Cliff Thornton, Green Party candidate for governor. Photo courtesy of the campaign.One of the biggest compliments Cliff Thornton said he ever received was from a young woman who told him he was “a radical within a radical movement.“Thornton, the Green Party’s endorsed candidate and first African-American to run for governor, is so radical that he’s been left out of debates, political polls, and for the most part the media. But he must be doing and saying something that makes sense since he’s raised more money for the Green party than any previous candidate. See what he has to say.
The centerpiece of Thornton’s radical thought is his view on the illegal drugs. Thornton believes illegal drugs, such as marijuana should be decriminalized. “The drug war is two degrees from everything in society,” Thornton said in a phone interview last week.“If one does not understand racism, classism, terrorism, white privilege, and the war on drugs—what these concepts mean and how these concepts work—then everything else will only confuse you,” Thornton said. Thornton, 61, said he’s been waiting 10 years to come forward as a candidate to push these issues. He said the reason no one else wants to talk about these issues is because, “Anytime you talk about decriminalizing drugs, you’re only talking about one thing—the redistribution of income and wealth.” Thornton used the recent increase in violence in Hartford as an example of how the drug war is two degrees from everything in society. “You’ve got to remove the war mentality,” Thornton said. He said sending in the state troopers enhances the war mentality amongst the youth because the troopers become the occupation troops. When elected officials approve this type of move they re-enforce the war mentality amongst the youth, which is insanity, he said. “You know what the definition of insanity is, doing the same thing over and over again and getting the same result,” Thornton said. “Think about it, how many come from homes where parents have served time in prison for drugs?” he said. A disproportionate amount about 70 percent of the Black and Latino populations are incarcerated when it’s 70 percent of the White population that is dying from drug overdoses, he said. Decriminalize drugs and this goes away, Thornton said. “It would immediately stop all crime and violence overnight,” he said. The Democratic candidates for governor New Haven Mayor John DeStefano and Stamford Mayor Dannel Malloy don’t agree with Thornton. DeStefano said the real issue is “chronic substance abuse.” The lack of treatment options for individuals and alternatives to incarceration for non-violent crimes linked to drug abuse need to be looked at as a way to address this issue. “Do I want to make it easier to put drugs on the street? No,” Malloy said last week. But he said “we should treat these people with compassion by offering treatment opportunities.“But Thornton who anticipated the comments said, “How can we expect things to change if we just keep doing the same thing?”