The New York Daily News, May 17, 2016
Green Party Presidential candidate Jill Stein slams the system, law-breaking Obama, “Frankenstein” Trump and “corporate” Hillary Clinton
by Gersh Kuntzman
The American electorate is angry. Two parties are nominating candidates with historically high negatives. Everyone is crying out for another choice on the ballot.
So why is the Green Party candidate polling at 2%?
That was my first question to that very Green Party candidate, Dr. Jill Stein, in the midst of an election season that reveals a weird disconnect in our politics: the system is broken, yet voters don’t seem to want it fixed.
“I’m at 2% because the political system is designed to suppress political opposition,” Stein said, predictably. “I’m talking about the money it takes to get on the ballot, the rules of ballot access, the rules of debates in which the Democratic and Republican parties control the presidential debate commission itself. When you factor in corporate collusion, it difficult to be heard.”
Yes, I’d heard that Zen koan before: If a Green Party candidate yells in a corporate-run forest and no bought-and-paid for journalist is there to hear it, she doesn’t make a sound.
Well, Bernie Sanders’ amazing run proves Stein wrong -- he got more media attention than any Socialist since Eugene V. Debs. But with Sanders basically vanquished, I decided to put Stein front and center. Given that she’s a Green Party candidate, I grilled her like a piece of line-caught, organic, fair trade salmon.
Kuntzman: Your website calls your plan, "Power to the People." That term is creakier than my osteopenic bones. Does that kind of 1960s language win elections in today's America?
Stein: It should. I’m seeing what we saw in the 1960s: a revolt by a younger generation that can’t pay back its student debt, and a struggle for racial justice that continues to this day. And war! Currently, every household is paying $75,000 for the massive failure of the wars in the Middle East. It’s $6 trillion since 2001, including care for soldiers. What do we have to show for it: more threat of terrorism, mass refugees and failed states -- and it’s starving our towns, health care, education and housing. all social programs are decimated by the bloated military budget. And in the 1960s, we created the Clean Water Act and the EPA -- and started bringing the troops home. We had an activated populace. But now people are thrown under the bus by a rigged system.
Kuntzman: There you go again with that rigged system. Aren’t most Americans comfortable with it?
Stein: No. Polls show that the majority of Americans don’t support either party. Most Hillary Clinton supporters are backing her to oppose Donald Trump. And most Trump supporters are doing it to oppose Hillary. So what is wrong with this picture? If our voices were actually heard, we would be dominating.
Kuntzman: Your big problem is that you don’t believe in American Exceptionalism, which pretty much means that no American will listen to you.
Stein: America needs to move from an era of domination to an era of principles and cooperation. Where has American Exceptionalism gotten us? Six trillion dollars on wars in the Middle East. A million dead in Iraq. A mass refugee migration that is tearing apart Europe. American Exceptionalism is the latest version of blind patriotism and chauvinism. It’s an adolescent mentality at a time when we need to be an adult in the world community.
Kuntzman: You pretty much described the candidacy of Donald Trump, whom I take it you don’t like. What’s so wrong with Trump -- and remember, the ruder your language, the greater the likelihood that he’ll retweet this article and get you lots of attention.
Stein: Donald Trump is the terrifying reflection of where American politics has gone. What created him? A political system awash in corporate money and a media that has given him $2 billion in free coverage.
Kuntzman: Um, most of it negative.
Stein: But what does he represent? Right wing populism driven by the economic consequences of the neo-liberal policies of Clintonism, such as NAFTA and Wall Street deregulation that cost people’s jobs and their homes. As terrifying and dreadful as Donald Trump is, Hillary Clinton is part of the corporatized political system, predatory banks, fossil fuel giants and war profiteers that created him. Donald Trump is that Frankenstein, but Hillary is not the antidote.
Kuntzman: Refresh my memory. How do you kill a Frankenstein? Garlic? Crosses?
Stein: The antidote is a true democracy with more voices and a moral compass. Why is my campaign being less heard than the very political establishment that people are increasingly rejecting! This is a testimony how the political system is corrupt.
Kuntzman: But you got 0.36% in the 2012 election. Why should I pay attention to you now -- other than, of course, that I agree with everything you’re saying.
Stein: Because if we manage to break into the big media, hold onto your hat.
Kuntzman: I don’t wear a heat, but as a card-carrying member of Big Media, you’re welcome. Let’s move on. Your website also says that the U.S. is violating international law through its wars and "drone attacks." Is President Obama a war criminal?
Stein: Do I think he has violated international law? Good lord, yes! We have conducted illegal wars. The only legal criteria for war is something that is an imminent threat to the United States. But all these wars are aggressive. The drone wars have been the worst for human rights. It's an illegal assassination program - and worse, it's off target nine times out of 10.
Kuntzman: You want America to commit to "transitioning to 100% clean renewable energy by 2030." Let's stipulate that every man, woman, child and Palin supported that -- is it even physically possible?
Stein: When we were bombed at the start of World War II, our economy went from zero wartime footing to full wartime footing, 25% of the GDP, in six months. So can we do 100% renewable in 14 years, of course we can. Our lives depend on it. We will lose all coastal cities and population centers worldwide, and create hundreds of millions of climate refugees. Climate change makes Pearl Harbor look like small potatoes.
Kuntzman: I like those small potatoes. But you're arguing the wrong issue. I stipulated that everyone agrees on climate change. How do you achieve it?
Stein: It's an all-out wartime mobilization. We would immediately create 20 million full-time jobs as part of what I call the Green New Deal.
Kuntzman: Sounds clean...but expensive.
Stein: First of all, we won't need wars for oil, so that frees up trillions. And it pays for itself in health benefits by eliminating pollution. We spend $3 trillion on not a health care system, but a sick care system. Our energy, transportation and food systems make us sick. These savings are all hard wired into the Green New Deal.
Kuntzman: Next thing you’ll say is you also favor a chicken in every pot.
Stein: Well, I’m a vegetarian.
Kuntzman: Well how about pot in every pot?
Stein: As a medical doctor, I can say with some knowledge that marijuana is dangerous only because it’s illegal. It is far safer than alcohol and cigarettes.
Jill Stein will appear in New York at the Left Forum, May 20-22, at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, 860 11th Ave. between 58th and 59th Sts. She will be on panels focusing on Bernie Sanders, “climate justice,” and racial issues and the left.