With Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign falling short, his followers have limited choices. Many would support Hillary Clinton. But the cadre of activists and political newcomers, including the young who have flocked to him, may not accept that choice. Perhaps they’ll retreat from the 2016 election battle. Perhaps they’ll find another candidate.
They would be welcomed by Dr. Jill Stein. The physician-activist is favored to win the Green Party presidential nomination this year after heading the party’s ticket in 2012.
“The whole reason for having an independent third party that cannot be silenced is there are 25 percent of Bernie’s voters who are not going into that dark night to vote for the No. 1 cheerleader for Wal-Mart, for Wall Street, for an endless war,” Stein said in a telephone interview this week. “They are looking for another place to hang their hat.”
Listen to Truthdig Editor in Chief Robert Scheer’s February interview with Stein here.
Whether hers is a winning place is questionable. In 2012 Stein received 469,501 votes, or 0.3 percent, according to the Federal Elections Commission. In the current election, the Green Party is on the ballot so far in 20 states comprising 55 percent of the population. Stein said the party “is aiming to get on the ballot in every state.” She is campaigning hard, traveling around the country for support for the Green nominating convention in Houston, set for Aug. 4-7.
But winning or losing is not what’s most important in discussing the Stein campaign. Stein is providing a place for the left to engage in a serious argument about liberal solutions to the nation’s problems that have been ignored by the two major parties.
I told her I’ve written about police, racism, homelessness, the decline of labor unions and the difficulties of the poor. I don’t see these issues reflected in the presidential campaign, except when there is some especially horrific police shooting, and then Black Lives Matter is cautiously brought up. She agreed.
I was most interested in the portion of her platform designed to create jobs, including blue-collar occupations that have been ravaged by overseas competition, mechanization and the loss of trade union power. She has offered a jobs program that includes a “Green New Deal,” in which fossil fuel-powered plants, homes and transportation would instead be powered by solar, wind and water.
Stein has proposed other ways of providing jobs. One is to strengthen unions. “The decline of the unions and the decline of the Democratic Party have gone hand in hand,” she told me.
It must start with the president. “You can start by getting out there on the picket lines,” she said. “If there was support coming for striking workers from the White House, it would be mind-boggling.” In addition, she would press for legislation removing current restrictions on union organizing.
Like Sanders, she would get rid of the free trade agreements the United States has with 20 countries, which she said cost many jobs.
“A President Stein would renegotiate them?” I asked.
“That’s right,” she said. “Slow them down and reverse them, even before they are renegotiated, based on (countries’) violations of human rights, and environmental and labor standards.”
Stein’s solution to the decline in manufacturing, which has shuttered factories across the country, includes the formation of worker cooperatives — enterprises owned and run by workers. These could replace abandoned plants.
She said: “Now, if workers want to start a cooperative, it is an uphill climb to get the financing, to get the technical assistance, educational programs and so on. There should be systematic development so they can get the financing they need, the technical know-how in order to develop.”
She cited the Mondragon Corp. in the Basque region of Spain. It employs more than 80,000 people in finance, industry, retail and knowledge-based, tech-related enterprises. It is the seventh-largest Spanish company and a presence overseas.
Wait, before you go…
Third-party presidential candidate Jill Stein. (Gage Skidmore / CC BY-SA 2.0)
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