The case for Jill Stein and the Green Party

Unlike Donald Trump or Gary Johnson, Jill Stein has a grasp of the issues and gives substantive answers to questions.  Unlike with Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, there is reason to believe that she means what she says.

Unlike Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, Jill Stein can be counted on not to risk nuclear war with Russia or to continue wars to dominate the Middle East.    Unlike even Bernie Sanders, she has a clear understanding of the costs and wrongness of U.S. military intervention.

Unlike Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, Jill Stein can be counted on to respect the Bill of Rights.  That means no assassinations, preventive detention or warrant-less surveillance.   It’s true that the NSA, CIA and other secret agencies might resist any effort by Stein or any other U..S. President to curb their power, but a start has to be made somewhere.

Unlike Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton or Gary Johnson, Jill Stein can be counted on to oppose corporate and financial practices that redistribute income upward.

Alone of all the candidates, she takes the threat of global warming seriously and would give priority to moving the United States to a sustainable, carbon-free economy.

Her proposed “Green New Deal” would be an effective means of putting Americans to work doing things that America needs.

It is true that, if elected, she would have virtually no chance of getting her program through Congress.   However, a President has many Constitutional powers she could exercise on her own.

She could prosecute financial fraud.  She could authorize the Department of Justice to initiate anti-trust suits.  She could nominate officials to regulatory agencies who were committed to enforcing regulations.

She could refrain from starting wars.  She could find ways of carrying out diplomatic relations with other nations that do not involve the threat of military action or economic sanctions.

If she was limited in her power to make things better, she at least would not continue to make things worse.

It also is true that she has virtually no chance of being elected.   My hope in voting for her is that someday there would be a critical mass of Green Party supporters, large enough to influence the two large parties and, maybe in the long run, become the nucleus of a new party.

But if a vote for the Green Party, or for that matter Libertarian Party, is wasted, why the relentless attack by Clinton supporters on the Greens?  Why is the idea of an alternative to the two major parties so threatening?

I admit I do not agree with Jill Stein on every single point.  For example, I am anti-interventionist, she is anti-military.  I think the day will come when the U.S. will need a strong military to defend ourselves against all the nations our government has turned against us with its policies.

And I also agree that voting for a small political party will not, in and of itself, bring about social change.  That requires grass-roots activist organizations, such as Fight for Fifteen, Black Lives Matter, Move to Amend or the Dakota Access Pipeline protesters.

I respect Noam Chomsky, Adolph Reed Jr. and others who favor “critical support” of Hillary Clinton to stave off what they regard as the greater threat of Donald Trump.

My problem with this is that if I’m always willing to vote for a pro-corporate warmonger to avoid a lesser evil, then I’ll never be offered anything better.  It’s necessary to look beyond the next election.

I don’t believe in the Leninist idea of “heighten the contradictions” (make things worse) in order to bring on revolution.   But the contradictions are going to be heightened, no matter whether Trump or Clinton wins.  The only long-range answer is to put the United States on a path to peace and prosperity, and neither of the two major-party candidates has a plan to do this.

My other problem with lesser-evil voting is that, as I see among some of my circle of acquaintances, critical support becomes uncritical support, and any criticism of Clinton or right-wing Democrats is equated with impermissible support for Donald Trump.

LINKS

The Green New Deal | Green Party of the United States

“The Spoiler” Speaks: Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein on her campaign and building an alternative to the two corporate parties for Jacobin.

Spoiling for the Green Party: Before she can play on the national stage, Jill Stein must challenge lesser evilism’s reign by Jacob Silverman for The Baffler.

Jill Stein: The Democratic Party ‘fakes left,’ marches right by Eli Watkins for CNN.

Jill Stein Wikipedia page.

Green Party of the United States Wikipedia page.

∞∞∞

Update:  My e-mail pen pal Bill Harvey called my attention to UP FOR DEBATE: The Lesser Evil, an interesting symposium in In These Times magazine on whether to vote for Jill Stein.

The Left Deserves Better Than Jill Stein by Kate Aronoff.

More Than a Protest: Why Voting Green Counts by David Cobb,

Voting for Hillary Is a Privilege: One Not Shared by the People She’ll Bomb by Marc Daalder.

Three Reasons to Vote for Hillary Clinton That Have Nothing to Do With Hillary Clinton by Thomas Geoghegan for In These Times.

How to Vote When There’s No Lesser Evil by Leonard C. Goodman.

How a Trump Presidency Would Unleash a Torrent of Racist Violence—And Devastate the Left by Arun Gupta.

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4 Responses to “The case for Jill Stein and the Green Party”

  1. Bill Harvey Says:

    Thanks again, Phil.

    The best reason to pay attention to Stein and the GP is for clarification on the issues. Generally they are a reliable social democratic counterpoint to the dumb stuff that’s thrown at us on a regular basis by the Republicans and particularly the corporate liberal Democrats. (I assume that most of your readers do not fall for the Reps’ nonsense.)

    In addition, a protest vote can’t hurt, I guess, but at this point the Green Party is a feeble protest option. I have little to no basis for believing that they’ll ever be an important part of building a viable and effective movement. Don’t get me to talking about my experience and observation of the GP here in Baltimore in the 16 years of its post-Nader 2000 existence. And reports from around the country include comments about other local organizations that describe them as “a hot mess,” “there is no there there,” and, most tellingly,
    “[The problem is] that the Green Party’s stumble toward the presidency falls into the same traps that plague conventional Democratic Party politics: putting too much emphasis on the presidency and the electoral process itself, while declining to undertake the kind of deep organizing necessary to alter the state of play in these arenas.” This last from Kate Aronoff at IN THESE TIMES http://inthesetimes.com/features/lesser_evil_jill_stein_hillary_clinton.html drew a response from a Baltimore GP stalwart of “Hey Bill–too bad you are no longer living in Baltimore City or you wouldn’t endorse such whiny attacks from a Dem/Bernie supporter.” I live in Baltimore city so I have no idea what that part was about, and more importantly, so much for recognition of the problem. Maybe we could write this off as an election season cheering section indiscretion- after all, any honest discussion might jeopardize Stein ‘s prospects for drawing 5% of the vote.

    On election day I’ll check fivethirtyeight.com and if Clinton still has at least 55% of the vote in MD, I’ll register my protest w a Stein vote. I’ll not be party to putting any Republican- Trump only tops the list- into any office anywhere.I don’t think of this as “lesser evilism” or “critical support” but as plain self-defense; when self-defense goes out of style, you know something has gone haywire. And, yes, of course, CRITICAL “support” it must be, if that’s the way you choose to see it- no one reading this is more strongly opposed to the values and politics represented by Hillary Clinton.

    If I lived in a place where the GP was doing some good ground-level work, I might join them in that work- but not because I put much credence in the GP as a national political party project.

    I’d be interested to hear reports from your readers about the GP’s work in their cities.

    B

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  2. Vincent Tola Says:

    Bill. I am happy to report that the “good ground-level work” is happening locally with the Baltimore Green Party. It has taken 16 years, but we’re finally seeing progress that is significant, meaningful and going to last. We should talk after the election. -Vince

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  3. tiffany267 Says:

    Did not know that she is anti-military. That means we have at least one thing in common!

    Like

  4. ashiftinconsciousness Says:

    Excellent article. For years I’ve been warning people that the “lesser of two evils” way of voting continues the status quo which, obviously, prevents us from evolving as a society. And it blunts true dissident opinion by creating the mistaken idea that merely voting against the most oppressive candidate is dissenting from the accepted norm.

    People need to realize that an intelligent, civilized society will not allow a line to be drawn at a point of “accepted dissidence.” This is a disingenuous way of curtailing creative thought and true political dialogue.

    Thank you for a provocative post.

    Like

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