Reply by Jill Stein, to the GPUS Outreach and exploratory questionnaire for the 2012 GPUS presidential nomination
received August 25, 2011
For the last several months and with increasing frequency, I have been asked by Green Party activists to run for the Presidential nomination of he Green Party. I did not seriously consider doing so until the recent debt ceiling fiasco and the President’s astounding attack on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid – a betrayal of the public interest that cries out like never before for electoral challenge. During the strategy discussion at the National Meeting, I became convinced that the party must have as strong a voice as possible in the Presidential race. I am now seriously considering whether I could provide that voice, absent the increasingly unlikely appearance of a nationally known candidate who could run a “true Green” campaign that would grow the party for the long haul.
I believe this presidential race is a perfect storm for political transformation. In the context of surging economic hardship, criminal wars, environmental peril, and unprecedented betrayal by both corporate parties – the Green Party is the singular political vehicle for turning the failed economy of exploitation into an economy of shared and sustainable prosperity. This race is an opportunity like never before to establish the Green Party as the voice of principled opposition – the only unbought political party that can truly advance the cause of people, peace and the planet. With that goal in mind, I respectfully submit to you my responses to the PCSC candidate’s questionnaire – at this preliminary stage of consideration. If you need any further information, please contact me any time.
1. Are you interested in seeking the Green Party 2012 presidential nomination? Are you considering seeking the nomination, but have not yet made up your mind? What factors are you taking into consideration?
Since August 7 I have begun talking to Greens across the country to define the nature of the 2012 race and gauge the level of participation and support for the Presidential campaign if I were to run. Key questions in my mind are whether we have the level of volunteer commitment and financial support to make a credible run. Having a broad network of state and regional coordinators who are committed to raising the required matching funds, for example, would be a strong indicator of broad support. To be clear, I have not yet made a decision to run and have made no public announcements of a run. If we decide to go ahead, I would hope to formally announce the campaign by the end of September.
2. What do you believe the goals should be of the 2012 GPUS presidential campaign? If you were the GPUS presidential nominees, how would your campaign work to achieve them? (Will your campaign succeed?)
The key objectives of the campaign would be:
1) End 2012 with significantly stronger national, state and local Green Party organizations. This will be measured by increases in active members, ballot lines secured, voter registration, numbers of candidates, and media presence. Achieving matching funds and the 5% vote threshold for campaign finance in 2016 would be groundbreaking accomplishments.
2) Establish the Green Party as the recognized progressive opposition party to the bipartisan establishment in Washington.
3) Change voter allegiances. Convince at least 3 million voters to abandon the Democratic/Republican options and to vote Green. (The targeted vote total target should be adjusted as the campaign unfolds, but it should not be set at an unrealistic level since this leads to inefficient expenditure of resources.).
4) Help the Green Party strengthen its national level organization so that it becomes a more effective participant in the national dialogue over the next four years.
5) Change the national conversation in 2012, providing an answer to the disempowering, deceptive, and manipulative dialogue propagated by the major parties.
6) Use the Presidential campaign to provide a boost to Green candidates running for state and local offices.
7) Train and give experience to new Green Party activists who will be leaders of the Party over the next four years.
8) Develop and demonstrate effective strategies for mobilizing grassroots democracy and electoral action to overcome the suppression of political opposition by the corporate political forces.
I believe all of these goals can be accomplished to varying degrees by running an intensive, well-organized, alternative and social-media oriented campaign. It will be driven by the power of our message, and our role as the only voice challenging the increasingly unpopular corporate politics of Democrats and Republicans. Since we will be the only advocate for widely supported causes – from a WPA style jobs creation program, to peace, single payer, free pre-K through college education, mortgage and student loan restructuring, workers and immigrant rights, and taxing the rich – we are positioned to draw support from a variety of quarters. We will focus on constituencies that have the potential to support the party, and will concentrate our organizing efforts in parts of the country where state and local chapters provide a basis for growth, or where new chapters can by organized. We realize our campaign would be a long shot, and some extraordinary meltdown of the frontrunner campaigns would have to occur for us to overtake them. But even if we fall short of that, we think we can win a breakthrough victory by changing the political landscape by growing the only national party serving the public interest.”
3. Please list five issue areas that you feel are most important and what would you do about them. (Who are you?)
Here are five of our key, priority issues:
a) CREATE JOBS THROUGH A GREEN NEW DEAL – an emergency program to achieve full employment and jump start a green economic recovery. This would provide a Manhattan Project/WWII scale mobilization to transition to clean renewables and related green sectors of the economy (including local food and recycling manufacturing) to avert climate catastrophe while achieving energy independence, improving trade balances and meeting urgent transportation, energy, housing and environmental infrastructure needs for the 21st century. It will be funded by taxing the rich and large corporations, through trillion dollar savings from single payer health care and the associated reduction of health care inflation, and through downsizing the bloated military. The Green New Deal will get economic help directly to people – and end the Obama/Bush trickle-down philosophy that forces ordinary people to subsidize the massive transfer of wealth and power to the super-rich.
b) The Green New Deal will include an ECONOMIC BILL OF RIGHTS, including the right to living wage jobs, health care, quality education, retirement security, and affordable housing.
c) PEACE NOW – End the needless wars that have drained America of the resources we need to fund our communities. Bring the troops and war dollars home now. Reduce the bloated military budget to provide defense not empire building.
d) RESCUE DEMOCRACY — Restore our freedom of political expression,
our imperiled civil liberties, and protections from government surveillance by the swollen Homeland Security complex. End the hijacking of political speech by the biggest spender, (resulting from the Citizens United and Buckley v Valeo supreme court decisions). Create real freedom of political expression, full public participation, and informed voter choice – free from fear and intimidation – at the polls through policy reforms including: publicly funded elections, free access to public airwaves for all legitimate candidates, instant runoff voting and proportional representation, fair ballot access for all political parties and candidates, safeguards against electronic election fraud, and an end to voter suppression schemes, the corporate-electoral revolving door, and rampant influence-peddling by lobbyists.
e) SINGLE PAYER HEALTH CARE (improved Medicare-for-all) to provide quality, comprehensive health care to all as a human right. Single payer saves money by ending the 30% administrative overhead of private insurance and by controlling the runaway health care inflation that is bankrupting families, business, and all levels of government. And it puts an end to insurance company meddling in personal health care decisions and choice of doctor.
4. What parts of the GPUS platform* do you feel most closely aligned with? What parts do you disagree with, if any? Are there parts you would improve upon and how? (Who are we?)
I have broadly supported the GPUS platform over the past many years, and will be reviewing the most recent update to see how it can best be advanced in the campaign. In general the platform makes a compelling case for a new form of politics, and new policies that put people and the planet first.
5. What in your background qualifies you to be a credible presidential candidate? What assets would you bring to your campaign in addition to those already existing within the Green Party? (What do you have to offer?)
I have been an active Green Party member since 2000. Currently I am serving as co-chair of my state party (the Green-Rainbow Party of Massachusetts). I have run several state-wide races including two runs for Governor, and a race for Secretary of State in which I received 350,000 votes (18% of the total). I have been fortunate to be part of a cohesive team that can organize a campaign, raise money, and motivate volunteers. We have worked hard to translate the momentum of our campaigns into substantial growth of the state party. I am medical doctor by profession and have extensive experience advocating in the political, professional and non-profit worlds for the environmental, economic and democratic foundations of healthy communities and a secure, green future. I have co-authored two books on the community origins of health and disease, including the health imperative for a green (and non-toxic) economy. The first of these has been translated into four languages.
6. Presidential campaigns are legally independent entities from the political party whose nomination they received. Yet most successful political campaigns meld candidate and party synergistically. If you were the GPUS nominee, how would you envision that working relationship? (How can we work together?)
I believe that each campaign should build the Party as the only national political party that has not been hijacked by corporate America. Every campaign should leave us stronger for what comes next. In Massachusetts, our statewide campaigns have served to reinvigorate our state party, expanding its volunteers, local chapters, and donor base, reactivating its committees, and creating new statewide initiatives (for a just state budget, for fair redistricting that ends historic political suppression of the community of color, to bring the troops and war dollars home, and to green our communities). We have used the donor list from my gubernatorial campaigns to put the state party on a sound financial footing. Our workshop at the Green Party annual meeting on Reinvigorating State Parties shared some of our strategies for re-invigorating state parties with the broader national Green Party network.
As I envision the possible campaign organization, I would hope that the Presidential campaign engages every Green Party volunteer and member that we possibly can. I hope we would bring in throngs of peace, labor, single payer, climate, justice and democracy activists that have been marginalized and abandoned by Barack Obama and the Democrats, and transition them to the Green Party for the long haul – as the only party that’s fighting for them, not against them. After the campaign, I would want to tour the states and to help campaign volunteers become long-term Green Party volunteers. I would also work to transition larger donors to the Presidential campaign to become sustaining supporters of the national Green Party.
7. Do you believe that an independent party like the Greens can succeed in the US? How would you define such success? How can it happen? (Will we succeed?)
The Green Party is the only national, non-corporate political alternative to the Democrat/Republican machine. I believe we are rapidly approaching a breakthrough moment. We must seize that moment before economic, environmental and political decline reaches a point of no return. That we have survived the massive efforts to suppress opposition voices – that we fight on when all other non-corporate national parties have been wiped out – is a staggering achievement. The corporate parties are working hard to keep us hidden from view. But the ongoing betrayal of the public interest by Barack Obama and the Democrats has brought us to a critical tipping point. Growing masses are looking for a new political vehicle for reclaiming their imperiled right to a just and sustainable future. We are the only option on the map.
Throughout history, third parties have exerted tremendous influence in America, and it can happen again. This is a long term goal. Our near-term minimum goal is to acquire the strength to offer a compelling and widely-recognized alternative to the establishment parties. Success will be measured for starters by doubling or tripling our membership, activating new state chapters and reactivating dormant ones, and increasing the number of candidates we run. Over time, we can win the allegiance of more and more voters and electoral successes will follow.
8. There is some interest within the Green Party of having the party’s nominee run together with a Green Cabinet, that would feature prospective cabinet members and federal agency heads that would serve in your government, should you be elected president. Such an approach could demonstrate what a Green government might be like and would do so during the election, promoting transparency. It could expand the number of people campaigning, with Cabinet members on the road and in the press in addition to the nominees. What do you think of this approach? Who might hold positions in a Green Cabinet? How would you see your candidacy interacting with those individuals during the campaign? (How might we connect the dots?)
There are enormous potential advantages as well as vulnerabilities in having multiple spokespeople for the campaign. They would expand the reach of the campaign, but they’d also be subject to all the scrutiny and criticism of a candidate. So a lot depends on finding people with expertise, credibility, the right message, and the message discipline to avoid the traps that will be set for us all. There are many people who could fill these rolls if they were willing, presuming we have the time to find and adequately vet them.
9. Can we publish your reply on the GPUS web site in a public section reserved for such responses?