Jill Stein, Green Party: Mobilizing the DissatisfiedBy Ashahed M. Muhammad -Asst. Editor- | Last updated: Oct 25, 2012 - 10:31:36 AM
Green Party candidate Jill Stein wants to be president and here’s why she’s running
According to the Virginia-based non-profit, non-partisan research institute, between 95 and 100 million eligible voters may sit out of this year’s election.
Though many disenchanted voters are unhappy with the binary presidential options presented by America’s two-party dominated political system, many either select what they consider to the lesser of two evils, while some opt-out of voting altogether.
Green Party presidential candidate Dr. Jill Stein articulates a view shared by an increasing number in the U.S. who have grown tired of corporate controlled political parties and their strong-armed dominance within a structure that only seems to benefit the wealthy.
She hopes to mobilize those nearly 100 million American citizens. Even if she were only able to mobilize a portion of those disaffected voters, the electoral landscape would be altered remarkably.
To put that goal and number in perspective, President Barack Obama won the 2008 election receiving over 69 million votes. His vanquished Republican opponent John McCain received just under 60 million.
When asked, she is very clear about why she is running for president and quickly runs down a long list of issues she considers important for the future of the country.
“I think we are in crisis,” said Dr. Stein. “People are losing their jobs, their homes, wages are going down, affordable health care and higher education are being placed out of reach. Our civil liberties are under attack, there is a racist war on drugs and racism is alive and well in America,” she added.
Dr. Stein says the wealthy few are doing better than ever, benefitting from crony capitalism, squandering trillions of dollars on foreign wars. There have been bailouts for Wall Street and tax breaks for the wealthy, while austerity measures are being thrust upon everyone else.
“I think the people of America and ordinary people all over the world in fact are at the breaking point and we need to take it and turn it into a tipping point,” she said.
A viable option?
The Green Party of the United States describes itself as “a federation of state Green Parties committed to environmentalism, non-violence, social justice, and grassroots organizing.”
In 2008, former member of Congress Cynthia McKinney was the GP’s presidential candidate and tapped activist Rosa Clemente as her vice-presidential running mate. They garnered 161,680 votes in the election and were on the ballot in 32 states.
On November 6, voters will find Dr. Stein on the ballot as an available choice in at least 85 percent of the voting booths around the country, including the prized states of California, Texas, Illinois, New York, Florida and Ohio.
“We have benefitted from the hard work that Cynthia and Rosa did together. They were fighting this battle at a very difficult time and they were ahead of the curve,” said Dr. Stein. “A lot of people are waking up to the reality that a corporate sponsored candidate and a corporate sponsored political party isn’t going to solve this for us, so we have benefitted from the trailblazing that Cynthia and Rosa did,” she added.
This is not her first attempt to win a political office. The Harvard-trained doctor has previously run for governor of Massachusetts as the Green Party’s candidate in 2002 and 2010. She realizes it is an uphill climb for presidential candidates attempting to take on the two-party dominated system.
Ralph Nader came in a distant third in 2008 running as an Independent receiving 738,475 votes. The last significant third-party candidate was Ross Perot in the 1992 election, who received a little over 19.7 million votes. Mr. Perot has endorsed Republican Mitt Romney in this year’s election.
“They want us to be discouraged, depressed and divided and our only hope is to build that social movement which the Black Panthers were about, which Martin Luther King Jr. was about, which Frederick Douglass was about and Rosa Parks,” said Dr. Stein. She understands the feelings of those who are unhappy with the political status quo, and despite running for president, she does not see electoral politics as the only way to solve the country’s problems. It is a social movement of committed people interested in the principles of justice that will prevail, she said.
“I think voting is one tool that the social movement can use and it’s a really important tool because it’s used against us when we don’t use it,” said Dr. Stein. “Whether it was racial justice or the fight for the abolition of slavery, the right of women to vote, the right of workers to organize unions, these have all been social battles that have been fought out in the streets and electoral politics has been one tool it’s not the whole nine yards and I want it to be clear that I understand that,” she added.
She makes a distinction between what she calls “predator politics” as demonstrated by the Republicans and Democrats, and “people politics” which is represented by her candidacy.
“If you look closely at the Green Party and Cynthia McKinney’s campaign and our campaign, what you see is politics that’s of, by and for the people,” she explained. “We don’t expect corporate money, we don’t take money from lobbyists, or CEO’s that hire lobbyists with their strings attached. We don’t take it because we believe in one person, one vote, not one dollar one vote which is how this country is currently run.”
Taking on Obama
Dr. Stein views President Obama as “a representative of the power structure” which motivates her continued political activism with hopes of challenging the prevailing political order.
“He is someone who is very much funded by Wall Street, Goldman Sachs, the big banks, the weapons industry, the health insurance and pharmaceutical companies, the oil companies, the usual suspects, and he owes them big time,” she stated.
On the international front, Dr. Stein is highly critical of Pres. Obama’s expansion of drone wars in Yemen and Somalia, as well as sending armed troops into parts of Africa, which she believes was hastened once it was discovered that there was oil in Central Africa. She is firmly against a war against the Islamic Republic of Iran. She is also in favor of the creation of a “nuclear free planet” and having the same rules for all nations, across the board.
“A war in Iran would be a disaster, an unmitigated disaster in terms of the chaos in the Middle East, what it would do to global energy supplies, that alone is reason enough not to go there. This would be extremely destructive to U.S. interests alone, so from the point of view of just enlightened self-interests, this is an insane thing to contemplate,” said Dr. Stein. If the spread of nuclear weapons is to be checked, other nations should be examined as well.
“Iran is certainly not the first here. There’s a long line of other countries including Israel and Pakistan and India which contain enormous potential for destruction already, not to mention the fact that the United States is the only country that’s actually used a nuclear weapon already,” she noted.
Domestically, she cites a plethora of staggering inequalities plaguing American society. She decries the intensified racial profiling of immigrants and increased deportations, and is unhappy about the racial discrimination in education. She also wants to shrink the ethnic wealth and earning gaps that exist and are widening.
“We have not entered that post racial era. Racism is very much on the loose and is very much institutionalized in our economy and our social institutions,” Dr. Stein stated. “Who is being slammed more than anyone by the student debt crisis? I’m sure you well know, students of color, African American students and the Latino students especially rely on access to student loans and have to dropout at much higher rates than anyone else because they cannot handle the burden of the student loans, and then there they are left owing the loan and not having a degree and still fighting much higher rates of unemployment,” she added.
Regarding student loans, Dr. Stein advocates using the same approach as was used for the bankers in terms of implementing a monetary policy of quantitative easing. In the mortgage loan crisis, the Federal Reserve wiped out mortgage debt by buying it up. She would like to see the same thing done for out of control student loan debt. Another strategy is to implement a two-year service program that would allow them to escape their debt burden, however, there were not yet any specifics. She also wants to make public higher education free.
“Throughout the twentieth century we made a high school degree free because it was necessary for economic security,” said Dr. Stein. “In the 21st century, a college degree is necessary for economic security so it should be free, and we know from a similar policy after World War II called the GI Bill where we paid for college education for returning soldiers.”
She believes in solutions such as putting resources into the hands of local communities and allowing them to determine what their needs are. Examining the public transportation systems in many areas to determine whether they are functioning safely and efficiently, along with better management of its negative environmental consequences.
She also aims to jump start local, small, community-based business by establishing workable cooperatives then providing the support funding to get them up and running successfully.
The president should not only be the commander-in-chief, but also an organizer-in-chief for the public good, she said.
By creating grassroots processes such as community participatory budgeting and bolstering urban gardening, Dr. Stein believes overlooked neglected areas that are primarily populated by Black and Latinos will benefit greatly and “infuse new life into the economy.”
She knows that Mr. Obama’s political ascension to the highest political office of this land was a source of pride for many Black people and hailed as an achievement by many advocates of social justice, however, it is now time to move beyond the symbolism and thoroughly examine his policies and their devastating impact, Dr. Stein said.
No matter the results on Election Day, Dr. Stein said she and her supporters will keep fighting for the principles she has represented over the years of her social and political activism.
“This isn’t over on November 6, and we are at a breaking point there’s no doubt about it. The American people are at a breaking point and we can turn that breaking point into a tipping point and start to take back the promise of democracy and the peaceful, just green future that we deserve and we deserve it now,” she said.