THE DOCTOR IS IN "We need to replace the politics of fear with the politics of courage," Stein says.
I meant for this to be a hatchet job — with the silver noggin of Jill Stein, the Green Party nominee for president of the United States, on the butcher block. Not for the reasons you might think, though. Unlike so many fellow lefties who blame Ralph Nader and the Greens for swinging the 2000 election toward evil, the only hostility that I ever harbored was for people who are trite enough to believe such nonsense. If Al Gore couldn't beat George W. Bush, then that's the fault of the Democrats — or perhaps the conservatives on the Supreme Court who fixed the outcome — not the fault of the third-party third-place finisher.
In considering a Stein hit piece, rather, my thought was that the 62-year-old doctor from suburban Massachusetts was hardly the ideal figurehead for a newly activated left running on anti-capitalist outrage. I could easily rationalize someone more outspoken, famous, or tattooed — say, Janeane Garofalo, Tom Morello, or even Roseanne Barr, the latter of whom vied for the Green nomination but is now topping the Peace and Freedom party ticket. But a former Lexington Town Committee member like Stein? I needed some convincing.
Despite my initial prejudices, it took just one read through Stein's "Green New Deal for America" to flip me into a wholehearted endorser. That's how this turned from a hatchet job into a mash note — probably one of the only Jill Stein puff pieces you'll ever read. But hell, it's necessary — someone has to call attention to how Stein stands apart from the pack. While big-tent sleazeballs gorge on loot from predatory lenders, for example, she calls for restoring the Glass-Steagall separation of commercial and investment banks. As for extra bona fides, the doctor has experience hitting Mitt Romney, having run against him for governor of Massachusetts 10 years ago. Sure, she lost, badly — but not before she used her debate platform to condemn "tax loopholes for the wealthiest five percent," and to contend that financiers have no place in public office. In other words: Stein has spent the past decade hammering inequities that the increasingly broke public claims it wants corrected.
Presidentially speaking, Stein is no joke. She's a highly intelligent and experienced organizer, not to mention a Harvard alum, like her big-party opponents. Among other sensible ideas, Stein wants to abolish the Electoral College, repeal the Patriot Act, and cut military spending in half — ideas that so-called progressives seem to wholeheartedly embrace in non-election years only. With that in mind, here's a conscience call to anyone who has enough courage to put their ballot — and perhaps their volunteer time — where their mouth is.
THE 99 PERCENT
Like most activists who enter the electoral ring, Stein has a history of being appalled by local policies. Her moment of truth came roughly 15 years ago, when she began to impugn political negligence in shielding children from a range of dangers like pollution and food additives. Those offensives led to her co-authoring a book on child development and efforts to advance statewide campaign-finance reforms through a 1998 ballot initiative (only to see legislators repeal the will of voters). So when the Green Party recruited her for a 2002 gubernatorial run, she accepted.