Bernie Sanders ain’t the only Jewish candidate and Hillary Clinton ain’t the only woman running for President of these United States. Dr. Jill Stein is gearing up to represent the Green Party in the race like she did in 2012. The Harvard Medical School graduate is a practicing physician who has a diagnosis for what’s politically ailing America: the two-party system.
She challenged the status quo four years ago, but many people in the U.S. never had the chance to hear her message. It wasn’t for a lack of trying. Stein got blocked from participating in the presidential debates, showed up anyway and got hauled off in handcuffs for her troubles. This time around, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is championing many platform issues that overlap with the Green Party but has gained more media attention by deciding to run from within the Democratic Party. Sanders promises a contested convention after tomorrow’s primary elections in California. Stein has penned an open letter to voters in the state urging independents to “Feel the Bern.” But should Hillary Clinton officially become the Democratic Party’s presidential candidate, Stein is offering Sanders and his supporters a home in her party and campaign to keep the revolution going.
The Weekly spoke with Dr. Stein ahead of her speaking event in Santa Ana this evening where she’ll discuss the pitfalls of the two-party system and her Power to the People plan.
OC Weekly (Gabriel San Roman): Let’s begin with the Green New Deal central to your candidacy. How can it lift folks from the lingering economic trauma of the Great Recession?
Jill Stein: They tell us we are in a recovery but for most people it’s still an economic emergency. The jobs that have come back are low-wage and insecure. People are really hurting. We’ve been here before and we used a New Deal to get out of the Great Depression. We know how to do this. We can create jobs and solve two emergencies at once. We have an economic emergency and an environmental emergency, especially with regards to the climate. With this Green New Deal, it will create 20 million jobs focused on greening our energy, food and transpiration systems. In the process we revive the economy, turn the tide on climate change and we make wars for oil obsolete so we can put our money into true security here at home. This a win, win, win all around!
Our political system is under question perhaps like never before, but challenges are happening within the ranks of the duopoly. Do you see this election season stressing more than ever the need for third parties?
The Sanders campaign has raised the agenda and given voice to the economic crisis that people are feeling. What people are starting to realize is that if we are going to fix the rigged economy, we also have to fix the rigged political system. We’re seeing this play out right now with the sabotage being conducted against the Sanders campaign by the Democratic Party. In fact, the Democratic Party created what we call a “kill switch” to stop truly revolutionary campaigns. After George McGovern received the Democratic nomination in 1972, the party changed the rules to create Super Tuesdays and superdelegates that tilt the playing field against grassroots candidates. We are seeing the Democratic Party attempt to snuff out an internal rebellion. It’s making the point that it’s very hard to have a revolutionary campaign inside a counter-revolutionary party. We are here as Plan B to keep the revolution going and as a true vehicle for political change that will not go away in November, that’s here for the long haul.
How is your campaign working to outreach to Latino and black voters?
The Republicans have long been the party of discrimination and racism. It’s become very blatant under Donald Trump who is a shameless racist demagogue. But the Democrats, on the other hand, are actually conducting an outrageous policy of night raids, detentions and deportations. Right now, the irony is that the immigrants they’re targeting are women and children who are fleeing the consequences of the U.S.-approved regime change in Honduras which was essentially signed, sealed and delivered by Hillary Clinton. We badly need a politics of integrity that respects human rights. To fix the immigration problem, the most important thing we can do is to stop causing it. For #BlackLivesMatter and racial justice issues, our campaign has been on the front line working with these communities. I’ve just come from San Francisco where I canvassed with two members of the “Frisco 5” who conducted a 17-day hunger strike that actually got rid of the police chief. We need to challenge power if we are to really to create change. Like Frederick Douglass said, “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.”
You’ve penned an open letter to independent voters in California to cast ballots for Bernie this week. At the same time, the Sanders campaign has seemed to thin voters registered with the Green Party by 30%. Does that concern you?
In my view, there is a unifying movement that’s taking place right now. I am not worried about this reduction in Green Party registration at all because I’m cognizant of what’s going to happen. There’s lots of people that are supporting our campaign and are also supporting Bernie. I am delighted about that. There’s some people who’d like to see this as divisive. I think they are missing the forest through the trees. The rebellion is growing and it’s growing away from the Democratic Party because of the mistreatment of being handed out by the party. These efforts have been made over the decades to reform the Democratic Party from within and it only keeps marching to the right. That’s what’s going to happen. My only question is if can we get the word out to the Sanders community but the Sanders community is already getting the word out themselves. I am not wasting my time hand-wringing about the bonds being built between Greens and the Sanders campaign. At the end of the day, the political system as we know it is in collapse. Let’s keep building this movement and it’s going to find the place where it belongs.
Let’s say Clinton becomes the Democratic Party candidate. What do you say to voters that would be too scared to vote for you in November given that the Republican candidate is Trump?
Don’t listen to the propaganda that is trying to protect its own power here. The lesser evil does not solve the problem of the greater evil. People are coming at this with selective amnesia. Under Obama, we’ve had massive expansion of these wars for oil and the drone attacks. We had massive Wall Street bailouts. The attack on immigrants has been far worse under Obama than any prior president. The climate meltdown has been massively increased under Obama’s “All of the Above” policy, which turned out to be “Drill, Baby, Drill” on steroids. The people that are supporting Donald Trump, it’s widely acknowledged that this is the economic stress falling on the middle class and working people. Why were they economically devastated? We have Wall Street deregulation to thank for that. And who deregulated Wall Street? We have Bill Clinton to thank for that. If Clintonism brought us the rise of Donald Trump, another Clinton in the White House or another neoliberal Democrat isn’t going to solve this problem.
The demagogue next time might be even more frightening…
No doubt it will. We have a political system that gives us two really scary candidates and says pick one! That is the real predator here. It’s not so much Clinton, it’s not so much Trump. It’s the system that not only produces them but says that’s all you can do. The reality is democracy needs a vision and a set of values. If we are intimidated into political silence, which is what the lesser evil scare tactic is all about, we create a moral vacuum that will be filled by corporate political parties. The bottom line here is the politics of fear delivered everything we were afraid of. This is a losing proposition. There are differences between the parties, largely on social issues. Those count, but they don’t count enough to save your life, your job or the planet. This is not a world we can survive in for much longer. There’s a way forward here. Forget the lesser evil, fight for the greater good like our lives depend on it because they do. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.
Dr. Jill Stein speaks at Delhi Center, 505 E. Central Ave., Santa Ana. 6:30 p.m. Free. All ages.