California Needs Kenneth Mejia in Congress. An Interview with the Green Party’s Rising Star

Green Party’s Kenneth Mejia
Green Party’s Kenneth Mejia

During my latest Counter Propa interview, Green Party candidate for California’s 34th Congressional District Kenneth Mejia explains how Bernie Sanders inspired him to transform America’s political system.

America needs Kenneth Mejia. With everything progressives have endured during the last couple of years, Congress needs Kenneth Mejia.

How many people quit a job paying six figures to champion the values Bernie Sanders embodied during the 2016 Election?

On April 4th 2017, citizens of California’s 34th Congressional District will get the chance to elect another Bernie Sanders in Congress.

Watch Tim Black’s amazing interview of the Green Party candidate in a segment titled Fighting For What’s Right With Kenneth Mejia | People Power

Jimmy Dore also has a great interview with Mejia in the following segment.

The Green Party’s Mejia has been a force in progressive media and politics, with numerous interviews discussing the ideals championed by Bernie Sanders and Jill Stein.

Green Party nominee for president Jill Stein interviews Kenneth Mejia here.

Anoa Changa has a wonderful interview with Mejia addressing how he plans to improve the 34th Congressional District in California.

As for his political ambitions, voting is around the corner. According to a recent Truthdig article titled Inside the Campaign of Green Party Congressional Candidate Kenneth Mejia, Mejia was inspired by Bernie Sanders to run for Congress:

Mejia is running for a spot in the House of Representatives as a Green Party candidate. A special election in June will fill an open seat in California’s 34th Congressional District, which was vacated by Xavier Becerra when he became the state’s attorney general earlier this year. The district covers vast areas of L.A.’s downtown and Koreatown, as well as East L.A. A whopping 24 candidates are vying for the open seat. Truthdig sat down with Mejia for a Q&A on Saturday at the Tribal Cafe in Los Angeles.

Watch the Truthdig interview with Mejia here.

So what drives Mejia?

Counter Propa’s H. A. Goodman had the privilege to interview a rising star in not only the progressive movement, but also American politics.

H. A. Goodman: Why run as a Green Party candidate and not a Democrat?

Kenneth Mejia:

I’m running as a Green Party candidate because I’m building a long-term political alternative that belongs to the people, rather than wealthy campaign donors.

I saw how the Democratic Party treated Bernie. I witnessed first-hand how the Democratic Party treated Bernie delegates at the convention. It wasn’t just the DNC, it included the thousands of Democratic elected officials from across the country who lined up for Hillary. Every time people try to reform the Democrats from within, the establishment strikes back. It happened with Jesse Jackson, Jerry Brown, Howard Dean, Dennis Kucinich, and more recently, Bernie Sanders. The establishment keeps winning and makes sure to call in the favors to do so, as when the corporate-friendly Obama called in to party members to defeat Keith Ellison. To me, all this means that progressives need to look at options other than the Democratic Party. By running as a Green, not only do I circumvent trying to fight my own party, but I can stand up for progressive values in Congress more than any freshman Democrat ever could. Truly, if a Democrat gets elected in the District, they will go to Washington and Nancy Pelosi will tell them how to vote, where to show up for photo-ops, what donors they should spend their lunches with, etc. I wouldn’t have those limitations.

H. A. Goodman: Why did Democrats lose to Trump in 2016?

Kenneth Mejia:

The Democrats lost because voters saw that the party is too beholden to the ruling class to address the systemic problems that are causing millions of people to lose their jobs.

Voters see Obama and Clinton bailing out Wall Street, but abandoning Main Street. The Democrats’ collusion to stop Bernie and ridicule his supporters were a symptom of the problem. The Democrats assumed they had an unassailable strategy consisting of picking up the Pacific Coast, the Midwest “Blue Wall,” and New England/Mid-Atlantic states. They assumed that they didn’t need to deliver anything to the voters, and that these segments of American would simply deliver the Electoral College win for generations to come. This was an arrogant and illogical strategy from the Democrats.

H. A. Goodman:  Why does Congress need Kenneth Mejia?

Kenneth Mejia:

I’m not beholden to any corporate interests, big donors, or big parties, so I will organize nationwide for a bold platform of housing as a human right, Medicare for All, and grant legal status to all immigrants.

I will use my skills and experience as a Certified Public Accountant, auditor, and treasurer of a neighborhood council to look out for the public interest.
H. A. Goodman: How did Bernie and Jill inspire you?
Kenneth Mejia:

When I saw Bernie Sanders talking about helping the poor and helping the community, it inspired me to try to make a difference in my own community.

I’d always tried to help the homeless in small ways, such as by buying them a meal, but because of Bernie I decided to found We Can Make a Difference, an organization that now provides resources and food to people on Skid Row experiencing homelessness.  We are trying to make their lives a little more bearable and to help them climb out of homelessness.  We know that what we provide is not a long-term solution, but that is exactly why I am running for Congress.  I hope to work towards long-term solutions to end homelessness so there will no longer be a need for organizations like We Can Make A Difference.
Bernie inspired me to make this change in my community. Jill Stein is the reason I discovered and joined the Green Party.  The Greens were here for many of the Bernie followers who were not willing to vote for Hillary or Trump.  Because of Jill I realized the Democratic Party never represented me.  The Green Party embraced us and Jill speaks powerfully and honestly, fighting for the change we all want, things like full legal status for immigrants, education as a right, healthcare as a right, canceling student debt, protecting our environment, and ending homelessness.  When I saw Jill Stein actively fighting for these things that most Americans want, I knew that the Green Party was the right place for me.
H. A. Goodman:  Why don’t Democrats have a Green Economy plan? What’s your plan for renewable energy powering the U.S. economy?
Kenneth Mejia:

The Democratic Party leadership is beholden to the oil, fracking, natural gas, and coal industries. 

Hillary Clinton even defended coal, the most polluting fossil fuel, saying it was an essential part of the American economy.

The Democrats have been clear as a party that they respond to their corporate donors and not to the needs of the people, country or planet. We need a plan to transition from dirty jobs in fossil fuels to clean, living wage jobs in renewable energy and conservation.
H. A. Goodman: How would you change U.S. foreign policy?
Kenneth Mejia:

I will push to turn U.S. foreign policy away from military intervention around the world to promoting peace and shared prosperity.

I would encourage respect for international bodies, such as the United Nations, and encourage the Executive branch to respect all nations. The challenges facing the human species are too large for any one nation to solve by itself, and so we need to change our militaristic rhetoric and end our militaristic record. We can’t keep wrecking our economy and the lives of people around the world with more wars for oil: We have a lot of work to do to improve our relationships with other nations. The US spends almost $600 billion dollars on our military which takes away from the American people and intimidates people across the world. We should get rid of most of our bases abroad, eliminate expensive military R&D projects like the F-35, and use the money saved to invest in our people, and education, healthcare, and infrastructure for countries struggling with poverty and fundamentalism. That’s what real national security looks like. We need to immediately end the war in drugs, which includes US pressure on the Mexican government to solve the drug problem through violence alone. We need to stop organizing the overthrow of governments of other countries and end the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, formerly called the School of the Americas, where the United States has and continues to train repressive right-wing regimes in Latin America.
H. A. Goodman: Did Russia hack the election?
Kenneth Mejia:

We haven’t seen any proof, so this looks like another attempt at deflecting responsibility for the Democrats losing to the most unpopular major party candidate in history.

Instead, we should look at electoral reform: Why don’t we have hand counted paper ballots across the country? Do they really think Americans wouldn’t wait a day or two for final results if that gives them greater electoral integrity?  Plus, if we utilized hand counted paper ballots across the country, we wouldn’t have to be concerned with the issue of hacking of electronic voting machines by Russia or anyone else. Why do we allow the wealthy and corporate interests to spend so freely buying influence? Why don’t we make election day a holiday? Why can’t every American automatically be registered to vote? Why can’t we have ranked choice voting so we can chose any candidate we want? We also need to restore the Voting Rights Act and eliminate gerrymandering that undermines the voting power of minority groups.
H. A. Goodman: What do you think of Wikileaks?
Kenneth Mejia:  

Wikileaks is a vital outlet for whistleblowers to hold governments and other groups accountable, especially when the corporate media isn’t doing its job.

From exposing possible corruption by Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Panama Papers, to publishing the DNC emails that showed the collusion against Bernie Sanders supporters, Wikileaks has become a lightning rod for attacks by those whose wrongdoings it has revealed. That said, Wikileaks should not have published sensitive information on private citizens, such as their address and their credit card numbers, so I’m glad that they stopped that.
H. A. Goodman: How do you address Democrats who think your policies are too extreme, or perhaps “too progressive”?
Kenneth Mejia: If you look at public opinion polling, Americans want universal healthcare. Americans want to get big money out of politics. Americans want green jobs to fuel growth and save our planet. These are popular policies–only someone who is out of touch, such as Democratic leader Pelosi, could think that these policies are too extreme or too progressive.
H. A. Goodman: In your first year in Congress, what are 3 goals you plan to accomplish?

Kenneth Mejia: Let’s be honest–as the only member of a third party in the US Congress, I will not have many allies there.

I see my entry into Congress as part of a long-term strategy to embolden Americans to elect true progressives who are not bought by corporations.

I’d love to move forward on the momentum around single payer healthcare, a just immigration policy, and ending the War on Drugs. The big parties themselves are stuck in a deadlock. In order to move forward, we will need more true progressives in Congress.

My goals are to (1) build a national movement for Medicare for all, housing as a human right, and a Green New Deal, (2) reveal and repeal corporate welfare in the tax code, especially as Trump pushes for more tax cuts, (3) recruit Greens to run for local offices to begin implementing these policies.

In just several days, on April 4th, citizens of Los Angeles will be able elect a person who embodies the value system of Bernie Sanders. If Trump is to be defeated, Congress needs more people like Kenneth Mejia, not Nancy Pelosi. America’s political system needs a positive transformation and someone with ideals and passion. Kenneth Mejia is desperately needed in Congress, mainly because few in Congress put principles ahead of fundraising. With a fracture growing among progressives within the Democratic Party, the Green Party’s Kenneth Mejia is the perfect candidate for real change. Since Congress has so many Democrats who will vote with Republicans on key issues like healthcare and foreign policy, Kenneth Mejia represents another Berniecrat, and a major force to oppose Trump. Without people like Mejia, we’re stuck with Chuck Schumer and every other centrist, establishment Democrat siding with Republicans on war, foreign policy, and Wall Street.

H. A. Goodman is the creator of Counter Propa and the thoughts above are inspired by his new publication. Follow Counter Propa on Twitter and Facebook

This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.