Diane talks with Mary McCord, Legal Director at the Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection and Visiting Professor of Law at Georgetown University Law Center.
Guest Host: Susan Page
When Green Party candidate Jill Stein ran for president in 2012, she walked away with .36 percent of the vote. In this election season, she’s found renewed support from voters dissatisfied with both major political parties and Washington as a whole – especially from disillusioned Bernie Sanders supporters. Since June, she’s risen from 2.5 to 3.5 percent in the presidential polls, according to RealClear Politics. The doctor-turned-activist and politician talks with guest host Susan Page about the 2016 presidential race and running as a third-party candidate.
- Dr. Jill Stein Presumptive Green Party nominee for president; political activist; former doctor and instructor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. She was the Green Party's nominee for president in 2012.
MS. SUSAN PAGEThanks for joining us. I'm Susan Page of USA Today sitting in for Diane Rehm. She'll be back tomorrow. At their conventions in Cleveland and Philadelphia, Democrats and Republicans talked about revolutionizing American politics as they nominated Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump for president. But never before have the major party presidential candidates been so unpopular with votes. That's fueling the hopes of Libertarians, the Green Party and others.
MS. SUSAN PAGEJoining me to talk about the role of their parties in American politics and in this particular election, Hans Noel, an associate professor of government at Georgetown University, Clare Foran, associate editor at The Atlantic and Clifford Young, president of IPSOS Public Affairs. Welcome to "The Diane Rehm Show"
MR. HANS NOELThanks for having us.
MR. CLIFFORD YOUNGThanks for having us.
MS. CLARE FORANThank you.
PAGEFirst, we're going to be joined by phone from Massachusetts by Jill Stein, the presumptive presidential nominee of the Green Party. She is a former physician and instructor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. Thanks so much for joining us today.
DR. JILL STEINGreat to be with you.
PAGENow, we're just through with the conventions for the Democrats and the Republicans. You have the Green Party convention coming up this week, right?
STEINThat's right, in Houston.
PAGEAre you going to win the nomination?
STEINIt looks that way. I have, I'm told, about 80 percent of the delegates so there's not a whole lot of controversy about this one.
PAGESo 80 percent, that sounds pretty strong. Now, you ran for president on the Green Party line before, four years ago in 2012, but I think probably a lot of our listeners aren't really familiar with you in your background. You're a doctor, left medicine for politics. Tell us a little about yourself.
STEINThat's right. I used to practice clinical medicine for decades, actually, taking care of everyday people. Now, I say I'm practicing political medicine instead of clinical medicine because it's the mother of all illnesses and we've got to fix this political disease so we can get down to fixing the things that threaten life, limb and even survival. That includes war, poverty and climate change, as well as our physical health.
PAGESo you had been a Democrat. Why did you leave the Democratic Party?
STEINSo I was never an active Democrat. I voted Democratic, but I was not an active participant. I was many -- I was one of these many people who, basically, don't have a lot of faith in our political parties and to me, they had always seemed kind of a world apart from everyday people and our concerns. I was actually recruited to run for office late in life, at the age of 50. As a physician, I found myself increasingly not happy, simply giving people pills and procedures and pushing them out the door to the things that are making us sick, everything from a sick food system to air pollution to poverty and so on.
STEINAnd I became involved with communities in the fight to help clean them up, to fight environmental racism, to fight coal plants, to clean up toxic waste sites and so on. And it was in doing that work that I actually got recruited by the Green Party to run. There was one thing in particular that really sort of solidified my growing relationship with the Green Party and that is when we passed campaign finance reform here in Massachusetts and it was a broad coalition of a variety of public interest groups, including public health, labor, environment, worker's rights, et cetera, women's rights.
STEINWe all got together and we thought, well, let's get this demon out of our political system. We passed public financing as a referendum, which passed overwhelmingly by a two to one margin. But after it was passed, it was repealed on a voice vote by the Democratic legislature. And for me, that was sort of the last straw that confirmed that, you know, change was not going to happen inside of a political party that saw fit to overrule the will of the people in getting big money out of politics in order to let the people back in.
PAGENow, campaign finance reform, of course, that's an issue, a signature issue for Bernie Sanders in the campaign. He waged -- are you pretty much in line with where Bernie Sanders was on various issues?
STEINFor the most part, yes. For both of our campaigns, the major issue is creating an economy that works for everyday people, that's not rigged on behalf of the bankers and the billionaires and getting money out of politics so that our policies are not basically controls from inside by the big banks, by the fossil fuel giants, by the war profiteers so that we can have an economy that works for everyday people. And that includes not only good jobs -- and in our campaign we call for the right to a job for everyone.
STEINIn fact, we call for a Green New Deal, like the New Deal that got us out of the Great Depression. And we're similar with Bernie in also calling for a right to healthcare through a Medicare for all system and for calling for a right to free public higher education. We go further in actually calling for free -- cancelling student debt like we cancelled the debt of the bankers. We basically bailed out the big banks on Wall Street. We call for doing the same for a generation of young people held hostage by student loan debt without the jobs to get us over it.
STEINWe also differ in our -- sort of our economic solutions. Bernie also called for creating jobs. We call for actually creating 20 million jobs, an emergency program to address the emergency of the climate crisis as well as the emergency of the economy. And, in fact, we call for 100 percent clean renewable energy by 2030, which is truly an emergency program. It will require a wartime scale mobilization. But we actually recognize, as the science would say, that we do have a climate emergency that requires extraordinary action if we are to, in fact, change our course, because currently, we are increasing the rate at which we are plunging towards climate change, increasing the rate of fossil fuel emissions and poisons in the atmosphere and so on.
STEINSo we call for, you know, an agenda for people, planet and peace over profit.
PAGESo you were in Philadelphia making appeals to Bernie Sanders supporters who were disappointed that Hillary Clinton was the nominee of the Democratic party. And when Donald Trump was asked about the appeals that you were making to voters, he said, I think a vote for Stein would be good because I figure anyone voting for Stein is going to be for Hillary so I think a vote for Stein is fine. Any concerns that you could have the effect of electing Donald Trump by draining votes from Hillary Clinton?
STEINWell, I think it's important to recognize that Hillary and Donald, for that matter, are the most disliked and untrusted candidates in our history for president. And, in fact, they don't have the public votes to take away from them and, in fact, the public is clamoring for other choices and other voices. My campaign is the only one in this race that's actually not poisoned by lobbyist money, by corporate money, or by superPACs and this is actually what the American people are clamoring for, an honest broker that can actually go to work for them, that can support the kinds of policies that I alone have the ability to advance in this race because I'm not accountable to the big money donors.
STEINSo I think it's actually wrong to tell people when they are clamoring for something else that they should, you know, sort of go along to get along and just accept the same parties that have been throwing people under the bus. You know, some of the Clinton policies, which, again, we passed by Bill, but supported and advocated for by Hillary, you know, these are some of the worse policies that have created the economic misery that most people are dealing with right now and that includes NAFTA and it includes Wall Street regulation.
PAGERight. So do you think Trump and Clinton are basically equivalents so they're both -- represent parties that you think are not speaking for Americans and so it doesn't matter which one gets elected?
STEINYou know, I think it does matter. I mean, I think either of them being elected means more of the same, when we actually cannot tolerate more of the same. You know, Trump talks despicable talk. The language of the Democrats and Hillary is much, you know, it's much more civil and respectful and, in fact, you know, it's persuasive and it appears to be humane. But, in fact, if you look at the policies of the Clintons, you know, Hillary and Bill lead the way to dismantle the social safety net for poor women and children.
STEINThey dismantled aid to families with dependent children. They lead the way or they, you know, they supported NAFTA, along with the Republicans, of course, but they were party to it as well and Bill Clinton signed it. They have been leading the charge, that is the Democrats and Hillary, have been leading the charge for the Transpacific Partnership, although Hillary has waffled on that. But even her good friend, Terry McAuliffe, says that she will be back supporting it again when she gets in.
STEINSo, you know, my point is this politics of fear that tells you to vote against your fear instead of for what you believe, that strategy has actually delivered everything we were afraid of, all reasons people were told to vote their lesser evil, we've actually gotten from the expanding and endless wars, the attack on our civil liberties, on immigrants, the Wall Street bailouts. The system is not working for us. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We say forget the lesser evil. It's a propaganda campaign. Forget the lesser evil and fight for the greater good like our lives depend on it 'cause they do.
PAGEWe are just about out of time. I wanted to just ask you very quickly, we've gotten a lot of readers asking us for your views on vaccines because of a piece you wrote in The Washington Post the other day. Can you tell us just very quickly where you stand on the issue of vaccines?
STEINYes. Now, I've been pretty clear. I support vaccinations. I vaccinate my family, my kids. They're grown now, but you know, vaccinations are a fundamental piece of our public health infrastructure. What I have a problem with is an FDA that people don't trust because we have the, you know, the revolving door and the influence, the outside influence of industry. In order to increase our vaccination rates, we need to clean up the FDA and stop the revolving door. Not only in the FDA, but in all of our regulatory agencies.
PAGEI'm sorry that we're out of time. Jill Stein, thank you so much for joining us on "The Diane Rehm Show" this morning.
STEINGreat being with you. Thanks so much.
PAGEWe'll be right back.
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