By Nick Mattos, PQ Monthly
Dr. Jill Stein wants you to stop, as she phrases it, “voting against yourself.” The Green Party presidential candidate and her running mate, Cheri Honkala, have taken to the campaign trail to encourage Americans to consider voting outside of the two-party lines in the upcoming election — and a recent CNN/ORC poll indicates that about 2 percent of registered voters and 1 percent of likely voters have connected with her message enough to support Stein over the three other candidates.
As a physician and politician, Stein was inspired to enter the presidential race when Democrats began to drop their support of what she viewed as critical social programs.
“One year ago, the President said that Medicare and Social Security were on the chopping block … as a solution for solving the debt crisis. For me, this was the breaking point,” she recalled. “I had previously been involved in local and state politics [in Massachusets], but not national, because grassroots democracy starts at the bottom. However, it made the case that for us to fight locally, we have to fight nationally — and we can’t afford to neglect any critical area of public life and democracy.”
Fundamental to Stein’s platform is what she terms a Green New Deal, a four-part program inspired by the New Deal program that led the United States out of the Great Depression of the 1930s. Some of the objectives of the Green New Deal include the creation of over 25 million jobs through a nationally-funded but locally-controlled direct employment initiative, student loan debt forgiveness, financial systems reform, revocation of corporate personhood, withdrawal of U.S. troops from foreign conflicts, and a transition to a “sustainable economy that is environmentally sound, economically viable, and socially responsible.”
“In the Great Depression, we created millions of jobs within a short period,” Stein said. “We got people back to work very quickly by doing what our Green New Deal would do. We’re talking about doing this, doing this now, and doing this across the board.”
Even if she isn’t ultimately the executor of it, there is hope that the conceptual underpinnings of the Green New Deal could influence future leaders if shown enough support by citizens now. Stein draws a connection between the formation of the original New Deal and the traction of parties other than the Republican and Democratic.
“To move the hand of FDR to create the New Deal … it took a social movement on the ground, people fighting and dying and demonstrating … but it also took political [third] parties in the form of socialist parties, farm labor parties, and a whole spectrum of others that articulated the demands and were also running for office … and making inroads at the local and state level.”
Stein encourages progressives who are frightened to support third parties or third-party candidates to consider whether they have internalized the values of what she terms a “psychological war” waged by the public relations campaigns of the two major parties.
“It’s very important to recognize that this [opposition to third parties] is the propaganda of your abuser, who wants to keep you exactly where you are, because you’re in a very profitable position for the Wall Street predators that run our major political parties,” Stein said.
“The state of nature is that people are extremely diverse,” she continued, “and have very diverse political opinions; those opinions should be reflected in our political system. We should have a multi-partisan democracy — that’s how most democracies work around the world! This concept that any competition with the two corporate predatory parties is illegitimate has it exactly on its head. … This concept that we should be bludgeoned into a two-party system violates our inherent political diversity.”
“The politics of fear have brought us everything that we were afraid of,” Stein said.
However, even in this environment of terror and despair, she sees ample reason for hope.
“Things are changing. It’s not something that we need to hope for — it’s happening. … I’m running because we’ve hit the breaking point — for people, the planet, the economy, and our democracy. We need to turn that breaking point into a tipping point, now, while we still can, to take back our democracy and our future.”
Check PQ’s blog for our full interview with Dr. Stein. For more information about Stein and the Green New Deal, go to JillStein.org; for more on Oregon’s Pacific Green Party, go to pacificgreens.org/.