Green Party Candidate Jill Stein: 'Political Silence Has Not Been an Effective Strategy'
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In the words of Frederick Douglass, “Power concedes nothing without a demand. Never has, never will.” To my mind that’s exactly what independent politics does. It brings that demand into the political arena, because without that demand we continue this landslide to the right without any kind of a backstop. I think people are really beginning to see that it’s not only ok to vote third party, but in fact it may very well be the only hope.
JH: Can you just discuss briefly the catch-22 in that there are legislative approaches that could certainly do a lot to open up our political system? There’s proportional representation, which is a probably a stretch. There’s instant runoff voting, also called ranked voting, that could make it so people could vote their consciences and not worry about the so-called “spoiler effect.” But you have this fundamental problem that in order to pass those measures you would need to first have some power. The power of the legislature right now is of course entirely in the hands of the Republicans and Democrats. So we have this catch-22 where we end up with the oligopoly of the two-party system. While we’d like to see it opened up we bump into a wall. How do we square that circle?
JS: Believe me, I have done my share of work on the legislative fixes here, particularly on ranked choice voting. It’s very hard to get people’s attention on voting reform when they don’t have jobs or the jobs that they have don’t pay a living wage, or when you’re a student and you’re up to your eyeballs in debt and are virtually an indentured servant going forward.
We’ve got to move the democracy reforms, but they need to be piggy-backed on the bread and butter things that people are so very concerned with and very focused on right now. To my mind, there are legislative solutions, but in order to exert them we need to stand up. This is where the larger circle gets squared. How do we ever move forward as a society, as concerned citizens and residents, and members of not only a nation, but the planet? We don’t have a lot of time by many indicators, particularly if you’re watching climate development.
For me the words of Alice Walker keep coming to mind, which are, “One of the biggest ways people give up power is by not knowing they have it to start with.” To look at what happened in Tunisia or Egypt -- not that those struggles are over, but enormous progress has been made, far more than anyone ever considered in their wildest dreams -- by people basically hitting the wall. There’s no doubt that we are hitting the wall in this country as well. In the Middle East, the role of young people who had no future, who had no jobs or didn’t have decent wages, that’s really what kindled these amazing breakthroughs. Those circumstances very much apply here in the US as well. We’ve got 30 million people who are struggling as indentured servants with debt. You have 50 million people who can’t afford their healthcare. Millions have lost their homes and millions more are at risk.
If all of us got together and were to stand up -- like, for example, we were able to with the PIPA and the SOPA legislation – we just stood up and we did it. We saw the Occupy movement doing that too. Very much driven by young people who decided they were at the breaking point and they were going to turn the breaking point into a tipping point. That is very much a philosophy of our campaign. We can’t control all the circumstances here, but we can mobilize the incredible power we have as ordinary citizens of the nation and the planet. To really standup against the system that has left us largely in incredible peril and more or less heading downhill very quickly.