Upsetting the Apple Cart
By Tommy A. Purvis
“Is is not only okay to vote for a third party—it’s essential for the survival of our democracy.”
In the era of Citizens United and the escalating spending of super political action committees, Jill Stein’s candidacy for President of the United States might be easily lost today in the expanding wilderness of never ending green. The real deal opposition candidate is the middle class voice of reason unified with the working poor demand for attention that was silent in the surprisingly nuanced debates between the venture capital tycoon and former community organizer. Strategically speaking, Stein’s name is found next to enough boxes to check, chads to punch or touch screens to tap for an apple cart or two to be upset on Election Day.
So it makes perfect sense for the presidential power brokers to downplay the Green Party candidates, and all the other third-party candidates for that matter, and rejoice that they did not participate three nationally televised debates that, arguably, are skewed to favor big-money, major-party candidates. Stein is the only alternative candidate to be arrested in her tireless effort to offer disenfranchised voters an alternative to the red and blue party paradigm.
“The survival of our democracy”
The well established “first 100-days in the Oval Office agenda” outlined by Stein in an exclusive interview for the Weekly is built on a “Green New Deal” that puts unemployed and underpaid Americans back to work with long-lost respect. It also includes several executive efforts to scale back the war on terror in an effort to restore civil rights and liberties arguably lost in the decade since 9/11. And, of course, like the original New Deal from Franklin Delano Roosevelt, this new new deal offers true financial regulatory reform.
“A lot of people feel that the debate that is going is for the one percent,” Stein told the Weekly from the campaign trail after the first Presidential debate in Denver. “What we need to truly move forward is a debate for the 99 percent. We cannot allow the Democrats and Republicans to continue to rule the day. Is is not only okay to vote for a third party—it’s essential for the survival of our democracy.”
Stein, and her running mate, Cheri Onkala, the national coordinator of the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign, would be bound to chairs six days later by police for an act of civil disobedience. The ticket was put under a disorderly conduct arrest for eight hours after an effort to walk behind the security perimeter around the second Presidential town hall debate on domestic issues at Hofstra University.
The activist ticket then sat in the intersection in front on the university.
An invitation to the debates from the Presidential Debate Commission (PDC)—a non-profit entity sponsored by donations from foundations and corporations loyal to the mainstream commander-in-chief nominees that has held an iron fist control over the deliberations for the last five election cycle—requires for a candidate to capture at least the 15 percent level of support in five national polls.
The last non-traditional candidate to meet the criteria was Ross Perot. The wealthy Texas business man was able to buy 30-minute prime time television ads. Since then, the caveat has reduced the campaign for the most influential office on the globe to a choice between one of two primary colors.
A New “New Deal”
The Green New Deal is an ambitious plan by Stein to move the nation out of the self-inflicted financial crisis ruin to a secure future based on economic justice and local sustainable development free from corporate overreach.
“Our country cannot truly move forward until the roots of inequality are pulled up, and the seeds of a new, healthier economy are planted,” Stein says. “In FDR’s New Deal of the 1930s there were approximately four million jobs created in four weeks. There is no reason to sit here with chronic unemployment that is barely moving forward at a snail’s pace.”
The foundation of the Stein plan is the economic bill of rights. The domestic policy envisions a Full Employment Program made possible through a “nationally funded, but locally controlled direct employment initiative” that would replace unemployment offices with job banks. The public sector jobs meant to take up any slack in private sector employment.
In order to prevent “pay to play” decision making in the process, campaign contributions and lobbying will not be allowed.
Under a Stein administration, workers’ rights will include a living wage that comes with the right to organize a union without fear of firing or reprisal. Obamacare would be replaced with a single-payer Medicare-for-All program. Student loan debt would be forgiven at a third of the cost of the latest round of quantitative easing to expand middle class income. The $904 billion student loan bubble is the only debt that is practically unforgivable in bankruptcy proceedings. Stein would replace the for profit system with a tuition-free, federally funded, education system from preschool through college that would also offer technical training.
Much like FDR, who led the effort to end the prohibition of alcohol early in his first term, Stein would decriminalize marijuana. Her polices would push to treat drug addiction as a mental health issue instead of throwing taxpayer cash towards the incarceration of non-violent drug offenders.
Small Green Businesses
The Green Transition Program would create more than half of the employment opportunities found in the local job banks. Stein’s plan calls for sustainable energy projects and energy efficiency retrofitting, along with mass regional transit upgrades that also takes into account foot and bike traffic. The longtime environmental health advocate that graduated from Harvard Medical School in the early ’70s wants to push the nation towards “a new, sustainable economy that is environmentally sound, economically viable and socially responsible.”
“The President continues to subsidize, permit and encourage every fossil fuel source known to man,” Stein says. “He saw fit to go out and support clean coal, fracking, opening up the Artic, opening up our national parks and offshore oil. This is an unmitigated disaster.”
Stein argues that the President’s $80 billion investment in solar and wind power has mostly resulted in more taxpayer subsidies being directed to the big energy interests. She says that not only is the investment not enough to offset offset the fast approaching implications of climate change, it has empowered the monopoly that put us in this position in the first place. Instead, her administration would invest in the alternative energy sector by providing grants and low-interest loans to grow small green businesses and cooperatives. She says that distributed energy grids would decentralize monopolies with locally-based companies that would be investing in the future of the community instead of “absentee investors.”
Chevron Energy Solutions is among the developers in the Blythe Solar Power Project to receive stimulus and fast track status from the White House. The industrial-scale solar energy project between Joshua Tree National Park and the Colorado River has already spoiled pristine wilderness and desecrated indigenous land, activists and others say.
Hemp would also be liberated for industrial use by local communities in a Stein administration.
No More Bailouts
Easily the most radical legislation in Stein’s New Green Deal is her plan to take on Wall Street and the Federal Reserve. The candidate says that she would use the bully pulpit of the Oval Office to push her Real Financial Reform plan. Stein would pressure Congress to impose a 90-percent tax on bonuses for the bailed out bankers. In addition, the legislation would end the taxpayer funded bailouts of banks, insurers and other financial companies.
Stein would seek to regulate all financial derivatives and require them to be traded on open exchanges.
The separation of commercial and investment banking made the law under the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933 would be restored. The legislation was weakened and chipped at through the decades until then-President Bill Clinton and his treasury secretary, Larry Summers, were able to pressure Congress to ease the regulations. Summers was the director of the White House United States National Economic Council in the first two years of the Obama Administration.
Stein would seek to nationalize the “too big to fail private bank-dominated Federal Reserve Banks” and move them to be regulated under a Monetary Authority within the Treasury Department to finally weaken the power granted to the central banking system in the Federal Reserve Act of 1913.
The Chomsky Connection
An interview with Stein is like a real-time conversation with Wikipedia. Relevant and crucial knowledge dangerous to the ruling class drips from her simple message that harshly rebukes the status quo with the soft tones of truly revolutionary change.
Noam Chomsky—whom the Chicago Tribune says has been cited in more research than any other living person on the globe—endorsed Stein in March. Chomsky’s short readers on U.S. colonialism are famous among cliques of wide eyed political science students exchanging fresh knowledge in the first few years of college.
Chomsky’s letter to the Green Party finds that a vote for Stein empowers the popular anger at the political and economic institutions that for sound reason has reached historic heights. He thinks that Stein’s candidacy can open up political debate to frustrations of citizens who are “watching the country move towards what might be irreversible decline while a tiny sector of concentrated wealth and power implements policies of benefit to them and opposed by the general population, whom they are casting adrift.”
Stein has also been endorsed by former New York Times reporter Chris Hedges. The long time Middle East war correspondent was part of a team of reporters that won a Pulitzer Prize for coverage of global terrorism. The self-admitted activist journalist is suing the Obama administration for the indefinite detention provisions found in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that the President signed last New Year’s Eve in relative secrecy.
Academics and journalist argue that newly legislated codification in the NDAA empowers the executive branch to extend the status of battlefield detainees caught in foreign theaters of war on terrorism charges without trial at Camp X-ray in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba to U.S. citizens charged with seditious acts.
Stein told the Weekly that her administration would repeal the Patriot Act and those parts of the NDAA that codify the violation of civil liberties. Stein would also prohibit the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI from conspiring with local police forces to suppress freedom of assembly and free speech similar to the incidents that took place during the Occupy movement.
“The Voting Booth is Rigged”
Stein’s clarion call for reform that has been stifled by corporate interest feeding the campaign coffers of Romney and Obama. The price for a 30-second prime time ad in Cleveland has risen 400 percent during the final weeks of the election. The Romney and Obama campaign have spent an combined $88 million for television ads in Ohio alone.
In order to address the issue an affinity group within Occupy Riverside known as the 28ers—for their support of a 28th Amendment to the Constitution that would regulate campaign spending—organized a “Return to Sender: Get Money out of Politics Party” in front of the Ghandi statue located at the Main Street pedestrian mall—near City Hall—in Downtown Riverside recently. In order to draw attention to “the friends with benefits” influence peddling consuming the electoral process craft tables were set up for party goers to “deface, scrawl, draw, collage, origami-fy and attach statements of protest to their political mailers.”
“At the end of the event, a protest march will lead us to Downtown Riverside’s U.S. Post Office where—in an act of blatant, post-partisan solidarity—we will efficiently “Return to Sender” the junk-mail that’s blocking our democracy,” says the groups open ended invitation on Facebook.
Stein has a unique relationship with Occupy. She clearly understands that the phenomena that spread from Zuccotti Park across the nation is, in fact, a social movement, and not a political party. Yet, Stein says that she has the distinction of being the only candidate to support it.
“Occupy is not going anywhere. It really represents the brick wall that our future has run into,” Stein says. It’s endlessly exciting how Occupy finds itself over and over again. It’s going to keep carrying the torch.”
Stein has confidence that occupiers will appreciate her outreach, and hopes that some will choose to go the polls today and vote for her.
“Yes, the voting booth is rigged,” Stein told the Weekly. “But it’s rigged out there when you go to demonstrate, and you’re surrounded by police in riot gear, and there is a helicopter overhead. The press won’t report what’s going on, and there are paddy wagons being lined up. It’s no reason to spare them