Presidential Candidate: Cornel West

Cornel West campaign website: Cornel West for President (

By Ashley Bean Thornton

My plan when I started this project was to summarize the opening campaign announcement speech from each of the 2024 presidential candidates. My goal has been to sift through the campaign rhetoric to pick out what they are saying about they actually plan TO DO if they are elected. 

I could not find an opening campaign speech for Cornel West, so I watched several interviews which in hopes that would basically the same purpose of hearing what Dr. West plans to do if he becomes President.

Holy cow, though — Cornel West!  He is a philosopher and a preacher. He had plenty of profound things to say, but I had a little bit of a hard time boiling it down to a to-do list.

I don’t think my summary below nearly captures all he had to say – but I did the best I could to capture anything that sounded like something he plans to do.

I have shortened, paraphrased, and re-arranged quite a bit, but I tried to stick pretty close to his own words and to be fair in summarizing what I assume to be his platform for 2024.   I tried to include as much about how he plans to do these things as I was able to deduce from his speech. Due to Dr. West’s speaking style his answers are not as succinct as the ones I was able to pull out for some of the other candidates. – ABT

Here are the links to the interviews I used:

Here is the link to the page where I compare these speeches by topic – Candidate Comparison – Dead Armadillo Politics (

What he says he will do…

 Abortion – Women should have control over their own bodies.

 Bi-Partisanship, Compromise – We have to learn to be self-critical and self-confident without being self-righteous. We need a certain kind of humility, tied to a certain kind of tenacity.  There’s nothing wrong with standing up for your views, but we have to learn how to listen and take other people’s views seriously. That is what public life is all about.  Once democracy loses that, you get into polarized name-calling and you end up with gangsterized bows and arrows going in both directions.

Constitution & Freedoms – (free speech) I think it’s very important that we have conversations across ideological and political lines. They’re going to say some things that we have to call into question.  We have to keep them accountable. I am suspicious of censorship, though, because usually the censorship in the end zeroes in on freedom fighters, love warriors, and the wounded healers. Censorship is something that I’m very suspicious of.  I’ve got deep libertarian sensibilities in that regard.

Corporate influence on government –  It seems to me that if we are concerned about truth and justice, and if we want to preserve whatever is left of our precious democracy, we have to engage in the critique of the oligarchy and critique of the corporate duopoly way in which two parties are both tied to big money, big military, and corporate wealth. And how they don’t speak to 60% of our precious American citizens of all colors who are struggling to make it month by month.

Debt – You can see the national debt has much to do with the wars: Iraq, trillions of dollars; Afghanistan, trillions of dollars; Ukraine, now over $135 billion and growing. Therefore, we have to be honest about how the national debt is tied to war and what it means to be critical of war.

Economy – My God, 23% of children live in poverty in the richest nation in the history of the world. We have so much big money floating at the top…It is hemorrhaged at the top. There has been a massive distribution from poor working people to the well-to-do.  That’s organized greed at the top. Now, Greed runs through all of us as human beings, we all have greed…but organized greed?  This is what we are dealing with, and it makes no sense to have three individuals with wealth equivalent to the bottom 150 million American citizens. Three individuals that have wealth equivalent to 50% of the American citizenry. One percent at the top have wealth equal to 90%. They say, “We deserve it. It’s meritorious.” Please! We know the arbitrary nature of the redistribution of wealth has gone from working people to the well-to-do in the last 50 years. That is what we need to call radically into question.

Foreign Policy – I want a U. S.  foreign policy that is not tied just a big money and corporate interest. I want a foreign policy that acknowledges that America is a nation among nations. We don’t have to be the policeman of the world.

Can we be candid about the underside of our society and access the sunny side? U.S. foreign policy…can we be honest in the Israeli Palestinian conflict, for example. Can we have a deep commitment to Jewish security and Palestinian dignity, but recognize  that the Israeli state is occupying and dominating precious Palestinians, and every day it is expanding. Does that make you antisemitic? No! Not if you make sure you’re staying in contact with the humanity of  jewish brothers and sisters. But,  if you are standing in contact with the humanity of Palestinian brothers and sisters, you ‘ve got to bring an indictment of the occupation, an indictment of the domination, an indictment of the expansion and try to create conditions under which their dignity can flower and flourish . In terms of policy, it is complicated in terms of the moral and spiritual issues. We have to be very honest about that. Yet, you cannot get peep out of the Republican party or Democratic party when there is a massacre of Palestinians. No one says a mumblin’ word. That is morally obscene. That is spiritual malnutrition.

Homelessness – I don’t want to chip away at homelessness. I want to abolish homelessness.

Immigration – You got to treat each immigrant with dignity.  I want the immigrants and the workers of all colors to come together against the bosses. That’s a radical difference between right-wing populists and highly left-oriented people in love with poor working people no matter what color.

Military – I’m calling for the demilitarizing of U.S foreign policy, the demilitarizing of U.S Imperial policy.

People in need – We need decent housing, quality education, the basic social needs.  I am calling for the abolition of poverty.  Jesus of Nazareth was crucified not because he hated money changers; he hated greed. He had a deep love for the least of these. We need that spirit translated into our public life. Translated into our public — politics. I have a moral commitment first and foremost to poor people and working people of any color, any religion, any sexual orientation. Why? Because they have been left out.

In the last couple of years, we haven’t had voices on the inside that have in any way tried to speak to poor and working people. So, I decided to do what I could to become head of the American empire in order to dismantle the American empire and empower poor and working people around the world. I’m going inside in order to dismantle, to ensure that those resources available there can be made much more available to poor and working people.

Police –   Brother Martin used to say that the bombs that we drop abroad land at home.  The militarism around the world comes back to haunt us. We’ve got police departments that are militarized. You have to break the back of the culture of silence of the police departments that think they can get away with mistreating, brutalizing, sometimes murdering fellow citizens. As you know those fellow citizens are disproportionately black and brown, but it includes all colors in terms of police murders every year.  As president you’ve got to use whatever charisma, whatever language, whatever eloquence you can to try to ensure that you set an atmosphere such that mechanisms of accountability are in place not just in police departments but at the workplace. Not just at the workplace, but in our cultural life.

I don’t want to chip away at mass incarceration reform. I want to abolish forms of injustice that incarcerate people as if they’re animals. There are ways of dealing with murderers, and rapists, and so forth, things that are criminal. I’d be the first to acknowledge that, but there’s ways of dealing with them.  We can learn from Finland. We can learn from Denmark. We can learn from Sweden on how you rehabilitate persons.

Race – Racism is still operating. It is not as intense as it was 75 years ago but it’s still there in so many different ways… Keep in mind, we are never solely victims. I come from a Black people who have produced some of the greatest warriors and freedom fighters in the face of overwhelming trauma, overwhelming terror.

Ukraine – We have to be sensitive with our Ukrainian brothers and sisters, but also self – critical. Gorbachev was promised NATO would not move one inch, and now, two decades later, 13 former Soviet countries are part of NATO with missiles targeted at Russia. If Russia had missiles in Mexico and Canada, what would the U.S. government do? Probably blow them to smithereens.  That’s how empires behave.  We are just being truthful.  That’s not anti-American.  That’s the truth about empires. The worst of America is greed, hatred, and thinking that we’re #1.  The best of America is love, justice, and being willing to live in the world as a nation among nations.

So, we’ve got to be in solidarity with the suffering of Ukrainian brothers and sisters, but we have to recognize NATO is not neutral, it is an instrument of American imperial foreign policy. We’re witnessing a proxy war. There must be a ceasefire. There must be a stopping of that war. We’re on the road to nuclear war.  That’s the last thing we want to see.

I would pull back on the U.S military support.  I would sit down with the elites from the Chinese Empire, given all of their forms of regimentation and repression in their own context, but I would sit down with the Chinese. I would sit down with the Ukrainians. I would sit down with the Russians. I would say we’re going to stop this war, and we’re going to come up with a plan, a process with a variety of voices heard to make sure that the suffering stops, and we understand and we’re honest about the larger context of the war.

Voting, Elections – I don’t think the election was stolen, not at all. I don’t think our electoral process is perfect.  I think we need to struggle for more election integrity because of the role of big money in our elections. We don’t get high quality candidates because oftentimes you have to have ties to big benefactors and big donors and big providers in order to even run for office.  The two-party system does not allow the voices of working people to be heard. The politicians are already bought, captive or so deeply tied to big money.

Work – We need jobs with a living wage.  I’m calling for strong trade union movements.

Want to make sure you get all the Dead Dillo posts?  To subscribe to this email list, click here! 


Leave a Comment