have much concern about what is happening to the country now.
So, there are new ways of thinking of
things. We get trapped into the old concept of "We only have one solution." We
trade off inflation for unemployment,
unemployment for inflation. Now, we've
got both, and we're just not coping with
the situation. The solutions that worked
in the thirties, forties, even the fifties are
simply not viable for the problems we
VS: Obviously, they're not working on
the international scene. What do you
think about the crises in the Middle East,
especially in Iran?
LH: I think the Iranian situation, too,
can be traced back to an oil-related decision. Our oil companies left the United
States, quit drilling here, went over there,
started drilling in the Middle East, and
made us dependent on imported oil. And
now we're saying, Oh, that's what's
wrong with us, we've become dependent
on foreign oil. And not only that. These
same companies come back here, and tell
the American government, you've got to
help us, we have all these major investments over there. So we prop up the
Shah, prop up bad regimes, and then we
get into these horrible predicaments, like
the hostage situation.
And we're doing the same thing elsewhere, like in countries in Latin America.
In short, we've made major international
decisions around energy—it's about "the
politics of energy," which, incidentally
is the title of Dr. Commoner's latest book.
VS: Which brings us to the whole nuclear energy production controversy.
LH: Again, because of the investment of
the big oil companies into uranium,
which has allowed them to make more
profits, we've gone into an unprofitable,
dangerous nuclear escalation, and proliferation of nuclear plants. And I'm fina-
ing in the work we're doing with Indian
Americans that so much of the uranium
development is going on in the Indian
reservations. Now we're learning about
the ill effects—people who have worked
in uranium mines are dying of cancer,
they're being exposed to all kinds of radiation from the mine pits. So now we're
having to clean up those mines.
And now they're building these horrible nuclear plants where "no accident can
happen," but accidents are happening just
about every place in the country, and we
don't know how to control it.
Then there's the problem of nuclear
waste. We have no government policy
controlling how and where nuclear wastes
are to be disposed. They're setting those
wastes in barges down here off the Gulf
of Mexico or the Atlantic ocean. You
know, they were going to put nuclear
wastes in glass caskets in Carlsbad Cavern,
and now the scientists are saying that the
salt will eat up the caskets.
We don't know what's safe, we don't
know what the environmental costs of
those wastes are, and yet we continue to
build these nuclear plants.
VS: I understand that it is not exactly
cheap to build nuclear plants after all.
Doesn't the Citizens Party have some
arguments about this?
LH: Of course, it's simply not profitable.
It's tremendously expensive, not just the
building of the plants, but all the safeguards and the wastes, and that's not to
say anything about the development
aspect, because that's just on the Indian
reservation, and nobody pays much attention to it. And only recently it's come
out in the Northern states, how these
plants can injure the health and environment of the people up there.
So these are some of the real issues,
and the ones we have to make people
recognize. What are the trade-offs, how
many times are we paying for this development? And does that make sense, real
economic sense? If we can afford other
major government programs, like going to
the moon, we could afford to develop
solar and other renewable energy resources. I mean, if we decide that's the
direction we, as a nation, want to go,
instead of constructing these costly monstrosities, like nuclear plants, that may
even do more harm than good.
We have to ask, where is this country
focussing its attention, and why?
What we, the Citizens Party, are saying
is that the focus is on these expensive,
useless and potentially dangerous projects
because that's where the profits for those
major corporations are. What's good for
the country is not the primary consideration. And, of course, we think th\s should
be the primaryconsideration.
As it now stands,
the people, the
"grass roots," don't
have any voice in
all this. People are
not voting because
they know their
vote isn't going to
make a significant
That's why the
Citizen's Party is so
important. Otherwise, there is no
choice. If I vote for
one or the other.
Carter or Reagan,
I'm not registering
both candidates are
for nuclear plants,
they seem to be taking the same foreign
policy stands, One
has a little more
armament-mentality than the other,
but they're both
going in that direction. Neither of them is speaking about
economic controls. They're just allowing
the status quo to continue.
VS: Do you think one reason the major
candidates aren't talking about these
economic issues is that they seem too
complex, so unintelligible to the average
person? There are some people who complain that it's a full-time job just to keep
up with what's going on in the world, let
alone to understand the issues.
LH. But isn't it the responsibility of
leadership to help you understand those
issues? If you're an incumbent president,
you have virtual control of the news
media, anything you say is going to be
quoted. There's a great forum there to
educate the electorate. But I don't think
the president or the other candidates understand the issues themselves! They
don't have a basic philosophy of what
direction they want to go. They get
trapped into that old way of thinking,
and keep coming up with old, ineffective
"solutions" to these new problems.
I see people change, even among my
own friends, and I just wonder how some
people can come to see it—the need for
change, and the ways to effect the necessary changes—and other «people can't.
But somehow these candidates have not
yet come to see it, or maybe they prefer
to keep the status quo for their own
material gains, or their own candidacy. I
question what really motivates some of
these candidates. If you have an uninformed electorate, then you can do anything you want to. But as our economy
shows, we can't keep the status quo, we
have to do something different.
And the time to do something drastically different is right now! People understand that things aren't going right, and
they may not have the answers but
they're waiting to hear. And we're ready
to speak to the issues in clear understandable terms. Building the Citizens Party
will be a way of getting information out,
so people can have a real choice, a real
David Crossley: What do you think about
LH: Well, Fred was Kennedy's campaign
coordinator in New Mexico, that is, his
honorary co-chairperson, to show that at
least Kennedy is trying to do something,
and that he's better on the issues than
anyone else. But when it became apparent that he's not going to have a chance
for the Democratic nomination, we
realized that it's even more important
that the Citizens Party succeed. So in
many states, New Mexico and Texas included, we decided to wait until the primaries are over before we really start
David Crossley . .
organizing and we
hope to attract
voters of the
DC: Even though
he's pretty clearly
lost, Kennedy continues to slug it
out, down to the
wire. He is apparently just trying to
get some public
up on the issues.
Do you think Kennedy really is holding up some torch?
Do you think Kennedy is disregarding
the traditional ways
of the Democratic
LH:I do think he
thinks he is doing a
lot.I doubt that anyone who has taken so
much personal abuse as he and his wife
have in the last few months could stand
it, unless he were very well motivated,
and felt he was making a substantial public contribution. I believe he does want to
get the debate going on the basic social
and economic issues, which is why he
consistently challenges President Carter.
But the problem with Kennedy is that
so many have perceived him not to be the
right candidate, largely because of all his
DC: I get very confused about people
and politics, when it appears that someone, like Kennedy, is acting out of principle, and that's the kind of thing that
should appeal to the American people,
but in fact, that isn't what's happening.
LH: Yes, it is very confusing. I think his
motives are honorable, but you hear so
much gossip, and, well, there are a lot of
people who still claim Kennedy's treatment of his wife caused her to develop
the problems she had. Somehow, people
can't seem to get those nagging suspicions
out of their heads, that it may not be
Kennedy himself, but his behavior that
caused Joan's problems.
DC: You don't hear that about Betty
Ford, for instance. Her alcoholism was
"her fault," not her husband's, but Joan
Kennedy's is Ted Kennedy's "fault."
LH: Exactly! And Mamie Eisenhower
had problems, but of course they were
all covered up. And think of poor Pat
I think Mrs. Ford, for her own mental
health, had to make it public, or she
would have gone the same way Joan had
And I regret that about the Kennedy
campaign. I could overlook all that talk,
because the man clearly has great capabilities, but somehow the public hasn't seen
it this way.
Of course, the Carter campaign has
loved it. They say in some of the primary
states Carter often said, 'We're not going
to say anything about Chappaquiddick"-
which is like saving, when did you stop
beating your wife? And even Mrs. Carter
was saying things like, Oh, Jimmy and I
have been happily married for so many
years. The implication, of course, was
that there's no stability in the Kennedy
family, and that the Carters are a shining
example of a stable, secure relationship.
It was an indirect thing, but the whole
tone of Mrs. Carter's ads were like that.
So that reinforced doubt in people's
minds, and I think that's a big reason the
primary vote has turned out as it has.
VS: What do you think about John
Anderson, and his candidacy as an independent?
LH: Well, Anderson is not speaking to
economic issues either. And there's not
much difference between Anderson and
Carter and Reagan, except that Anderson
looks like a crusader. He's talking about
balancing the budget and so forth—as Dr.
Commoner says, he looks like a warmed-
over Jimmy Carter four years ago. He has
taken some "heroic" positions on some
issues, like abortion, women's rights, and
things that we all believe in fundamentally—although I don't think they're particularly heroic. But he seems to think so,
and so do some voters, so he's getting a
lot of attention. I think Anderson will
wear thin as time goes along, and people
will begin to see that he's not saying
But the main thing to remember about
Anderson's candidacy is that he is not
trying to build a third party. If you vote
for him, it's just a one-shot deal and it's
all over. But in voting for the Citizens
Party, you get a chance to help build
toward a permanent party.
VS: There's a line of thinking, especially
now that Anderson has come out as an
independent candidate, that says a* vote
for Anderson (or whoever) is a vote for
Reagan. Do you think your party's being
on the November ballot will hurt the
chances of a Democrat being elected president? Will it disrupt party unity?
LH: Party unity for what? To keep the
status quo, to continue these horrible
policies we have? One thing people are
saying is that we have to organize to do
things. Well, you can't organize for mere
organizational reasons, you have to organize for a purpose, you have to stand for
something. I can't be unified for nothing!
I mean, why be united for something you
don't believe in?
DC: It's "united against Reagan," basically. Would you be really dismayed if
Reagan were elected President?
LH: Not really. If Reagan were elected,
there would be some pressure on him to
lean toward the center a bit more, while
I think Carter would almost be pressured
to lean the other way, he might have to
tend more to the right. So we'll be going
that direction no matter who wins, and
at least Reagan might have to take a more
centrist position in order to get a working
relationship with Congress, for instance.
I wish I felt there was something in the
Democratic Party to merit unity—then I
might have some reservations about
taking votes away from Carter. But the
people we're really appealing to are those
who are so disillusioned that they aren't
participating, who may not vote at all.
And then, voting for the Citizens Party
is a way of voicing your discontent, that
you do not approve of Carter or Reagan.
So, I'm considering it better, at least
for my own mental health, to voice a
complaint about what direction I think
the country's going than to vote for
someone else, and let it float on.
VS: A lot of people don't seem to have
much hope for this country, with all the
gloom-doom talk going around. Do you
still have strong hopes for America?
LH: Well, I think I have to have hope, to
put any energy into working to build a
third party through the Citizens Party.
And I have hopes that the Citizens Party
will help to change that gloom-doom
trend in thinking.