Suddenly, I’m an undecided voter, and Jill Stein is to blame.
Stein, the Green Party’s presidential candidate, met with members of The Seattle Times editorial board Friday morning and made a case for why the difference between Democrat Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney is in the margins, that what they have done – their actions – add up to Tweedledee and Tweedledum, twins who both want to keep the status quo and at best can only promise that they will try to keep it from getting much worse for most Americans.
Stein is a smart, articulate woman, Harvard educated, a medical doctor who says her experience in that field led her to politics.
“In 25 years in clinics, I witnessed an increase in diseases – asthma, obesity, autism. Certainly our DNA did not change in that short time; the problem is with our sick food system, pollution and failing health care,” she said. “But when I brought these issues to elected officials, they were not interested.”
She became an activist at the local and state level, running for governor of Massachusetts in 2002 against Romney and winning 3.5 percent of the vote.
She was on the Green Party recruiting committee to find a 2012 nominee and ended up being the “recruit.”
Much of what she said Friday morning struck a chord, feeding some of the unease I’ve had about what is going on with our country and our political system, that, as Stein says, our two “Wall Street-sponsored political parties” are not interested in creating jobs or saving money in government or protecting the environment and, by extension, saving lives.
Many of her ideas on her campaign web page appeal to me – cut defense spending back to 2000 levels, establish a Medicare-for-all program, make higher education free for all because it will pay off in a smarter, more innovative work force, levy a .5 percent tax on Wall Street transactions to help balance the budget and slow down the next financial death spiral.
But when I mention this to my political adviser, who is also my wife, she dismisses it as me following another political Pied Piper (there have been many – Ayn Rand, Jerry and Abbie, John Anderson, Mark Sidran and so on) to what can only be a disastrous story ending. She threatened me with the lecture entitled, “Are You Really Going to Throw Away Your Vote in this Close and Important Election?”
I mumble something and escape the lecture on the home front but get it full force at work from colleague Lance Dickie. He berates me for being frivolous (I hope not) about an election that will have serious consequences for the United States. He reminds me of the Ralph Nader effect in 2000.
And yet . . .
As simplistic as the Green Party solutions may be and as remote the possibility that they will ever go into effect, I’m losing faith that the answers for how to make this country better for most Americans will come from the two main political parties.
I’m going to check in Monday at Democracy Now to hear its program “Expanding the Debate” where they show the two main party candidates talking and then pause the video after each question to include responses from Stein and the Justice Party’s Rocky Anderson.
Then on Tuesday, I plan to watch another presidential debate, this one among four “alternative party” candidates, including Stein. Sponsored by Free and Equal Elections, you won’t find it on network TV, but it is being carried by Al Jazeera English and Russia Today, which may be an indication of how far I have strayed from Hamelin and how hard it may be to find my way back without a piper.
Jill Stein is the Green Party presidential candidate. Photo by Thanh Tan.