By Jeanine Molloff
July 15, 2016
My one-sided ‘lurid’ love affair with Bernie Sanders has come to a screeching halt. The political infatuation I had with Bernie that was strong enough to make me swear off George Clooney (pre-Amal); is now stored away with old tokens meant to curse former crushes, (including an ugly little voodoo doll bearing more than a striking resemblance to Trump); and all because he whole heartedly endorsed Hillary this week.
Now I understand that Bernie told his followers the fight will go to the convention floor as a show of newly grown progressive force. He wants to knock out political bosses, reform the nominating process, and allow voting rights for independents in the primaries.
Rumors of blackmail fly online
Unsubstantiated rumors surfaced on a reddit thread, claim that Bernie was allegedly blackmailed (by the DNC and Hillary), to happily endorse Hillary, or be locked out of the convention.
That’s right, no Bernie and no nasty aftertaste from Bernie delegates to stop Hillary’s coronation. Frankly, envisioning Bernie, his delegates and fellow protesters barred from the door of the convention with the threat of arrest hovering like ‘hanging chads’ of yesteryear; would have served as a more powerful indictment over a corrupt process. Alas, it was not to be.
I can forgive Bernie for being tired and realizing that Hillary has stolen the nomination; but I have difficulty accepting his smiling face standing next to HER–the poster child of groveling and political obeisance to Wall Street.
I would have been crushed except, I had someone even better than Bernie–waiting in the wings, namely Green Candidate Dr. Jill Stein. I admit that I was attracted by her mantra which simply states the obvious and most inconvenient truth, that; “Democracy needs a moral compass; it needs our moral values.” (Source : J. Stein interview in St. Louis, July 3, 2016)
Jill Stein to the rescue
Dr. Stein or Jill as she prefers to be called is the ‘dirty’ little secret of the political world. A medical doctor by profession and an alumnus of the Harvard Medical School; she is refreshingly humble. Jill was kind enough to consent to an interview on a very short campaign stop in St. Louis. We met in a local coffeehouse which had also previously served as a refuge for Ferguson protesters. There were no handlers, no entourage, no demands for the questions in advance, and no arrogance.
It’s easy to see why Jill Stein and the Green Party have been locked out of the press cycle at least until recently. Her agenda has a corny name; ‘The Power to the People Plan’, but the goals are golden in terms of economic, social, political and climate justice. She blames “both corporate political parties” for the current litany of economic, political and climate crimes against humanity.
Her goals are to create “deep system change, moving from the greed and exploitation of corporate capitalism to a human-centered economy that puts people, planet and peace over profit.”
Key points of her plan feature the following:
*A Green New Deal which will “”create millions of jobs by transitioning to 100% clean renewable energy by 2030, and investing in public transit, sustainable agriculture, and conservation.”
*Creation of living-wage jobs and advancing worker’s rights to form unions and achieve workplace democracy;
*Create a guarantee of economic human rights, including access to housing, food, water and utilities;
*Establish and implement single-payer public health insurance, aka Medicare for All;
*Abolish student debt and end student debt servitude. “Guarantee tuition-free, world class public education from pre-school through university. End high stakes testing and public school privatization.”
* Create a ‘Just Economy by establishing a mandatory $15/hour federal minimum wage. Break up ‘too-big-to-fail’ banks and democratize the Federal Reserve. Make Wall Street, big corporations, and the rich pay their fair share of taxes. Create democratically run public banks and utilities.
* Replace corporate trade agreements with fair trade agreements.
*Lead the way on a global agreement to halt catastrophic climate change. End destructive energy extraction: fracking, tar sands, offshore drilling, oil trains, mountaintop removal and uranium mines. Protect our public lands, water supplies, biological diversity, parks and pollinators. Label GMO’s, and put a moratorium on GMO’s and pesticides until they are proven safe.
*Protect the rights of future generations.
*End police brutality, mass incarceration and institutional racism within our justice system. Expand women’s rights, protect LGBTQIA+ people from discrimination
*Enforce the Bill of Rights by protecting the right to free speech and protest, to be secure from unwarranted search and seizure, as well as other Constitutional rights.
*Terminate unconstitutional surveillance and unwarranted spying, close Guantanamo, and repeal indefinite detention without charge or trial. Repeal the National Defense Authorization Act, which grants any president the power to indefinitely imprison or assassinate American citizens without due process.
*End persecution of government, corporate and media whistleblowers.
*Issue an Executive Order prohibiting Federal agencies from conspiring with local police to infringe upon rights of assembly and protest.
*Repeal the Patriot Act.
*Abolish corporate personhood.
It doesn’t take much imagination to see why the corporate Democrats and their media enablers have made sure that Dr. Jill Stein is invisible. Her voice has been blacked out far worse than Bernie’s, yet she perseveres.
Feminism for all women vs. Hillary’s ‘faux’ feminism for the wealthy”
We started with the largest ‘elephant in the room’, namely feminism and the first woman president. For the past two years, the American public has been barraged with propaganda regarding the historic, yet token nature of the 2016 presidential race. This propaganda has served as a prelude to what can only be called Hillary Clinton’s coronation. Feminist groups have conveniently omitted any news of the other woman in the presidential race, namely Dr. Jill Stein of the Green party.
I then mentioned the very real disconnect between women supporting Hillary and those that reject Hillary’s faux feminism which focuses on supporting affluent professional women, while throwing poorer women under the bus as acceptable ‘collateral damage.’ I asked Jill how this schism reflects on her plans to equalize the gender playing field. How does her plan differ from Hillary’s on working women’s issues such as healthcare for all, a living wage and paid family leave?
She didn’t mince any words or fret over political correctness.
“We are an inconvenient truth for Hillary Clinton who pretends to be the friend of women, but as you said really is the friend of wealthy women, whose policies are very much at odds with what women need. This is a woman who sat on the board of Wal-Mart which is really sort of the poster child of the predatory economy.” (Source : taped interview in St. Louis July 3, 2016)
I asked for additional examples of Hillary’s duplicity against the working poor, especially for women. Stein was on target.
“Hillary Clinton led the charge in Haiti” where impoverished workers had just gotten a raise to 60 an hour, and Hillary Clinton led the charge to push it back down to 40 an hour–a full third of their wages wiped out”not a friend of everyday people.”
Stein does acknowledge the role Hillary played in the CHIPS or Children’s Health Insurance Program, but admonishes the miserly, incremental nature of this reform. “If kids are healthy and parents are sick, those kids are not going to stay healthy. We need parents to be able to care for their families so we need Medicare for All, not just little pieces of healthcare.”
Stein also has some difficult questions for Hillary and her brand of elitist feminism, which concentrates on the boardroom, while supporting wars of empire.
“Again, how can you claim to be a feminist, when you are rushing into wars that are bombing other people’s kids, hospitals and schools and destroying them? We should not be rushing to war as our first impulse. The wars where Hillary has rushed in have been absolutely an abomination for which there is no excuse; in particular Libya, where she led the charge.”
“As scary as Trump talks, Hillary has a scary record of warmongering and neoliberalism.”
Jill on universal healthcare as a human right
This seemed like a good segueway into the issue of universal healthcare. Playing devil’s advocate, I mentioned Hillary’s infamous response to Bernie Sanders on Medicare for All–the “it’s not going to happen,” royal dismissal. I asked Jill how she would pay for such programs.
On Medicare for All, Stein explained that; “Health Care as a human right doesn’t cost more than what we’re paying right now. What we do simply is consolidate, and ensure that those costs are distributed progressively, in my view ideally, through the income tax or some form of progressive tax.” (source : Interview on July 3rd in St. Louis)
“We can join the community of civilized nations, in providing Health Care as a human right, and we can do this by ceasing to provide a boondoggle for insurance and pharmaceutical companies.”
“We can take that nearly $0.5 trillion dollars that is wasted on red tape paper pushing and CEO profits every year, and simply plug that back in to Health Care. In doing so we can cover everyone, from cradle to grave, head to toe, including pharmaceuticals, mental health, eyeglasses, hearing aids, reproductive Health Care Et cetera. We put Health Care back into the hands of everyday people and their providers; instead of being directed by insurance CEOs, where they can most limit our care, and squeeze us for the most profit.”
Evidence supporting Jill’s universal healthcare
Stein’s prescription on how to fund Medicare for All is viable. Dr. Robert Zarr, president of Physicians for a National Health Plan (PNHP), explains that according to global evidence “single-payer financing systems are the most equitable and cost effective way to assure that everyone, without exception, gets high-quality care.”
PNHP is a nonprofit research and educational group consisting of 19,000 doctors nationwide. Dr. Zarr explained further that this plan is superior to the ACA or Obama-care and would “save over 400 billion a year currently wasted on private-insurance-related bureaucracy, paperwork and marketing. That’s enough money to provide first-dollar coverage for everyone in the country–without increasing U.S. health spending by a single penny.”
Additionally, The New England Journal of Medicine called out private insurance based health care in the U.S. as a “market-based failure.” The 2008 article cited that “a comprehensive national system is far better positioned to match resources with needs — and not through the so-called rationing of care. (It is the U.S. system that has the most de facto rationing — high rates of un-insurance, exclusions for preexisting conditions, excessive deductibles and copayments, and shorter hospital stays and physician visits.) A universal system suffers far less of the feast-or-famine misallocation of resources driven by profit maximization. It also saves huge sums that our system wastes on administration, billing, marketing, profit, executive compensation, and risk selection.”
The article continues to add that national health insurance or single-payer systems remain a distant hope. That reality””reflects the immense power of the insurance and pharmaceutical industries, the political fragmentation and ambivalence of the medical profession, the intimidation of politicians, and the erroneous media images of dissatisfied patients in universal systems.
Jill’s political laundry list
Stein then went down her political laundry list of programs vital to our reconstruction as a healthy nation.
On cancelling and restructuring student debt; “We do that through a quantitative easing, which doesn’t cost taxpayers a dime. We did this for Wall Street, for a much greater amount, which was a bad idea because that was not a stimulus for the economy. You don’t want to infinitely spin out so called quantitative easing packages. It expands the money supply, and that creates additional problems, since you’re not increasing the productivity of the economy.
But there’s no greater productivity plan than to repatriate an entire generation of young people who’ve been basically locked into student debt, and unable to really provide their creative energy, their inspiration, their genius into reinventing the economy of the 21st century. So this pays for itself.”
She delved further into free public higher education as a more sensible investment than our present resource wars of empire. To quote Jill;
“On free public higher education, for every dollar we put in we get back $7.00 in return. We know that from the GI bill, which we were following closely, so it’s a fallacy that that costs us. There’s an initial investment, but you know what, 60 billion dollars or so, compared to the $1,000,000,000,000 dollars we’re spending every year on a destructive, counterproductive set of wars that make us less secure; this is a much better use of our dollars.”
Jill on the TPP
On the now scandalous TPP or Trans Pacific Pact; Stein is adamant in her opposition at any level.
“The first thing we have to do is prevent the TPP from passing, and we’ve been quite successful actually, in delaying it for years, now pushing it into election season where everyone has taken a stand against it, as they should. This is not free trade, this is rigged trade.”
She doesn’t have kind words for the politicians who engineered this deal. “We need an organizer in the White House, not a sellout to those big special interests that are profiting from the rigged trade agreements of which the TPP is one.”
Her solution to this type of political sellout is one that will make both Democrats and Republicans recoil like a dirty dog about to be neutered. “We need to hold our elected officials accountable, who are actually betraying the American public and systematically dismantling your democracy. They should be run out of town. They should be challenged. They should be not only challenged in elections; they should be subject to recall elections.”
Jill on ballot access restriction to GOP and DNC
I asked Jill about ballot access laws. Right now, according to the constitution, both parties claim each state can decide who gains ballot access. Presently the Democrats and Republicans receive automatic ballot placement, while anyone else must ‘qualify’. Shouldn’t the laws governing ballot access require uniform compliance over the present preferred status dished out to the GOP and the DNC? Isn’t the present system little more than a license to discriminate?
“I think there needs to be a level playing field, and simply being a part of this predatory establishment should not buy you a pass to automatically getting on the ballot. So there should be a reasonable threshold that is applied equally across the board and that could either be mandated at the national level or there could be guidelines provided at the national level, and allow the states to make their own rules. Right now it is a thinly disguised campaign to silence the voice of political opposition.”
Jill on terrorism
Dr. Stein, let’s talk about your platform provisions regarding foreign policy; specifically the balance between fighting terrorism and restoration of human rights in accordance with the international declaration of human rights.
“Well fortunately there’s no real conflict here. We can only make progress against so called terrorism if we are also respecting human rights… And I think the elephant in the room here is the fact that we cannot simultaneously fight terrorism, and have the U.S. and our Allies fund terrorism, arm terrorism, and train terrorism.
This is basically a marketing strategy for the war profiteers. They’re the ones who are making out like bandits here, while we are applying a flamethrower to the Middle East.”
“The other day John Brennan said that this is not working. ISIS is worse than Al Qaida in spite of all we’ve done. Well, in fact Al Qaida was worse than the Taliban, and the Mujahideen, and we can follow this back, to where the CIA and the Saudis began this terrorist enterprise, as a means of disrupting the Soviet Union in Afghanistan.
This is been a massive and catastrophic failure. It cost us six trillion dollars–that’s $75,000 per American household, since the twin towers came down. What do we have to show for it; failed states, mass refugee immigration, and worse terrorist threats. We need a weapons embargo and we need a freeze on the funding of those countries that continue to fund terrorism.
We need to be in this race, because it will not be challenged from the political parties that are funded by the war profiteers.”
Jill on program affordability
Once again, I asked about those who claim we can’t afford these programs.
“Actually these programs pay for themselves so the Green New Deal, for example, will create 20,000,000 jobs to create the Green Energy Transition. By getting rid of pollution, we actually get so much healthier–less asthma, cancers, heart attacks and strokes in particular–the savings in healthcare alone are enough to pay for the clean energy transition. That pays for itself.
Secondly when you have 100 percent clean renewable energy and we aim to achieve that, at least by 2030; then you cannot justify and you do not need the wars for oil, so we don’t need 1000 bases in over 100 countries around the world; we don’t need to be fighting these wars which have cost us six trillion dollars over the last 15 years.
The bottom line is that we can cut the military budget, which is not making us safer–it’s making us less safe. The savings there amount to hundreds of billions of dollars per year.”
Once again, Stein is on target. According to research think-tank, The National Priorities Project; the $505.28 billion paid in taxes by average Americans in 2015 to the Department of Defense could have provided 8.75 million students Pell Grants of $5,775 for 10 years, or 14.42 million low-income people with Healthcare for the same 10 year period. That Defense department payment excludes the cost of any wars.
Enforcement features of the agenda
Besides having a legislative wish list that is the political wet dream of most progressives; Stein included key enforcement mechanisms required to make those dreams reality.
Her Green New Deal tethers the economic needs of restoring critical infrastructure, (including public transit investment and sustainable agriculture), to the escalating climate crisis requiring transition to renewable energy by 2030. She classifies energy as a human right. Her plan includes income and benefits for displaced workers during this transition period. She is also demanding stringent environmental justice laws in an effort to battle environmental racism.
On financial reform, her critical enforcement mechanism is a prohibition against private banks creating money. This prohibition would restore the U.S. government’s constitutional authority to create our own currency. Additionally all financial derivatives would be regulated and traded on open exchanges. Glass- Steagal would be restored, separating depositor commercial banks from speculative Investment Banks.
Why this election cycle
Finally, I had to ask, why the presidency and why now?
“Why the presidency? Because this election is not only about what kind of a world we will be, but whether we will have a world at all. There are many of us that feel that the clock is really ticking here. Looking at climate change; the day of reckoning is barreling down on us. According to NOAAH ( the national oceanic and atmospheric administration); there could be 9 feet of sea level rise by 2050; which is a civilization ending event.
So, on account of climate, on account of the next Wall Street crash, (banks are bigger than ever and more prone to fail), the generation of young people that are locked in debt without a future, the expanding wars and nuclear weapons which have begun to proliferate again (thanks in part to the Obama administration and their new $1,000,000,000,000 program to renovate nuclear weapons); we are here in this fight.
It’s a mistake to think the lesser of two evils will fix things. We are in the target hairs of a neoliberal nightmare. Wars are bankrupting us financially and morally. At least when Republicans are elected, people fight–when Democrats are elected, people are lulled into complacency and fall asleep.
The clock is ticking here and we sit on the sidelines at our peril. It’s become very clear the lesser evil is in a race to the bottom with the greater evil. We are moving backwards under both regimes.
It is not to say that the parties are exactly the same–but the differences are not enough to save your job, to save your life, to save the planet.
We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. The system is not going to fix itself on our behalf.”
Jill has a strong message to those who decry her reforms as unrealistic adolescent day dreams;
“It’s very important to just plug your ears to the disinformation campaigns of those who would tell you that this is too expensive or… that it’s not politically feasible. If it’s not politically feasible; it’s time to get rid of the politicians for whom this is not politically feasible.”
In a season of political hacks claiming they have suddenly ‘found religion’ regarding our civil and human rights; all I can say to Jill is, Amen.