Jill Stein, Greens Grapple with Vision of New Politics and the Economy
More media attention is creating an opening for Greens as an alternative to major parties.It is also highlighting controversy regarding the Greens, over the most important issues to voters: the economy, treatment of minorities, and terrorism.
Green Party Economics. Dr. Jill Stein, the Greens' presidential candidate, offers a Green New Deal she says will be the emergency jobs package, and climate change fix that the U.S. needs. The Green New Deal diverts resources from military spending, especially nuclear development, and re-routes it to create full employment through a government jobs program. Most of the jobs created -- 16 million out of 25 million total estimated jobs -- will be in "sustainable energy and energy efficiency retrofitting, mass transit and 'complete streets' that promote safe bike and pedestrian traffic, regional food systems based on sustainable organic agriculture, and clean manufacturing."
In June, the Greens adopted an amendment to Pillar IV that, according to author Michael Trudeau, purports an anti-capitalist economic system. Several prominent Greens, including Trudeau, platform co-chair Bud Dickinson, and treasurer for Jill Stein, Steve Welzer, affirm that Greens are anti-capitalist. The Green Party platform, and even the amendment itself, however, reserves private ownership of property, work, and wealth. It is difficult to reconcile this contradiction, which has caused some controversy within the Green Party, and also presents a confusing platform for voters to consider.
In an interview for IVN, Jill Stein said that at the core, Trudeau's amendment protects private ownership and small businesses, and that people get caught up on definitions of what is or is not capitalism:
"It specifically disavows state socialism. It argues for local, democratic government. It includes working people having a voice in the workplace, having a finance system that makes capital available to small businesses, communities, worker cooperatives, and non-profits -- as opposed to the system we have right now, which many people would describe as crony capitalism, and having sort of ended the free market, and ended individual opportunity, and really creat a corporate state. So, I try to avoid the isms, because I find it means different things to different people. But at the heart of it, we still have private ownership, we still have individual small businesses, as well as worker-run cooperatives, or community cooperatives. It creates a diverse economy, and it creates a financial system that can actually support it. It breaks up the big banks, and creates public community-based banks, so that finances are actually available to everyday people. And it gets the money out of politics, more importantly, so that our democracy isn’t run by the crony capitalists.""We take it to mean the organization of enterprises into employers (a minority) and employees (a majority) such that the minority makes all the key decisions (what, how, and where to produce and what to do with the net revenues or profits of the enterprise). The majority is required to live with the results of those decisions while having little or no participation in making them. That is an undemocratic organization. It is the opposite of what we demand for our political organizations, where we require that decision-makers such as mayors, city councils, governors, congresspersons, etc., must be accountable to those affected by their decisions. For us, being anti-capitalist means being for the democratization of enterprises such that all the workers in them and all the customers and residents of communities interdependent with those enterprises have democratic, equal input into deciding what they do and how they do it. For example, if all the workers in an enterprise contribute—each in a specific way—to the profits it produces, then all should have a democratic input into deciding how and for whose benefit it is to be used. For example, if a surrounding community is affected by the production processes, the wages and salaries paid, the choice of technological change, etc., of an enterprise, then democratization requires that the residents of that surrounding community likewise have their democratic input into those decisions."
What will happen to large corporations and international trade under a Stein presidency?
There is a place for international trade, says Stein. Under her leadership, she would restore accountability of corporations to their stated charters, and tighten anti-trust laws.
Treatment of Minorities
Greens have separate caucuses for LGBT, black, and women's groups. Stein's Vice Presidential pick is Ajamu Baraka, a black man who works extensively in the human rights field around the globe. He is the Founding Executive Director of the U.S. Human Rights Network, and coordinator of the U.S.-based Black Left Unity Network’s Committee on International Affairs.
The Greens commitment to inclusiveness has not shielded them from accusations of racism, or white privilege. In a recent interview for IVN, Sedinam Moyowasifza-Curry accused the Greens of excluding non-white leadership, not building or courting non-white membership, and intentionally excluding her from the California Presidential Forum in January 2016, to favor Jill Stein.
California Greens did not respond to inquiries on why they canceled the debate in January.
Dr. Stein responded, saying that she is on record insisting that Moyowasifza-Curry be included in the forum, and that she did not sign the petition to include Moyowasifza-Curry because of some language she thought should be changed:
"She was excluded by the state [Greens Party] because they had different rules for participation. She did not meet those rules, but she did meet the national rules, and my feeling is that we have to be inclusive, and that we have to err on the side of inclusion. So, she should have been included, and I made it clear that I was not going to participate unless she was."
Moyowasifza-Curry also disrupted the Greens Convention in Huston, demanding a dispute resolution to address her experience of racism in the Greens presidential process. She was denied a dispute resolution on the Convention floor due to a technicality, but was offered assistance to file an official complaint.
Ajamu Baraka also responded in an interview for IVN, saying that he is not familiar with Moyowasifza's specific cases, and has a limited understanding of her analysis. However, he added:
"Like most structures and institutions in the U.S. that are attempting to work in diverse communities, because of the history of institutional racism, and white supremacist ideology, there are always going to be those kinds of struggles. Some institutions are more successful than others in tackling those issues straight on, but we are always going to have those , until we come to an understanding about what those issues mean, and how we are able to address them in a forthright and honest way."
Baraka said that the Democratic and Greens parties are at very different levels of understanding regarding what racism is, and how to address it. The Democratic Party, he said, is not serious about engaging in honest conversations about the "needs and aspirations of working people, working black people, Latinos, and other people of color in the U.S." He said that Greens, because of their more progressive, radical campaign, have the ability to address these issues in a serious way.
"That conversation we're having is richer, and has richer potentials," he said.
He does not dispute Moyowasifza-Curry's claims that she experienced racism in the Green Party. Moyowasifza-Curry has a responsibility to raise questions, he said, and Greens have a responsibility to address her concerns. In the process of confronting the situation, he believes, Greens will grow in their understanding of what racism is and how to address racism in the party.
Stein's position on the War on Terror contends that current U.S. foreign policy is based on militarism, and economic domination, and that U.S. policy has had a role in creating terrorism, and continues to exacerbate threats of terrorism to the United States. Stein advocates for a foreign policy based on international law, human rights, and diplomacy. She specifically calls for an arms embargo to control U.S. and Russian weapons that contribute to escalating violence.
Stein was criticized on her recent trip to Russia, organized by RT news. According to Stein, she made the trip to confront Russia, as she says she tries to confront the U.S. to stop the war on terror:
"My purpose was to put on the record our demand. Number one, to stop the bombing by Russia, of Syria, and to say to the Russians that we need to work together to stop the threat of international terrorism. And its interesting, because now, 6 months later, that is exactly what Obama is doing. It is about time that happens. My primary thing, is my policy on the Middle East, which to stop these wars on terrorism that are only creating more terror. I wanted to confront the Russians on that the same way that I’ve been promoting that here as a major subject that needs to be discussed and debated in the presidential elections."to gain access to debates based on a different criteria. Stein's petition seeks inclusion in the debate based on "residential candidates who have qualified for enough state ballots to be a choice for a majority of voters."
Whether Stein will get a chance to participate in the debates depends on her ability to more than double her support in the polls. She is running a petition
Stein appealed to voters at the end of her interview for IVN to get involved in her fight to gain access to the presidential debates this fall:
"The last thing I want to tell you is that this election is an incredible opportunity to reclaim the promise of our democracy. People are being thrown under the bus. They have had it with the rigged economy. They have had it with the rigged political system. People are clamoring for something else. The key is breaking into the debates, which we should be a part of, because the voters have a right, not only to vote, but to know who they can vote for. So we are arguing that both Gary Johnson and myself should be included in the debates, because there are 4 candidates that are going to be on just about every ballot, and could numerically win this election. So, voters are not happy with business as usual. They have a right to know who their other choices are, and I encourage people to go to my website and to join our fight to open up the debate."
About the Author
Kathryn is a freelance writer covering politics, civics, and agriculture.