I staggered into Denny's on the warm Friday morning of Jan.
20 choking on Silas Dean Highway's fumes and searching crowded
booths for the man I had written to -- Connecticut's Green Party
gubernatorial candidate Cliff Thornton (Founder & Director
The big guy was at a window in the corner perusing some documents.
Among stock traders and truck drivers we discussed politics and
narcotics over pancakes.
DC: Why are you running for Governor of Connecticut,
and why as a Green?
CT: If one does not understand racism, classism, white
privilege, terrorism and the War on Drugs - what these terms
mean, how these concepts work - then everything else you do understand
will only confuse you. I feel that the War on Drugs is at the
center of most problems and is two degrees from everything in
our society. No candidates talk about it, except for being "tough
on crime" and that's it. The Green Party has been asking
me to run for years, so I thought that this was a prime opportunity
to expose the problem.
I am running to be a voice for people who want change. I'm
interested in attracting the tens of thousands who have dropped
out and aren't even registered to vote. I want to leave an impression.
The Green Party has stated it is looking to get 1 percent of
the vote, but I am interested in getting 5 percent to 10 percent.
I think that's possible, but it'll be very important to energize
students at the major universities, people who are going to have
a very hard time finding employment in this state soon.
DC: You've called for Connecticut to follow Rhode Island
in permitting medicinal marijuana. What are your opinions on
other drugs, and what inspired your conclusions?
CT: It's been a long journey, one that began two weeks
before I was to graduate high school when there was a knock at
the door and my grandmother told me to accompany a police detective
to a field of abandoned cars. In one of those cars was the body
of a naked woman - my mother - who had died from an apparent
heroin overdose. There are no thoughts to describe how I felt
after that, except that all illegal drugs should be eradicated
from the face of the earth.
Yet, as I watched my native Hartford going downhill decade
after decade, I began to question what authorities were doing.
Eventually I met these two surgeons at Hartford Hospital in the
late 1970s/early 1980s and told them about my mother. They said
that they used heroin to steady their nerves for surgeries. Obviously
surgery is complicated and, in order to stay steady, they used
pharmaceutical heroin and didn't become addicted.
DC: There seems to be many contradictions in drug laws.
Even though medical-marijuana is permitted in 11 states, the
federal government still considers it illegal inside U.S. borders.
Colorado is a medical-marijuana state, but their police have
arrested Denver citizens even after a referendum made small quantities
of pot permissible in that city.
CT: Right, Denver decriminalized it, which is different
from medicalization and legalization. Most people use these terms
interchangeably, but they mean different things. In Denver, if
you possess more than a decriminalized amount, you're breaking
the law. Medicalization means putting something under the control
of doctors and legalization would be something like cigarettes
I advocate outright legalization of marijuana and hemp. I
want to see marijuana, alcohol and cigarettes all being sold
at a single place to limit children's access-the proper age being
18. I want to see heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine and ecstasy
medicalized. I want to see other illegal drugs decriminalized
and debated publicly.
DC: I've read that you used to be a businessman.
CT: I worked with Southern New England Telephone for
20 years in middle management, in charge of internal telecommunications.
DC: How do you view the relationship between government
and the marketplace?
CT: I believe in free trade. I believe all markets
should be open, but there have to be restrictions to let the
little guy compete. Major corporations can implement restrictions
to cut out small competition and absorb profits. We have five
corporations that basically own print media in this country,
which causes pretty myopic news. Another example is the telephone
companies where, after there was some divestiture, littler businesses
had grown. Eventually, though, those with the largest coffers
came to completely control the telecommunications industry. Our
country once fought off monopolies and we need to do it again.
In order to go back to that, there needs to be divestiture.
DC: So what is the underlying problem facing our society?
CT: We have been lulled to sleep. The authorities orchestrate
fear campaigns, terrorize the populace and make people believe
everything that they hear. You have to understand that the drug
wars are built on three phenomena: greed, racism and fear. It's
a perfectly volatile mixture and most people are just too busy
working to contemplate or challenge it. We are given a simple
equation -- On one side we have drug dealers and cartels, on
the other side we have the authorities -- bureaucracies of law
enforcement, courts and prisons. Supposedly both sides are diametrically
opposed to each other, yet both are completely against what I
advocate. What's wrong with that picture?
DC: Well, the paramount concept in political philosophy
seems to be individual versus collective interests -- liberal
against conservative, libertarian against populist, capitalist
against communist, anarchist against fascist. What are your thoughts
on the principle dynamics of that relationship?
CT: Diversity is our strength. Out of all the groups,
Democrats and Republicans are the ones in power. What we need
is another voice because Democrats and Republicans espouse the
same values and do not effectively address public concerns. They
have become Republocrats like, in this state, Joe Lieberman.
Having different political interests is a good thing, but when
two factions remain securely in power it becomes a lot harder
to get things done.
Elections only uphold fairness when individuals have the liberty
to express authentic beliefs. When free choice is inhibited,
the inner workings of government become corrupted and cancerous.
Third parties are blamed for Bush's rise to power, despite him
actually losing the 2000 election and winning an entire majority
in 2004. Independents will forever ignore denigration and continue
supporting people like Ralph Nader, Michael Badnarik, Pat Buchanan
and Ross Perot because they symbolize a third way in politics
- ballots of rebellion cast against stagnant duopoly. For his
part, Cliff Thornton isn't offering Connecticut a winning ticket,
only a sincere rally for democracy and freedom.