs when the federal government won’t come through with their part, and in the case of California, we spent ours (and then some) on energy back when Enron and other power brokers were scamming us and Bush’s Federal Trade Commission wouldn’t look into our complaints.

In other words, the fund is for emergencies. Like helping out Conecticut’s poor this winter when heating costs are through the roof because of record high oil prices.

I’d think that after watching Bush squander a massive budget surplus you’d question Thornton a bit harder on funding his initiatives.

Posted by: American Pundit at August 16, 2006 1:44 AM
Comment #175780

American Pundit said—” I agree with Thornton that America needs a strong third party, but you guys lost me with the hemp and never got me back.

First of all: Hemp in Connecticut? Is that even possible? And if hemp is the cash crop you guys think it is, how come America doesn’t import billions of dollars worth of hemp t-shirts and bandanas and sandals — or even rope — every year.”
This is beyond a oxymoron. You say you agree with Thornton but than ask if hemp is such a major cash crop why don’t we import it. If it were a cash crop why would we import it, you don’t import a cash crop, you grow it yourself. Why in the world would you import it and pay tariffs when you could just, granted much legislative change would be needed, grow it yourself.

AP said: “Why don’t you guys come clean and admit it’s all about smokin’ dope?”

First you need to clarify better the word dope. The word dope has been used for cannabis, heroin and other opium derivatives, among others. But I am not gonna play with semantics I know what you meant. This is probably where me and Mr. Thornton differ the most, while he will speak over and over about hemp I will not. Hemp has great potential. But for me and when I speak I am speaking for myself thus I should speak from my own perspective my goal is to stop arresting over half a million people a year for cannabis. Do you realize what this costs our criminal justice system? Personally I can say I don’t smoke cannabis anymore, so it’s not just about being able to smoke. For me its not as much about hemp its about stopping the wasteful spending of money on arresting people for cannabis, its about the extreme racism of these arrests.

AP said: “I’d think that after watching Bush squander a massive budget surplus you’d question Thornton a bit harder on funding his initiatives.”
Bush has wasted this surplus on a illegal war in Iraq, in implementing the Patriot Act (which your Democratic Party mostly voted for, the only real dissent coming from Senator Russell Feingold personally my favorite Democrat and damn do I hope he wins the Democratic Nomination in 2008 (actually I hope Dennis Kucinich, who is undoubtedly the most progressive Democrat in all of Congress wins the Dem nomination but we all know this won’t happen).

Posted by: Richard Rhodes at August 16, 2006 2:23 AM
Comment #175821


American Pundit said;

“And if hemp is the cash crop you guys think it is, how come America doesn’t import billions of dollars worth of hemp t-shirts and bandanas and sandals — or even rope — every year?”

Why do that when we can grow it here at a greatly reduced price as Mr Rhodes has stated.

It is not about smoking dope. It is about fixing this system which does not work. It is about the insainity of it all.

Lets also get one thing clear, one cannot get high off of hemp. Dupont, Monsanto stand to loose billions from chemicals used to produce bumper crops of cotton and corn. This is probably why the light is shed on cannabis. This is the classic diversion.

Unjust laws are no laws at all. Any second now the war on terror will exceed the war on drugs as the biggest shame in American history.

Posted by: Clifford W. Thornton, Jr. at August 16, 2006 10:01 AM
Post a comment