The day I decided to vote for Hillary Clinton, my friend suggested that I research the platforms of another woman running for president: Jill Stein of the Green Party. For many progressives across the United States, the election ended when Bernie Sanders endorsed Hillary Clinton after she won California and clinched the Democratic nomination. For many Bernie supporters who vehemently despised Clinton, Jill Stein seemed to be their best option because of their disillusionment for picking between the “lesser of two evils.”
Why? Her policies sure sound good. Legalizing marijuana, fighting Wall Street, canceling student debt. But, is Jill Stein the savior the left is looking for? Is America ready for the Green Party? Can Jill Stein even win a congressional district, let alone a state? The answer is no, no, and no.
Let’s assume that all parties really were created equal in the United States, that the Green and Libertarian Parties shared the same amount of influence as the Democratic and Republican parties. Make no mistake, I admire Jill Stein for her activism, especially the way she protested alongside Native Americans against the Dakota Access Pipeline. I respect her because she runs on ideas and principles. Nevertheless, I still wouldn’t vote for her, even though I was feeling the Bern in the Democratic primary. Here are just a few of my many reasons:
1. Jill Stein does not have the experience to be considered a viable choice for president, which reflects in some of her policies.
At least Gary Johnson used to be the governor of New Mexico; Jill Stein has no legislative experience whatsoever. She is a Harvard-trained physician and activist. She ran for governor in 2002 and 2010, and she is a former elected member of the Lexington Town Meeting (then again, even she has more political experience than Donald Trump has). But, Hillary Clinton has served as First Lady of the United States for 8 years, Senator of New York for 8 years, and Secretary of State for 4 years. If the decision to pick the next president of the United States were solely up to me, and the presidential candidates gave me their resumes with the names removed, I would probably pick Clinton for the job. Stein would make a great Congresswoman. President? Not so much.
And, we can see this lack of political experience and direction in her policies. Many of Stein’s policies are so idealistic that they are practically impossible to implement in our current political system; they have little chance of success. While many have said similar things about Bernie Sanders, at least Sanders has the legislative experience and record to prove that he can bring about some kind of change. Jill Stein, however, wants to cut defense spending in half and close over 700 military bases, all while moving to 100% renewable energy and eliminating nuclear energy by 2030. Appealing policies, just very unrealistic. Had she possessed the necessary amount of political experience to be considered president, maybe she could added some nuance to her policies so that they could be achievable, so that she would be able to get things done.
This lack of experience also reflects in the way she tries to explain her positions. Listen closely to the way she justifies her stances, and you’ll realize that she doesn’t really have the background. For example, I don’t know a lot about the economy, but I’m pretty sure you can’t write off student debt with quantitative easing.
Stein and the Green Party spends most of their time criticizing Republicans and Democrats (sometimes for a good reason), but has there ever been a time where she has tried to work with them? As a leader and a progressive, you have to work across aisles to get things done. So far, Stein hasn’t shown me that she can accomplish that.
Again, if Jill Stein really wants to change our political system, she should run for local and Congressional offices first, trying to effectively implement change bottom-up rather than top-down. Stein is inciting the right conversations, but she just isn’t the right person to lead the country.
2. Stein panders to pseudoscience to woo the far left in its dubious relationship with biological and medical research.
Look, I understand why many Americans are skeptical of GMOs, but scientists have researched GMOs excessively and found that they pose no threat to human health whatsoever. I would like the government to mandate the labelling of genetically modified foods, mainly because I would still like to know what’s in my food no matter whether the ingredient is safe or not. But, Stein and the Green Party want to set “a moratorium on GMOs... until they are proven safe,” which is absolutely unnecessary. She also calls for a ban on pesticides that “threaten the survival of bees, butterflies, and other pollinators,” thanks to the discredited theory that pesticides are responsible for the destruction of the bee population (which have actually reached a 20-year high as of the year 2015). Stein’s platform on biological research and advancement is based on dishonest, outdated information; as a doctor, she should know better.
It only gets worse from there, though. Even though she knows that vaccines are safe, Stein still shamelessly panders to the anti-vax fringe by saying that Americans should be wary of our drug approval process. She also invokes a bleak, deceptive picture filled with Big Pharma conspiracy theory to add more fuel to the fire. Take her response to a question about vaccines during a Reddit AMA:
“In most countries, people trust their regulatory agencies and have very high rates of vaccination through voluntary programs. In the US, however, regulatory agencies are routinely packed with corporate lobbyists and CEOs. So the foxes are guarding the chicken coop as usual in the US. So who wouldn't be skeptical?”
Here’s what she said in an interview with the Washington Post:
“As a medical doctor, there was a time where I looked very closely at those issues, and not all those issues were completely resolved. There were concerns among physicians about what the vaccination schedule meant, the toxic substances like mercury which used to be rampant in vaccines. There were real questions that needed to be addressed. I think some of them at least have been addressed. I don’t know if all of them have been addressed."
As a pre-med student with an staunch interest in public health, I understand why people would be worried about corporate interest in the pharmaceutical industry -- Martin Shkreli also makes my blood boil more than anyone else, even Donald Trump. But, there is no evidence that vaccines pose any danger to human health -- no corporate influence can change that. Stein is a physician; she knows this. And, while some individual, low-profile researchers may have some less apparent ties to the drug industry, there is no proof that vaccine research is heavily influenced by corporations. This is just a product of irrational fear and skepticism that Stein is trying to exploit for political support.
Like Stein, Bernie Sanders is known for his skeptical view of corporate involvement in the government and pharmaceutical industries, but he also understands that risking lives for the greater good because of a minority’s reservations against biomedical research is unequivocally wrong. Here was The Bern’s response to a similar question Stein answered in her AMA:
“I am sensitive to the fact that there are some families who disagree but the difficulty is if I have a kid who is suffering from an illness who is subjected to a kid who walks into a room without vaccines that could kill that child and that’s wrong.”
Boom, there you go. A straightforward answer, and no political doublespeak.
Almost every politician has pandered to get votes -- Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are obviously no exceptions. But, to say that Jill Stein is a better candidate than Hillary Clinton because Stein is more “authentic” is illogical and absurd. The Green Party’s policies definitely diverge from the mainstream, but Stein herself is not as anti-establishment as you all think. Despite her limited political experience, she still behaves like a typical politician, exploiting the fears of the people for personal gain -- especially when it comes to something so clear-cut like science and medicine.
Which brings me to my next and last point.
3. Stein is no different from any third-party lawmaker in her methods of politicking -- in my eyes, at least, she is no better than Trump.
Speaking of exploiting fear, Stein’s self-interested, deceptive rhetoric extends beyond the sphere of biological science. She tries to suppress the difference between the Democrats and Republicans, and while the Democratic Party has had its share of egregious scandals, most of these claims are backed by nothing but precarious lies and conspiracy theories. Take her response to President Obama’s economic plans. In her response to Obama’s State of the Union address in 2015, she accuses him of “[leading] the charge for austerity” and “[making] the Bush tax cuts permanent.” Sure, Obama did try (and fail) to cooperate with John Boehner to raise taxes and cut entitlements. And, sure, he did implement some, though not all, of Bush’s tax cuts into his economic plans. But, remember that he had to deal with GOP opposition throughout his attempts to compromise for a more liberal plan -- the Republicans in Congress had threatened to raise the debt ceiling. And, then, the government shut down -- remember that? Because, clearly, Jill Stein doesn’t. She neither recognizes nor acknowledges the Republican obstinacy in Congress swearing to block any progress Obama tries to bring forth. Then again, Stein spends a majority of her time deriding the Republicans and Democrats without ever trying to cooperate and work with them. She is an uncompromising progressive, not a viable presidential candidate.
Her campaign has had its struggles with integrity, as well. Stein initially agreed with Trump that Brexit was a good idea, a way for Britain to “take back their country” with “self-determination” (too bad the pound dropped faster than my GPA once the results of the referendum were announced). But, once Stein publicly declared her support for Brexit, she immediately changed her mind once people called her out on it. And, then she tampers with her webpage and told people to clear their cache so that they couldn’t see the original post… Hmmm…
Again, if you’ve made up your mind and have decided to vote for Jill, that’s fine by me. I can’t tell you who to vote for. But, for me, the logical and moral choice is Hillary Clinton. She has proven time and again that she can get things done. She believes in science and isn’t afraid to show it. She will protect my rights as a woman of color with a disability -- because if Trump is elected, then anyone who isn't white, male, Christian, cishet, or rich is essentially screwed. And, most importantly, she has the ability to appoint up to three liberal Supreme Court justices, whose influence may last more than that of a generation.
As for Donald Trump? Well, if he’s elected president, let’s hope that he doesn’t end up nuking Wisconsin after three months in office.