Stein's Platform More Viable Than Bernie's
January 30, 2016 "Information
I asked Green Party presidential candidate Jill
Stein about her platform this week and came away
believing it had a better chance of winning than
Bernie Sanders'. I know that platforms don't
run, people do, and they do so within a two-party
dominated system. But this already crazy
presidential election could turn into a crazier
five-way race. And, even if it doesn't, or if it
does but still nobody ever learns that Jill Stein
exists, there is nonetheless much for us and for the
other candidates to learn from her platform.
think free college is popular, you should see what
young people think of free college and
erasing all existing student debt.
single-payer healthcare with raised taxes (but net
savings, if you make it to that fine print) excites
voters, how do you think they'd respond to
single-payer healthcare with no raised taxes?
wars and asking Saudi Arabia to do more of the
funding and fighting sounds promising, what would
you say to no more wars, a 50 percent cut in the $1
trillion/year military spending, no more weapons
Saudi Arabia which is doing more than enough
killing, thank you, no more free weapons for Israel
either, and investment of some of the savings in a
massive green energy jobs campaign producing a
sustainable energy policy and a full-employment
Bernie Sanders' domestic proposals have got millions
excited, but the (unfair and misleading) criticism
that he'll raise taxes may be a tragic flaw, and
it's one he opens himself up to by refusing to say
that he'll cut the military. Stein would cut at
least half of the single biggest item in the
discretionary budget, an item that takes up at least
half of that budget: military spending. She'd cut
fossil fuel subsidies, as well, and expect savings
to come from healthcare, including as a result of
cutting pollution and improving food quality. But
the big immediate item is the military. Cutting it
is popular with voters, but not with Democratic or
Republican presidential candidates. Sanders will be
labeled the Tax Man by the corporate media, while
Jill Stein will have to be attacked in a different
way if she gets mentioned.
the military budget is something that we can do
right now," Stein told me, "but we want to be clear
that we are putting an end to wars for oil – period.
And that is part of our core policy of a Green New
Deal which creates an emergency program,
establishing twenty million living wage jobs,
full-time jobs, to green the economy, our energy,
food, and transportation systems, building critical
infrastructure, restoring ecosystems, etc. This is
an emergency program that will get to 100 percent
renewable energy by 2030. So this is a
war-time-level mobilization in order to completely
detoxify our energy system, and that means both
nuclear and fossil fuel. In doing that, we deprive
the empire of this major justification for wars and
bases all around the world. So we want to be clear
that that emphasis is gone, and goading the American
public into war so as to feed our fossil fuel energy
system – that ends and makes all the more essential
and possible the major cutting of the military
percent of the military would Stein cut? Two places
she named that she would start with (there would
have to be much more) are foreign bases (she'd close
them) and the U.S. nuclear weapons program. Would
she unilaterally scrap U.S. nukes? I asked.
even need to do it unilaterally," Stein said,
"because the Russians have been begging to revive
the process of nuclear disarmament, which the U.S.,
in its wisdom, undercut. ... The Russians have been
persistently trying to restore those nuclear talks
for the purpose of disarmament. And that would be
step one – is to make major reductions between the
U.S. and Russia and then to convene a world forum to
put an end to nuclear weapons altogether."
on terror," Stein pointed out, has only created
more terror, while costing each U.S. household
$75,000. "That’s not going to make people terribly
enthusiastic for it, particularly when you point out
that all this has done is create failed states,
worse terrorist threat, whether you look at the
Taliban, the globalization of al-Qaeda,
the creation of ISIS. This has been an utter,
unmitigated disaster, and the massive refugee crisis
which is threatening to tear apart the European
Union. This is absolutely unsustainable by any
U.S. foreign policy, Stein proposed financial
reforms unheard of in any presidential debate thus
far. She suggested that military and other
government contractors should face "pay to play
protections" preventing them from "buying their way
into policy." Stein explained: "If you establish
that anyone who contributes, who provides campaign
contributions, or who lobbies is not eligible for
contracting with the government, the minute you
break that umbilical cord, then the industry loses
its power to corral Congress and dictate foreign
policy." Stein said such protections could also
block U.S. government facilitation of weapons sales
to foreign buyers.
profiteering should not be allowed," Stein
explained, "in the same way that energy profiteering
is not compatible with our survival." Ultimately,
the big profits, Stein said, are in healthcare: "We
spend a trillion dollars plus on the military
industrial complex every year, but we spend three
trillion and counting every year on the sick care
system, which doesn't make us well. It just enables
us to tread water while we cope with these
disastrous health impacts of the war economy and the
fossil fuel economy."
not hesitate to highlight differences when I asked
her about Bernie Sanders. She cited his "support,
for example, for the F-35 weapons system which has
been an incredible boondoggle." While Sanders would
keep killing with drones and "fighting terrorism,"
Stein calls "fighting terrorism" an oxymoron and
points to counterproductive results: "Terrorism is a
response to drones that sneak up on you in the night
and to night raids and this is where we recruit and
we enable ISIS and al-Qaeda to continue expanding
... something Bernie hasn't quite gotten straight by
saying the solution here is to turn the Saudis
loose; the Saudi's need to 'get their hands dirty'."
actually begin to rein in the Saudis with a weapons
embargo and by impounding their bank accounts,"
Stein said. The same goes for Israel, she added,
stressing the need to respect the law. Should the
United States join the International Criminal Court,
I asked. "Oh, my god, of course!" was Stein's reply.
"And the treaty on land mines?" "Of course! My god.
Yes. ... There are all sorts of treaties that are
ready to move forward. In fact the Soviets and the
Chinese have been prime movers in expansion of
treaties to prohibit weapons in space and to
establish the rule of law in cyberspace."
would President Jill Stein do about ISIS? She
answered that question with no hesitation: "Number
1: we don't stop ISIS by doing more of what created
ISIS. This is like the elephant in the room that
none of the other presidential candidates are
willing to acknowledge, even Rand Paul, I might say,
surprisingly. So we don't bomb ISIS and try to shoot
ISIS out. We've got to stop ISIS in its tracks by
ending the funding of ISIS and by ending the arming
of ISIS. How do we do that? We do that with a
weapons embargo. And so the U.S. can unilaterally
move forward on that, but we need to sit down and
talk with the Russians as well, and
Putin tried to do this.
Putin, our arch enemy Putin, was actually trying to
create a peace process in Syria. ... We need to
begin talking with Russia and with other countries.
We need to build on our relative détente with Iran
to engage them, and we need to bring our allies into
the process. Right now, the peace process, as I
understand it, is held up by, guess who --
Saudi Arabia, who wants to bring in known terrorist
groups as the representatives of the opposition.
The Saudis should not be defining the way forward
here ... Our ally Turkey needs to understand that
their membership in NATO or their position with the
U.S. and other allies around the world should not be
taken for granted, and that they cannot be in the
business either of funding
ISIS and related groups through the purchase of
their oil [or of] shipping weapons. They also
need to close down their border to the movement of
sounding an awful lot like the leader of
the Labour Party in Britain, Jeremy Corbyn, and
I asked her about him. "I have already met with
Jeremy Corbyn," she said, "when I was in Paris for
the climate talks, ... and we had a surprising
amount of time to talk and we agreed completely on
collaborating on this 'peace offensive,'
which is the name we have given to our solution to
the problem of ISIS. Peace is not passive. We need
an active, interventionist program based on peace
which means to stop the flow or arms and money, etc.
So, we've already agreed that we see eye-to-eye on
is in office with a shot at becoming prime minister.
With the U.S. public completely sold on the
hopelessness of third-party bids, at least by
non-multi-billionaires, what is Stein's plan for
actually becoming president?
all," she says, "there are 43 million young people
and not-so-young people who are trapped in debt, in
student debt. My campaign is the only campaign
that will be on the ballot that will abolish student
debt. We did it for the bankers who plunged us into
this economic crisis that persists in spite of what
they say. And they did that by way of their waste,
fraud, and abuse. Yet we bailed them out to the tune
of $16 trillion and counting.
it about time we bail out the victims of that waste,
fraud, and abuse -- the young people of this country
whose leadership and whose civic engagement is
essential for blazing the trail to our future? It
has always required a fresh generation to
re-envision, you know, what our future looks like.
So, we need to bail out the young people, for their
benefit and for ours. That can be done through
another quantitative easing which is relatively
simple, does not cost us, essentially expands the
money supply in a way that works as a stimulus to
the economy, unlike the bailout that they provided
to Wall Street which has only created a stimulus for
more reckless gambling – waste, fraud, and abuse.
... I have yet to find a young person in debt who
doesn't become a missionary for our campaign the
minute they learn that we will cancel their debt.
... The 43 million young people – that is a
plurality of the vote. In a three-way race, that's
enough to win the vote."
pointed to 25 million Latinos who, she said, "have
learned that the Democrats are the party of
deportation, of night raids, and of detention, of
refugees who are fleeing a crisis in their home
countries that we created. How? Through NAFTA,
though illegal coups and CIA-sponsored regime
changes, and through the drug wars. ... If people
want to fix the immigration problem, the answer is,
'Stop causing it.'"
Stein be in the debates for the general election?
"In my experience," she told me, "all you have to do
is have a real conversation, have an open mic, a
true presidential debate that actually allows
presidential candidates to debate who have broad
enough support that they are on the ballot for a
majority of Americans and could numerically win the
election. We are challenging the Commission on
Presidential Debates in court and we will be
challenging them soon with a direct action campaign,
so stay tuned, because the American public deserves
to know about the issues. The American public
deserves the right to vote. And they have a right to
know who they can vote for and what they are voting
Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and
radio host. He is director of WorldBeyondWar.org and
campaign coordinator for RootsAction.org. Swanson's
books include War Is A Lie.