Jill Stein, a Massachussets physician, teacher and mother with a long history of activism and political engagement, is running for president on the Green party ticket.
She believes that people are simply not happy with the choices they are currently being offered in the November election, and that this is the year to elect a third party candidate.
“The voices of ordinary people are locked out of the two-party system,” she said in a recent interview with Snellville Patch, “which is by and for the lobbyists and wealthy campaign contributors.”
Her running mate, Cheri Honkala, is visiting a tent city outside of the called Romneyville, a tribute to Hooverville, a popular name for tent cities set up by unemployed and homeless families during the Great Depression. During the Democratic National Convention, they will set up Obamaville.
"It's suicidal to have this kind of political system," said Stein, discussing what sets the Green party apart from Democrats and Republicans. "We don’t accept corporate money because we are people powered, not money powered. We have the liberty to stand up and fight for the solutions the American people are clamoring for."
As a mother of young kids and a doctor in a clinic, she saw the epidemic of chronic diseases descend on this generation’s children.
“It took becoming a mother to feel the incredible vulnerability of our future, and to take it personally,” said Stein.
Diabetes, obesity, ADHD and others were among her biggest concern. Some even hit close to home.
“To learn that we have effectively poisoned our own nest,” she said, “not only the air, but the food that we’re eating, and that it has fundamentally contaminated the womb, drives home the imperative to protect it all.”
It was that realization that became the catalyst for her political career. While she is on target to be on 45 separate state ballots, she recently learned that she will not appear on the Georgia ballot. Georgia has "the most antidemocratic ballot in the country," according to Stein. Instead, she is encouraging a grassroots write-in campaign.
The recent defeat of TSPLOST showed that Georgia's political life is "neither people-proof nor democracy-proof," something the Georgia Green party was encouraged to see. Stein was not against the project itself, but believed that it should have been done "with full and transparent citizen participation; and that it ought to be funded without reliance on regressive sales taxes," according to a Georgia Green Party press release.
While in the state, Stein visited with families of prisoners, stopped by local urban agriculture initiatives and spoke with families facing foreclosure and eviction.
The Green New Deal
Restoring our environment is one of Stein’s main goals, but she believes that the act of environmentalism will also solve our health and financial troubles.
“Recycling creates far more jobs than burning trash and polluting our food chain,” she said. “I’m talking about win-win solutions that save lives and money, create jobs and save the environment.”
Years ago, when she first tried to explain her strategies to the powers that be, she said she thought to herself, “I’m a doctor, I can explain these things. Surely our elected officials would be interested in these solutions, instead of these lose-lose realities we are facing.”
Things didn’t exactly turn out that way. She began work as an advocate for environmental change in 1998, which included leading a campaign to clean up coal plants and educating Massachusetts fish advisories on the dangers of mercury for women and children.
The most critical and urgent need in our nation right now, according to Stein, is creating jobs and putting people back to work. That is the centerpiece of her campaign. The Green New Deal would create 25 million new jobs by “implementing a nationally funded, but locally controlled direct employment initiative replacing unemployment offices offering public sector jobs which are “stored” in job banks in order to take up any slack in private sector employment,” according to Jill Stein’s website.
For the full description of the Green New Deal, visit the Green party's website.
“We have good solutions that will put people back to work in community-based jobs that make our community healthy, just and sustainable,” she said. “Not only ecologically, but economically and socially.”
Stein sees investing in local communities as key to jumpstarting the economy. If the money is used locally, every dollar has a multiplying effect.
“Keep it here instead of sending it overseas,” she said.
The Green Party agrees with both mainstream parties that the healthcare system needs reform, but has a different perspective on how to do it. Stein believes that we currently operate on a "sickcare" system rather than a healthcare system, and noted that we spend half the total expenditures involved on chronic conditions that are preventable. Despite the enormous cost associated with the system, sickness is skyrocketing.
“Rates of teenage diabetes have doubled over the past decade,” she said. “This is a terrifying public health statistic because it predicts so much worse to come. But it makes the pharmaceutical and healthcare systems very rich. That’s it. It’s not making us healthy.”
The agenda covered by the Green New Deal is a broad one, said Stein, but it’s an agenda of converging crises which can be solved with one fell swoop, “which is what the American public is asking for.”
Georgia is one of the top states hit by the foreclosure crisis, and , particularly the unincorporated area. Stein believes that we could stop this crisis on a dime, and that it’s “inexcusable that the Obama administration did not do so.”
Stein would declare a moratorium on home foreclosures; to put it simply, there would be no more evictions and no more foreclosures, and banks would be required to negotiate with homeowners to keep families in their homes. Included in that negotiation would be a reduction of the principal down to the market value.
“This is common sense,” she said. “It makes so much sense because the banks are going to take that hit anyway when they evict the owner and sell it as a foreclosure. They won’t get more than the current market value anyway.”
According to Stein, nothing has changed in four years.
“We’re stuck in a gradual downward spiral,” she said. “We need to start bailing out homeowners and do it now.”
Despite dissatisfaction with the current political system, there is a silver lining, according to Stein. Everyday people who did not previously consider themselves political understand that they are in "the crosshairs of the political system," she said.
"With this two-party system, it’s like an abusive relationship," she said. "We're making excuses for our abusers, when we need to just walk away. Together, this is how we move forward, with the solutions we deserve."