Click the Player Below to Listen to the Complete Interview Where Hamilton Talks About Affordable College, Economic Revitalization, and More!
He comes from a background in finance, has been active in the Bernie Sanders movement for the entire year, and now is taking on incumbent Jim Langevin with a platform that closely mirrors the Senator from Vermont’s, intending to help push legislation that would benefit Main Street rather than Wall Street.
“In Rhode Island, we had a presidential primary, of course, in April. And I was part of the original organizing [of the] volunteers, of the South County Bernie group and there are different groups across the state of Rhode Island. So we started this process and, because we became very excited about what we were hearing from Senator Sanders, because he was actually addressing the issues that everyday people like ourselves were concerned about, which it seems people in Congress, they don’t address those issues! And so election cycle after election cycle keeps coming and going and things never change. But here was a person who was saying the things we wanted to hear so we were all very motivated and organized to volunteer to help and get out the vote for him on Primary Day.”
“So what happened? Well, we had a stunning victory in every political sense in Rhode Island, nobody expected it!”
This informs the logic of why Hamilton is running, he wants to tap into that same base to promote a set of bills that would rebuild infrastructure, transition to a renewable energy grid, and end the sort of corporate abuses that defined the causes of the 2008 crash. His platform includes calling for an end to the profit motive in the prison system, healing ethnic divisions, ending police abuses, and reinforcing support for labor unions and the local economy.
“But when it came to allocating the super-delegates, of course all of the super-delegates voted for in effect the losing candidate, Secretary Clinton. So to the Bernie people that seemed very, one, un-democratic and certainly a broken system and some people even termed it as rigged because why should a person get the most votes and then come out of the state with less delegates then the person who lost?”
“So we went to the convention with less delegates and I think a lot of Bernie people are upset about that.”
Jim Langevin, his opponent, was one of these super-delegates in Philadelphia. In this sense, Hamilton’s campaign is a continuation of the effort to oppose the element within the DNC that scuttled the Sanders candidacy.
“The feedback is from the delegation and from the Bernie people is that there’s some dissatisfaction with the way they were treated and it has to be fixed.”
From he he begins to touch on his major concern, income inequality.
“My thoughts for the longest period of time are that there’s huge concentrated wealth and power at the top. So there’s been enormous transfer of middle class and poor wealth to the wealthiest…starting since the 1980s. So if we’re ever going to affect changing income inequality we have to do this from the bottom up and it has to be massive systemic, structural changes.”
“In my view, in the 1990s, the birth of the Wall Street wing of the Democratic Party took place under the Clintons and the DLC, the Democratic Leadership Council, they moved towards Republican policies such as trickle-down economics and taxation, which started with Reagan, and then when the Clintons came along, disloyal trade agreements like NAFTA and now TPP coming up, and then bank deregulation under Clinton and the birth of derivatives and all sorts of things that need regulation, all of that was thrown aside after protecting us for seventy years. And so those three things I call the Triad of Middle Class Destruction.”
Hamilton here is touching on something very interesting. Though Nellie Gorbea acclaimed the Democratic Party platform as the most progressive in recent history, in fact what came out of Philadelphia was a political party John Chafee and other Rockefeller Republicans would have felt at home in four decades ago, based around a praxis that is pro-business, pro-choice, pro-free trade, and not vocally anti-gay or anti-black. The disparity between where the voting public in Rhode Island stands politically and what the nomenklatura will allow is illustrated by Hamilton’s candidacy and the voter base he wants to tap into.
“My message to the grassroots is that, one, change can only come from the bottom up… History in my view shows that wealth and power at the top will never voluntarily cede their power. It has to be a political revolution, which is what we’ve been talking about over many months. And if we band together as individuals and if we are able to bring small contributions and fund this effort into the process, then we’ll be successful. But if they divide us all the time and we don’t stick together and the movement dissipates, then we’ll never be able to make change happen. Now the thing at stake here is really a corporate take-over of our democracy which is happening and has been happening over the last few decades.”
“We need to stop that just the way they stopped it with Teddy Roosevelt and Franklin Roosevelt but we were prevented from stopping it in the last financial collapse. We have to!”