A Brief Interview With Elijah D. Manley on The Democratic Party, Centrists, and Neoliberalism

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This is the second of an ongoing series of brief, generally five-question interviews with Elijah D. Manley, who made history as the youngest person to ever run for President of the United States, at age 17, which he did as a candidate on the Green ticket in 2016. I was proud to be his campaign manager, especially after he managed to make the ballot on the Green primaries in two states and the District of Columbia, and acquired 41% of the votes among the Greens in his home state of Florida, along with three of his state’s seven Green delegates (the rest of the votes and delegates in Florida went to Green powerhouse Jill Stein). He also received strong support from fellow Green presidential candidates Sedinam Curry, William Krempl, and Darryl Cherney, with the first two giving up their allotted minutes to speak at the 2016 Green National Convention to allow Elijah to speak. He was thus able to take the podium and speak to his fellow Greens against the insistence of one of the ageist national committee members that this would never come to pass. Boo-yahh!

Elijah speaking at the Green National Convention, Houston, Texas, 8/16/16 (Elijah comes in at roughly the 12:26 time stamp, and unfortunately the sound quality of this video is poor, so turn up your speakers on max, mute the volume of your TV in the background, and listen carefully!)

Elijah has recently announced he will be running again in 2020, and I’m honored to be his campaign manager once again. As a result, this young man will soon be more relevant than ever, and this leads to our second interview, where he discusses his reasons for not supporting the Democratic Party and why true progressives and socialists cannot find a lot of common ground with centrist neoliberals.

Without further ado, let’s start:

1: Do you feel that social democrats and socialists, and the centrists/neoliberals who dominate the framework of the Democratic Party, have enough common ground to work together as allies towards mutually desired goals?
No. I don’t believe that they can work in the framework of the Democratic Party. Democrats still believe in capitalism, which is a failed system. Anyone who believes in the failed and oppressive system of capitalism are enemies of the working class/proletariat. Democrats and socialists are polar opposites. On certain issues they can work together, but on dismantling the oppressive system that enables these issues to thrive, they won’t.
2: You will often hear Democrats and their centrist constituents talk about the importance of being “pragmatic” and reminding us not to expect “miracles.” Do you think their “play it safe” strategy on both certain social and (largely) economic issues is a problem rather than a better alternative to more radical policies to completely overhaul the system?
Their approach is bullshit, just like their policies for the last 8 years, and the last 20 years. A fascist was just sworn in as President a month ago, and we can’t afford “pragmatic” solutions. We need more radical solutions to the rise of the alt right and fascists. The Democrats and their failed “resistance” got us Rex Tillerson, CEO of Exxon Mobil, in as Secretary of State, it got us do-do Betsy Devos in as Secretary of State, Goldman Sachs in 3 cabinet positions, and many more disappointments to come.

3: So do you think that the 99% should seek a radical third party alternative outside of the Duopoly rather than continuing to support and attempt to reform the Democratic Party to make it more labor-friendly?
Yes. As long as we feed the Democratic Party, they will continue to bite our hands. They will continue to crush unions, bail out banks, deregulate the banks, the media, the [big corporations], and take millions from Wall Street while destroying the Earth.
4: What do you feel about the Bernie Sanders campaign overall? Do you think he accomplished something despite — or maybe even because — he ran on the Democratic ticket instead of as an Independent or for a truly pro-labor class party like the Greens?
I admire Bernie Sanders. I really do. He did endorse Hillary, which was terrible, and he didn’t live up to the expectations on many issues that I am passionate about. I am grateful that he did awaken many people and spread the word of socialism. But I will always disapprove of his stance on Palestine and on other issues that I am passionate about. He must denounce the Democrats, or risk human existence.
5: One policy you and your campaign have stood behind is to repudiate rather than embrace capitalism. This puts you at odds not only with the neoliberals, as noted above, but also against the economic policies of the Libertarians, who have a notable number in the youth liberation movement that you advocate. What made you ultimately decide that capitalism is a system that needs to be rejected and overhauled rather than supported and fully deregulated, as American capitalists and Libertarians favor?
Seeing millions suffer on a daily basis despite claims for change. On the campaign trail, I met hundreds, maybe thousands, of young people like myself that had stories of how they suffered at the hands of this system. One young man, who is undocumented, is forced to work in the shadows for $3.17/hr to support his mother and family. His father was deported. Some have had to turn to crime just to feed their families. And the judges would punish them, rather than addressing the socioeconomic system that enables their suffering. Watching the environment be destroyed. Watching parents work 2 or 3 jobs just to support their families while politicians live comfortably and crush unions. And the thing that got me was: it was all for profit.
5.5: So basically, your personal experience and research has not convinced you that a system based upon the profit motive; competition between workers for limited jobs; access to required services and products based solely on the individual ability to pay; extreme degrees of disparity regarding access to our plethora of resources; the inevitable crime and oppressive punitive law enforcement system that comes into being to deal with said crime; and frequent wars based on competition between separate nations run by different ruling classes who vie for control over the biggest pieces of the global pie; and virtually no product or service being provided unless someone can make a profit off of it, etc., et al., does not have some sort of benefits to the world that outweigh the above problems?
I believe that this system has to go, and so does the ruling class. They have cooperated on how to keep what I like to call the “parasiteousioue” in power while crushing workers worldwide. This must be an inter-sectional movement where we stand in solidarity with workers and non-workers internationally, and with all oppressed groups.
Thank you to Elijah for giving his time to this latest interview!
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A Brief Interview With Elijah D. Manley on Education in America

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This blog is the first of a planned series of brief interviews where I will discuss various youth rights and other assorted political issues with Elijah D. Manley, the first underager to run for President of the United States, which he did as a nominee in the 2016 Green Party primaries at the “mere” age of 17. The interviews in this series are intended to be short enough that most people can consume them in a single sitting. As a few examples of his political exploits over the past year, here is Elijah speaking at the 2016 Green Party National Convention in Houston, Texas (Elijah’s speech starts around the 12:44 time stamp; unfortunately, this video has a poor and inconsistent audio quality, so listen carefully on a device with a good sound system!); and here is his interview on The Young Turks.

 


Though the nomination went to Jill Stein, Elijah did quite well for a campaign that was radical even by the progressive standards of the Greens. He managed to get on the ballot of two states and the District of Columbia, and gained an impressive 41% of the votes and 3 of the 7 Green delegates in his home state of Florida, with the rest of the votes and the state’s other 4 delegates going to Jill Stein; and this despite all 6 Green primary candidates being on the Florida ballot. As an additional surprise, he was given a quarter of a delegate from among the District of Columbia’s 2 delegates (with another quarter going to Bill Kreml, and the rest going to Jill Stein).

 


I was honored beyond words when I was asked by Elijah to be campaign manager for his historic run, and needless to say, it was quite a ride! As expected, Elijah is far from done with politics, and I thank him for graciously giving his time to my blog for this series of interviews. Let us now begin! The interview was conducted via instant messaging, and is edited only for grammar and clarity, with no change or modification in content or context.

 

CN: As a major participant in the youth liberation movement who also happens to be legally “underage” and still in high school, do you think the American schooling system teaches students to be good critical and independent thinkers, or is it more about encouraging a conformity of thought?
 I believe that the education system in America does not encourage free thinking. It instead encourages conformity. This education system is undemocratic, particularly because it is hierarchical. Instead of helping students think for themselves, it discourages thinking.
CN:  Based on your personal observations and discussions with many other students across the U.S., do you feel that the small number of students who are naturally critical and independent thinkers are treated well by the adult staff at the schools?
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 No. I believe that students who are independent and free thinkers are seen as a threat in schools. These students are likely disrespected, disciplined for not conforming, and/or watched.
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CN:  There are some who believe that the hierarchical, top-down nature of the contemporary schooling environment in America — where older adults are treated as always knowing best, having full control over the school curriculum, etc. — has a lot to recommend it as long as there is mutual respect between the adult staff and students. Do you believe that the hierarchical, adult-controlled structure of the current schooling system allows for or encourages much mutual respect between the adult staff and students?
No. I believe that in order for there to be a successful schooling system, students must have a full say in all decision-making. It must be what I call a “vertical structure of power.”
CN: Would you describe the vertical structure of power as a bottom-to-top command structure where students share decision-making power with teachers and other staff, including participating in team teaching efforts?
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 Yes, exactly. This requires a say in the formulation of curriculum.
CN: Do you believe that equal say should include the rules of the school related to attire, which programs funding is allocated to, etc.?
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 Yes. All decisions made by school administrations and boards should be approved or rejected by student bodies.
CN: Many have complained that contemporary youths are very vapid in terms of their interests, i.e., only interested in modern fashions, the latest trendy movies (or trends in general), an over-interest in consuming all the latest technology (useful or otherwise), and almost sole interest in modern movies, books, and music with little interest in the classics in each of these mediums. Do you believe that what passes for “youth culture” today has anything to do with how the schooling system is formulated and conducted?
No. I believe that youth culture is developed as time goes by, and if it has anything to do with school, maybe it is the social setting in school. Attacking youth culture is what I consider to be “gentrification of youth.”
CN: How would you personally define “gentrification of youth” if asked to elaborate?
 Outside groups or age demographics attacking, targeting or trying to influence or change youth culture.
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CN:  Having been in the contemporary schooling system for at least 12 years now, do you feel that it gives you and other students a positive attitude towards learning and education?
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 No. It honestly makes us hate school and the education system even more. Most of us do not feel like we really learned valuable information to prepare us for life after HS. We also feel that the info we have learned is in part irrelevant. I doubt that many students are enthusiastic about the schooling system.
CN: Any last things you would like to add about your experiences in the American schooling system for those outside the nation who may be wondering about it?
 The biggest problems I have evaluated about the American schooling system is that it is run like a big corporation, and not a school. There is too much standardized testing, and not enough learning time. Failure should not even be a way to refer to children who have not succeeded in acquiring a certain level of knowledge. The biggest problem of them all is that the students’ concerns and voices are ignored.
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CN: I think the video you put up that recorded your experience with the school board may well attest to that.
Yep [laughter] there are a lot!
CN: Cases in point are here and here.

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My thanks to Elijah for his time!


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Moving forward against all odds!