Funiciello chides Dems at Green national convention
After he said he voted for President Bill Clinton in 1992 with his “nose held,” and after he rattled off a list of nine things that horrified him about Clinton’s presidency, North Country congressional candidate Matt Funiciello said he felt responsible as a voter.
Then, speaking at the Green National Convention in Houston, the Glens Falls-based candidate to represent New York’s 21st Congressional District raised his fingers in the air as he blasted the Republican and Democratic parties, providing a quotation sign for the word “adult.”
“I can see the very real struggle of Bernie Sanders supporters right now as they are being told angrily that the only ‘adult’ thing they can do is support the lesser evil,” Funiciello said to the more than 500 people in attendance at the University of Houston.
“I’m just thinking, which one is that? We have an unobstructed warmonger and an obstructed buffoon,” he said referring to presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, respectively. “Thanks for the great menu.”
For seven minutes and two seconds, Funiciello was at the center of American third-party politics in an election year when many Americans have expressed displeasure in both the Democratic candidate Clinton and Republican nominee Trump. As one of a handful of speakers Saturday leading up to the formal nomination of Massachusetts doctor Jill Stein as the Green Party candidate for president, Funiciello’s fiery speech was focused on deterring general election voters for casting their ballot for Clinton as “the lesser of two evils.”
Ajamu Baraka, founding executive director of the U.S. Human Rights Network, was named Stein’s running mate. Other speakers Saturday at the Houston convention included well-known democratic socialist activist Cornel West and Julian Assange, the controversial editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks, who addressed the convention by video.
Funiciello, who is running against incumbent Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik and Democratic retired Army Col. Mike Derrick, was introduced to cheers when convention co-chair Margaret Flowers noted that he received 11 percent of the vote in 2014’s congressional race.
Stefanik, thought by many to be a rising star within the Republican Party, chose not to attend the Republican National Convention in Cleveland last month.
Fighting back tears, an emotional Funiciello mentioned this was his son John’s 22nd birthday before transitioning to his hard-hitting speech.
“I don’t want to cry while I’m giving my speech,” he said to start, “because it’s an angry Green speech.”
A couple of minutes later, Funiciello focused in on what he referred to as the “corporate parties,” quoting Hunter S. Thompson’s book “Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail.”
“How many more of these stinking double-downer side shows will we have to go through before we can get ourselves straight enough to put together some kind of a national election that will actually give us a chance to vote for something?” Funiciello said, to cheers, “instead with always being faced with that old familiar choice between the lesser of two evils.”
“Thompson was talking about the 1972 election, and he makes reference in the full quote to 1960, ‘We gotta beat Nixon,'” Funiciello said. “That’s 44 years ago. Let that sink in. Are we truly seeing incremental improvements from voting for lesser evils? Is that actually working? No, it’s not.”
Mentioning his mentor, 2000 Green Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader, Funiciello said “establishment” Democrats began a “hate” campaign that continues to this day in describing the Greens as a “spoiler” party. Derrick said something similar last month in an interview at the Adirondack Daily Enterprise office, referring to a vote for Funiciello as a vote for Stefanik.
The following week, Funiciello spoke strongly against that notion to a small group of fewer than two dozen people at Saranac Lake’s Bluseed Studios. Speaking at Saturday’s national convention to a national audience via a live broadcast on YouTube, Funiciello hammered home his message once again.
“For those with basic math skills, the spoiler mythology doesn’t hold. Ten million Democrats voted for George (W.) Bush directly (in 2000). You put him in the White House; it’s your fault,” Funiciello said to his loudest convention applause. “How dare you crucify such an amazing progressive hero within our lifetimes rather than take a long, hard look in the mirror?”
Funiciello then suggested one more thing before ending his speech.
“If you want real change in this country, and that’s for you who are listening outside of this room and this university campus right now,” he said, “there’s really only one thing that really matters: The Democrats and Republicans have run our country long before Hunter S. Thompson wrote that quote, and they are doing a terrible job, and it’s because of corporate money.
“We are different because we are the anti-corruption party. We don’t take corporate money, and that’s all there is to it.”