Dr. Margaret Flowers has been putting up a fight for the Maryland Senate seat for months. She’s been traveling around the state rallying support for her cause and demanding access to Senate debates. Once, she even stormed onto the stage of a televised debate and had to be forcefully removed.

After the Green Party rally at this university on Sunday, Nov. 6, Flowers was able to do a short Q&A with The Writer’s Bloc.

Sara: Congress right now is facing a lot of gridlock. How is a Green Party candidate in the Senate going to alleviate that gridlock?

Flowers: Gridlock is occurring between the members of Congress, but they’re not the only ones who have power. I’ve experienced this myself through issue campaigns that I’ve been involved with, is that when people get activated, we can push through those obstacles. That’s a big part of my campaign, that I don’t take corporate or PAC money; I’m representing the people, and my office will be a place where people can use that as a vehicle to bring their voices and demands into Congress.

S: Congress right now has been hiding a lot of issues. They haven’t confirmed Merrick Garland yet; they haven’t passed the bill giving LGBTQ people protection from their employers; how are you going to push those issues through?

Flowers: Well, let’s quickly talk about Merrick Garland. They haven’t gone through a process with him yet. (I’m) not sure I would support him, he’s not my first choice. There are some concerns I have about how he treated the prisoners in Guantanamo and actually made a decision that was overturned, thankfully, by another court. Still, I think that we should bring the nominees in and you know, vet them.

In terms with how we’re going to get issues dealt with, so, I’ve had experience now. We were the first people in 2009 to get the single payer health care bill to the floor of the Senate in the history of the U.S. We’ve been able to hold Congress off for years from passing something called Fast-Track Legislation that, they finally did it by changing the rules. The way that has happened is by organizing. Again, with the public. Then, so, informing people about what’s going on and you know telling them what they can do or work out what they can do. And then just putting pressure on our members of congress.

I think we have to recognize that, in this environment where we know our public policies overwhelmingly favor the wealth, anything that we want that’s in the interest of the people, we’re going to have to organize and fight for. The Green Party is there to fight with you.

S: Third party candidates are seen as people taking away from the Democratic candidate or the the Republican candidate. I know third party candidates have been getting a lot of flack this election cycle, especially when it comes to Donald Trump. What would you say to these people?

Flowers: I think that’s the message the establishment wants people to believe, that the two major parties somehow have a right to your vote — they don’t have to earn it. That if you vote for someone else, you’re stealing it from them. That ridiculous, that’s not a democracy. We have decades now of lesser evil voting that has brought us to the bottom where we have the two most hated presidential candidates ever and just two parties behaving with impunity.

So, what we have to understand, is that the reality is, you know, a functioning democracy or even a representative democracy people vote for what they want not against what they don’t want. More people are waking up to that, the more people that understand that, the more power we have as people. Not just as the Green Party, but as people at the voting block to being to create what we need in this country.

S: My last question is what is the most important issue facing our country right now, and how are you going to fix it?

Flowers: What is the most important issue facing our country right now? We have so many of them, but perhaps the one that can address many of the crises we’re facing at once would be dealing with the climate crisis in a very comprehensive way. We’re calling for a Green New Deal and 100 percent renewable energy by 2030. But in addition to that, creating electrified rapid transit systems, changing our agricultural practices to be more organic and regenerative. Changing building construction to be more efficient and creating wetlands to buffer the rising seas.

All of these, if done as a public program with public investment, create tens of millions of living wage jobs, create healthier environments for all of us, and if we treat it as a public investment with a public return, can be used to create a guaranteed basic income which would immediately eliminate poverty in our country. If there was one focus that could deal with many of these at once, that would be it.   

Dr. Margaret Flowers is a graduate of this university and is the Green Party candidate for the Maryland seat in the Senate.

Featured Photo Credit: Dr. Margaret Flowers speaks at a Green Party rally at the University of Maryland on Sunday, November 6, 2016. (Julia Lerner/Bloc Photographer)

Sara Karlovitch is a freshman journalism and government and politics major and can be reached at skarlovi@terpmail.umd.edu. 

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