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Stein and Greens hope to take a step toward change

July 16, 2012

Jill Stein and other members of the Green Party know that she doesn’t have a chance to become president of the United States in November.

But the 62-year-old Massachusetts pediatrician and her supporters hope that her run for the White House this fall is one more step in building a third-party movement that will someday pose a true challenge to the Democrats and Republicans.

Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein gives her acceptance speech on Saturday, July 14, 2012.

“We would consider 5 percent [of the presidential vote] an enormous victory,” said Scott McLarty, a media coordinator for the Greens. “She’ll be pounding the pavement. We’re running to win, although we’re a long shot, no doubt.”

Stein, who received the Green presidential nomination during the party’s national convention in Baltimore on Saturday, said she is taking a break from pediatric medicine to practice “political medicine” because America’s Democratic system has been broken and corrupted by two parties beholden to corporate interests.

Unless the Greens are successful at changing the country’s political dialogue, she asserts, the nation will continue to move steadily toward decline, with more Middle Class home foreclosures, crushing student debt and “endless illegal wars.”

“We are a movement that is alive and well across America and we are here to stay,” Stein told the 279 delegates who gathered at the Holiday Inn on West Lombard Street. “If we want to protect children’s health or anything for that matter … we first have to fix the broken political system. We need a new, unbought political party that can put people of integrity into office.”

In that vein, Stein chose longtime activist Cheri Honkala as her running mate. Honkala, a single mother who was homeless herself at one time, beat out actress Roseanne Barr for the Green’s vice presidential nomination.

The Stein campaign is built around a Green New Deal, a four-part “emergency” plan that calls for an Economic Bill of Rights, a transition to a green economy, reform of the financial sector, and a more open electoral system that reduces the influence of corporations in American politics and opens elections to more political choices.

The plan, Stein said, would help create a more environmentally sustainable society and guarantee all Americans a living wage, a free college education and access to affordable healthcare through “Medicare for all.”

Jill Stein, right, with her running mate Cheri Honkala.

She said the reforms outlined in the plan would put 25 million people to work in a green economy that includes clean manufacturing, more public transportation and renewable energy.

The Green New Deal also calls for a moratorium on home foreclosures, the development of a public banking system, a 90 percent tax on bonuses for bailed out bankers, publicly financed elections, repeal of the un-American parts of the Patriot Act, and support for immigration reform, including passage of the Dream Act. (For more information about the Green New Deal, click here.)

In her acceptance speech, Stein urged voters to take the Greens seriously, arguing that Americans should not be afraid to break from the traditional two-party system.

She said polls indicate that most Americans agree with the Green agenda but are often scared away from voting for third parties by the politics of fear perpetrated by the Democrats and Republicans.

“Silence is not an effective political strategy,” she said. “The politics of fear has brought us everything we are afraid of.”

Embracing the Occupy Wall Street movement that started in New York last year, Stein said, “We signal to the world that we — the 99 percent — have taken the stage,” adding that they would not stop until they change “the White House into a Green House.”

Stein is no stranger to electoral politics. She ran for governor of Massachusetts as a Green in 2002, losing to Republican Mitt Romney. She ran unsuccessfully for state representative in 2004 and secretary of state in 2006. She is a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Medical School.

Stein is currently on the ballot in 21 states and hopes to be on 45 state ballots by the fall. She has already qualified for federal matching funds for this election cycle, and party officials say the campaign’s goal is to get at least 5 percent of the national presidential vote to lock in federal funding for 2016.

Although they have never won a national election, the Green delegates who gathered for the three-day convention last weekend remained optimistic about the future. They believe they are right on the issues, that they have a quality candidate, and that the country is reaching a crossroads that will soon provide a window of opportunity for a third-party challenge.

“Jill Stein is probably the smartest person in the room,” said Eric Siegel, a delegate from Rhode Island. “[She’s] exactly the kind of thing the country needs.”

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One Comment
  1. Everyone with any sense can rally around Stein, even those with no faith in the elections. Aren’t we all accustomed to symbolic acts?

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