The Wisdom of Jill Stein, Green Party Presidential Candidate
Steve Horn of Truth-Out recently interviewed Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein. I have compiled below some compelling excerpts from it.
But first, some biographical background on Jill Stein:
Dr. Jill Stein is a mother, housewife, physician, longtime teacher of internal medicine, and pioneering environmental-health advocate.
She is the co-author of two widely-praised reports, In Harm's Way: Toxic Threats to Child Development, published in 2000, and Environmental Threats to Healthy Aging, published in 2009. The first of these has been translated into four languages and is used worldwide. The reports promote green local economies, sustainable agriculture, clean power, and freedom from toxic threats. ...
Jill has appeared as an environmental health expert on the Today Show, 20/20, Fox News, and other programs. She was also a member of the national and Massachusetts boards of directors of the Physicians for Social Responsibility. ...
Having witnessed the ability of big money to stop health protective policies on Beacon Hill, Jill became an advocate for campaign finance reform, and worked to help pass the Clean Election Law. This law was approved by the voters by a 2-1 margin, but was later repealed by the Massachusetts Legislature on an unrecorded voice vote.
In 2002 ADD activists in the Massachusetts Green-Rainbow Party approached Dr. Stein and asked her to run for Governor of Massachusetts. Dr. Stein accepted, and began her first foray into electoral politics. She was widely credited with being the best informed and most credible candidate in the race. ...
In 2003, Jill co-founded the Massachusetts Coalition for Healthy Communities, a non-profit organization that addresses a variety of issues that are important to the health and well-being of Massachusetts communities, including health care, local green economies, and grassroots democracy.
Jill represented the Green-Rainbow Party in two additional races – one for State Representative in 2004 and one for Secretary of State in 2006. In 2006 she won the votes of over 350,000 Massachusetts citizens – which represented the greatest vote total ever for a Green-Rainbow candidate.
In 2008, Jill helped formulate a "Secure Green Future" ballot initiative that called upon legislators to accelerate efforts to move the Massachusetts economy to renewable energy and make development of green jobs a priority. The measure won over 81 per cent of the vote in the 11 districts in which it was on the ballot.
Jill was born in Chicago and raised in suburban Highland Park, Illinois. She graduated magna cum laude from Harvard College in 1973, and from Harvard Medical School in 1979. Jill enjoys writing and performing music, and enjoys long walks with her Great Dane, Bandita. Dr. Stein lives in Lexington with her husband, Richard Rohrer, also a physician. She has two sons, Ben and Noah, who have graduated from college in the past few years.
Some enlightening and inspiring excerpts from Steve Horn's interview with Dr. Stein:
Jill Stein’s motive for running:
Specifically, it was the debt ceiling debacle last spring when President Obama put Social Security and Medicare on the table: it really felt like, "How could we not put an opposition voice up against this? This is outrageous!"
Between the Keystone XL Pipeline debacle, the ozone regulation roll-back; expanding war - multiple wars, drones and drone surrogate wars - our "pull out of Iraq"; only to establish a new base in Kuwait, that we now have a new front in the war for oil inCentral Africa; and the tripling of the troop presence inAfghanistan, it just felt like "How can we not have a voice of opposition here? This is nuts!"
Jill Stein’s take on the Green Party:
You can see the Greens as weak and fringe or, on the other hand, you can see them as incredibly heroic survivors who've managed to withstand the barrage from corporate America, and the fear campaigns and the smear campaigns, and being kept off the ballot, and censored and away from the microphone and all of that. ... it's extremely hard to survive in this extremely repressive political environment. But Greens have made it for the long haul and it was going to be us or no one, and I felt like it would be unconscionable not to step up to the plate when it seemed like our campaign team was probably best prepared to run a national race.
Jill Stein’s political and professional background:
I have always been involved in issue-based politics, not party politics - I was never really originally drawn to party politics. I'm trained as a medical doctor - that's my field: I've been practicing long enough to see how extremely broken our health care system is, how broken our health is, the link between that and the environment. I had become very active in the world of health care advocacy, advocating for single payer, but also in the world of environmental politics, and advocating for being a community provider of health. ....
... I was continually shocked that things were not the way the media portrayed them to be, that it wasn't like you had "Red," "Blues" and "Greens." No, you had people who were really bewildered and distraught at the system, and the lack of solutions and the lack of integrity and they could smell a rat on both sides of the aisle. You didn't need sophisticated politics or ideology to get that the system was really screwed and screwing you. It was really exciting to be out there in the public domain having this conversation. I realized you don't do this work in one race - you have to build a party and a following as you do the work - and that's where it basically has continued from since then. I feel like I've been running continually since 2000 when I became involved for the 2002 election.
Jill Stein’s take on Obamacare:
Well, we have it in Massachusetts, since it's really modeled after RomneyCare (passed under Republican Party presidential candidate Mitt Romney when he was the Governor of Massachusetts), and it's very problematic. It is not a solution - it did extend care to some people who didn't have it, but kind of at the cost of working families. The costs are not fairly distributed; the mandate is extremely unfair; the system is entirely unsustainable, and it is not working.
I don't support ObamaCare and see it as a step backward that entrenches the power of the private health care industry.
Jill Stein’s take on the Green Party as the citizen’s best option:
Well, the exciting thing is that people in the party are really motivated right now and see it as the perfect storm after having beat their heads against the wall during the Obama bubble.
... I think Greens feel so vindicated right now. We've had this experience over the past eight years where we've been told to silence ourselves, muzzle yourselves, shut up, hold your nose, you know, vote for the "lesser evil."
... It is not a survivable type of politics. Witness what just happened with the Defense Authorization bill. We cannot go there and we need to do something. It just doesn't pass the "laugh test" anymore, and silence just is not working, nor is the politics of fear. The politics of fear has brought us everything we are afraid of, including the endless wars, the collapsing economy - all the rest. Greens are standing proud now, and none too soon. Two ships are going down - Democrats and Republicans are both going down. Historically, we've said the Republican ship is going faster. I think that's debatable right now, but regardless, is the solution for getting off of a sinking ship to jump on another ship that is also going down and maybe just a little bit less quickly?
... it's definitely a lot of work. It's a really uneven playing field that we have to exhaust ourselves in. The Democratic and Republican Parties can start off right away and get out their message. It's a rigged system, a totally rigged system, but it's a really good time to be fighting it, and people are angrier than I've ever seen them. This is my sixth race, and in some of them, some people have been angry at me for running as a Green, and I expected it in this race, but I've been shocked not to encounter it as much this time around.
Jill Stein on the Green New Deal:
The Green New Deal is an emergency jobs creation plan that really addresses the crisis in our economy, in unemployment, and likewise, in the climate. And truth be told, it has enormous potential to address health issues, as well. It's a win-win on all those fronts and is modeled after the New Deal that helped us get out of the Great Depression, and would help us through direct and indirect means, ways to create scores of new jobs and really attack this problem with all of the inspiration and force that it deserves, not just a little two million job creation hit that comes and goes, but to really tackle the crisis head on. In doing so, it would do away with the recession and put people back to work, jumpstarting the economy as a green economy, instead of going back and going back to the same old economy that isn't going to work. It goes green and also relocalizes, and it jumpstarts, in particular, small businesses and co-operatives. And in so doing, it puts a stop to escalating climate change.
The US, as you know, is the largest per capita contributor toclimate change and the direction the US pushes goes a long way toward determining what the rest of the world does, and from that perspective, dramatically downscaling carbon emissions goes a long way toward determining the global carbon budget and helps move global policy that way. Typically, the jobs it would create are in the green area of the economy.
We're talking about green manufacturing, sustainable local agriculture, public transportation and clean renewable energy that has the added benefit of making wars for oil obsolete. This would be felt immediately, as the millions of dollars spent on the military-industrial-complex on an annual basis would be put into creating these jobs.
The numbers we've worked out - we look at various models for doing this, and we looked at a report by an economist named Phillip Harvey out of Rutgers Law School, and according to his model, the cost of creating these jobs - the costs of creating these jobs would be less than what was spent in the Obama stimulus package, which essentially created two million jobs, which were good and probably blunted a worse catastrophe and did add some jobs in the area of the green economy, but ultimately wasn't of sufficient magnitude to really fix the problem. So, this will do a whole lot more. The cost for the stimulus package worked out to be about $220,000 per job created, because the mechanisms were indirect and relied a lot on tax incentives, which don't always get used to create jobs. This, instead, would be money used directly to create jobs and would be more like $20,000 per job created.
Jill Stein on the urgency of climate change:
... if you follow the science there we don't have four years to wait. I mean, we don't; we really have to start tackling this now. It's really important for the climate and it's time that people put their politics where their values and science argue they ought to be. I think Obama supporters are really having a rude awakening right now.
The current science - I mean, there's been doubt on that for quite some time - and increasingly, the science confirms the cynics here. When you do full life-cycle accounting of it, it [natural gas] is not a cleaner fuel, and is very carbon intensive. Add into that all the impacts on water and we do not want to be going there.
Absolutely [in response to supporting a national ban on fracking]. We should not be opening up new lines of carbon right now, like shale gas and shale oil, as well as tar sands oil, and we just cannot go there right now if we do not want to go over the climate cliff. We are already a bit over the climate cliff right now as it stands. As conservative of an organization as theInternational Energy Association is, the IEA, started by Henry Kissinger and others, they're saying - we're not talking about radicals here - we're looking at 5-6 degrees Celsius increases of warming by the end of century and that's just not survivable. And that's just where we're at now, so there's no way that we can conceivably get out of here alive if we keep doing what we're doing. People need to hear the truth about that.
Already, the US has been pulled back in their climate understanding by intensepropaganda campaign, but even so, they still get that it's really a problem and they're seeing it right now, with the droughts and the floods and the hurricanes and all that, so people do not even doubt this anymore. I think the number is at something like 70 percent of people who think this needs to be dealt with, so I think we badly need national leadership to do the right thing.
Jill Stein on the Green Party strategy:
Our strategy has a lot to do with alternative media and selectively engaging with groups who have been screwed over by both parties. They don't need much convincing. Students, for one, they're there. We launched our campaign at Western Illinois University. Students are on the receiving end, and when you're talking about an issue of generational injustice, because everything we're discussing will end up falling into the hands of the youth and young people - unfairness in jobs, a climate catastrophe - and we have to ask ourselves what kind of world we're making for them, how we're going to clean up this mess we've left for them. I mean, students and young people are really on the receiving end.
What civilization devours its young? Because that's what we're doing. The profiteers are going after the young as a population to exploit. That's why the loans are so high; that's why young people have been put at the bottom of the priority list. They are victims of profiteering. We are all about fighting that. We think green jobs will help with this fight; we will forgive student debt. They must be engaged because they bring creativity and fresh life into our economy, and we need them badly. We will provide tuition-free higher education, since it's comparable to a high school education in the 20th century - you need a higher education degree in the 21st century economy and it should be provided as a basic right.
I also support legalization of marijuana, ending war, and other bread-and-butter concerns for young people. This is a constituency that is just itching for a platform of this sort. After that, the Occupy movement is a key constituency. UC-Davis, for example, the night before I came there, said they disavow the Democratic and Republican Party, so that's a great opportunity. The antiwar movement, the civil liberties movement - in fact, I've met Republicans and Ron Paul supporters who have told me, who have said that when Ron Paul doesn't make it in the Republican Party they're supporting us in our campaign because we are the only voice in the race for our assaulted civil liberties. This has been completely different than my experiences with campaigns. This one seems to have a life of its own. Running in other campaigns as a Green, outreach is a big part of the job. This one has been different.
We're fighting within an extremely rigged system and I think that's why we can know the public is with us through polling - the public is more than disenchanted with the two corporate parties and has rejected them. The largest group of voters says that they are neither Democrats nor Republicans and are fed up with both. Large majorities favor bringing the troops home, support good wages for workers and all of the things we stand for. So, if we really lived in a democracy, then we'd expect to win this, but that's not the way the American political system works. It's mostly about money, and if you get a word in edgewise about democracy, you're doing really well. We don't expect that they are going to open up debates with us, but on the other hand, we could fight our way in.
Another option is to do an alternative debate, outside the debate, on the debate grounds, where we are live streaming the event to the general public. We can create the debate, even though they try to prohibit it. We can hold simultaneous output of the questions, so that we can answer the questions ourselves and get it out to our viewers. It won't be easy.
Our job is to do the right thing in both the climate emergency and the jobs emergency and not let the public relations campaigns of the various fossil fuel interests - and nuclear interests as well - confuse our thinking - because they're hyped up when you actually look at this stuff carefully. Take, for example, carbon sequestration: there's really no evidence for it whatsoever that it's going to do the job, and it just so happens that it puts billions of dollars into the pockets of coal companies. This is just an exercise in influence peddling. Our job is to do the right thing because we do not have time to keep going down the wrong road, and we keep allowing influence to be bought.
We do not accept money from lobbyists, corporations, CEOs or corporations that hire lobbyists, so I think those very unconvincing strategies hold sway when you're taking money from those corporations, but when you're not taking money from them, they really don't hold sway at all.
Jill Stein on Israel/Palestine conflict:
Israel/Palestine is a microcosm of broader US foreign policy principles, and our foreign policy needs to come into harmony with principles of human rights, nonviolent conflict resolution and a respect for international law - haven't been there at all in Israel/Palestine and more globally. And I think, globally speaking, the issue of clean and renewable energy factors in here as well. Because as we become less dependent on oil, we can stop fighting wars for oil and they go hand in hand and make each other possible.
So, in Israel/Palestine, we need to start holding all parties accountable. All of the various factions responsible in Palestine and in Israel, for stopping human rights violations, so that assassinations are not accepted, so that apartheid is not accepted etc. We need to ask all parties to come up to the same standards of respect of human rights. We need to stop, in particular, being Israel's enabler of being the more powerful prohibitor of human rights. Occupation is unacceptable.
Jill Stein on the military:
Well, the bloated military budget is first of all, not good for our safety, and neither is the militarization of our foreign policy. Neither is a good thing and I think they enable a knee-jerk military solution to all problems and it is not a good thing for us to have this ready default to engage militarily. It's extremely expensive and we can't sustain it, and again, the more we create renewable, secure energy sources domestically, the less we need to do what we're doing internationally. Our program is to downsize our military by at least 50 percent, if not more.
Well, [December 15] is the 220th birthday of the Bill of Rights, and it, in particular, is on life support. The Patriot Act symbolizes the death of the Fourth Amendment and the right to judicial review, and the right to a trial has just been sabotaged by Obama. It is as if a coup has occurred. Any one of these alone is bad enough, but when you add them all up, we are on some pretty thin ice right now as a free society. Our freedom is hanging in thin air right now. There is now a legal basis for curtailing that freedom.
Yes [in repealing the Patriot Act]. And also, an immediate repeal of the Defense Authorization Act that just passed. It's an outrage.
The Green Party asserts it is not the alternative it is the imperative! I am thinking the same about Dr. Stein for our next President!