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Sam Husseini is a media critic based in Washington, DC and director of communications with the Institute for Public Accuracy as well as a Palestinian and has been a longtime advocate on that issue. He also has been advocating for a long time now the idea of principled conservatives and liberals working together to build meaningful coalitions taking on single issues, including teaming up in Vote Pacts where both partners agree to vote for a third party candidate of their choice. I spoke to him about the recent developments in Congress and his take on what has occurred following the recent controversy surrounding Rep. Ilhan Omar writing two provocative Tweets about the nature of the Israel lobby and its influence on our public discourse. This interview has been edited slightly for clarity and length.
AS: You’ve been promoting the idea of this unstoppable coalition that Ralph Nader first pointed out, people on the left and right side of the aisle who can come together on 25 single issues that add up into a very significant policy package. What are your thoughts on building those kinds alliances because we are in a very fraught political landscape because of the rise of the alt-right?
SH: I think there is room for a lot of coordination and alliance on individual issues and possibly more broadly between authentic people on the progressive-left and authentic people on the conservative-right. That is somebody like Ron Paul, who has been critical of US interventionism, trade policy, spying, corporate giveaways, bail-outs, even the military budget! There are a whole host of things that people on the right might use different language than you see on the left but are still commonalities and they should be pursued.
I am hoping to juice up my Vote Pact project on that basis since we are already in the 2020 election cycle. I think that it is important to do for clarity and also as a balance against this notion that is going to be put out there that you shouldn’t have someone too far left, you need a moderate to win the election. That was the rationale for putting forward Hillary Clinton, this whole lesser-evil mentality, so these pairings are especially important.
Look at the Democratic Party, what has it done for the last two years? It’s been RUSSIA RUSSIA RUSSIA RUSSIA!
And what’s the consequence of that? It’s played into a geopolitical game that pretends that the United States government is not the most dangerous force on the world stage, which it obviously is, that instead it is Russia, meaning the US is a benevolent force! The problem isn’t that the US is intervening in all these countries, it’s that some countries might be intervening in the US!
Both those propositions are exactly backwards and absolutely ridiculous!
So I think there needs to be some sort of meaningful check on the Democratic Party and a project like Vote Pact, which draws into alliance people on the right (and not just Ron Paul, Rand Paul, the late Walter Jones, a whole host of right wingers, libertarians, other independents on the right, The American Conservative magazine is more progressive than a lot of liberal and progressive media!)
So there’s a substantial conversation and electoral strategy to be had there.
AS: On that note, people like Noam Chomsky and Norman Finkelstein say that a lot of progress is made with religious and church-based organizations as opposed to a secular left that, for a variety of reasons, remains fragmented and in suspended animation in terms of effectiveness at this moment.
SH: That’s totally true. Right now you see that with a group of committed Catholic activists, some current and some former priests and nuns, doing Plowshares actions, for example, in Georgia. They break into nuclear bases and symbolically and sometimes literally pound away at the armaments that could destroy humanity, or at least kill millions if not billions of people. There’s acquiescence on many of the so-called liberal, progressive, and even left circles. Meanwhile these activists are risking years and years of jail time in order to confront this military infrastructure. They are largely motivated by very passionate and earnest religious beliefs and I think they could be a real bulwark. They might not fit into the left as it is commonly understood but they are certainly to be looked to for their leadership and as part of a conversation that is going to shift things for the better.
I think it is important to scrutinize all the political players. I think that people operate out of hate (I hate Trump/Clinton) and so I will vote for the opponent. I think we need to break out of that, Vote Pact does that, and we need to love people but not be infatuated with political rising stars that we don’t even know! We need to scrutinize people especially if we are not genuinely involved with them. So I would caution people of that.
You want a level of charisma to inspire people but that shouldn’t lead into being infatuated or intoxicated.