Oct. 13, 2016 By Jack Jodell.
As a longtime progressive, who has been a major supporter of human and economic rights and a strong opponent of greedy, profit-driven, authoritarian, anti-democracy, and pro-corporate reactionary forces, I was initially VERY attracted to the candidacy of Bernie Sanders to be our next President. I supported his choice of running for the Democratic Party’s nomination, as I believed (and still do) of that being the only pragmatic method to win the White House. For the sole way for a person to be elected President is by availing him or herself of the support and services of millions of party volunteers and using every available resource that major party has at its disposal to get the job done. Bernie eventually lost that coveted nomination to Hillary Clinton by a whisker, and so I decided to support her candidacy, as many of the tenets of Bernie’s progressive platform were successfully entered into the new Democratic Party’s planks. Some of Bernie’s supporters did not agree and found that supporting Clinton was far too unpalatable for them, and so they began to drift toward either Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson, or to Green Party candidate Dr. Jill Stein. I have already devoted two blogposts to describing what a disastrous mistake voting for Gary Johnson would be, so in this post I will show what a mistake voting for Jill Stein would be.
On the surface one might assume that voting for a progressive like Dr. Stein would be a perfectly natural choice for an ex-Bernie Sanders supporter. However, by doing a closer and deeper examination of Dr. Stein, it soon becomes clear that she is NOT suitable for the presidency. There are, in my opinion, a number of important reasons for having reached this conclusion. Yes, she supports a $15 per hour minimum wage, is very pro-environment and anti-corporate, and considers health care to be a right for all, but she fails miserably in a number of other very important, pragmatic ways.
First and foremost, Jill Stein is NOT listed on the ballots of all 50 states! She is lacking 3 states – Nevada, Oklahoma, and South Dakota, and is eligible only as a write-in candidate in a number of others. In the entire history of our nation, NO write-in candidate has ever been elected President! Beyond that, she has only won election previously to local office and has never won election to a statewide or national office. She ran for President as the Green Party nominee in 2012, but failed to attain even 1% of the popular vote. Though espousing progressive values, her candidacy this time is frowned upon by a number of leading progressives, including Bernie Sanders, Noam Chomsky, and Them Hartmann. All three of these men have instead endorsed Hillary Clinton, correctly believing that a vote for Stein in a swing state could enable that dastardly Donald Trump to win that state. Bernie himself told us “this is not the time for a protest vote.” Chomsky went even further. During a recent imterview on Democracy Now, he told host Amy Goodman, “In a swing state—a state where it’s going to matter which way you vote—I would vote against Trump, and by elementary arithmetic, that means you hold your nose and you vote Democrat. I don’t think there’s any other rational choice. Abstaining from voting or, say, voting for … a candidate you prefer, a minority candidate, just amounts to a vote for Donald Trump, which I think is a devastating prospect.” Stein’s response to this was that Chomsky was subscribing to “the politics of fear.” However, nearly all rational analysts ubderstand that Clinton is the only candidate who can stop Donald Trump from assuming power, and that fear of his ascendancy is wholly justified. For recent previous Republican Presidents have greatly harmed this country, with George W. Bush putting the United States into two very costly wars, damaging progress in scientific research by banning stem cell research, and depriving us of constitutional rights by passing the horribly invasive Patriot Act and instigating the use of torture by our armed forces. Prior to him, Ronald Reagan destroyed the middle class by beginning the practice of giving huge tax breaks to the wealthy and greatly diminishing the power and scope of labor unions. Oddly enough, these horrible Republican presidents seem nearly sane when compared to the antics and looming threat of Trump. Thom Hartmann dismisses Stein as a mere vanity candidate, who pops up every 4 years to just get attention. Since it is abundantly clear that Stein has neither the following nor the apparatus to win the election, it is hard to disagree with him.
Dr. Stein also claims that both Trump and Clinton are the same. This assertion is completely false. While Hillary was indeed very friendly with Wall Street banks and derived much income from speaking before them, she is well aware of how their derivative speculation nearly plunged the world into economic depression in 2008. Partly due to intense
pressure put onto her by Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primaries, she is now committed to reining them in with new, much-needed regulations. She is also committed to a $15 per hour minimum wage, and raising the caps on Social Security income for the wealthy to strenghten and even expand recipient benefits. She will also press for a surtax on incomes over $5 million per year. She has come out against bad trade deals like the TPP; wants to modify NAFTA; and has also come out against fracking and further oil pipeline development. This represents a welcome shift in her thinking from her days in the U.S. Senate. She has come out with a solid plan to fund college expense for the poor and lower middle class and to relieve those already far too burdened with huge student loan debt. She has also demonstrated the ability to compromise and reach out across the aisle to get things done, something neither Stein nor Donald Trump have exhibited. Regarding Trump, he has opposed an increase in the minimum wage (saying American workers are paid too much already), and has endorsed the same old tired, already tried and failed Reaganomics “trickle down” approach to economics, whereby the wealthy get further huge tax breaks they certainly do NOT need. Additionally, Trump has proven himself to be an out of touch racist, Islamophobe, and misogynist, sorely lacking in the temperament and dignity so vitally needed for the presidency. In this blogger’s educated view, Dr. Stein’s assertion that “We have two ways to commit suicide here, and I say no thank you to them both,” is inaccurate and should be rejected by voters. Hillary Clinton should be elected President, and should have a new, solidly progressive base in both houses of Congress to help her get her ambitious agenda going. But merely electing her and a better Congress doesn’t mean we can relax and rest on our laurels. No, that is where our job just BEGINS: we MUST keep her true to the progressive planks she campaigned upon, and make sure she uses the “bully pulpit” to push for and pass legislation beneficial to US in the MAJORITY 99%!
Finally, owing to her having never been elected to national office, even if Jill Stein were to win the presidency, she would have virtually no friends in Congress to help her get anything passed. Her entire term in office would be a wasted 4 years of utter futility. Rather than jumping into the presidency from out of nowhere and naively expecting a miracle to happen, it would be far more advantageous for Ms. Stein to first win some kind of highly visible statewide or national office. From there she could build a following and make a later, and perhaps more successful, foray into presidential politics.
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