MINNEAPOLIS — A dire prospect I’ve long anticipated became reality last week: Bernie Sanders, the independent Senator from Vermont-turned-Democratic presidential candidate, endorsed Hillary Clinton ahead of the Democratic National Convention.
Even as the system crumbled around them, Sanders’ millions of supporters have done work that’s nothing short of miraculous. Their fight against the party establishment and that establishment’s friends in the corporate media brought Sanders closer to victory than many thought possible and heightened awareness around crucial issues like economic inequality and the corruption of our democracy.
To continue to force the gears of political change to turn, we can’t just hold our noses and vote for Clinton or sit this one out and wait another four years for a revolution.
We must find and elect alternatives to the Wall Street-backed oligarchy, the warmongers, and the anti-humanitarians.
We must find and elect people who represent the people.
This is why I’m endorsing Dr. Jill Stein, the Green Party’s presumptive nominee for president, in the 2016 election.
Jill Stein: ‘The lesser evil paves the way to the greater evil’
A great deal is at stake in the upcoming election.
One or more Supreme Court seats may be up for grabs over the next four years. The next president could be faced with passing or repealing the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which is monopolizing foreign industries and destroying local economies. The impact of climate change grows worse with each passing year, and many scientists project it could lead to the collapse of society. The imperial ambitions of American Empire are larger than ever, spreading a destabilizing influence from the Middle East to Africa and into Eastern Europe and Asia.
These issues are simply too important to leave in the hands of either major political party. We’ve got to stop voting for the lesser of two evils and start embracing radical change. We want to encourage a political and social revolution that will never be achieved through constant compromise with politicians who condone murder and human suffering.
In the Feb. 16 episode of Chris Hedges’ podcast “Days of Revolt,” Stein declared: “The lesser evil paves the way to the greater evil. It’s not in opposition to it. It makes way for it.”
Indeed, the two-party system only provides an illusion of choice. The Democratic Party and Republican Party are two variations of a single, war-driven, Wall Street-funded political party. Even candidates presented as alternatives and outsiders keep surprisingly close to mainstream party politics.
Currently, both parties’ presumptive nominees have declared their intentions to keep America’s deadly and destructive foreign policy largely in tact, from supporting assassination by drones and financial and providing military support for apartheid Israel’s occupation of Palestine to selling weapons to nations like Saudi Arabia and Qatar that export terrorism around the world.
“There is no greater waste of a vote than to keep voting for the two political parties that are throwing you under the bus,” Stein told me in an interview last July.
Watch “Jill Stein: Time To Reject The ‘Lesser-Evil’ & Stand Up For The Greater Good” from MintPress News:
Jill Stein: A peace candidate with plans for a peace economy
I believe Jill Stein’s campaign has received so little mainstream coverage because the corporate-controlled media does not want Americans to know there can be real alternatives. In April 2015, she told MintPress News that the media stranglehold and lack of open debates are major factors driving low voter participation in the United States:
“It illustrates what they are terrified of. If people learn that they have an option that reflects what they want, they will vote for it. Half the population doesn’t vote because they don’t like what they see as their options.”
Now, more than ever, we must support candidates who support people over corporate greed, and demand that they make no compromises on human rights.
In her presidential plan, Stein pledges to create a new “green” economy based around “people, planet and peace,” marking a departure from the current focus on corporate profits.
“We have wars for oil and wars for markets. We’re spending about twice as much on our military as we did prior to 2001,” Stein told me last summer. “It’s time to go back to the drawing boards and have a foreign policy that’s founded on human rights, international law and diplomacy.”
As president, she would end the $3.1 billion provided annually to apartheid Israel and stop America’s support for repressive regimes like Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
Stein’s plan would redirect these billions — by far the biggest expenditure in the federal budget — into creating a “Green New Deal,” a peace economy built around a transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy. The Green Party candidate plans to “[c]reate millions of jobs by transitioning to 100% clean renewable energy by 2030, and investing in public transit, sustainable agriculture, and conservation.”
Freedom of speech is under attack in the U.S., and with her history as both a candidate and an activist, I believe Stein is the best candidate to defend our crucial First Amendment rights. Stein participated in Occupy Wall Street events and was arrested in August 2012 at a protest against bank foreclosures. In October of that year, she and her running mate, anti-poverty activist Cheri Honkala, were arrested and handcuffed to chairs for eight hours after attempting to enter the site of a presidential debate. By contrast, Bernie Sanders’ history with civil disobedience and activism is now more than 50 years old.
Stein would go further than any other candidate to end poverty. Her peace economy would create jobs while also nurturing global social stability by ending the U.S. policy of interventionism.
She also proposes not just raising the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour, but also renewing social programs to support the basic rights to housing, food and education that are due every man, woman, and child. In her plan, Stein expands on what it would mean to view employment as a human right:
“Create living-wage jobs for every American who needs work, replacing unemployment offices with employment offices. Advance workers rights to form unions, achieve workplace democracy, and keep a fair share of the wealth they create.”
Her plan would also limit the actions of Wall Street, break up big banks, and ensure that corporations and the wealthy pay their fair share in taxes.
She also seeks to abolish student debt. Over 40 million Americans struggle with student loan debt, a $1.3 trillion debt crisis which has been compared to the subprime mortgage crisis that spurred the 2008 financial crash.
“The two parties are not going to do it for us. We have to reject the politics of fear that seal our lips,” Stein told me.
Instead, Stein proposes building a movement around debt:
“Forty million people could come out to vote Green in 2016 to abolish debt. They could come out to abolish debt, and my campaign is the only one saying we’re not just going to change the terms of your repayment plan, which is what even Bernie Sanders is saying, we’re going to abolish that debt as well as make publish higher education free.”
Why I never did “Feel the Bern”
There are a lot of reasons I never did “Feel the Bern” and decided not to jump on the Sanders train chugging to the White House.
Though positioned as a maverick outsider, Bernie Sanders’ voting record shows a remarkable loyalty to the Democratic Party as an independent in the Senate. In a Feb. 20 analysis of his voting record, Shadowproof’s Brian Sonenstein noted:
“Indeed, Sanders may not technically be a Democrat, but he votes with the party overwhelmingly, and even voted the same way as Clinton when she was a senator 93% of the time. On a few occasions in recent years, those votes have proven critical to helping the Obama administration secure important political victories at the public’s expense.”
And in a March 1 analysis, Mother Jones’ Patrick Caldwell noted that Sanders’ record shows he voted for many of the same policies he’s criticized Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama for supporting. He even opposed one of Obama’s plans to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility in Cuba:
“Sanders voted in favor of a 2009 bill that more directly kept the prison open. And when, early in his presidency, Obama was exploring options to close Guantanamo, the Senate voted 90-6 in favor of a measure that barred the president from moving any detainees into prisons on the US mainland. Sanders was one of the 90 who voted in favor of the measure that rebuked Obama.”
And while Clinton took heat from Black Lives Matter activists for her support for a criminal justice bill her husband, Bill, pushed through as president that contributed to the rise of mass incarceration, Sanders voted for the same law.
Meanwhile, Sanders’ foreign policy platform was largely geared toward continuing American foreign policy that’s led to the deaths of millions of people around the world. On Feb. 2, Shadowproof writer Dan Wright noted that the senator intended to continue supporting the Saudi regime and “selectively” killing with drones. While he promised not to involve U.S. troops on the ground in Middle Eastern wars, he vowed to continue to support local “moderate” groups — a policy that has consistently led to U.S. and NATO military weapons and equipment falling into the hands of extremist groups like al-Qaida.
Writing in September, Nina Burleigh, a national politics correspondent for Newsweek, uncovered Sanders’ history of supporting what she termed “Pentagon pork.”
“After years of publicly attacking defense contractor Lockheed Martin for cost overruns and overpaid executives, he persuaded the defense behemoth, which manages the Sandia Labs research center for the Department of Energy, to place a Sandia satellite lab in Burlington. Even more lucrative for Vermont, Sanders snagged a piece of Lockheed’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program—a controversial $1.5 trillion program yielding the most expensive aircraft in history.”
When peace activists objected to the plan, he defended it, saying the jets were “essentially built,” despite clear evidence that the F-35 program is an extremely costly failure.
“If it sounds like another term of Obama’s foreign policy, at least rhetorically, that’s because it is. Minus the inclusions of fair trade (which would likely have some teeth under a Sanders Administration), it is nearly identical to the principles espoused by President Obama,” Wright wrote.
Of course, like all candidates from both major political parties, Sanders, who spent time on a kibbutz in Israel, supports the ongoing occupation of Palestine by apartheid Israel. During a heated confrontation over this policy at an August 2014 town hall in his home state of Vermont, he admitted Israel had “overreacted” in certain actions, such as bombing U.N. shelters. But he defended the Israeli military’s brutal assault of Gaza that summer, which left about 2,300 dead — many of whom were civilians — and at least 300,000 homeless.
Perhaps most damning, Sanders put Democratic Party loyalty over movement-building. “Bernie Sanders has already endorsed Hillary Clinton,” Stein told me last summer, noting that he had promised not to run as an independent if he didn’t secure the Democratic nomination.
If not now, when?
It came as no surprise to me that Sanders formally endorsed Clinton for president. There’s a broken political system which I believe supports a coordinated effort by the entrenched establishment to force voters to choose between a corporate-owned, warmongering, neo-liberal Democrat or an unabashedly anti-human rights, openly racist, neo-fascist Republican, rather than turn to a third-party candidate.
And it’s because of this broken system that real change cannot come from within either of the two deeply flawed major parties. In the Democratic Party, in particular, a firmly entrenched establishment — from DNC chairwoman, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, down to the openly partisan “superdelegates” — prevents any truly alternative candidates from ever gaining a foothold there, no matter how much popularity they enjoy.
While Stein told me that she is sympathetic to those campaigned on behalf of Sanders, she, too, noted that real change ultimately has to come from outside the Democratic Party.
“We need a party that is truly of, by, and for the people, that is not controlled by the big money behind closed doors that will sabotage those efforts,” Stein said.
I believe the Green Party, as represented by Jill Stein, to be that party. While I harbor no illusions about her ability to win the 2016 election, I also believe now is the time to begin building a movement committed to a new, people-powered government and a peace economy. Just imagine the message we can send if we vote our conscience!
“It’s time to throw out the lesser evil and start standing up for the greater good,” Stein told me.
I couldn’t agree more.