Jimmy McMillan rocketed to fame when he stole the show at the 2010 NY Governors’ debates with his passionate calls for lower rent and a lower cost of living. Pundits tended to focus on his often-eccentric deliver, distinctive facial hair, and catchy repetitions of “The rent is too damn high!”
But McMillan resents this dismissal. He wants to be taken seriously as a candidate get his message out. To that end, he’s running for Mayor this year, both in the Republican primary and on his own Rent Is Too Damn High Party ballot line.
NYULocal interviewed him this week as part of our series of interviews with every mayoral candidate we can get our hands on. McMillan agreed to talk to us as part of his plan to reach out for young volunteers to help collect signatures: he needs 17,500 signatures total to run on both the Republican and Rent Is Too Damn High Party ballot lines.
Because two parties are always better than one.
NYULocal: Why are you running for Mayor?
McMillan: I’m running for mayor because there’s nowhere to go. You can’t afford to go anywhere, to live anywhere. The landlords raise the rent, they make more money. Every elected official from judges to the state legislature and the state unified court system are all involved in real estate. They passed a law to make sure landlords can get tenants out, to get more money for rent. My opponent, [City Council Speaker] Christine Quinn, put out a statement about low-income housing. That’s not enough. They’re taking money out of the hands of people; that’s why I’m running: to shut them down.
The Republican Party – I didn’t tell them about my message. I didn’t want to run as a Democrat – they run everything. The Republicans have no power in the city, so maybe they’ll let me come in and bring something to the Republican side, to be victorious. But the Republican Party refused to accept me, to invite me to parties and forums; even today, they refused to invite me. I thought about quitting, but I’m running as a mayoral candidate and staying a Republican. All these racist guys, you will not ignore me. I will not let you ignore me.
New York State – the entire state – every elected official knows that tenants and apartment buildings, when you move out paying $500 a month, they jack it up to $3600. The New York Building Department refuses to send out inspectors about tenants. You can pay that much money and you can hear the tenants having sex in the next room! I am concerned for little children hearing that! Having to pay all that rent. A hunger crisis has affected all of us. How can you eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner? They made a mockery of that. But everyone’s someone’s child. Their stomach is growling for help, and someone is not listening. Being a candidate gets people’s attention. Only people who listen to me are the comedy guys who think it’s a joke.
You have the rent organizations. Not one of them can help one tenant. They have refused to come behind me because of membership. They are afraid that the Rent Is Too Damn High Party will take their membership. I hope to shut them down.
NYULocal: Describe your judgement of Michael Bloomberg’s record as Mayor and vision for the City. How does it contrast with your own?
McMillan: I don’t even want to talk about this. I don’t do this. The city is a failure. It’s a failure for the people on Main Street. You represent his people; if the system is a failure, than so is he. A good example is with people. Let’s use women.
The first thing a woman will say is, “I’m not a whore!” Well, we’re all whores, because we all voted for a rich man thinking he was going to change things! Every voter in New York City is a prostitute. Look what the rich have done – turn the city into the way they live. The have-nots? The have-nots have no voice. Rich guys have hypnotized people. He made his riches through the Stock Exchange. He thought that way about people. Well, people are not a product.
People cannot afford to live under these conditions. Bloomberg is not the problem, voters are! Young people have to tell them – this democratic republic of bullhole and hellcrap, keep that oppression, keep liberal, keep right and left wing out of my ear! None of that works! The rent is too damn high. I do not answer questions to please the press, I answer to hear the suffering of the people.
I am coming to unwrap and unravel the suffering. It has nothing to do with Bloomberg.
NYULocal: Given the breadth of the field running for mayor, why should New Yorkers vote for you?
McMillan: They’re complete failures. I have nothing to say about any of them. Conditions should straighten them out, but they are part of the people that are being paid by landlords. There’s nothing for me to say about them. What I’m hoping to do, as a Republican, is wake up the votes in the Republican Party. I’m letting them know. I hope to have a candidate running for every elected seat from the Rent Is Too Damn High Party – young people to come and help me take this city over, to get all the Democrats and Republicans out of City Hall.
There will be a lot of layoffs, a lot of demotions, to clean house. It will not be the same people working behind the desk – they will be demoted from supervisor. I am not playing games. We have critical, critical, critical economic conditions and they have no way to improve it. All the ones who are elected officials – Quinn, Thompson, de Blasio – they have a vision, they have a song that says I can see clearly now that I’m running! They are part of the problem and you must go and run them all out of town.
Let the world know that Jimmy McMillan has 385 million supporters. Only New York says I’m a comic figure. I take the opportunity to thank SNL. I’ll do another skit so people know I’m saying things. Playing games. Something is wrong with voters in New York. This is the first time someone like me has come along that has a vision. They are failures. To comment on them means I am paying attention to them. This is what I used to do. Watch what they could have done, watch their involvement in organized crime – it’s organized crime. Andrew Cuomo, the state government – I wanted to focus on me. He’s a part of it. He is Governor, not going to cut off the hands that fed and feed him. All of them are part of organized crime. You have a lot of real estate organizations, the court system is in the position. Where can the people turn for help when they get evicted? We are in for the people on my street.
They are in trouble. I’m here to help those folks.
NYULocal: What are some concrete steps New York City can take to reduce the cost of living?
McMillan: Well, I have a multistep plan. First, no credit checks. Tenant’s right bill where changes are made to succession rights – if you’re living with your parents, the landlords can’t take the place. I’d put a cap on rent. I’d ask the Governor to tell Schumer and Gillibrand to go to DC and America. We have no deficit, we have no fiscal cliff. We have a $948 trillion surplus! That money comes from the $50 billion people gave to people. New Yorkers became shareholders of every corporation that got failed and bailed out. Some paid the money back but they also failed, and all of them failed in default. They penalized them interest and penalty, they paid it back with interests. Why don’t New Yorkers listen?
They can’t go to DC. They sit there, they don’t know what they’re doing. Every Governor, every Mayor – watch what I do. The money is there to help the people. Everyone in DC is illiterate. They can’t do math. Something is wrong. The party’s over. I’m starting here as Mayor.
The United States government should waive the debt of the American people. Why are homes being foreclosed? Why can landlords raise the rent when the President has signed a capital improvement program and an assistance relief program starting from below in 2008-2009 so, if the landlords can’t pay, the State can issue a state of emergency bill that would guarantee this money to the landlords paying their bills? Landlords are complaining that they need this.
For the next four years, the rents will be reduced in the city to $550 per month. If the landlords need this, than they can write that off as a net operating loss to the IRS. That would reduce the cost of living overnight. College tuitions should be waived for everyone in New York City because everyone’s a 61% shareholder of General Motors.
I am the master at what I’m saying. Nobody can go against what I say. Call me to talk about economics and finance! I am a master at economics and finance! I am a master! But people want ratings because I’m electrifying. Ask me about the economy. CNN doesn’t have anyone who can match what I do. They talk about interest rates and dividends but not the real matter. The government can waive the debts. That’s how to reduce the cost of living. What the government owes the American people can reduce the rent. If you can have the bailout you’re going to tell me you can’t reduce the rent?
This is why I’m running! This is why I’m running. I am the master of this, and I am the one to get the country on the right track. I like your beard, I like your mustache. Ask me questions about the economy! I am the master! I am the master about the economy! Ask me those questions. Ask me the questions about the economy and the people. We don’t know where the money’s going to come from. You’re an idiot! Why did you run if you don’t know? I’m here to give the mathematical education and leadership.
This is for me to run the city. One city, one step, one state at a time. I will take it over. I will dominate. The party’s over.
[Image via Wikimedia Commons]