For one, I’m a green. But that’s not really simply why I’m supporting Jill.
Many of us want a real “choice” in our elections. However, given the nature of our elections, their “winner-take-all” nature bears the risk of earning away votes from, perhaps, a tolerable major party candidate and possibly tipping the majority of votes in favor of the other, more craven, ruling party’s candidate. It makes people afraid to vote for what they want. It often leads people to vote against what they are most afraid of by giving away their votes to a “lesser evil”. Greens want to make democracy possible in the US and electoral reform is part of that (we advocate preference voting). We’re challenging bipartisan rule. You won’t find me apologetic about that. It’s not easy and we know there are consequences of challenging power. Challenging power always has consequences to discourage challenges to it. That’s true all over the world.
There’s more to it, for me, than simply offering another selection on the ballot. It’s really about politics and more precisely, independent politics. Politics that are not just about reform and maintaining existing systems no matter what but the kind of politics that allows us to consider fundamentally changing our systems to adapt our relationships to the environment, industrialism and one another that eradicates poverty once and for all.
Jill Stein embodies that vision of a better world. Her “plan” is the best plan to help us move beyond the old systems that are indebting our people and replacing that with program of economic security and dignity. Dr Stein wants to eradicate poverty, not to continue managing it as we have been doing. She wants both education and healthcare as a “right” and to abolish student debt. She wants to cut the kind of military spending that’s turning our nation into a bankrupt empire. She wants to empower the people by abolishing the “legal fiction” of corporate “personhood” and establish a constitutional right to vote to protect voting rights. I could go on and on but, for me, she’s the obvious choice and the direction independent and disaffected voters from major parties need to be aligning with.
This election, the democrats are offering Bernie Sanders as their 20 Century “New Deal” style liberal offering in their primaries (as an alternative to Hilary’s neoliberalism). He wants to restore the old social and economic order of regulated industrialism that made the “middle class” possible. I know he calls himself a “democratic socialist” but that shouldn’t really scare anybody as what he describes is, at best, a more ambitious form of “New Deal” liberalism or better known as Keynesian economics (aka: “Scandinavian Socialism”… which isn’t technically “socialism”).
However, I don’t believe restoring the old social and economic order of the 20th Century’s “New Deal” now addresses what is needed now. You shouldn’t either. It was never a perfect deal. It was a series of concessions that were a compromise forged in the ‘lens’ of it’s own time (necessary in many ways, to avoid revolution during the Great Depression). Bernie is probably one of the last of it’s credible defenders. Yet as a “plan”, recycling it for the 21st century is really just inadequate and nobody should fool themselves that it will ‘magically’ sort things out for us it was never designed to address.
I remain unmoved by the latest ‘spin’ by those that defend power use to characterize the greens. Some in the democratic party are promoting the language of green “idealists” (note: coming from a party bankrupt of any effective broad vision at all). Their suggestion smells of the idea that we should be ‘satisfied’ selecting from neoliberals from both ruling parties and not concern ourselves having a voice with practical aspirations that would actually address structural and systemic problems that negatively impact people’s lives. It’s not really our “idealism” but our “integrity” and persistence that has the spin artists hot under the collar. However, Greens are not putting off pursuing democracy and waiting to throw our “hat in the ring”. I expect that once we’re in the general election, the “spoiler” narrative will find it’s way back as well which I’ll respond as I have before:
“It’s not the job of the Greens to shore up the numbers of the democratic party candidates. They have vast numbers of voters already registered with their party they need to mobilize to get out to vote and their failure to do that does not give that party any entitlement to Green votes. The democrats spoil their own elections by their inability to mobilize their own base of supporters”
I think Mahatma Gandhi’s quote puts our struggle in perspective: “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win”. Greens spent several electoral cycles where we were just simply ignored. Later we were defamed and blamed in hopes we’d just fold up and go away and people wouldn’t take us seriously. That didn’t happen. Now the democrats are actually fighting us. It’s a bit different this time as many folks who have decided to support Bernie are openly defecting in saying that “if he doesn’t win the primaries, they are supporting Jill!”. The democrats are worried that Bernie’s support won’t automatically translate directly into support for Hillary in the general election (like it had in the past with other “progressive’ish” candidates that washed out in the democratic primaries). From my point of view, the Greens are crossing new threshold and it’s quite an exciting time where Green politics will start impacting the national dialog and make our way into a broader discussion. However, no struggle is easy. They wouldn’t call it “struggle” if it were. So we continue, inch by inch, organizing better and building the green movement. #ItsInOurHands