Pittsfield political forum critical of Clinton, Sanders

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PITTSFIELD >> Condemnations of American interventionism abroad, the Federal Reserve system and crony capitalism were heard during a political forum on presidential candidates that mirrored the atypical 2016 election cycle it concerned.

Two of the four panel members didn't support any of the crop of candidates. One liked Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate, but sympathized with much of Democrat Bernie Sanders' platform.

The fourth, Berkshire Brigades Chairwoman Sheila Murray, supported Democrat Hillary Clinton. Murray's arguments for Clinton mainly hinged on the candidate's knowledge of the domestic system and foreign policy experience.

"She's been through the hoops, she knows the game, she knows how to play it," Murray said. "They put down her Wall Street connections. Well, if you can't talk to Wall Street, you're in trouble."

The audience and other panel members listened politely but quickly revealed themselves as very much against "the game," "the system" and the Wall Street interests they perceived Clinton to represent.

Audience member Rinaldo Del Gallo III said the challenge from Sanders has forced Clinton left, and she's now "marketing herself as a progressive" despite having scanty progressive credentials. She voted for the 2003 Iraq invasion, she supported Bill Clinton's anti-crime legislation, which drastically increased mass incarceration, and has throughout her political career cozied up to big-money interests, Del Gallo said.

One of the panel members, Cory Bazinet, actually took part in the fighting Clinton supported in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"There's nothing like going to war to make you anti-war," Bazinet, who supported isolationist libertarian Ron Paul's 2012 bid for the presidency on the Republican ticket, and nobody this time around.

"However," Bazinet added, "I do want to say something that I think will shock a lot of people: Donald Trump is the most anti-war candidate in this race. He can say that we should not be in Syria, we shouldn't have gone to Libya — all these wars that Hillary Clinton has been in favor of. We can be very much assured that [if elected] she is going to continue the Obama [foreign] policy, which is just an extension of the Bush policy, which is an extension of the [Bill] Clinton policy, which is an extension of the George H.W. Bush policy."

He added, to laughs from the audience, "If Hillary Clinton was alive in 1777, would she have been a Tory or a revolutionary?"

Bernie Sanders took criticism from Bazinet and the audience for only speaking about foreign policy in murky generalities.

Del Gallo asked Maurice Peoples, another of the panel members, why Clinton seemed to still hold a lead among African-American voters over Sanders in what has become a tight national race.

"They saw her more, they were more familiar with her and her husband," Peoples said. "

The entire Republican field, meanwhile, was dismissed as clowns, bigots, corporate water-carriers and war mongers.

Timothy Wright, an ultrasound technician at Berkshire Medical Center, read much of Stein's platform, which concerned a "Green New Deal," to grow the economy through investment in renewables, public transit, sustainable agriculture and conservation. Stein also believes in jobs and health care as human rights.

Contact Phil Demers at 413-496-6214.


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