Green Party presidential hopeful Jill Stein spoke to a receptive audience of about 100 people in Corvallis on Thursday night, urging them to quit voting for “the lesser evil” and cast a ballot for genuine political change.
Stein, a Massachusetts physician who was the party’s nominee in 2012 and will seek the nod again at the Green nominating convention in August, gave an hourlong stump speech at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship.
She spent some of that time laying out her platform, which is built around the traditional Green Party values of environmentalism, nonviolence and social justice. But she devoted most of her talk to persuading voters who feel trapped by the two-party system that a third-party candidate like her could actually win — eventually.
“Power concedes nothing without a demand — it never has and never will,” she said, quoting Frederick Douglass. “That’s why I moved from a doctor practicing clinical medicine to a doctor practicing political medicine, because (the political system) is the mother of all illnesses.”
Shaking a finger at “predatory banks, fossil fuel pirates and war profiteers,” Stein said her campaign is about putting “people, planet and peace over profit.”
Speaking in a cool, measured tone, she called on Greens to be patient and have faith that more and more disaffected Americans would migrate to the party over time.
“We have to build to get to the point where we can win office, because you don’t get to 51 percent overnight,” she said. “We have to commit to our values. We have to commit to bring our moral compass to our politics, because politics needs a moral compass.”
Stein called on progressive-minded voters to stop supporting Democratic politicians simply because they dislike Republican policies more.
“The lesser evil, if you look at the track record, has been paving the way for the greater evil,” she said.
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She slammed Democratic President Barack Obama for bailing out the big banks after the 2008 economic collapse, continuing the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, deporting migrants, exporting jobs, restricting civil liberties and attacking press freedoms while failing to take decisive action to halt climate change.
According to a recent poll, Stein said, roughly half of American voters already consider themselves political independents or third-party supporters. She also touted two planks of her platform she said would rally large voting blocs to the Green Party’s banner: forgiveness of student loans and free college tuition, which should appeal to the 43 million Americans burdened by education debt, and expanded legal protections for immigrants, a move likely to play well with the country’s 25 million Latino voters.
“The numbers are there,” she said. “The question is how well can we mobilize? How well can we get the word out?”
Stein laid out a vision for what she called a “Green New Deal” that would create jobs and combat global warming by shifting America away from its reliance on climate-polluting fossil fuels and converting to all-renewable energy sources by 2030.
“By doing that, we revitalize the economy, we turn the tide on climate change and we make wars for oil obsolete,” she said in one of the evening’s biggest applause lines.
Her platform also includes providing Medicare-style health insurance for all Americans, an end to “high-stakes testing” in the public schools, a national effort to curb police violence and reduce incarceration rates, a $15-an-hour minimum wage and a foreign policy based on diplomacy and cooperation rather than military and economic domination.
Returning to her opening theme, she urged her audience to stop worrying about wasting votes on a third-party candidate and focus on voting their conscience instead.
“We can create the kind of world we want. That is why it is so important that we stand up for a politics of courage and vote for what we want instead of just voting against what we are most afraid of,” she said.
“It’s time to forget the lesser evil and stand up and fight for the greater good, because our lives depend on it.”