A retired college professor and author of seven books on political theory and American government, Kreml describes his ideology as “an original political philosophy known as psychological relativism.” Kreml previously ran for President in the 1984 New Hampshire primary and the 1992 South Carolina primary — garnering a small handful of votes each time. He competed in the South Carolina Democratic Caucuses in 2000 — running a symbolic protest campaign on the issue of campaign finance reform — and captured 107 votes (3rd place – 1.1%). On his site, Kreml explained that he “will deliberately not report one well-publicized contribution [received by his campaign] to the Federal Election Commission. This act of civil disobedience is designed to encourage the US Supreme Court to revisit … the entire campaign finance reform issue, as well as encourage the Congress to pass a meaningful campaign finance law.”
How did you get involved in the Green Party? What are some of the issues, actions, or memories that drew you to the party and kept you here over the years?
My involvement with the Green Party grew out of deep roots in the Upper Midwest traditions of progressivism and democratic socialism. I have read extensively about Robert LaFollette and enjoyed a brief personal meeting with Frank Ziedler, the last socialist mayor of Milwaukee. The non-English, Mittel European political culture, including German, Czech, Scandanavian, and other wellsprings, leaned towards a more collectivist view of politics than the English derivative regions of the country. I was attracted to the need to limit the private sector’s power, and the need to build community-wide institutions. Frustrating as the Green Party can be at times, there is no question but that there is an underlying, often implicit confluence in the foundational social understandings that undergird our cause.
What advice do you have for Young Greens about how to best grow the Green Party, and to make sure that we stay true to our guiding principles? What resources will you create to help the Youth Caucus educate new members?
We grow the party by reaching out, but that truism is not enough. We must actively seek alliances with groupings of people who, by their temperament as well as their specific interest, are inclined to be concerned citizens. The resource I have created can be found in nine single authored, non-edited books. The latest is The Bias of Temperament in American Politics, Second Edition, now available in paperback from Carolina Academic Press, Durham. It is the final work on an original political ideology that is sub-atomic in the sense that it looks beyond specific attitudes to the kinds of personalities that are inclined to hold to these attitudes. It is not just what we think that differentiates us. It is how we think.
How should the Green Party fight against the rising tide of xenophobia, racism, and prejudice that is emerging in our country? How can the Green Party best mobilize persons of color, LGBT*QIA+, persons with disabilities, and others who face oppression into the Green Party?
My only advice is to seek out who you see as compassionate sisters and brothers, generally of your generation. The older generation left meant well, and made some contributions without question. But there was a confining paradigm there, too, one that grew out of the 60s and made suspicion of the government part of the liturgy. TR, WW, FDR, and the domestic LBJ all embraced a strong public sector. Throw off the anger over Viet Nam, Watergate, the lying and the spying, and use the government in the way it was intended: as a protector and promoter of the average American citizen. Fight xenophobia, racism, and prejudice as it emerges in our country by pointing out not only the social causes of this behavior but also the psychological. The haters are stunted people. They have never learned the beauty and richness of the heterogeneous human condition. Find a home for all “other” kinds of citizens such as those you list. The very adaptability to differences of any kind reinforces an acceptance of differences of all kinds.
The Youth Caucus Steering Committee has unanimously endorsed an amendment to the Green Party platform that rejects capitalism in favor of models of economic democracy. The entire Youth Caucus is currently voting on whether to officially co-sponsor this amendment. Is capitalism antithetical to Green values? What should be place of democratically run workplaces in America?
The greatest obligation of the non-totalitarian left is to create. It is here where the artistic works of talented people influence the politics of the future, define the next paradigm, and rebel against the tyranny of the old. Here is where the Green Party Youth Caucus can come in. Think of Hasek and Hrabal, Kafka and Havel, Kundera and Mucha. I have no objection to your favor for economic democracy. I favor it. But I must be honest with you; I have not used terms like capitalism and socialism for at least two decades. The sub-atomic breakthrough has been achieved. The subjective, or psychological, variable has transcended the economic, merely objective, variable. Not only has the recent research, including mine, been done, but the primacy of the psychological variable has been demonstrated in the dramatic change in voting patterns, the cross-weave of a variable like regular religious service attendance now taking the place of economic standing. It is bad enough to have an Eighteenth Century constitution. We need to go beyond Nineteenth Century ideologies. Beyond the real world, it is now a matter of how we perceive, and how our institutions perceive, the real world. Our country is stuck in its paradigms as well as in the grips of private sector interest groups. Again, I favor workplace democracy, having seen it in the Upper Midwest at businesses like Cummins Engine, The Chicago and Northwestern Railroad, Lincoln Electric, and other job-sharing, worker rotation innovations have thrived for many years.
The Youth Caucus has endorsed a plan–Green Ballot Day–whereby we encourage our members to stand at the polls on all primary and general election days from now on to collect signatures for ballot access (in relevant states). Will you support this plan? If you are the presidential candidate, would you ask your supporters not only to stand at the polls on Election Day with literature about your candidacy, but with ballot access signature sheets to get a jump start on the next round of ballot access (in relevant states)?
Last week I was in Georgia garnering signatures for the Green Party there on primary day. I have done signature gathering for years, gaining over 1,000 signatures for Jill Stein in Illinois in 2012. Yes, primary days are good times to catch people. I certainly would have my people stand at polls to collect signatures for the next election cycle.
The Green Party supports the abolition of student debt. The Youth Caucus has recently endorsed the Million Student March. What sort of direct actions and demonstrations do you plan on participating in to make this issue visible?
I would love to see the end of student debt. That may be a bridge too far right now but, at a minimum, a plea for massive reductions in interest rates may make it through our entangled government. I would even favor the end of all interest. What the banks have made in overcharges so far justifies our ending this extortion. After that, some drawdown of debt may be possible. There is a sequence here, but I think the Green Party can master it. I’m certainly planning to be a part of the Million Student March.
In what other ways would you expand the rights and well-being of youth?
As a professor, at a public university, I was an eye witness to a shameful alteration of funding formulas for students over the years. When I first began teaching, over fifty years ago, tuitions at public institutions were very low. Taxes paid most of the freight. Each year I noticed a decline in public support and an increase in tuitions. Look at UVA, for example, which still calls itself a public school but which charges an outrageous tuition while the State of Virginia contributes little. This process must be reversed. As the European countries understand, education is an investment in the future. As for other issues, the youth of the next generation must fight public ignorance more than anything else. To vigorously respond to “news” outlets like Fox, or to vigorously respond to anti-vaxxers who kill their own children, or to vigorously respond to huge corporate combinations in the energy, food, pharmaceutical, insurance, banking, and so many other industries, is imperative. We suffer from private sector tyranny. The tyranny of the “hard bargain” contract. Go back to the beginning in your arguments. Quote progressives like Herbert Croly who said (in 1907) that we needed “Jeffersonian goals by Hamiltonian means.” It is legitimate to quote conservatives, Hamilton in Federalist # 80 citing the common law “hard bargain” as an injustice. We now live with billions of hard bargains, in salaries, prices, and loans, for example, every day. One party clearly dominates the negotiation.
Any additional thoughts?
I wish you all well. It is a cliché to say that the future is yours, but it is. My only advice is to concentrate not only on the substantive problems you will face. Reach back into the regress. Look for first causes. Reconstruct the very terms of the argument and then reconstruct the institutions that should deliver justice but so often have not. Stay as mentally supple as you can for as long as you can.
Thank you for the opportunity to share some thinking with you. Let me say that I fully support Jill Stein as our nominee. But my contributions on the necessary nature of twenty-first century ideology and constitutional reform (I have submitted two constitutional amendments to the Platform Committee) do not conflict with Jill. I have asked states and caucuses to consider giving my candidacy one delegate at the Houston convention. Some have already agreed. Please consider this.