Breaking News: Voters in the city of Norwich have elected Green Party of England and Wales candidate Andrew Boswell to city council. Boswell took over 56% of the popular vote, becoming the new representative for Nelson ward. The victory means there are now 15 Green Party councilors elected in Norwich!
After several years as a Democrat, followed by more than a decade as an unaffiliated voter, I decided to change my registration to the Green Party for this year’s election. I joined the Greens not because I support every plank of their platform, but because I am tired of voting for the least bad candidate. The response of both major parties to the 2008 financial crisis compels me to join a party that really believes in changing the power structure in the United States.
The Green Party seemed the most reasonable choice. I think it is now beyond arguable that voting for Democrats and/or Republicans is essentially voting to maintain the status quo, which is precisely what needs changing. The personnel in office is less important than the system that personnel serves.
A vote for Obama (not to mention Romney), is a vote for the status quo. I am choosing to vote for a party, and a presidential candidate in Jill Stein, that would actually change things if elected. Like a lot of independents who voted for Obama in 2008, I thought I was voting for change. I was not naive, I knew he was a politician from the Democratic Party Establishment, but I thought a liberal intellectual, our first black president, might change things in important ways, especially in foreign policy.
But I was wrong. He withdrew from Iraq, yes, but on Bush’s timetable; he escalated the war in Afghanistan; he spent a billion dollars intervening in Libya; he continued the “extraordinary rendition” program; and failed not only to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay, but even to prosecute its inmates in our civilian federal courts.
Domestically, I don’t even want to discuss Obamacare, which is not national health insurance by any stretch of the imagination, but we must. I still find it surreal that the Democrats, controlling the White House and both houses of Congress, failed to institute national health insurance, partly because the administration, and the party’s recent vice-presidential nominee (Joseph Lieberman), bowed to the insurance lobby.
On the energy front, the U.S. has not even begun a serious transition to alternatives to carbon fuels. And, somehow, the Democrats have become a party that supports capital punishment, despite massive evidence that it has failed miserably and is applied in a racist manner. Economically, the president extended the Bush-Paulson bailouts and acquiesced in renewal of the Bush tax cuts, despite repeated vows to the contrary.
As for social spending, I expect the Republicans to advocate cuts in Medicare and Social Security, but I’m still trying to figure out how the Democrats can, with a straight face, do the same. Furthermore, in a policy that boggles the mind, Obama brags about having cut the payroll tax, the primary source of funding for Social Security.
The Green Party is on the other side of all those issues, foreign and domestic. I don’t agree with everything the Greens advocate, but on the issues that I consider most significant for America’s future, the Greens are on the right track. They certainly do not represent the status quo. For one thing, Green candidates do not accept corporate donations. Their program, which is called the “Green New Deal,” calls for a cut of 70 percent in military spending, massive public investment in renewable energy, a carbon tax, single-payer national health insurance, tax reform and limits on credit interest rates.
To my friends who argue for economic justice, tax fairness, and true campaign finance reform, I say: you will never see any of that if you continue to support candidates and parties that are beholden to wealthy donors, whether they be individuals, unions, or the financial, defense and insurance industries. The system works as well for the Democrats as it does for the Republicans, and I no longer think being an unaffiliated voter choosing between the two is a viable option.
I know Jill Stein has no more chance of getting elected than Ralph Nader had, but I reject the argument that a vote for her is wasted. Either Obama or Romney will lose the election, so by that reasoning a vote for one of them is going to be wasted, as well. Change has to start someplace.
From Democracy Now!: At the Green Party’s 2012 National Convention in Baltimore over the weekend, Massachusetts physician Jill Stein and anti-poverty campaigner Cheri Honkala were nominated the party’s presidential and vice-presidential contenders. We air the convention’s keynote address delivered by Gar Alperovitz, a professor of political economy at the University of Maryland and co-founder of the Democracy Collaborative. Alperovitz is the author of, “America Beyond Capitalism: Reclaiming Our Wealth, Our Liberty, and Our Democracy.” In his remarks, Alperovitz stressed the importance of third-party politics to challenge a corporate-run society. “Systems in history are defined above all by who controls the wealth,” Alperovitz says. “The top 400 people own more wealth now than the bottom 185 million Americans taken together. That is a medieval structure.”
(CBS News) On the day before the Green Party’s presidential nominating convention, presidential candidate Jill Stein revealed her running mate to CBS News exclusively: homeless activist Cheri Honkala.
“She leads one of the country’s largest multiracial, intergenerational movements led by people in poverty, fighting poverty, homelessness and foreclosures,” Stein told CBS news. Honkala, a mother of two, and the national coordinator for the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign, spent some of her days homeless. She ran for sheriff of Philadelphia on the Green Party line in 2011 and based her campaign on a platform of halting evictions.
Stein, who defeated comedian Roseanne Barr for the Green Party’s nod, will be officially nominated at the party’s national convention in Baltimore, which begins Thursday. Stein, a physician, is from Massachusetts and has launched two unsuccessful bids for governor there, including against Mitt Romney in 2002.
Stein spoke to CBS News this week in advance of her nomination:
What do you think about the president’s plan to extend the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts for those making less than $250,000 per year?
Stein: That’s a good thing. I think, well, partly a good thing. I think our tax structure is extremely unbalanced and our middle class and working families are generally overtaxed. If the president is set to reduce taxes below $250,000, that’s good up to a point but there’s so much more that can be done. If we really want to correct the severe inequities in the tax structure, we need to tax capital gains as income, we need to put a tax on Wall Street transactions not only to generate hundreds of billions of dollars, but also to reduce the speculation that has been so reckless and harmful to our economy.
As a physician, what is your response to the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the president’s health care bill?
Stein: It’s very problematic. I think the Supreme Court’s decision destroys the most useful part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) – that is the Medicaid extension. We have a track record here. We don’t have to just guess what he impact of the ACA will be. We already have it in Massachusetts, where I live. We’ve already had it for five years. It has not been a solution. The cost of health care continues to skyrocket.
On the other hand we have a real track record of what does work. It’s called national health insurance, Medicare for all. We actually achieve health and we do it in a way that provides health care to everyone at less than half the cost per person. We know that under Medicare for all, we would be saving trillions of dollars over the next decade because it eliminates the wasteful health insurance bureaucracy and it stabilizes medical inflation. This is the way to go.
You have a “Green New Deal” to employ “every American willing and able to work.” Is this your economic plan? And how do you plan to do it?
Stein: By using our tax dollars instead of to provide a stimulus package that’s predominately tax breaks for corporations, instead we use a comparable amount of money and put it into the direct creation of jobs. And again, this is not a hypothetical idea. It’s based on a plan that helped markedly to get us out of the Great Depression of the 1930s. This would not be a cookie cutter, top-down Washington-controlled program. Rather it would be nationally funded but locally controlled where by communities decide what kinds of jobs they need to become sustainable. It would create jobs in what we think of as the Green economy, but it would also create jobs meeting our social needs – hiring back teaches, nurses, after-school care [providers], violence prevention.
You have a lot of proposals, including tuition-free education through college, Medicare for all, also known as Single Payer, how would you pay for it, since the country is already trillions in debt?
Stein: You need money to jump start this but these are investments that pay for themselves many times over. You jump start it by stopping the bleeding. We are squandering trillions of dollars on wars for oil that we don’t need and don’t make us more secure, on Wall Street and tax breaks for the wealthy. To look at, for example, the military budget, it’s costing us about a trillion dollars a year according to several different sources, so by reducing military to about the size it was in the early 2000s before it doubled under [President] Bush, we could free up hundreds of billions of dollars a year that could go a long way to pay for these costs.
Add to that: Tax reforms that begin to ask the wealthy to contribute their fair share. Corporations used to contribute about 5 percent GDP, their contribution is now about 1 percent.
And by ceasing to support bail outs for Wall Street, we can also free up a lot of money. When you actually sit down and you do the ledger, the money that can be saved by these boon dongles squandering money actually saves us money.
Right now there is no exit strategy for the severe recession we are really in. Neither Romney nor Obama has the beginning of an idea of how we really fix this. All they are doing is talking about restoring it to the same old phony economy of high finance that has taken us over the edge to start with.
We are talking about transforming our economy so it actually works for people, for our communities and for our environment.
Comedian Roseanne Barr says she is still in the running, are you confident that you are the nominee and what do you think of Ms. Barr’s candidacy?
Stein: I’m confident we have the nomination. We have over two-thirds of the delegates being appropriated. I am quite confident we have the nomination. I think more celebrities should do what Roseanne is doing. This is a good thing for celebrities to not only sit back in the comfort of their second homes, of their third homes, and to actually put themselves out there in trying to create a better world. I wish other people of great stature and wealth would do the same.
You launched two unsuccessful bids for the Massachusetts governor, including against Mitt Romney in 2002. Why the presidency?
Stein: Success is in the mind of the beholder. One way to measure success is winning the office. Another way to measure success is changing the dialogue. Right now we have a dialogue that is horribly misguided, a dialogue that is not only boring but attention repelling, to use the words of the New York Times to describe the Romney campaign. This race is not only about me. This race is about the American people, and the American people have indicated clearly over and over that they are not happy – not with the president, not with Congress, not with the Supreme Court, not with their jobs, not with their declining wages, not with the skyrocketing cost of health care and education and these endless wars for oil.
Right now the American people have not been given a lot of choices.
Why does the Green Party focus on national elections, such as the presidency, which has to be rebuilt every four years? Why not start to build a strong coalition at the local or state level?
Stein: It’s very important in our view to do both. When you do have real social progress you have both a social movement on the ground and you have an independent political party to help articulate that social movement. As Fredrick Douglas famously said, ‘Power concedes nothing without a demand – it never has, it never will.’ Our goal is to drive those demands forward into the broader political dialogue and thereby help leverage and strengthen that social movement.
Here in my state of Massachusetts, we have essentially used this model to build an opposition party. It’s true we did not win the office but we sure shook things up. The ideas I was bringing into the elections really started to move things in a way that the establishment politics got pretty nervous about it. We think that’s a good thing.
Lost amid the carnival of embarrassments that is the Republican presidential primary is the fact that there is another primary race underway: the Green Party’s. “What?” you say. “Those guys are still around?”Well yes, but they’re not guys.
The front-runner in the race is Jill Stein, a Boston physician and veteran activist and candidate with the Massachusetts Green-Rainbow Party. (Note to the good people of the Bay State: We get that you’re trying to be inclusive, but a name like that is NO WAY to win respect in the world.) She is currently trouncing the second-place runner, former sitcom starRoseanne Barr. (Note to the good people of the Green Party: Oh, never mind …)
Lest you think this is all rainbows and ponies, however, Stein is not messing around. She says she became involved in politics after witnessing firsthand the epidemics of obesity, diabetes, learning disorders, autism — problems that she traces to toxic chemicals, an industrial food system, and a society built around the automobile.
Stein’s presidential platform includes universal health care, tuition-free higher education, and forgiveness of student debt. And at the center of it all is a Green New Deal that she says will put millions of people to work, tackle the climate crisis, and address our failing health as well.
The Green Party will choose its candidate for president at a national convention in Baltimore in July. If things continue as they have been, Stein will win the spot handily. (She has won 10 of 10 state primaries, plus the District of Columbia.) I talked with her earlier this week.
Q.Your website today says Mitt Romney has invited you to debate him. It’s an April Fools’ joke, right?
A. Well, that part of it is a joke. He did not invite us. But the rest of it is actually true. I have debated him [during the 2002 race for Massachusetts governor], and I was declared winner by more than one objective source.
Q.Did someone really say you were the only adult in the room?
A. Yes, that was an editorial in the Boston Globe, and if you watch the debateyou’ll see why.
Q.Doesn’t a sense of humor automatically disqualify you from the presidency?
A. A sense of humor and lack of corporate funding are substantial obstacles. But I think that we’re part of a very large movement to change the way that politics works — so that the joke is no longer on us.
Q.Running for president under the Green Party banner, your motivations have to be something besides actually landing in the White House. I assume your campaign is largely an effort to change the system.
A. That’s right, and a journey begins with the first step. That said, no one in their right mind ever expected that young people in the streets were going to give the boot to an entrenched dictator, either in Egypt or in Tunisia. So remarkable things have been happening, likewise with the Occupy movement. There is enormous public will out there for substantive change.
The solutions that we are promoting — we don’t need to convince people that we need a climate we can live in, that we need health care as a human right, that we need to be creating jobs rather than just giving more tax breaks and giveaways to CEOs who just pocket the change — these are solutions that people already support. The question is whether we can actually harness our political system and move them forward.
Q.As disappointing as Obama has been, there’s a lot at stake in this election. Why should voters give you a vote when we could end up with a situation like we saw with Ralph Nader and Al Gore in 2000?
A. Progressives have been told we dare not vote for our values and our vision because dangerous things will happen — witness Ralph Nader. We have 10 years of experience with muzzling ourselves politically, and it’s very clear now that silence has not been an effective political strategy, and that the politics of fear in fact has delivered all those things that we were afraid of.
Obama has basically embraced most of Bush’s policies, including drill baby drill, pro-nuke, pro-coal, undermining the Durban [climate] accords. He’s celebrating the beginnings of the Keystone pipeline. We still have twice as many troops in Afghanistan as we had under George Bush. The only reason Obama withdrew from Iraq was because he was unable to negotiate immunity for the troops, so he wound up having to accept what was George Bush’s timeline for withdrawal.
So the point here is that by being quiet, we have essentially allowed corporations to run government whole hog. Obama has been very responsive to his corporate sponsors. So it’s really critical that we have an opposition voice.
Q.In how many states are you even on the ballot?
A. We’re currently on in 20 states. We expect to be on the ballot in 46, maybe 48 states. We do have some very difficult states — two that are impossible barring millions and millions of dollars.
Q.Is there any hope of getting you into a real debate?
A. Absolutely. The Commission on Presidential Debates has a standard, which is 15 percent [of the national electorate, as determined by public opinion polls]. If everybody who cared about the climate got on board and actually stood up and said that they’re supporting this campaign, that alone might be enough to get us into the debates. If all the students out there who are up to their eyeballs in debt stood up for this campaign, we would easily be at 15 percent.
If I can quote Alice Walker, “The biggest way people give up power is by not knowing they have it to start with.” And that’s true, for the environmental movement, the student movement, the antiwar movement, health-care-as-a-human-right movement — you put us all together, we have the potential for a Tahrir Square type event, and [to] turn the White House into a Green House in November.
Q.Is the Green Party itself something of a kiss of death in this country right now?
A. We ran a referendum here in Massachusetts — I’m talking about the Green Party along with some nonprofits. The referendum was non-binding. We basically proposed redefining economic development to be green, sustainable, re-localized, and healthy, and to create local small businesses and cooperatives in the green sectors of the economy, rather than just dishing out billions to multinational corporations that are part of the old fossil fuel economy.
We didn’t have money to spend on the referendum. We were hoping maybe we could get 10 or 15 percent [of the vote]. We actually got between 85 and 95 percent in every community — not just the treehuggers, but also the postindustrial, desperately poor urban communities as well. To me, it confirmed what I find in my everyday experience: People are into this. They get it.
Q.You’re using the same model for the Green New Deal you’re pushing on the national level. Tell us about that.
A. It’s an emergency solution that will put 25 million people back to work, end unemployment, jump-start the green economy for the 21st century, and substantively combat climate change. It would put communities in charge of defining what jobs they need. These jobs would be community-based, living-wage, full-time jobs, and would basically run the spectrum of jobs that make communities sustainable — clean manufacturing, local organic agriculture, public transportation, energy-efficient as well as active transportation, and of course clean renewable energy, conservation, weatherization, efficiency.
We would also include teachers, nurses, day care, violence prevention, drug rehabilitation, affordable housing construction, etc., so there would be a spectrum of jobs that make our communities environmentally, socially, and economically sustainable. The cost would be on the order of the first stimulus package, but it would create a whole lot more jobs, because the first stimulus package was largely tax breaks and subsidies for large corporations.
Q.I think a lot of working people feel burned by the green economy because we didn’t see the jobs that people like Van Jones were promising — certainly not right away.
A. It’s not only the green jobs that failed. Obama’s promotion of additional free trade agreements has been devastating to working people. He has not delivered on the Employee Free Choice Act. He has not stood up to the so-called “right to work” states, which actually undermine not only worker pay but also safety on the job.
Obama’s first appointments were Larry Summers, who laid the foundation for Wall Street’s waste, fraud, and abuse. He then went on to appoint Timothy Geithner to be head of the Treasury, who had headed the New York Fed while all that was going on. And then he brought in Jeff Immelt, the king of layoffs and factory closures. The head of GE was brought in to head Obama’s jobs council — the guy who had off-shored more jobs than any single person in America was brought in to head the Obama jobs program.
So it’s no wonder that working people are very skeptical of whatever Obama’s going to propose. And I think vote for him only out of fear. And that’s where Alice Walker comes in again, that the biggest way people give up power is by not knowing they have it.
Q.Last question: How do you travel on the campaign trail? Humvee? Private jet?
A. My dream is to get a veggie-oil bus. I take the train whenever I can. When there’s no choice, I fly, and when we drive, we drive in a Prius. So we don’t just talk the talk, we walk the walk all the way.
Greg Hanscom is a senior editor at Grist. He tweets about cities, bikes, transportation, policy, and sustainability at @ghanscom.
Green Party presidential candidate Dr. Jill Stein said today she opposes the escalating efforts by PresidentObama and some members of Congress to push the United States toward war against Iran. Dr. Stein said that Obama is engaged in the same kind of “loose talk of war,” if not quite as extreme, as ultranationalist Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu.
“A hallmark of a Stein administration will be respect for international law and a rejection of the Bush doctrine of preemptive war that Obama and his party have come to embrace. The interests of the American people are not served by illegal attacks on other nations based on hypothetical future transgressions. Yet President Obama is threatening Iran with attack by saying that ‘all options are on the table’. It’s a terrible replay of Bush’s run-up to the invasion of Iraq over the mythical weapons of mass destruction, ” noted Stein.
Thirty two members of the U.S. Senate have introduced a resolution encouraging military action against Iran for merely having the “capability” to produce a nuclear weapon. Iran, however is in general compliance with the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, including the required inspections, and has not shown intentions of violating the treaty. And a recent NY Times story reported that the consensus view of America’ssixteen intelligence agencies is that “there is no hard evidence that Iran has decided to build a nuclear bomb.”
Instead of attacking Iran, Stein supports the call for a regional agreement to ban weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East, including nuclear weapons. A WMD-free zone is called for by a 1974 U.N. General Assembly resolution.
Stein noted that “A U.S. or Israeli airstrike on Iraq would have severe repercussions for the American people. It would produce a global oil supply crisis that would send our entire economy into a tailspin. And it could lead to retaliatory attacks on Israeli and American citizens. We need to take a clear stand against nuclear proliferation in the Middle East, but preemptive attacks, especially for a problem that is not even in evidence, are counterproductive and must not be on the table. The mindset that every problem requires a military response has gotten us into trouble again and again, and its disappointing to see the Obama Administration going down that road yet again. ”
“A major cause of our federal budget deficit and our struggling economy has been the expense of a decade of senseless wars. I am calling for us to go in a different direction and use our tax dollars to rebuild the American economy and improve the quality of live for the average American. Rebuilding America is an urgent need, and our dollars need to go there instead of being wasted on another needless war,” added Stein.