Español Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate in 2012, faces a dilemma: less than 0.4 percent of the popular vote does not a president make, so she must somehow tailor her message in 2016 to appeal beyond the party faithful.
Will she reach out to libertarians and other limited-government types in her second go at it? According to an interview with the PanAm Post in Miami, not on your life.
On the contrary, any such strategy would be antithetical to her stated goals. In her public appearances, she has offered a litany of nanny-state proposals that would put even socialist senator and Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders to shame. Further, she has all but ignored the opportunity for common ground in areas such as the drug war, the police state, and domestic surveillance.
Stein, a 65-year-old physician and author of Environmental Threats to Healthy Aging, was in South Florida in late May for the March Against Monsanto. Although in the “exploratory” stage, her trip down from Massachusetts doubled as a campaign stop, with a meet-and-greet after the protest, and she gladly spoke with media present.
How to bring together discordant independents was, she acknowledged, “the 24,000-dollar question.”
“The old coalitions have fallen apart. Labor and women and immigrants … a lot of youth and climate-justice advocates are not coming out to vote in the numbers they used to.”
This is why, she continued, the Democratic Party has suffered: “There is a major political realignment going on right now, and there is a political vacuum among a … politics of integrity, or a kind of progressive politics.”
Any gesture towards independents who see the US federal government exceeding its bounds, however, was not forthcoming. In fact, Stein dismissed the Libertarian Party as “corporate” and not, in her view, among the third parties challenging the Republicans and Democrats in a noble fashion.
Aside from the topic of the day, genetic engineering and mandatory labeling, Stein harkened back to the New Deal and promoted the “right to a job.”
“If the private sector cannot and will not provide jobs … the government will step in and provide government jobs,” with “national funding, but it would need to be locally controlled.”
Amid all the talk of job “creation,” the fallacy of the broken window didn’t come up, nor did a concern for why firms may not be hiring new people. When pressed on what might happen to an entitled worker if he were to perform poorly, Stein said “those questions have been answered before” and declined to go into more detail.
She became similarly defensive when told of how firing federal employees is nigh impossible — running at 0.15 percent per year. Despite considerable evidence of inflated salaries and benefits on the government payroll, to the tune of 63 percent, Stein lamented that “we could spend a long time talking about how we could make sure that poor people are not going to rip us off for US$12 an hour,” but she would prefer to focus on ensuring “that the big bankers are not going to be ripping us off for $14 trillion.”
Not without irony, she then dismissed interest in the Federal Reserve’s inflation tax and redistribution as elitist, while at the same time bemoaning rising debt levels: “for people who have the time and luxury to study our finance system, yes the Fed is a big issue too … and indeed that is part of our platform … [but] I know a lot people in that room need a job … and they are up to their eyeballs in debt. So, to my mind, that is where we harness a real engine for change.”
Stein’s other chief proposal of the day was tuition-free higher education, fully taxpayer funded right through graduate school, even though college attendance is already at record levels. Stein’s view is that states have stopped paying for it, as part of an “austerity agenda,” but where that might be remains anyone’s guess: “as average, everyday taxpayers have been putting billions of dollars into the pockets of the wealthy, we’ve had to cut public support for things that everyday people benefit from.”
There’s just one problem, the United States already taxes the wealthy disproportionately more than any other OECD nation; and herein lies the problem with the candidate and the supporters behind her. However well intentioned they may be, their utopian visions fly in the face of basic economics, and they want to give more power to those in government to either crack down on problems that do not exist or worsen those that do.
Until that changes, anyone concerned about policy overreach will rightly run a mile.