Q & A with Roseanne Barr

On October 23, Presidential candidate Roseanne Barr received an inquiry from the Russian periodical Moskovsky Komsomolets. Here are the reporter’s questions and Roseanne’s answers.

My name is Andrey Yashlavsky, I’m a journalist and I work with one of the most popular Russian Moscow-based newspaper “Moskovsky Komsomolets” ( www.mk.ru ) with circulation about 2 mln. copies. Of course we have a great interest towards US presidential election 2012. And we understand that America isn’t only Mr. Obama and Mr. Romney. You’re Peace and Freedom Party’s 2012 presidential nominee – so we would like to ask you some questions.

1) What’s a goal of your campaign?

I’m running to raise consciousness. So many essential issues are not being addressed by the two major candidates. In fact, fake issues are being stressed as a distraction, the prime example being the alleged “threat’ posed by Iran. Specifically, I’m running to remind people that their Government is in the hands of a duopoly comprised of two corrupt parties, which take turns plundering, then being kicked out of power, and then returning when the voters tire of being plundered by the “other face” of the Ruling Class.

This isn’t a radical view of the situation; it’s exactly the scenario that the First President and one of the founders of the nation feared and warned could well happen. It’s exactly the description used by many well-informed and astute observers, among them, the late historian, author and social critic Gore Vidal, and respected global analyst Noam Chomsky. There’s nothing foundational or legitimate about the well-worn path that voters are led down in every election cycle: “Pick A or B,” as if even the thought of another option is naive or alien. It’s an undemocratic, dishonest and destructive way to govern a great nation. People are “wising up” and speaking up and I’m proud to be one of the loudest voices in the chorus.

2) What the main points of your critics of the current US administration’s policy?

The United States is largely owned by a microscopic fraction of its people. Approximately the richest 400 people possess as much wealth as the poorest 150 million people – half the country, in other words. Because of the densely concentrated wealth and power, a President is basically forced to do the bidding of the tiny minority I just mentioned, or face their wrath. Of course, these hard truths are glossed over with lots of pseudo-patriotic rhetoric, and since the vastly wealthy media conglomerates control the airwaves and can propagandize effectively, the people are more or less trained to vote for one side, while demonizing the other and thinking of the whole process as a semi-sacred exercise in citizenship.

3) How do you see an ideal America?

An ideal America would have more economic democracy. The word socialism has been so vilified and associated with totalitarian Governments, like the kind we saw for so long in the Soviet Union and its satellites, that the majority of Americans recoil at its mention. But, to put it simply, we need more cooperation and less competition. So many Americans have heard the term “Christian nation” for all their lives, and yet they’ve also been trained to almost worship money and consumerism, which is certainly at odds with religious principles of sharing, caring for the poor and powerless, and seeing all of humanity as an interdependent family. It’s hard to tell where America ends and a corporate multinational empire begins, one that uses the American military as its muscle.

An ideal America would be one where a decent standard of living would be provided for all its citizens. This needn’t be a dream; we spend enough on wasteful, destructive, unhealthy activities to easily wipe out hunger, for example, and provide better education and vocational training for all our citizens. Racism and sexism have to go, in all their insidious forms. Our Senate is our most powerful Legislative body and it’s comprised of 100 senators: thirteen are women. Black people make up 11% of our population but roughly 40% of our prison population. We need to clean up our own house before spending vast sums of borrowed money traipsing around the world supposedly “spreading freedom” to other nations.

4) What is more important for you – socialism or ecology?

Well, if we poison our environment – where will we live? At the same time, if we don’t find a way to make people feel they have a stake in their own economic survival and a chance to have a decent secure life with dignity, we can’t expect them to respect and value nature, other peoples’ needs and rights, or much of anything, really. One of my favorite words is balance.

5) Some time ago you said you’re running for Prime Minister of Israel. It was a joke?

I’m serious in the sense that I want to keep the idea of another way to go, first and foremost in the eyes of the world. Israel is seen in the eyes of many as an irritant in their part of the world, and not utterly without justification. I do not condone or justify any violence directed at Israel, of course, but when it occurs, their punitive responses are vastly and dis-proportionately brutal and destructive. They help to perpetuate the very hostility they claim they are victim to and a target of. We need sane, rational discussion and solutions with the international community as witness. Who thinks that the present situation is acceptable? The world is sick and tired of the endless conflict, and anyone who calls for more violence is insane, regardless of which side advances such rhetoric.

6) I’ve heard you’ve got Russian roots, is it true? What is your attitude to Russia?

Russians are a great and decent people with a long, rich and varied history. They were the West’s partner in stopping the biggest threat humanity had faced up to the middle of the 20th Century. The ideological struggle that divided our great peoples has proven a great and profound truth: BOTH sides were right. We saw the Soviet Union as a former ally that transformed itself into a foe which ruled its people with an iron grip and stifled many basic freedoms, and I think there was truth in that. The Soviet Union saw us a threat, as well – a voracious capitalist machine that sought to control more and more of the world and its resources. There’s no denying that there’s some truth in that. the most recent and on-going example is the horrific damage we’ve inflicted upon Iraq. Russia and the United States could make great progress for their own and the rest of the world’s people if they would come together in a spirit of mutually respectful cooperation. I would reach out to Russia and say let’s bilaterally stop our insane military expenditures and step onto the path of rational self interest, but with an eye toward each great nation’s mutual benefit.