The Omnivore is kicking off a series of looks at the vital and vibrant 3rd parties that our great nation has--ours isn't just a two party system and we at The Omnivore believe an informed electorate is the best electorate. First on our list is one of the oldest 3rd parties in the nation with significant prominence: the Greens.
Their platform is called the Green New Deal. It advocates:
- An Economic Bill of Rights. They will end unemployment, creating a "job bank" with 16 million jobs that are nationally funded and locally controlled. They will provide quality healthcare to all (single-payer--meaning no insurance--it's just the government). They will offer tuition-free education through college and forgive student debt. They will end all foreclosures and evictions, creating a federal bank with local branches to take on distressed mortgages and, if necessary, rent homes to occupants at affordable rates (no more than 25% of income). They will tax the heck out of corporations and big business.
- A Green Transition: They will provide grants / low-interest loans to green businesses and cooperatives. They will re-direct fossil fuel research money to wind, solar, and geothermal.They will create a world of mass-transit and inter-city railroads and "complete" streets with bike paths and pedestrian traffic.
- Real Financial Reform: They will break up the big banks. Those banks are hoarding cash-assets that are needed for expansion. They will end tax-payer funded bailouts for banks (and other financial institutions and re-install Glass-Stegall separation of depository and speculative banks. They will impose a 90% tax on bonuses for bailed out bankers.
- A Functioning Democracy: They will make it clear that corporations are NOT people (my friends) and end their big-donor money that corrupts politics. They will have non-partisan oversight of elections. They will make Election Day a national holiday. They will enact same-day voter-registration at the polls. They will abolish the Electoral College. They will allow ex-offender to vote and enact statehood for Washington D.C.
When it comes to foreign policy? They believe the UN should lead--not the US--and they would allow, for example, foreign inspectors to inspect the US. They would disband nuclear weapons and the UN veto powers for the five top members. They would begin investigations into the Bush administration (and maybe Obama's) for war crimes.
The Green Party is a left-wing group that is fielding Dr. Jill Stein for president in 2012! Dr. Stein is a committed activist, physician, and teacher of internal medicine. We wanted to spend 15-20 minutes on a phone interview with Dr. Stein. We figured, with the number of hits The Omnivore gets per day we'd be near the top of their list.
Thank you for your interest in interviewing Jill. Unfortunately, at this time due to the high number of requests she receives, we are unable to accommodate this interview. I will contact you in the event of an opening.
Amanda LazzariWe, at The Omnivore, were stunned .. too busy for a 15minute phone interview? Clearly if Dr. Stein works an 8 hour day she must be doing something like 300 interviews per month to be that booked. So we were stumped. What could we do? Then, on the last night of the Republican Convention, we were struck over the head with inspiration.
Jill Stein for President
Dear readers, let me introduce Dr. Jill Stein of the Green Party:
|Hope She's Comfortable. Can't Really Tell|
Jill Stein: Rather than being afraid of us killing Obama's chances, I'm really more worried about the political establishment killing us! That issue is the politics of fear talking--and look where that has gotten us: everything we're afraid of. Look, if you are considering voting Green, ask yourself this: if Obama is going to de-regulate Wall Street almost as much as Romney and Obama is going to lower corporate taxes almost as much as Romney does voting for the lesser of the two evils really make sense?
And anyway, that's not true: the exit polls show that Nader took equal votes from Gore and Bush--he didn't "spoil" the election.
The Omnivore: Good answer--but here, we like the math. We just don't understand all the math--but we can read a Conclusion section with the best of them. This paper on the election concludes as follows:
How do our results stack up against conventional wisdom, which holds that Ralph Nader spoiled the 2000 presidential election for Gore? We ﬁnd that this common belief is justiﬁed, but our results show clearly that Nader spoiled Gore’s presidency only because the 2000 presidential race in Florida was unusually tight. Had Florida had a more typical Bush-Gore margin in 2000, Nader would not have been a spoiler.Jill Stein: If Nader had won his home state then Florida wouldn't have been an issue, close or not.
The Omnivore: That's not comforting to people who are pretty sure Gore wouldn't have invaded Iraq.
Jill Stein: Probably not.
The Omnivore: You ran against Rosanne Barr--yes, that Rosanne Barr--for the nomination. She had the interesting proposal that people could register Green but still vote Obama as a way to send a message. What do you think of that ... and what do you think of the argument that (A) by fielding almost-candidates like Rosanne Barr and (B) by constantly losing you are actually doing more damage to the 3rd Party notion than you are helping it?
Jill Stein: Donald Trump was the Republican polling leader for a period of weeks on the Birth Certificate issue.
The Omnivore: ... Can't argue.
The Omnivore: Okay, what about this: your platform isn't just aggressive. It's revolutionary. Surely you know that the President can't enact all of that--or, indeed, almost any of that. In fact ... probably none of that. How realistic is any part of your platform given that you have no one in Congress?
Jill Stein: As you say you like "the math," you know that electoral votes are generally correlated. That is, a condition under which, say, Romney wins New Jersey has him winning Ohio, Virginia, Florida, and so on--a lot of places, right?
The Omnivore: ... You kind of sound like me there for a moment.
Jill Stein: You're talking to an empty chair, you idiot. What do you think the chair is going to sound like? Anyway, any election that has me win the presidency involves a set of sweeps across multiple areas if not in the first term, by the second. It's a sea-change in the way Americans think about Democracy.
Our model has us take both the House and the Senate in one or two cycles.
The Omnivore: Who do you expect to cast all those ballots? Die hard Republicans or Democrats who seem to make up about 94% of the voting populace?
Jill Stein: Walking trees. Like from Lord of the Rings. They're natural Green Party voters.
The Omnivore: ...
Jill Stein: I said the word "bullshit" live on CNN--you think I don't have a sense of humor?
The Omnivore: Moving on ... What are your red-lines for Syria? Under what conditions would you ever get involved? Chemical weapons being deployed or moved around like Obama said? What about Iran?
Jill Stein: There's absolutely no evidence that Iran is building a nuclear weapon. There is no reason for us to interfere. It's hard to know what's going on in Syria. I would need to have more information before making a commitment. We would be partners with the United Nations.
The Omnivore: I think it's safe to say, though, that a Green Administration wouldn't have much of a war machine?
Jill Stein: Pretty safe. What else is going to pay for all those mortgages and debt forgiveness for students?
The Omnivore: So what would you do for, say, air-power? What does the United States do when it wants to project military force?
Jill Stein: I'm sure they can think of something. How about ... I don't know? Some entrepreneurial initiative around confections? That's had some credibility in public sector funding if I recall my history.
The Omnivore: Are you suggesting the Air Force "Hold a bake-sale to buy a bomber?"
Jill Stein: It's worked for education-funding for decades.
The Omnivore: You're the only candidate to have an arrest record, aren't you?
Jill Stein: Well, if Romney releases his tax returns ...
The Omnivore: Can you tell us about your arrest?
Jill Stein: Yes. Myself and five others were arrested for--basically--trespassing during a lawful demonstration at Fannie Mae. We were asking them to sit down and bargain in good faith with home owners but, other than offering 2000 dollars for these people to go away, they refused to offer terms where they could stay in their homes. We elected to be arrested.
The Omnivore: And?
Jill Stein: It should be required for anyone who wants to hold an office that represents the public interest. They should know what's going on in our prison system: if people treated their dogs the way human prisoners are treated they would go to jail for animal cruelty. I was kept in a small cell for over 24 hours. It was filthy, freezing cold, and I had to stand much of the time due to overcrowding. There was no place to wash your hands--it was a public health nightmare ... and I speak as a physician.
The Omnivore: How about Osama Bin Laden? Would you have given the go-ahead?
Jill Stein: If we hadn't been arming people in Afghanistan 30 or 40 years ago Bin Laden wouldn't have been a problem.
The Omnivore: Okay--but you're elected in 2008 and the CIA has a line on him: what do you do?
Jill Stein: Not go into Pakistan without their permission and assistance, for one thing. Our platform is founded on recognizing other state's sovereignty. I'll also note that by the time America found him he had ceased to become a threat--save by being martyred--which he was. The way to deal with terrorist is through criminal trials, not drones and special forces strikes.
The Omnivore: Don't you think that might be naive?
Jill Stein: Is voting for the Green Party naive? Every four years there's a debate that, according to pundits, predicts the outcome of the race because the demographics of the small university [ Western Illinois University ] supposedly match those of the nation. We kicked off our campaign there--and you know what? After just six minutes of explaining our agenda we went from 3% share to 27% share. In a three-way race ... that's a tie.
The Omnivore: Yeah--but that's after six minutes of explaining yourself to college students. That's a tiny slice of your platform to a narrow audience--however demographically diverse it is--Don't you think for every popular idea like forgiving student loans or taxing bailed out banker bonuses--points for alliteration by the way--there are at least as many deal-breakers in your platform. The guy who says "Tax those pathetic Wall Street fat-cats!" may not want, say, the French inspecting American nuclear weapon silos or think it's credible that Iran doesn't want a nuclear weapon? I may like the idea of creating jobs--but find a "national job bank" to be an incredibly risky and expensive way of creating that.
I might not want to be foreclosed on--who does--but the idea of holding down prices on housing sounds a bit like Mugabe ordering fixed prices on flat-screen TVs when his economy failed. In other words, I think you can sell well to certain crowds--but I really question whether the whole thing is going to be a hit with almost anyone.
Jill Stein: We'll see. We're not even allowed to try at the national debates. What do you think they're afraid of?
The Omnivore: Last question: do you really think Obama is the same as Romney?
Jill Stein: Both are corporate candidates. Is Coke that different from Pepsi?
The Omnivore: Okay--so you and Santorum agree on something?
Jill Stein: ... Romney is a wolf in wolf's clothing. Obama is a smaller wolf in sheep's clothing. Either will be a disaster. And anyway, last I heard Santorum was endorsing Romney.
The Omnivore: Whew?
Jill Stein: Whew.
The Omnivore: Thank you for taking the time to talk with us! It's been very informative. We'll recommend everyone who has an interest in your party or positions check out the links above and listen to your NPR On Point Interview. Now, I've got to go: Will McAvoy is on the phone for our next interview.
Jill Stein: Thank you--and ask your physician about your medication!