Friday, May 11, 2012

Jill Stein's Green Revolution

Progressive voters looking for a real choice in this year’s presidential election need look no further than Green Party candidate, Dr. Jill Stein. I had the pleasure of meeting with Stein for dinner last week, and got an earful of her views on the issues.

(Stein is one of three candidates—along with Kent Mesplay and comedian Roseanne Barr—vying for the Green Party’s nomination. As of this writing, Stein looks to be the likely nominee.)

Stein’s progressive presidential platform includes forgiving outrageous student debt, ending Wall Street bailouts, cutting the defense budget by 30 percent, legalizing marijuana and making health care a universal human right. These initiatives are all part of Stein’s “Green New Deal” for America.

Stein, a Massachusetts native who earned her medical degree from Harvard, hopes to tap into both the Occupy Wall Street movement, as well as the waning enthusiasm for President Obama. Between the Arab uprisings, Occupy, and the global sense of discontent among the 99 percent, Stein insists the time is ripe for a Green electoral success.

“We are at this incredible historic moment,” she told me and a group of Green Party friends over dinner in Portland’s Old Port.

The spirit of democracy and justice is breaking out all over the place. People are breaking away from establishment politics which has gotten us to this god-awful place where the world is falling apart around us… It’s really an incredible moment for us to turn a breaking-point into a tipping-point, and to take back the promise of our democracy and the peaceful, just, green future that we deserve.

Stein went on to criticize not merely the Obama administration, but the two-party duopoly that dominates our political system.

“We’ve gotten to the place we are in—this breaking point for people, for the planet, for the economy, and for democracy—we’ve gotten here because the two-party political establishment has basically delivered crisis after crisis,” she said.

Stein has made the issue of student loans one of her primary concerns. As president she would effectively wipe-out student debt from college loans, which recently surpassed credit card debt nationally. She would also make college education free.

“Students are the economic engine of our economy,” she said. “But they have become indentured servants to Wall Street. Students with their tuition have been effectively underwriting tax-breaks for the rich.”

Furthermore, Stein would tax Wall Street transactions in an effort to reduce speculation, and tax capital gains as income. She would also establish a progressive income tax so that wealthy Americans pay their fair share.

On the international front, she would end the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere, close the numerous U.S. military bases throughout the globe, and, taking a broader look, eventually end the very concept of war itself.

In short, Stein is the Ralph Nader of 2012.

But then there is that pesky “spoiler” argument… Stein addressed the tired third-party-candidates-take-votes-away-from-Democrats mentality upfront. “Voting for any of them [Obama or Romney] is a mandate for four more years of Wall Street rule,” she said. “That is the definition of ‘throwing away your vote’.”

Stein added:

The politics of fear has been drummed into us over the last ten years, telling you that you have to vote your fears and not your values. And how exactly is that working out for you these days…? Silence is not an effective political strategy. As Frederick Douglass said, “Power concedes nothing without a demand.” That is what our campaign is all about.

The following Saturday, Stein won the Maine Green Independent Party’s state convention. Roseanne Barr—who, along with Stein and Mesplay, addressed the convention via Skype—came in a close second.

But Jill Stein is not a comedian, or a Hollywood entertainer. Her campaign is not a joke. She is the real deal. Even MPBN’s Susan Sharon decided Stein was worthy of a brief interview during her visit to Maine. (Consider it the network’s token acknowledgement that Stein exists.)

“We deserve a voice in this election,” Stein said, “and a choice in the polls that is not bought and paid for by Wall Street.”

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