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Green Party Candidate Jill Stein: 'Political Silence Has Not Been an Effective Strategy'

"I entered into this race in order to really build an organization for the long haul."

For over a century, the United States has had a defacto two-party system. Our electoral rules are set up to stifle upstarts and maintain the dominance of two major parties.

But while they have very rarely won seats at the national level, third parties have played a role in shaping our politics – and our society – by promoting policies that have been ignored by the big two. Women's sufferage, the progressive income tax, child labor laws, Social Security and limits on working hours were all ideas promoted by third parties before being embraced by the public at large (third parties have also been incubators for more destructive policies like the “war on crime,” which George Wallace championed as head of the American Independent Party in 1968).

But it's hard to articulate their visions given the corporate media's tendency to ignore them. That's why we invited Jill Stein, a candidate for the Green Party's presidential ticket, to this week's AlterNet Radio Hour. Below is a lightly edited transcript (you can listen to the whole show here).

Joshua Holland: Why don’t we just start by telling our listeners a little bit about yourself. Introduce yourself to the electorate.

Jill Stein: Sure. I’m a medical doctor and a mother who got really worried about what I was seeing as a healthcare provider. Going way back, maybe 15 years, I saw that the healthcare system was broken and also saw that I was handing out pills and pushing people back to the things that were making them sick – everything from pollution to poverty and homelessness, a lousy food supply, and all the rest.

I became involved with my community trying to improve those things, and I found out very quickly that having solutions is what counts. Things like turning our polluting incinerators into recycling facilities to keep our air clean and create jobs, or phasing out our coal plants and instead creating jobs in weatherization and conservation, clean energy.

In short, I had the lesson that lots of advocates and concerned citizens have – that when we go to our elected officials, it’s not about good solutions, it’s money you bring in campaign contributions and the lobbyists around you that make the difference.

I basically got recruited a ways back for office with the Green Party, and in the process I went from desperation to inspiration seeing how ready the public is for a politics of integrity and to get beyond the divisiveness and the labels down to a politics of, by and for the people -- moving for solutions that people are desperate for.

I was then recruited into this race, my first experience in national politics, because I’ve mostly been focused on what we can do locally, but I hit my breaking point as so many others did when the president began to put Medicare and Social Security on the chopping block as the solution to this concocted debt ceiling crisis last year, which could have readily been avoided.

JH: You’re running in a primary against Roseanne Barr. What’s the Green’s process for selecting a candidate? There are no statewide primaries. Is there a convention?

JS: Well, there actually are statewide primaries. So far, there are something between seven to 10 of them altogether. In addition, we have statewide conventions and caucuses. So it’s much like the major parties except that there are fewer of the statewide primaries. I’m glad to say that my campaign has won all of them so far. Eleven out of 11 by major landslide margins.

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