In my last article, Choose No Evil: The Case for Jill Stein, I put forth an argument against the “lesser evil” thinking that many subscribe to during presidential elections. However, some readers mentioned one aspect of my Jill Stein article that they would have liked to see discussed more thoroughly: Jill Stein!
I felt strongly that the barrier presented by “lesser evil” thinking is the reason that people are not receptive to Dr. Stein‘s message, thus it needed to be addressed fully before I could begin making a detailed case for the candidate herself. Dr. Stein has many great ideas, so I encourage everyone to take a look at her platform. To get an idea of which of the 4 electable candidates—Donald Trump, Gary Johnson, Hillary Clinton and Jill Stein—is fighting for the greater good, I’ve singled out 5 issues that significantly affect us all, to take a critical look at how each candidate addresses these issues in their respective platforms.
Experts tell us that a practical goal for achieving 100% renewable energy in the U.S. would be the year 2050. The truth is, we are already embarrassingly far behind in the race to reach this goal. Electricity generation in Germany, Iceland and Norway is already at or close to 100% renewable, Denmark and Portugal are about halfway there and Scotland plans to make it by 2020. But only 13% of the electricity in the U.S. is generated by renewable sources. It sure seems like we aren’t even trying to keep up.
Donald Trump is a climate change denier. In his platform, he vows to exploit all domestic coal, oil and natural gas resources, and claims that this is the key to creating millions of jobs, achieving energy independence and accruing “vast new wealth” for our country.
Gary Johnson’s platform barely touches on climate change, except to say that it’s “probably” happening and emphasizing his belief in the importance of deregulating clean energy innovation.
Hillary Clinton’s platform does talk about installing 500 million solar panels for electricity generation in private homes, which is good. However, this does not address the vast amounts of fossil fuels used in other areas, such as the commercial, transportation and agricultural sectors, which are major contributors to the climate problems we face. Unlike Trump and Johnson, Clinton’s platform acknowledges that “unchecked climate change” will result in “catastrophe,” yet she puts forth no stated goal for reaching 100% renewable energy. Instead, she plans to expend our efforts and resources to the tune of $60 billion dollars developing and transitioning to clean energy, which means cutting emissions from fossil fuels and instituting higher efficiency standards for cars, trucks, boilers and ships. It’s important to understand though, clean energy is not renewable energy, and implementing this strategy will not avert the coming climate catastrophe. The term “clean energy” is doublespeak, meant to sell us on the idea that funneling more money into Big Oil and Big Gas is somehow really an environmentally friendly venture. Similar political doublespeak has also been used by the Democrats to promote fracking under the guise of “energy independence,” even though fracking will have disastrous consequences on the environment and the climate. Furthermore, Clinton has no plan to stop fracking anytime soon.
Jill Stein’s Green New Deal aims to actually halt climate change and put an end to the expensive, wasteful and deadly foreign wars for oil that we’re perpetually embroiled in. She plans to “create 20 million jobs by transitioning to 100% clean renewable energy by 2030,” so all workers in the oil, coal and gas industry alongside many veterans returned from the wars, will receive full benefits as they train for their new jobs in the solar, wind and water industry. We can afford to support these workers during what Jill refers to as a “Just Transition” simply by shutting down the war machine.
There is an endless supply of renewable energy that you can see and feel, simply by stepping outside your front door, and it’s within our grasp. We already have the technology to harness these resources to power the whole world. Instead, we are fighting violent, desperate wars for dirty, toxic fuels that are finite. And no matter who “wins,” their very use leads to a reckoning with a mutated planet that we will not survive. Making the investment necessary to switch to renewable energy would save our lives and our planet. The only rational plan on the table is the Green New Deal.
Under our current healthcare system, many Americans are living with sub-standard health and dying sooner than they have to, while paying more for the privilege of doing so. Meanwhile, countries like Sweden, Canada, the U.K., Norway and Japan all have single-payer systems. These countries have a higher standard of care across the board: they spend less on healthcare, have lower infant mortality rates and their citizens enjoy longer life spans than we do.
In Trump’s platform, he predicts that “Obamacare is certain to collapse of its own weight,” which is not an unreasonable assessment. But his proposal to institute a free market healthcare system in place of the ACA is also not a good plan. In this article from Fiscal Fact Check, an expert analysis concludes that Trump’s plan “would both add to the deficit and significantly reduce coverage,” costing nearly $550 billion over a decade and nearly doubling the number of uninsured Americans. Spending more to make the system worse seems like the opposite of great.
Johnson’s platform doesn’t even have a healthcare section, but if it did, it would most likely be a short blurb about deregulation and free markets, in keeping with the rest of his platform. The Libertarians would like you to believe that the free market irons out all of the wrinkles because when consumers are allowed to vote with their money, only the best businesses will succeed. But there are real dangers in giving up government-enforced consumer protections. Capitalism is a good thing, but like anything else, it can have disastrous consequences if left unchecked, as recent fallout from Wall Street deregulation has shown.
Hillary Clinton advocated for single-payer healthcare for most of her career—but then she took so much money from the Healthcare Industry during her Senate reelection campaign ($13 million, to be exact), that she became the number 2 recipient of donations from that industry. Coincidentally, now she no longer favors switching to single-payer and joining the ranks of countries that have healthcare that works for their entire populations. Instead, she wants to try to improve the ACA. The problem with this approach is that the ACA is clearly a firmly corporatist program which places far too great a burden on poor and even middle class families, who are subject to ever-increasing fines if they opt out of purchasing insurance—even if the reason is because they can’t afford it. If they do decide to purchase health insurance rather than suffer the fines, some people still aren’t able to seek medical care when they need it, because they could only afford the cheapest plan, which also has the highest copays and deductibles. These people have literally been forced to buy something they can’t afford to use, in order to avoid a government fine. So, in the richest country in the world, for some, healthcare has been perverted into a “Poor Tax.” And it gets worse over time: the unrealistically low income caps for receiving government subsidies remain relatively static while healthcare costs balloon out of control, causing more and more of the population to fall into this gap.
Jill Stein’s single-payer health program would ensure healthcare as a right for people of all income levels, which means quality care for all, with no more sub-par programs and impossible income caps. Her plan will effectively eliminate the need for health insurance altogether, and will prevent Big Pharma from over-charging for prescription medications. As if that weren’t already good enough, transitioning to a single-payer system would also do away with the confusion, bureaucracy and inflation inherent in medical billing, eliminating $400 billion of wasteful spending in the healthcare industry.
Jill Stein’s platform is the only one that treats healthcare as a human right, rather than a commodity. This isn’t even a radical idea; many countries, in addition to the ones I’ve already listed, have adopted this progressive point of view and have instituted single-payer systems. It is possible to cover every man, woman and child in this country with a higher average quality of care, for less money. Again, there is only one rational plan on the table.
Education as a Right
On paper, it makes sense to hold public schools across the country to a common standard for the sake of accountability. The real world problem though, is that our current education standard, the Common Core program, doesn’t account for the disparity in resources from one neighborhood to the next, or for the variance in the needs of each individual student. The Department of Education then punishes disadvantaged school districts and teachers by cutting or eliminating funding and firing or underpaying teachers within those districts when students perform poorly on tests. This strategy is nonsensical, because it is universally understood that students from wealthier families achieve academic success at much higher rates than students from lower income families, for obvious reasons: more privileged students are less likely to come to school hungry, they live in better neighborhoods, so they usually don’t have to worry about the possibility of experiencing violence, and their parents can afford to pay for extra academic help when they need it.
Donald Trump and Gary Johnson both want to do away with the Common Core program, and entirely eliminate the Department of Education to give the states full control of their school districts. They both believe that instituting a voucher program will encourage competition between public and private schools. This is par for the course for Libertarians and Republicans alike: Deregulation. Free market. Rinse. Repeat.
I would agree (as Dr. Stein does) that Common Core has to go, but once again, when you remove regulations, you remove accountability. I’ve certainly never heard any parent claim that they wish the people in charge of their children for much of the day could somehow be less accountable, so there must be a better answer here. As for vouchers, supporting private schools with publicly-funded vouchers is wrong for several reasons: For one thing, around 76% of private schools have a religious affiliation, so the use of public funding to send children to private schools often violates religious liberty as it pertains to the separation of church and state. For another, diverting public funding to privately owned institutions runs counter to building strong public schools. Lastly, private schools have the right to discriminate against students and reject applications for any reason, which is antithetical to an “education for all” agenda. This approach could only lead to further segregation, as many public schools would fold, and the ones that remain would be full of the children who, for whatever reason, were deemed “not good enough” to attend the private, charter and magnet schools.
As is the case with the Affordable Care Act, Hillary Clinton is the only candidate of the 4 who isn’t satisfied that the Common Core program is broken beyond repair. One possible reason for her dissent is that Clinton helped to develop it. But even Marc Tucker, a current advisor to the Department of Education, who laid out the blueprint for the idea to Clinton in 1992, now believes Common Core is a failed policy and that it’s time to try something new.
Clinton also wants to make community college free for everyone, and suggests that families earning less than $85,000 per year can send their children to any local state university for free. By 2021, she says, that will be expanded to families who make less than $125,000 per year. Clinton’s insistence on using income caps as a limiting factor means that once again, a large swath of the population falls into the ever-expanding gulf that exists between those who are legitimately wealthy enough to do for themselves and those who are deemed poor enough to receive assistance, creating a drag effect on society: When faced with the choice between having tens of thousands of dollars in college loans forced on their children and trimming a couple of thousand from their own annual income so they can skate under the income cap, which do you think people will choose to do? And of course, as Joshua Soed from The New Progressive Voice points out in his very insightful comparison of Clinton and Stein’s education platforms, the income caps don’t account for how many children you have. That means an only child in a family making even a little bit below $125,000 will benefit from this program, but if a family with 2 or 3 children earns just a little above that amount, they will not benefit, even though they actually could use the help more.
Jill Stein’s plan would “Guarantee tuition-free, world-class public education from pre-school through university” for every person, at every income level. She wants to scrap Common Core and instate a “curriculum developed by educators, not corporations, with input from parents and communities.” Dr. Stein feels that the best way to level the playing-field is to increase federal funding to public schools and to institute grant programs that will encourage desegregation. What better way to improve our public schools than to give them the money they need to buy better materials and pay teachers reasonably while dismantling the system that allows for the marginalization of minority students?
We need only look to the not so distant past to find examples of how the money we spend on education actually helps the economy. The GI Bill, for example, which provided a college education for military veterans and their dependents, yielded $7 in tax revenue for every $1 that the government paid into it. So, rather than doing away with all accountability in favor of free market competition, or wasting tens of billions of dollars on sub-par programs that benefit only a few, we can use that money, or use some of the money from our insanely high military budget, or charge a tiny transaction tax to Wall Street on speculative investments, or close tax loopholes that mainly benefit corporations and the ultra-rich, in order to provide high-quality, burden-free education to all of our children while shoring up our economy at the same time. Imagine how bright the future could be with a Jill Stein presidency.
Peace & Human Rights
For years, our government has been drone-bombing the daylights out of several Middle Eastern countries and funding mercenaries and terrorist groups in an attempt to affect regime change to further U.S. interests. For perspective on what’s actually going on right now in the Middle East, watch this video of the U.S. Peace Council press conference in which representatives discuss what they learned from their experiences visiting Syria. They talked to civilians, community and religious leaders and politicians, including President Assad himself. The video is 50 minutes long: watch it to the end. Then get as many of your friends to watch it as you can, because the picture that these people paint of Syria doesn’t look anything at all like the one our media paints. And their accounts are backed up by people like Eva Bartlett, who is an international investigative journalist.
It’s important to understand that Syria is a developed nation, much as America is, with monitored democratic elections. The reputable sources that I’ve cited allege that Assad is absolutely not bombing his own people, and that his administration is actually quite popular with the Syrian people. That’s obviously a different story than we’ve been getting from our government, and from our media, who have a track record of harboring ulterior motives for promoting conflicts like this.
A lot has been made of Donald Trump’s “scariness” this election season. While Trump may present his policies in an unconventionally terrifying manner, many of these policies are actually standard Republican fair. Since the things that are legitimately worrisome about Donald Trump’s platform are contained within his foreign policy, let’s break it down to get a better idea of the dangers we might be facing.
Donald Trump wants to increase the military budget to “rebuild” our military. That seems crazy on its own, since a huge chunk of our tax money goes to fund military spending already; in fact, according to President Obama and Politifact, the U.S. spends more on our military than the next 8 countries combined. But what is truly unsettling are Trump’s positions on immigration, on refugees and on what he refers to as “Radical Islamic Terrorism.” He has a detailed plan laid out to crack down on illegal immigration, which includes tripling the current number of ICE agents to round up and deport people more efficiently. He also wants to “temporarily suspend” immigration from countries that have problems with terrorism. Possibly the most shocking proposal is his suggestion to “Establish a Commission on Radical Islam to identify and explain to the American public the core convictions and beliefs of Radical Islam, to identify the warning signs of radicalization, and to expose the networks in our society that support radicalization.”
I don’t intend to sugarcoat this: these are discriminatory policies that are a danger to the lives not just of illegal immigrants and Muslims, but also of people who “look like” they might be either of those things to a person who doesn’t like brown people. We must all actively stand with the vulnerable members of our society against any harassment and violence they might face as a result of this extreme jingoism. With that said, I think it’s important for everyone to realize that in many ways, Trump’s policies are not new. The overt nature of Trump’s rhetoric is hard to swallow, but we’re already suffering unacceptable levels of covert oppression and discrimination. Trump’s ideas are merely a progression of the bad policies that we’ve already had in place for some time.
As Dr. Stein points out, the Democrats have become the party of deportation, detention and night raids. President Obama has deported over 2.5 million illegal immigrants; that’s more than any other president in history, by quite a lot. It looks like by the time he’s done, he may even surpass the total number of deportations by every other U.S. president combined. As for refusing refugees, we already aren’t accepting very many, as it is. Our goal for this year was a paltry 10,000, which is less than half of Canada’s 25,000, and we took our sweet time meeting it. That’s especially egregious considering that we had no small part in creating the situation they’re fleeing from. We also already have a campaign in place that allows for community policing of “suspicious-looking” individuals: we call it “If You See Something, Say Something.” This campaign seems benign, but those of us who work in major cities pass by signs and hear PA announcements repeating this phrase multiple times on our daily commute to and from work, drumming it into our subconscious. This campaign literally instructs citizens on what is considered suspicious behavior that may be indicative of terrorism. Even though it advises against racially profiling individuals, you can be sure that there are plenty of innocent people who’ve had to answer to police simply for being suspiciously brown. And of course, even though Stop and Frisk was ruled unconstitutional, since Habeas Corpus was revoked and never reinstated, the police can still search anyone, at any time, for any reason—and they do.
There are also things about Trump’s foreign policy plan that are a lot less scary than Hillary Clinton’s plan. For one, he intends to “End the current strategy of nation-building and regime change,” which means that while he’ll still be dropping bombs on ISIS, at least the drone strikes would be more targeted and there would be fewer of them. And while Clinton and the Democrats accuse Trump of being “besties” with Putin with the intention of smearing him, Trump’s stance towards Russia is arguably more similar to Obama’s than Clinton’s is. I’d much rather have a president who gets along with Putin than one who will start World War III, given the option, particularly if that war pits us against a country that has more advanced nuclear weapons than we do.
Gary Johnson’s platform is very similar to Dr. Stein’s in this area. Like Stein, he wants to cut off our funding to terrorist groups, pull our troops out of areas where they’re not needed and utilize diplomacy to establish peace. My only criticism is that he, like Donald Trump, views the situation from more of an isolationist stand-point than a humanitarian one, and I believe that’s an important distinction. The leader of the free world, the person with more power than any other single person on the planet, needs to be a humanitarian.
Hillary Clinton will most definitely not be the humanitarian leader we’re all waiting for. I spent a fair amount of time going over her role in our various military conflicts in “Choose No Evil,” but here’s a quick recap: Clinton wants to intensify our drone assassination program, and has been a very vocal proponent of the failed regime change strategy that we’ve implemented over and over again in the Middle East. It’s pretty plain to see from her irresponsible and inflammatory rhetoric about instituting a no-fly zone over Syria and blaming Russia for the recent DNC and Clinton campaign hacks that her intentions are to topple Assad in Syria and then to attempt the same with Putin in Russia. It is also fairly obvious to anyone not blinded by arrogance and greed that as this regime change instrument has failed her in Iraq, Honduras and Libya, there is no reason to believe that she can manage to pull it off successfully in a developed country with a Democratically elected leader, like Syria. And this tactic is particularly sure to fail in Russia, which, once again for the people in the back row, has nuclear capabilities more advanced than our own, and the ability to use them effectively against us. Perhaps Clinton is counting on our anti-nuke missile defense to shoot their nukes out of the sky after they’ve been fired. Well, I’m sure our missiles are super, but I’d personally prefer not to find out the hard way that they weren’t quite good enough.
Our choices for foreign policy in this election are between a fascist, an isolationist, an imperialist and a humanitarian. In this area alone, it’s more important than ever to choose wisely. Jill Stein vows to prioritize “people, peace and planet over profit.” She advocates cutting military spending in half, closing over 700 military bases around the world, cutting funding and arms sales to mercenary groups in the Middle East and from governments who support them, withdrawing financial support from countries that we know are committing human rights violations, like Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Israel until they change their policies and leading the way in nuclear disarmament, starting with creating a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East.
If we cut our military spending in half, we would still have the best military in the world, and “starving” the terrorist groups that we’re using to help us overthrow governments of funding and weapons is a no-brainer, unless of course you are beholden to the military industrial complex. In regard to withdrawing support from human rights violators, Stein is not suggesting that we abandon our allies; they can have their funding back as soon as they decide to stop committing atrocities that violate international law. And as for nuclear disarmament, our world has become pretty tense, a condition which isn’t helped by the fact that there are a few countries with the nuclear capability to vaporize entire populations on a whim. Right now, we have strategically placed nukes in several European countries, and their purpose is to be an ever-present, not-so-implicit threat against countries that we want to keep in line, like Russia.
People argue that it would be naive and foolish to get rid of all of our nukes, but Stein is not suggesting that at all; she just wants to agree to Russia’s proposal of limiting our nuclear arsenal to 1,000 nuclear weapons each, which seems more than reasonable, and to end the research and testing of nuclear weapons. Maybe it is naive to think we’ll ever be able to accomplish nuclear disarmament, but you can’t deny that we would all be much better off if we stopped developing a technology that with each iteration brings us closer to destroying the world in 30 minutes. I’ll take humanitarianism and diplomacy over impending annihilation any day.
Criminal Justice Reform
Our country accounts for only 5% of the world’s population, yet somehow we manage to have a whopping 25% of the world’s prisoners. There is something obviously and disturbingly wrong about that. Hold on, because we’re about to go to a pretty dark place as I explain how and why that percentage is so high. I’m talking about the prison industrial complex.
You don’t have to look very hard to find evidence that systemic racism is a problem in our police forces and in our judicial system. People of color are pulled over, searched and raided at higher rates than white people; they are arrested at higher rates for the same non-violent crimes, like drug possession; and they are incarcerated at much higher rates and receive much longer sentences for such crimes. This is why the “War on Drugs” has turned out to be a war on minorities. Now consider that many of these people who have been unfairly targeted are also unable to afford competent representation. So while their wealthier counterparts skate by on the exact same charges, these poor, often impoverished minorities end up in prison.
That’s how our “Justice” system is funneling a steady stream of mostly black and Latino men and women into prison for minor offenses, ruining their job prospects, possibly for the rest of their lives, and breaking up their families. Justice, for these people is a vicious, unending cycle of incarceration. Once they get out of prison, their chances of finding gainful employment are crippled because they now have criminal records and have to “check the box.” Unable to find work, they may soon do something desperate and find themselves in prison again. Their families are also broken, so their children are left especially vulnerable to this system that seems to be gunning for them.
It isn’t an unfortunate accident that things are this way. With the privatization of prisons, there are actually companies and stockholders who benefit financially from locking people up. And who is easier prey for this scheme than the poor and the disenfranchised? As insidious as that is, it gets even worse.
While some inmates choose to work to pass the time and earn money to buy commissary items, many are compelled into labor. Some are paid literally pennies per hour, while others are paid nothing at all, and a great many of these prisoners are living and working under inhumane conditions. If you’re thinking this shouldn’t be possible in modern-day America, it turns out, there’s a loophole written into the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, which says that slavery and forced labor is illegal—unless it’s being used as punishment for a crime.
Let that sink in for a minute: slavery is legal in our country under certain conditions. And there are people living under those conditions right now. Of course, not all prisons exploit inmates to the same degree, but plenty of prisons force hard labor on inmates, often making them work long hours in the hot sun, for no pay, like they used to do in chain gangs. In at least one case, this labor takes the form of literal cotton-picking on an old plantation, among other “field” duties, overseen by men on horseback with guns. I wish that I were making this up, but I’m not even exaggerating. That article is about a state institution in Alabama called Angola Prison, where black men make up 80% of the prison population, despite only accounting for 15% of the population of Alabama.
Under threat of punishment, inmates all over the country recently engaged in hunger and work strikes for weeks in an attempt to shed light on this situation. Their efforts were met by a media blackout. It seems that the corporate news media doesn’t want consumers to know how many industries and corporations rely on prison labor to keep costs way down and profits way up. Because then we would all see that so many companies, like AT&T, are laying off entire departments, choosing instead to staff their call centers with inmates. We would know that companies like Microsoft and Whole Foods have been making out like bandits, using inmate labor to produce products and paying these people under a dollar a day. We would understand that by opting for free or dirt-cheap prison slave labor over legal, fair-wage employees, so many corporations are contributing to the failure of our economy and committing crimes against humanity to feed their own sick greed. And the corporate media believes, as I believe, that if we all knew it was happening, we wouldn’t allow this legal slavery to continue. So they simply didn’t cover the largest prison protest in U.S. history.
Donald Trump continues to blast his “Law and Order” message, even going so far as to say he wants to bring back Stop and Frisk, all over the country. Becoming more militant and discriminatory has never been the answer to eliminating crime, and it most certainly will never eliminate racial tension. If this issue is important to you, I’m sure I don’t need to convince you that he’s not your candidate.
Gary Johnson doesn’t acknowledge police militarism or systemic racism either, because the Libertarian ticket “support[s] law enforcement.” Not one to depart from his established log-line, Johnson suggests that our incarceration problem is merely due to over-regulation of our civil liberties, and that decriminalizing marijuana, eliminating mandatory minimum sentences and giving more power to local courts (smaller government) will sort these problems out. Well, Jill Stein agrees that part of the answer is decriminalizing marijuana and eliminating mandatory minimums, but she also has a very detailed plan to end mass incarceration and police brutality, so there’s no contest between these two candidates if you’re a Progressive.
Even though Hillary Clinton’s platform outlines a plan to address systemic racism, a lot of her policy boils down to throwing money at the problem. Out of a list containing 9 policy points for “Strengthening bonds of trust between communities and police,” only one makes mention of police accountability. The proposed solution to improve transparency and accountability is to make sure that data is collected and reported on “crime, officer involved shootings and deaths in custody.” This is another situation where Clinton’s “Progressive” solution is a thing that any reasonable person would assume has already been happening.
Clinton’s only active proposals in this area are: to provide billions of dollars in funding to police departments to research and implement new training strategies and promote officer safety and wellness; to double Department of Justice funding, apparently so they can monitor civil rights violations better and fund their Collaborative Reform Program, which offers incentives to police departments who seek to implement strategies and training that has been deemed successful by the program; to provide even more funding to police departments for body cameras; and finally “limiting the transfer of military equipment to local law enforcement from the federal government.”
Clinton does also claim to want the police to meet with “the community” to create federal guidelines regarding the use of police force, but that point is not so much a policy position as it is a terribly vague statement. Who comprises the “community” in this scenario? Should Black Lives Matter consider this statement, which is carefully crafted to avoid alienating law enforcement, a show of solidarity? Should they be satisfied that the new “limits” Clinton is considering imposing on fancy new military gear will be enough “regulation” to set their oppressors straight?
Hillary Clinton was more than happy to invite the Mothers of the Movement to speak at the Democratic National Convention on her behalf and to reap the benefits of their endorsement. Yet, in spite of the fact that social justice advocates were purposely led to believe that a vote for Clinton is a vote for policy positions that are in line with the Black Lives Matter movement, Clinton’s policies don’t support that agenda in any meaningful way, and will actually serve to reward these failed systems by granting them billions more in funding.
Clinton’s predilection for policies that grant monied interests more funding under the guise of Progressive reform is troubling. When the fossil fuel industry, law enforcement and the Department of Justice see that Clinton is planning to fork over literally billions of dollars to each of them, they know who’s side she’s really on. She does have a comprehensive plan to dismantle the prison industrial complex in her platform, but because we’ve now seen the difference between her public position and private position on Wall Street, we can be sure that her prison lobbyist super PACs also know who’s side she’s really on, despite what her platform says.
Jill Stein and her running mate, Ajamu Baraka are the only candidates who can be trusted to do anything about mass incarceration and systemic racism. Their platform has detailed, aggressive policy proposals to curtail police brutality, including plans for demilitarizing the police by ending the programs that allow military-grade weapons and equipment to be obtained by civilian police departments. Their plan to establish accountability for death and serious injury is to institute community-led oversight and review boards and mandatory independent investigations of police misconduct, because unlike Hillary Clinton, Stein and Baraka know that when powerful institutions are in charge of regulating themselves, corruption is inevitable. If you consider police corruption/militarization and the prison industrial complex to be dire social issues that we cannot afford to ignore, it is imperative that you understand that there is no alternative: Jill Stein and Ajamu Baraka are the only candidates who have the words “Black Lives Matter” written into their platform.
A lot of people are planning to vote for Hillary Clinton under the impression that keeping a Democrat in the White House is the only way to maintain the seemingly tenuous grasp they hold on their civil rights. Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news—and this is just about the worst and scariest news there is: your civil rights have already been quietly siphoned away from you for years now, and you’re not going to get them back until you start fighting for them.
Our government spies on us. To control us, they distort and withhold information as they see fit, and they use propaganda to manufacture our consent. Then they malign, persecute and imprison the brave whistleblowers who knowingly imperil their own lives when they show us the truth.
With the birth of the Patriot Act and the death of Habeas Corpus, George W. Bush stripped us of our privacy and our agency, and even though most of the ensuing decade has passed under the Democratic Hope and Change banner of Barack Obama, we’ve watched helplessly as our military devastates country after country, while we are promised that peace is around the corner; as our police have become more militant, hostile and immune to accountability than ever before, while we are offered empty platitudes for civilian lives lost needlessly; as our schools, theaters and nightclubs have been ravaged by gunfire, while we are told to pray away the assault rifles; as our planet is destroyed by the foolish and the greedy, while the Democrats lecture us about the glory of natural gas and fracking. And through it all, those rights that we once had have slipped further and further out of our reach.
Though it may seem that I “pick on” Clinton more than the other candidates, there are a few reasons for that. The first is that Clinton and Stein have the most detailed platforms, with Clinton’s being especially complex, so there is just more to critique. The second is that since they’re both courting Liberal and Progressive voters, I think it’s important to disabuse people of the notion that the difference between their platforms is slight or negligible. And finally, I do it to highlight that the reason her platform is so complex is because Clinton’s indebtedness to her donors prevents her from committing to many of the things that she knows would best suit her constituents, so she has to work extra hard just to throw us a bone here and there and keep us on the hook. If Clinton didn’t have so many donors to appease, the Democratic platform would likely look a lot more like the Green Party’s.
Even though Dr. Stein’s platform is demonstrably superior on every issue that Progressives care about, people insist on complicating the issue. I’m constantly told that Jill can’t win. I’m constantly told that even if she did win, she wouldn’t be able to enact any policy because Congress would block her at every turn. I’m constantly told how “naive” or “arrogant” I am to believe that we can have change without first spending many decades running candidates for local office and moving up the pre-existing ranks of power.
As the tension builds, this country will become a scarier and more dangerous place. And it won’t stop after the election, even if we “Stop Trump.” The establishment knows this, and they’re turning up the pressure, because they want us to believe that they’re the only ones who can protect us from the danger. But they won’t protect us; if they wanted to, they would be passing gun laws, demilitarizing police, ending our dependence on fossil fuels, making sure we all had a right to healthcare. They’d stop painting a target on our country and ruining our economy with war. The only way to truly stop the “scary” people from turning this country into something irredeemably ugly is to stand up to them, and the way you stand up is not by giving up your power to an establishment that’s intent on feeding you to the wolves. The wisest thing each of us can do with our one vote, our one voice, is to direct this impending Revolution in a positive direction and to show the establishment that if they will not use their power in service of the people, the people will take that power from them.
A big reason for all the vitriol toward Clinton and her supporters is that she is the only “non-change” candidate. Trump, Johnson and Stein and all of their supporters—the majority of the country—agree on one premise, very strongly: things need to change. In fact, that’s the central message of each of their campaigns. But the establishment is blocking that movement, and the people who support Hillary Clinton, no matter what their reasons are for doing it, are supporting that establishment, and are working against progress. It is unmistakably a situation where a minority of the voting population is holding the rest of us hostage because they are afraid that what comes next will be worse than what we have now. They don’t yet realize that the change is going to come, whether they want it or not, and because they won’t stand with the Progressive end of the movement, they are allowing the racists, bigots, sexists and xenophobes that they’re so afraid of to steer the movement and to co-opt The Revolution. Make no mistake: revolution is upon us. The only choice we have in the matter is whether it will be fought by mercenaries, or by patriots.