By Danny Vojcak ’19
“I don’t care who does the electing so long as I get to do the nominating” –Boss Tweed
“Americans have not only the right to vote, but a right to know whom we can vote for” – Jill Stein
You probably haven’t heard of Jill Stein. While large news networks continue to highlight Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, many have all but forgotten about the other female presidential candidate in the upcoming 2016 election—Jill Stein of the Green Party.
This is unfortunate given that the majority of Americans are interested in other choices for a president. In a Data Targeting poll conducted on May 18th, 55% of Americans said they would favor an independent challenger to Clinton and Trump. This is in addition to the fact that the presumptive nominees of the Democratic and Republican parties are the most unpopular in history. In a June ABC News/Washington Post poll, 70% of Americans reported that they viewed Donald Trump unfavorably and 55% reported viewing Hillary Clinton unfavorably. Considering this widespread dissatisfaction, I believe that voters deserve to be informed about all their available choices on the ballot.
Allow me to introduce you to Jill Stein and the Green Party. Jill is a mother, a physician, and a pioneering environmental-health advocate. She was born in Chicago, raised in Highland Park, and graduated magna cum laude from Harvard. Jill has helped lead initiatives to strengthen local “green” economies, to promote healthy communities, to fight against environmental racism and injustice, and to revitalize democracy. She advocated for campaign finance reform by helping pass the Clean Election Law, and she helped lead the “Secure Green Future” ballot initiative to move subsidies from fossil fuels to renewable energy and to create “green” jobs.
As president, Jill will work to implement the key points of her “Power to the People Plan.” This includes “A Green New Deal” (http://www.jill2016.com/greennewdeal) which will create millions of jobs by transitioning to 100% clean renewable energy and investing in public transit, sustainable agriculture, and conservation. Additional key points of her plan involve the following: creating living-wage jobs for every American who needs work, creating a path to citizenship for immigrants, ending destructive energy extraction, establishing an improved “Medicare for All” single-payer health insurance program, establishing tuition-free public education, ending mass incarceration and institutional racism, terminating unconstitutional surveillance, reducing military spending, and creating democratically run public banks and utilities. If any of these ideas intrigue you (or you simply want to learn more), I encourage you to read the Green Party Platform.
Despite having only a fraction of the money and media coverage of Clinton and Trump, Jill Stein’s Green Party campaign is rapidly gaining momentum. A recent CNN poll conducted on June 21st found that 7% of voters said that they would vote for Jill Stein. Her campaign isn’t simply about running for president, but also about building a party for millions of Americans who feel that the Democratic and Republican parties no longer represent them. Perhaps the most important question about the upcoming 2016 presidential election is why should voters continue to vote for the lesser evil when they can instead vote in accordance with their values and support the greater good?
Many voters are unaware of Dr. Jill Stein, misinformed about her policies, or simply do not understand why voting for the Green Party is not a “wasted vote.” Consider the responses to frequently asked questions provided below:
“Is Jill Stein Even on the Ballot?”
Jill Stein is on the ballot. Voters in 47 states and the District of Columbia will be able to cast a vote for Jill Stein. She is eligible for up to 522 of the 538 Electoral College votes in play, only 270 of which are needed to win.
“Can She Win?”
A majority of voters at this point say they don’t want Clinton or Trump. If those voters are willing to support a candidate they believe in, rather than voting out of fear of the “other side,” then yes—Jill Stein can win.
“Aren’t You Just Helping Donald Trump?”
No one is looking forward to beating Donald Trump in November more than Jill Stein! If anything, it’s Hillary Clinton—a candidate with historic negatives who worked with the DNC to push a better-liked candidate aside—who’s helping Donald Trump. Hillary Clinton deserves the votes of people who genuinely want Hillary Clinton to be their next President—and no one else. The Democratic Party is not entitled to all non-Republican votes by default. No candidate is entitled to your vote. If someone tells you that you’re wasting your vote by voting for the candidate whom you agree with most, what they’re really doing is making the audacious assertion that a vote for a candidate other than the candidate whom they happen to support is a “wasted” vote. If someone tells you that a vote for Dr. Stein is a vote for Trump, what they’re really saying is that Clinton is entitled to your vote and that every individual whom votes for Dr. Stein would have voted for Clinton if they didn’t in fact vote for Dr. Stein. They also neglect to realize that there is a very strategic reason to vote for Dr. Stein to advance progressive issues (see “If She Doesn’t Win, Won’t I Have Wasted My Vote” section below).
“Jill Stein is Anti-Science/Anti-Vaccine”
Dr. Stein is a Harvard-educated physician. She’s the only candidate in the race who has personally administered vaccinations. The “anti-vaxx” narrative is a smear tactic manufactured to drive a wedge between voters and the Green Party. Statements made by Dr. Jill Stein in the 1970s have been taken out of context to mislead the public into believing that Dr. Stein is currently “anti-vaccine.” Vaccines in the 1970s did contain mercury, and at that time Dr. Jill Stein merely pointed out legitimate concerns regarding the potential effects mercury accumulation in the body due to vaccines. Modern day vaccines no longer contain mercury, and Dr. Stein is in full support of vaccines. What Jill Stein does believe is that the FDA currently has a cozy relationship with privately-held pharmaceutical companies that is harming American’s trust in government regulation, and that we need stronger protections in place to prevent a “revolving door” of corporate lobbyists on government oversight boards. At the moment, the governing bodies which regulate the scientific research which determines health policy are run by people who take large donations from lobbyists and corporations with a vested interest in the outcomes of that research. The new FDA Commissioner Robert Califf, for example, has received money from 23 drug companies, including Johnson & Johnson, Lilly, Merck, Schering Plough, and GSK, and is a former executive from the biotech corporation Genentech. He also has financial ties to Gambro, Regeneron, AstraZeneca, Roche, and Gilead, of $1,000-a-pill hepatitis C treatment infamy.
“If She Doesn’t Win, Won’t I Have Wasted My Vote?”
Jill Stein fully intends to win in November. However, a vote isn’t wasted even if she doesn’t. If the Green Party clears 5% of the vote nationwide, they’re able to compete as a major party in most states, eliminating many of the ballot access hurdles that delay third-party campaigns until just a few months before Election Day. It would also qualify the Green Party for federal election funding. Getting Jill Stein to 5% of the vote in Illinois will make a huge difference in future elections.
***To learn more about Dr. Jill Stein & the Green Party, see the links below.