Jamaica Plain should be voting Green, not Democratic, this fall if it really wants to see its famous progressive ideals in action, said Green Party presidential candidate Dr. Jill Stein in an exclusive Gazette interview.
“I think Jamaica Plain is really at the cutting edge of the progressive movement,” said Stein, a Lexington resident who has visited JP many times over the years and will campaign here this fall. Speaking by phone from Portland, Ore., she said, “In so many issues, Jamaica Plain is leading the charge,” citing immigrant rights, environmental sustainability and health care reform.
Yet JP heavily supports incumbent President Barack Obama, who “has been able to get away with murder” by claiming to represent progressive interests while betraying them, Stein said.
“‘Troubling’ isn’t the word. It’s devastating,” she said, citing Obama’s record of corporate bailouts, civil liberties restrictions, deportations and a “drill, baby, drill” approach to the fossil fuel industry. “On every key policy, we’ve seen Barack Obama embrace the politics of George W. Bush.”
As the head of a left-wing third party, Stein does a lot of campaigning to potentially disenchanted Dems.
“It’s like being a political therapist. It’s like talking to someone in an abusive relationship who is echoing the excuses of their abuser,” Stein said. “People are real quick to parrot the propaganda of their abuser until they get the smell of freedom.”
Stein also knows Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney well. She has run unsuccessfully several times for state office, including in the 2002 gubernatorial campaign that Romney won.
“Things haven’t changed much” with Romney, she said, describing his vision as “unabashed selfishness and greed” and a “celebration of inequality and injustice.”
But both Obama and Romney essentially support giant corporations rather than small businesses, continuing an era of “casino capitalism” and free-trade agreements that ship American jobs overseas, Stein said.
Stein has an alternative policy proposal: a “Green New Deal” that would halt climate change and unemployment in one swoop. It aims to directly create public- and private-sector jobs in such new-fangled fields as alternative-energy industries and local organic agriculture, along with traditional jobs like teaching, social work and housing construction.
The $600 billion cost would be covered by slashing the military budget, taxing capital gains as income, and taxing individual stock trades, among other moves.
Stein also calls for “bailing out the students, not the bankers” by having the government pay off all student loan debts and offering free tuition at all public colleges in an expanded GI Bill.
Obama’s Affordable Care Act and its Massachusetts model installed with Romney’s support are not the ways to provide health insurance, said Stein, who is a medical doctor. She said the Massachusetts system has helped the poor, but has gotten the “near-poor” in trouble with skyrocketing costs and minimal coverage. The real winners in the system, she said, are insurance and drug companies.
Stein instead proposes expanding Medicare to cover everyone, noting that it is a widely liked system with built-in cost containment. Government-provided insurance also eliminates “outrageous” disputes over covering women’s reproductive health care, she said.
All of these ideas have successful models in the U.S. or other countries, she said, and all would help working- and middle-class people directly. Stein acknowledges she is unlikely to win the White House—“I’m not holding my breath, but I’m not ruling it out”—but said that her campaign can “win the day” by putting such ideas onto the national agenda.
Convincing Democrats to vote Green is not easy following the 2000 presidential election, where Democrat Al Gore won the popular vote but lost to Republican George W. Bush due to the intricacies of the Electoral College. Many Democrats still blame former Green Party candidate Ralph Nader for being a “spoiler” for Gore in that election on hotly disputed evidence.
Stein dismisses those concerns as a “fear campaign” that tells people to “use your vote as a weapon against yourself.”
“The politics of fear delivers what you’re afraid of,” she said. “It’s not only OK to vote [for] third parties. It’s life-saving, job-saving, climate-saving.”
For more about the Stein campaign, see jillstein.org.