Massachusetts physician Jill Stein is running for president on The Green Party ticket. If you haven’t heard of her, it’s probably because she’s not garnering much press coverage, at least on major networks and news outlets, who are beholden to America’s corporate elite.
We can assume that since she’s not invited into the quarters of those private sanctums, she’s doing something right, even dangerous. And what is politics without a touch of danger?
Squeezed out of the national political debate and conversation, you can find her here and there online, developing a forceful presence on the social media thinkpiece circuit. But, even there, the tenor of the online analysis is not so much passionate optimism as it is caution and pragmatic curiosity (“Good luck,” Grist’s Katie Herzog said to her). It’s the kind of pragmatism and realistic outlook Hillary Clinton loves to summon as she’s circumscribing the political imagination of under-35 voters feeling the Bern.
Maybe I’m reading too much into it. But, with some exceptions, that’s the impression I’ve walked away with.
In any case, hardly anyone is “thinking green.” And there’s a simple (if not disappointing) reason for this, succinctly summarized in Grist’s interview with The Green Party frontrunner: Jill Stein “makes Bernie Sanders look conservative.”
That’s another way of saying that Stein is more radical and extreme than someone using the term “socialist” to identify his political self.
I know that’s hard for millennials to fathom and difficult for other Bernie supporters to wrap their minds around. But it’s true.
How else do you describe a presidential candidate who has promised to cancel all student debt? Not reduce. Not consolidate. Not refinance. Cancel.
Can’t get more progressive and non-establishment than that. It’s difficult to conceive Bernie Sanders uttering the words “cancel” and “student debt” in one sentence. Stein has.
Naturally, Stein is no enthusiast of Trump or Hillary, but she directs most of her criticism at the latter because she’s viewed as the antidote to Trump and to the spiraling chaos of late capitalism. To the suggestion that Hillary Clinton is any of these, Stein replies that the darling of the Democratic party is “[as] big a corporatist, as big a warmonger, as big an imperialist as any of the Republican presidential candidates. Her rhetoric is less offensive.”
But, in a surprising move, when Stein reached out to the Sanders campaign to discuss the possibility of collaboration, she was met with silence:
“That phone call has not been returned, and I don’t expect that this will happen,” Truthdig reports.
Similarly, the word on her “open letter” to Sanders was mum, despite echoing many of the same points and suspicions the democratic socialist has raised on the campaign trail regarding the establishment’s undisguised and uncritical loyalty to Hillary Clinton:
“The Democratic machine has launched an unjust attack on your campaign – from the NY Daily News hit job to Paul Krugman’s unfounded assault, the DNC’s efforts to minimize your debate exposure, and the near-unanimous endorsement of Clinton by Democratic elected officials and superdelegates.”
So why are voters and run-of-the-mill politicians giving Stein the silent treatment? Again, we need only make mention of the content of her policy proposals, which are diametrically out of sync with those of the Republocrats or what David Harvey calls the “party of Wall Street.”
Alongside student debt cancellation, Stein has vowed to guarantee access to quality basic necessities and utilities (food, housing, water); legislate universal health care; outlaw the criminalization of poverty; reform criminal laws, including the banal procedures of the court and penal system; and maintain an uncompromising commitment to the reproductive and economic rights of women, to name a few.
Basically, if Stein had her way, a “national emergency” would be declared on the human and planetary condition.
In America, this is not someone you want blaring across car radios caught in stop-and-gos during rush hour, or spilling into the homes of the masses of voters — who, incidentally, must also pull double duty as a labor reserve.
In America, you need someone like Stein to shut up and go away.
Establishment media may have willfully turned a blind eye to political mavericks like Stein. But, we here in the world of independent medialand, would like her to know: we see you.
And it’s not just pragmatic curiosity that’s got us checking for you. We’re feeling what we see.
Featured Image: Paul Stein, Flickr Creative Commons