Interview with Jill Stein, Green Party candidate for the U.S. presidency. By VIJAY PRASHAD
DR JILL STEIN IS RUNNING FOR THE UNITED States presidency on the Green Party ticket. This will not be her first attempt. In 2012, Jill Stein’s Green Party ticket—with Cheri Honkala, the advocate for the homeless—won half a million votes. But running on a “third party” ticket in the U.S. is not easy. The two major parties, Democratic and Republican, keep a firm hold on the political process. It is hard to get on the ballot in all 50 States of the U.S., and it is impossible to join the candidates of the two major parties at their presidential debates. In fact, when Jill Stein and Cheri Honkala tried to enter the debate venue in New York during the 2012 election, they were both arrested. But arrests are not unusual for Jill Stein. During the 2012 election, she was arrested at a Philadelphia sit-in against home foreclosures and she was arrested while offering support to environmental activists in Texas who had camped out against the Keystone XL pipeline. Activism is the measure of Jill Stein’s politics.
The 2016 election for the U.S. presidency will likely be between the Republican front runner Donald Trump and the Democratic presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton. Both are steeped in the culture of Wall Street, and neither would be prepared to draw down the massive U.S. military presence across the planet. Jill Stein’s message is utterly at odds with those of these two candidates and their parties. But her views are rarely heard in the U.S. largely because of the media blackout of the American Left, in particular, and all “third parties”, in general. Here, Jill Stein speaks to Frontline about this election and her hopes for the American Left.
Bernie Sanders’ “political revolution” has certainly brought questions of radicalism to the table, including, of course, of democratic socialism. You have said: “You can’t really have a revolutionary campaign inside a counter-revolutionary party.” Could you elaborate on this?
The Democratic Party and its major office holders, with few exceptions, are funded by predatory corporate interests: too-big-to-fail banks, fossil fuel giants, war profiteers, for-profit prisons, Big Pharma and the like. With corporate funding providing its lifeblood, counter-revolution is hardwired into the party.
Over the past many decades, the Democratic Party has repeatedly offered up progressive presidential candidates but consistently sabotaged those campaigns to prevent them from winning the nomination. After the anti-war advocate George McGovern won the 1972 nomination, the party created a system to block insurgent candidates. Superdelegates or conservative insiders provide a margin of safety for status quo candidates. Holding multiple simultaneous primaries on Super Tuesdays requires large sums of money. These two means safeguard against future grass-roots rebellions.
Where necessary, the party has used smear campaigns and back-stabbing to take down its reformers. The anti-war candidate Howard Dean was disabled by the “Dean Scream” ads portraying him as a madman, while Jesse Jackson was marginalised by a smear campaign painting him as anti-Semitic. Dennis Kucinich was denied admission to the debates and then redistricted out of his congressional seat. While the party marginalises its rebels, it benefits from the illusion of progressive figureheads, even as it becomes more corporatist, militarist and imperialist by the year. So these presidential campaigns that lift up the best of the party actually enable it to fake-Left but keep marching to the Right.