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 V.25 No.34 | August 25 - 31, 2016 

News Feature

Jill Stein and the Green Party

Third-party candidate offers four-pillar platform

Jill Stein
Gage Skldmore
Green Party Presidential Candidate Jill Stein

Ardent, perennial Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein is reaching out to voters with her clean, green, political machine—not only to burned Bernie Sanders supporters, but to Hillary-haters and independents as well.

Green Choices

The Green Party grew out of various environmental movements in 1984. Its stated goal has been to keep the conversation going, especially as regards issues like the threat of climate change. At the party’s roots is a distrust of establishment and government guidance, and a wariness of corporate influence in all areas.

In early August, the Green Party officially nominated Jill Stein and Ajamu Baraka to be its White House candidates.

Stein was born in Chicago, educated at Harvard and practiced internal medicine for more than 20 years. She was raised Jewish but considers herself an agnostic. She lives in Lexington, Mass. with her doctor husband and has two sons who are on the path to becoming doctors as well. She is also an accomplished musician and singer. It is in the exam room that Stein says she became concerned about the connections between her patient’s health and factors in their local environment. This is what threw her into the environmental politics arena. She ran for the Massachusetts governor’s seat twice; this is her second presidential campaign. She also ran in 2012. She was arrested twice during her previous campaigns, once while protesting her lack of inclusion at an official presidential debate, and later at a Keystone XL Pipeline protest, when she tried to bring supplies to protesters.

The Vice President nominee is Ajamu Baraka, a human rights activist from the South Side of Chicago. His roots are in the Black Liberation Movement, anti-apartheid and Central American solidarity struggles, according to his website. Baraka is vocal about his opposition to Israel’s role in the Palestinian/Israeli conflict, but has also been accused by some members of press of harboring extremist and anti-Semitic beliefs.

Let Us Debate

Stein is passionate about many things including third party candidates being allowed to participate in presidential debates—whether they poll at the 15 percent required for inclusion by the Commission on Presidential Debates or not. This week Stein, Baraka and the Green Party sent a letter to Republican candidate Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton writing, “In the spirit of democracy, we are writing to ask that you support open debates in 2016 that include all of the Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates who are on enough ballots to win at least 270 electoral college votes.”

The Green Party grew out of various environmental movements in 1984. Its stated goal has been to keep the conversation going, especially as regards issues like the threat of climate change. At the party’s roots is a distrust of establishment and government guidance, and a wariness of corporate influence in all areas.

The debates are administered by a private non-profit commission whose membership is centered on members of the two major parties. Stein says the debates are choreographed with vetted questions and that the moderators are chosen by the two major party candidates. The first debate is set for Sept. 26 at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y. Ironically, this is the same debate location Stein was arrested at in 2012. Stein recently told Amy Goodman in an interview that she would be at this year’s debates whether or not she is invited.

Green New Deal

Earlier this month, Stein and Baraka released their four-part plan “to move America quickly out of crisis into a secure, sustainable future,” according to the national Green Party website. In a nutshell the Green platform is built on four pillars and includes lots of great ideas.

The first pillar is an economic plan that ensures all citizens have a right to employment with a living wage, health care, tuition-free education from preschool through college, forgiveness of existing student loan debts as well as affordable housing and utilities with fair property taxation.

The second pillar involves a green transition program that will invest in smaller, local green businesses by offering low-interest grants and loans. The Green Party also favors redirecting research funds from fossil fuel-based industry toward wind, solar and geothermal energy sources. They also want to invest in sustainable, organic agriculture and forestry, provide more than 16 million green jobs, set up regional food systems and promote bike, pedestrian and mass transit traffic options.

The number three pillar of Stein’s campaign calls for real financial reform that will relieve student and homeowner debt burdens. She also wants to nationalize the private bank-dominated Federal Reserve, completely revamping the national banking system.

A functioning democracy is the fourth pillar of the Stein campaign and includes a many-pronged voter’s bill of rights that includes abolishing the electoral college and making election day a national holiday. The Green Party also calls for publicly funded elections, equal access to the polls for everyone—including ex-felons who have completed their sentences. Stein also wants to repeal the Patriot Act and reduce military spending by 50 percent, which involves closing bases and creating a new round of nuclear disarmament initiatives.

Vague on Vaccinations

Stein has made some controversial comments leading many to think the former doctor is anti-science. Some critics think she pandered to “anti-vaxxers” when, in a Washington Post interview, she said that people had real questions over the potential side effects of vaccines. Stein says she has repeatedly expressed her support for vaccinations. She says she has concerns about corporate science’s tendency to focus on profits instead of public health, and its influence on the regulatory process. She says people do not trust the Food and Drug Administration or any other regulatory agencies—especially where corporate influence is massive—such as evidenced in the pharmaceutical industry.

Throwing an Election?

Some election watchers say the Stein campaign is a flashback to 2000 when Green Party candidate Ralph Nader threw a wrench into the battle between Democrat Al Gore and Republican George W. Bush. While that was never absolutely proven, some believe that without the Green Party taking about three percent of the vote, Gore would have been elected president and the global catastrophe of the Bush era avoided.

When asked by PBS station WGBH about throwing the election to Trump, her answer was confusing. Stein noted that, in order to succeed she must stand up to both Clinton and Trump, but oddly invoked past political movements to make her point. “The answer to neofascism is stopping neoliberalism. Putting another Clinton in the White House will fan the flames of this right-wing extremism. We have known that for a long time, ever since Nazi Germany. We are going to stand up to Donald Trump and stand up to Hillary Clinton!”

And so Jill Stein soldiers on, seeking some traction from the same societal disaffection that seems to be driving this year’s presidential race.


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