Is The Green Party’s Jill Stein Really A Viable Presidential Option?

July 20, 2016  |  

Mikhail Voskresenskiy/Sputnik via AP

You know, very little has been said or written about the other candidate running for president.

Her name is Jill Stein and she is leading the ticket for the Green Party’s bid for the White House.

According to her campaign’s website, Stein is a “mother, an organizer, physician, and pioneering environmental-health advocate.”

She has helped lead initiatives to fight environmental racism and injustice, to promote healthy communities, to strengthen local green economies and to revitalize democracy. She has helped win victories in campaign finance reform, racially-just redistricting, green jobs, and the cleanup of incinerators, coal plants, and toxic threats. She was a principal organizer for the Global Climate Convergence for People, Planet and Peace over Profit.

Her platform includes such agenda items as addressing climate change (including creating a green New Deal that will allegedly “turn the tide on climate change, revive the economy & make wars for oil obsolete”); creating a minimum and livable wage of $15 an hour; ending poverty through a guarantee that everyone has the right to food, water, shelter and utilities; establishing health care as a right, which includes free for all single-payer health care; establishing education as a right with free schooling from pre-K to university; expanding, protecting and defending indigenous, LGBTQ and women’s rights; and creating a fair tax, which focuses on increasing revenue for social programs and decreasing money for the military.

She is also the only candidate remaining in the race with a clear objective on addressing mass incarceration and police brutality. Among her criminal justice reform platforms are goals that include ending the war on drugs, releasing non-violent offenders from jail, establishing independent police review boards, and demilitarizing local police departments.

And did I mention that she is the only candidate to have marched in a Black Lives Matter protest?

In short, she is basically everything progressive that Hillary Clinton is not and everything decent about humanity that Donald Trump will never be.

She even has the endorsement of civil rights activist and Princeton professor Cornel West, who in an interview with Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! said the following about why he supports her:

Well, one, in the language of Coltrane, she’s a major force for good, accenting the role of poor and working people being center stage. She’s green in terms of trying to save the planet in the face of corporate greed. She’s fundamentally concerned with issues of racial justice, legacies of white supremacy as well as male supremacy. She’s concerned about empowering working people. She opposes TPP, trying to make sure we don’t have the corporate reshaping of the world economy—the kind of policies, of course, Democratic Party has supported, President Obama has supported. It’s hard to find somebody at the national level who provides a certain kind of hope, given the unbelievable spiritual decline and moral decay. And by spiritual decline and moral decay, I mean greed and indifference and contempt in the driver seat among our elites vis-à-vis all working people and poor people. It’s just sad to see so many fellow working people and fellow citizens supporting a pseudo-populist and neofascist like Donald Trump. They’re in pain. The pain is very real, but they’re moving in a right-wing direction.

She seems legit, right?

Yet her candidacy has its naysayers. Like sex advice columnist and occasional media pundit Dan Savage. On one of his recent podcasts, he had this to say (as reported by The Stranger):

I have a problem with the Greens, I have a problem with the Libertarians. I have a problem with these fake, attention seeking, grandstanding Green/Libertarian party candidates who pop up every four years, like mushrooms in sh-t, saying that they’re building a third party. And those of us who don’t have a home in the Republican Party, don’t have a home in the Democratic Party, can’t get behind every Democratic position or Republican position, should gravitate toward these third parties. And help build a third party movement by every four f–king years voting for one of these a–holes like Jill f–king Stein, who I’m sure is a lovely person, she’s only an a–hole in this aspect.

If you’re interested in building a third party, a viable third party, you don’t start with president. You don’t start by running someone for f–king president.

Where are the Green Party candidates for city councils? For county councils? For state legislatures? For state assessor? For state insurance commissioner? For governor? For f–king dogcatcher? I would be SO willing to vote for Green Party candidates who are starting at the bottom, grassroots, bottom up, building a third party, a viable third party.

Solid point, if not for the fact that the Green Party has been known to run candidates in many local municipal and statewide elections. And according to the Party’s website, at least 100 Green Party candidates found their way onto the ballots during the November 2015 general election. And out of the 100, 18 of them actually won their office. The website also notes that since the beginning of 2015, at least 28 Green Party candidates have been elected as members of school boards, city councils, fire districts and planning commissions nationwide.

Not bad for a bunch of attention seekers.

But in spite of its small incremental successes, the Green Party continues to suffer from a credibility problem. Many progressive voters still blame the party, in particular, its then-presidential candidate Ralph Nader, for why the Democrats, particularly former Vice President Al Gore, lost the 2000 election. And while there have been many articles and studies that have disputed this popular belief, that hasn’t silenced many folks like Savage who see a vote for the Green Party as a wedge vote for the Republicans.

Ironically, it won’t be until the Green Party gets a win on the national level that the masses will begin to take it seriously as a viable alternative to the two-party system. And unfortunately, the only way it can do that is if the Party, which was founded on the principals of social justice, grassroots democracy and responsible capitalism, will compromise on a lot of its values, including accepting corporate donations and using super PACs.

It will also have to get sexy.

As messed up as it is to say, if the Green Party ever stands a chance of winning, or even having a real impact on the national level (and being seen as anything other than a fringe left group), it will have to run a candidate who is more celebrity than substance. It will have to run a candidate who can compete with the likes of Kim Kardashian and Donald Trump, who both proved to be masters at dominating our 24-hour news cycles and our conscious minds.

In politics, image matters. So far, Stein is pretty underexposed. While her platform hits all of the right marks, she suffers from the lack of name recognition – and overall personality – that has become pretty standard in our current political climate. And while I wouldn’t go as far as to suggest that a vote for Stein is a wasted vote, as Savage asserted, I will say that I just don’t see her campaign – or her – being a major factor in this upcoming presidential election.

Charing Ball is a writer, cultural critic, free-thinker, slick-mouth feminist and queen of unpopular opinions from Philadelphia. To learn more, visit NineteenSeventy-Seven.com.

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