Joining presidential nominee Jill Stein’s at the top of the Green Party's ticket, the revolutionary activist, organizer and writer Ajamu Baraka has far larger ambitions that merely winning the White House. What Baraka wants, he says, is nothing less than a reimagining of US democracy.
“People are beginning to understand they have been trapped in the dead-end politics of this fear-mongering," Baraka said in an interview with teleSUR, "which every four years reduces the political choice to the lesser of two evils.”
While electoral politics may seem a stretch for an activist whose public life has been devoted to working the political system from the outside in, Baraka says that the Green Party is an ideal hub for him to continue to work towards his objective of a radical, racial democratic governance that responds to the needs of the people, rather than ignore them as the two major political parties have historically done.
Baraka featured on a flyer for an event on his solidarity trip to Palestine. | Photo: AjamuBaraka.com
“One of the reasons why I joined this campaign is that Jill Stein sees that in order to build this new movement in the U.S., that a critical component of that has to be the revitalized Black liberation movement, grounded in the working class,” he added. “And this is not an aside … but a central component … and she understands that, and that’s one of the reasons she reached out to me, and I’m reaching out to folks that I know to see how [the Green Party] can relate to building a real, radical alternative in the U.S.””
In 2004, Baraka founded the U.S. Human Rights Network, a coalition of nearly 300 nonprofit organizations, and worked as the agency's executive director for seven years. He is currently an associate fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, D.C. and has served on the boards of several human rights organizations, including Amnesty International, the Center for Constitutional Rights, and Africa Action.
Baraka's public profile is sharply different from the white, male, career politicians chosen as running mates of Democratic nominee Hilary Clinton and GOP nominee Donald Trump. This, he says, gives him an advantage in understanding the struggles of ordinary working class people in the US.
Ajamu Baraka (left) speaks in support of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers | Photo: AjamuBaraka.com
“Since the U.S. is a colonial state with the reality of colonized peoples and various ethnic groups, the transformation of that society is going to require developing a program and approach to politics that is multi-national, multi-ethnic...and that has to be grounded in working class perspectives,” Baraka said.
Stein's choice of Baraka jolted many Leftists in the US, and gave notice that the Green Party has a real chance to begin to loosen the stranglehold of the duopoly. Win or lose in November, disaffected Bernie Sanders could well see in the Green Party a viable alternative to the hawkish, neoliberal Clinton, representing a huge step forward in the party's ability to nurture a third-party constituency.
“One of the things we also want to emphasize in our campaign is linking the domestic with the international. we don’t want to be U.S.-centric … we want an electorate of people … to understand the role of the U.S. in the world so they don’t so easily fall prey to nationalism … and end up supporting imperialist adventures in various parts of the world,” Baraka explained.
Baraka speaking at a human rights conference. | Photo: Facebook / Ajamu Baraka