Green Party Candidate Jill Stein: 'Political Silence Has Not Been an Effective Strategy'
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JH: So Roseanne, I assume, has a much higher name recognition than you do, but that’s not creating a barrier for you, given that it’s a party with an activist base where everybody’s paying close attention?
JS: Exactly. It’s an activist base that’s fairly informed and engaged. It’s a party of grassroots politics and grassroots organizing. I come to it with a long track record in that capacity. What I found running a statewide campaign was that was the best way to build our local organizations. So I entered into this race in order to really build an organization for the long haul that can challenge this incredibly deadly path that we are on in terms of downsizing and offshoring our jobs, the declining wages of workers, the continuing and ongoing Wall Street bailouts, the catastrophe of the climate that we continue to rush towards headlong, the breakdown of our healthcare system and this pseudo solution with the Affordable Care Act, which unfortunately doesn’t do the job.
There are so many good solutions out there that people are really hungering for. That was really my inspiration in running this campaign – that there is a movement out there in the grassroots. It needs a voice in this election and a choice at the polls come November.
JH: My guess is that when it comes to ideology, when it comes to policies, there are a lot of people within the Democratic Party base -- not the conservative Democrats and not the establishment, but the progressive base – who would fall closer to your views than the views of the Democratic Party leadership. I think a lot of people don’t necessarily understand the kind of barriers to entry that third parties, not just the Green Party but Libertarians and the Constitution Party on the right, face. Tell me about the structural realities that have kept third parties, with a very small number of exceptions throughout history, from really gaining a foothold in national politics.
JS: The real barrier isn’t so much that people don’t understand third parties or don’t understand the technical barriers. I think the real stumbling block is fear. There has been an incredible fear campaign, certainly over the past 10 years and more, that if we stand up and actually vote our values -- we can't actually vote for ourselves, vote our ideals and our solutions that are right there and ready to be implemented. We’ve been hammered with this fear campaign, but I think it’s worth a fresh look.
I’m finding it so exciting to have this discussion with people now because people are incredibly frustrated now and are incredibly distraught, feeling like they just worked themselves to the bone in the last presidential election and what did we get for it? We continue to have the expanding wars, the meltdown of the climate, the continuing, ongoing bailouts for Wall Street. We had the attack on Iraq and the launching of the Afghanistan war under Bush, but in the Obama administration we’ve had the surge and he doubled the size of the Bush force in Afghanistan. You had Obama withdrawing from Iraq on George Bush’s withdrawal date because he couldn’t negotiate immunity for our forces, or the Iraq war would have been longer. One of his first acts was initiating greater bombing into Pakistan and then into Yemen and Somalia.
We’ve been told that we had to be quiet and sort of hold our noses and vote our fear or terrible things would happen. What we find 10 years later is that political silence has not been an effective strategy. The politics of fear has delivered everything that we were afraid of. I think there’s a whole new openness, considering new solutions and acknowledging that the politics of fear leads to more fear. We need to answer that fear with the politics of courage. Look back over history, because while independent parties have been small, they have served a critical role in driving a progressive agenda into the dialogue.