The Green Party of Rhode Island welcomed presidential candidate Jill Stein to their 2015 Green Gathering held at the Warwick campus of CCRI. Stein spoke for about 35 minutes about her campaign, her vision for the future of America, and the need for a new political party that represents ‘people, planet and peace over profit.’
Stein praised the Rhode Island Green Party for their environmental effort against fracked gas. “You’ve all been an incredible inspiration,’ she said. “With the sustainability leadership that’s been coming out of Rhode Island and your amazing leadership on the pipeline resistance and starting the five state coalition of Green parties to fight pipelines together.”
This is, said Stein, “a moment of crisis, but also a moment of potential for deep systemic change… Half of Americans don’t identify as Democrats or Republicans right now.”
Stein feels that the success of Bernie Sanders is a sign of America’s dissatisfaction with the two party system, but she feels Sanders’ campaign for the presidency is doomed to fail. “What they are not counting on is the basic structure of the Democratic party… the Democratic party has a built in structure for sabotaging that revolt.”
As examples, Stein brought up the presidential campaigns of Howard Dean, Jesse Jackson and Dennis Kucinich who were all sabotaged from within the Democratic Party.
Also, says Stein, there’s Super Tuesday, a big money primary that requires a huge amount of cash to win, since a candidate has to cover 25 states with advertising. Sanders will be hopelessly outspent here. But even if Sanders were to get through these hurdles, he still has to face the super delegates, created after George McGovern won the nomination, and they control half of the Democratic Party’s votes.
Sanders has promised to support the winner of the Democratic primary, so he’s taking all that positive radical energy and either giving it to the Democrats or destroying it. The Greens, on the other hand, won’t disappear come November. “We are building a permanent force for people planning for peace over profit,” says Stein, “We are here to develop a political party that supports that agenda.”
“As Bernie begins to run into trouble there are going to be a lot of unhappy campers…” says Stein, and as Sanders brings his people into the Democratic party presidential campaign of someone like Hillary Clinton, he’ll be working against his own agenda.
The Democratic Party will combat the agenda of the rebels who want to keep the party from shifting to the right. Democrats in the Sanders camp will need a Plan B if Sanders doesn’t win. Plan B for Sanders supporters is the Green party, says Stein.
“We are facing an unprecedented crisis right now across the spectrum of economy, ecology, peace and democracy,” said Stein. During the last economic crisis, with a Democratic president and both houses controlled by Democrats, the priority was Wall St. Homeowners didn’t get a bailout. Wall St. did.
“Enough with the lesser evil, it’s time to stand up for the greater good.” The Greens, Stein said, “really do represent basic American values and basic American sentiment…
“When we go into debates, we usually win them… That’s why they work so darn hard to keep us out of the debates.” Stein went on to talk about how when she was running for governor of Massachusetts, she had to fight to get on the televised debate, and afterwards the “instant online viewer polling” said that she had won. She was not allowed in the debates after that.
The Greens, teaming with the Libertarian Party, are trying to get into the debates this year. They have two court cases pending, they’re working on a petition to change the rules about who can participate in the debates and they’re planning to boycott the sponsors of the Commission on Presidential Debates. This is a real attempt to change the political climate, and the two big parties are fighting against this.
Speaking of Libertarians, Stein says they are a “work in progress.”
“The more they learn about politics, the more the they’re converting from Libertarians to Greens… Libertarians are often people who get that there’s a problem but they haven’t quite discovered what the solution is yet… we have many things in common around foreign policy, the drug wars here at home and protecting our civil liberties.”
The Greens will be the only party on the ballot saying, “Not only do young people deserve free public higher education, that should be a birth right, but we’re saying, ‘we bailed out the friggin’ bankers, who got us into this mess… isn’t it time to bail out the students who were the victims of that waste, fraud and abuse?’” says Stein, “Forty million millennials who are mobilized to come out and vote to abolish debt…that can actually win the election.”
Stein also talked about the environment, and the terrible threat of climate change. She referenced the new study from James Hanson, which shows that sea level rise by 2050 may reach ten feet, effectively putting large parts of the world under water. (What this means for the Ocean State, as we plan heavy investments into fracked gas over the next thirty years, is disaster.)
“What this means is stop what you’re doing,” says Stein, “Let’s join the team to stop this, immediately… In stopping this, we can actually start a whole new way forward. A new way forward based on peace, justice, democracy and sustainability.
“These things go together. We put them together in the phrase, ‘People, planet and peace over profit.’”
Stein praised the growing movements for human rights and climate justice, such as Black Lives Matter, but she wants these various movements to unite into a powerful political force. “They want us to be divided into our separate issues… but by coming together around a unified agenda of ‘People, planet and peace over profit,’ then we are unstoppable.”
The Republican Party is a radical, fringe movement, says Stein. The Democrats aren’t much better. People want something new. “People are actually supporting a Green New Deal, spending half a trillion dollars a year to make the emergency transition” from fossil fuels.
The Green Party has popular support for its policies. “We have the Green New Deal, we’ve got health care as a human right, we have the right to a job, we have living wages, we have cutting the military…”
Speaking of the military, Stein makes the point that it’s American imperialism, fueled by an addiction to oil and the sale of arms, that keeps us in the Middle was, spending trillions and killing hundreds of thousands while we create the next Al Qaeda or ISIS. “How about an arms boycott to the Middle East?’ asked Stein, to applause.
“We could put twenty million people to work right now… to transition us to one hundred percent clean renewable energy by 2030. We are the only campaign that is calling for a specific ‘time over.’” said Stein, “We can’t really address the climate crisis without addressing the economic crisis.”
Action on the climate will have immediate and positive health effects, the savings from which will pay for the transition itself.
“This is our moment. This is what we have been preparing a lifetime for. The solutions are in our hands. There is a political vacuum that is waiting to be filled. Democracy is in our hands. Justice is in our hands. A survivable climate is in our hands. It’s up to us, so join the team, I look forward to working with you and having the campaign of a lifetime. We have all of our lives to change, and to change the course of history. So let’s do it together.”