There's a new politician running for President that you probably didn't hear about because she isn't a Republican who questions Obama's native birth or promises to not hire Muslims or hates homosexuals. It's Jill Stein. (Here's JillStein.com. But I guess she doesn't have that, so here's her website, JillStein.org. And check out her campaign kick-off speech-- she IS your third grade teacher, right?) She's a Green (or, here in Mass, Green-Rainbow (like this?)) Party candidate, stated one of her goals is to be on the ballot in 40 or more states. (And yet her campaign kick-off speech ends with a call to win. Strange.) She's also got a chance to make a minor splash (if she's nominated by the party, that is) if only because of the liberal frustration with the Democratic Party and Obama in particular. She is going to milk that frustration for all it's worth.
Check out her announcement speech (text here). She's obviously catering to the youth vote that came out en masse for Obama in 2008 and now may or may not be looking for an alternative. Her five pieces of her "Green New Deal"(like this?) include 25 million jobs, free health care, forgiving all student debt, stop home foreclosures, and bringing all troops home. That's right: The Number 3 stated priority of a Presidential candidate is student loan debt. It's an interesting list of 5 pieces to the Green New Deal-- interesting because those might be the first five non-corporation-related issues I saw addressed on Occupy Boston signs. To be sure we got that she is trying to align herself with the Occupy movement, Stein gives them a shout-out: "like the civil rights movement" . . . "unstoppable force" . . . etc, and that's when she mentions Wall Street by name.
These goals, admirable and agreeable as I find them, are clearly unattainable. But then again, so is Stein's election. One thing that has always set left-wing third parties apart from the two corporate parties is that they have actual ideas and plans, radical as they may be. Stein, however, has so far come up with a (mildly) catchy slogan and a few 18-29 year-old friendly talking points. While she's just gotten started and has time before she has to come up with an actual numbers-crunching plan like the lovable 9-9-9, I fear she has set herself up as a panderer.
She's hoping that she can get the attention of the politically active Occupy folks and let them promote her campaign. I'm not questioning her ideals; I am certain that she is genuinely in support of the Occupy movement. But she's coming dangerously close to an attempt to co-opt it for her gain, whereas the movement should decide its own candidate (if it wants a candidate at all). If she were to run on her own slogans and phrases borrowed from a Twitter search of #OWS, then the movement might naturally gravitate toward her. By starting out like this, though, she risks alienating those who are aware enough to realize what she's doing. It's different from Elizabeth Warren speaking out in support of Occupy. Warren says, essentially "They are right and here's why," but Stein says "I'm right, look at these people, join us." It's Stein's merging of "we" into her paragraph about the movement that troubles me the most.
Of course, there's a good chance none of this matters because there's a good chance nobody will notice her anyway, even in the Occupy movement. But she is banking on the possibility of a mass liberal exodus from Obama, which is certainly not impossible, which naturally makes people look at the party of Ralph Nader. And all to promote her campaign which she has already admitted will not achieve electoral victory. But talking about her campaign as a national uniting of people with ideals isn't as exciting as talking about it as a way to end unemployment, war, and student debt.
The question is whether people will vote for the person who tells them what they want to hear. Again.