[gpga-news] Time: The Green Team: Jill Stein’s Third-Party Bid to Shake Up 2012

Hugh Esco hesco at greens.org
Wed Jul 11 23:51:19 PDT 2012

The Green Team: Jill Stein’s Third-Party Bid to Shake Up 2012
By Katy Steinmetz | @katysteinmetz | July 11, 2012

Caption: Green Party presidential candidate Dr. Jill Stein conducts a
press conference at the National Press Club July 11, 2012, announcing
Cheri Honkala as her vice-presidential choice in Washington, DC.

Wednesday morning at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., Green
Party presidential candidate Jill Stein spoke to about a dozen people–
and a couple dozen empty chairs. She had gone to the capital, in
advance of the Green Party convention in Baltimore, to announce her
running mate: Cheri Honkala. So who is Honkala? And for that matter,
who is Stein? Here’s the first thing they’ll tell you: They’re
candidates not named Barack Obama or Mitt Romney.

Born in the 1980s, the Green Party’s national profile peaked in 2000,
when Ralph Nader took 2.7% of the popular vote in the chaotic
presidential election that put George W. Bush in office. (One imagines
Al Gore still wakes in the night cursing Nader’s name.) Not long after,
in 2002, the Green Party recruited a physician and health advocate
named Jill Stein to run for governor in Massachusetts. She lost that
race and three more in the state over the next decade, while making two
successful bids for Lexington Town Meeting representative. Meanwhile,
the Green Party candidates in 2004 and 2008 failed to get more than
150,000 votes.

The election fight between Obama and Romney will be close, and a
third-party candidate who mounts a significant campaign might be cause
for concern as November nears–whether that’s libertarian Gary Johnson
or the Green Party’s Stein. For now, Stein says she’s still introducing
herself to the American people, trying to generate interest in the
party that’s deflated over the past decade.

On Wednesday, Stein and Honkala, an anti-poverty advocate from
Philadelphia, stood in front of a Green Party banner—an eagle swooping
in front of a sunflower filled with stars—and laid out their “Green New
Deal.” It’s a plan they say will lower unemployment while providing
options for free higher education, downsizing the military, ending tax
breaks and addressing climate change. Stein, with silver hair and a
bright wardrobe, spoke in measured tones. She said that while Romney
and Obama were quibbling about who outsourced more jobs and whether the
Affordable Care Act levied a tax or a fee, she was offering “the green
future that we deserve.”

The campaign is banking on support from college kids—a good
constituency for politicians who want to forgive student debt—and
activists involved in the Occupy Wall Street movement. When asked
whether the campaign aligned with the Occupiers, Honkala said they were
the “perfect” candidates for the group, and ready to capitalize on
people’s distaste for the 1%. “I am a formerly homeless mother of two
children. I have spent my entire life living at or below the federal
poverty level,” Honkala said. “Every day for the last 25 years, I have
worked with poor and homeless families.”

Stein and Honkala are trying to occupy a space left by voters,
particularly left-leaners, who are fed up with Obama and uninterested
in Romney. They expect to be an alternative option on the ballot in 40
states. And they said they bring a different kind of politics to the
table, though it doesn’t appear to be a less divisive brand. When TIME
asked where they shared common ground with the other candidates—despite
their differences—neither had a response. Stein laughed, incredulous.
Honkala said: “Do we?”

To point out that the Green Party ticket won’t win its bid for the
White House is like saying that Stephen Colbert isn’t really as
conservative as he pretends to be on his show: it’s obvious and misses
the point. Third-partiers run to win new followers for their cause and—
mostly—to have their ideas heard. Their highest electoral hope is to
become an inconvenience for mainstream candidates. “You can win an
election by winning the office,” Stein says, “but we can also win the
day by driving the solutions, the real solutions.”

At best, that platitude probably means some of their ideas getting
folded into the Democratic platform. The campaign has gone from
all-volunteer to having 12 paid members of staff. If their application
for matching federal election funds is approved–as they expect–that
number may triple. It might not be much compared to the mainstream
campaigns, but Stein and Honkala say the Green Party is primed to make
the front-runners take notice.

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