Jill Stein Offers To Give Up The Green Party Nomination For Bernie Sanders
No matter our personal feelings about Hillary Clinton and the shady dealings of her past and present, we all know the great risk we’d be running by not voting for her: namely being complicit in electing an anti-choice bigot. But despite this great risk, third parties are receiving more attention than ever in recent history, arguably because of populist, “anti-establishment” discontent raised by Bernie Sanders. And while Sanders is expected to endorse Clinton this week in New Hampshire, Green Party nominee Jill Stein offered Sanders her party’s nomination Friday.
“I’ve invited Bernie to sit down explore collaboration – everything is on the table,” Stein told The Guardian. “If he saw that you can’t have a revolutionary campaign in a counter-revolutionary party, he’d be welcomed to the Green Party. He could lead the ticket and build a political movement.”
For all the Sanders-esque reforms Clinton has adapted within her platform to court his most headstrong supporters, from adding tuition-free public college and a public healthcare option to her platform, throughout Sanders’ time on the campaign trail, many have pointed out how his platform more closely reflected Green Party values than it did Democratic ones. With Sanders at this point having essentially conceded, Stein told The Guardian “overwhelming” numbers of Sanders supporters have converted to the Green Party rather than back Clinton.
This assertion reflects relatively recent polling that found a staggering 45 percent of Sanders supporters refused to support Clinton in the general, and an even more recent poll by Reuters which found 21 percent of likely voters will back neither Clinton nor Trump and would like alternatives. Additionally, both Trump and Clinton are the least liked candidates in recent history, with 60 percent of Americans either “disliking” or “hating” them, according to an NBC News poll from May.
To many progressives, Clinton’s past is full of too many not-so-progressive stances and policies, and to Sanders-diehards and their populist economic ideals, specifically, Clinton’s past and present ties to corporate interests are a deal-breaker.
Stein reached out to Sanders at the end of primary season, and though she received no response, she hasn’t been shy about courting him and his supporters, and taking a very antagonistic stance toward the Democratic Party. Stein went as far as suggesting the Democratic Party conducted “psychological warfare” against Sanders and “sabotaged” his campaign. Additionally, Stein attacked Clinton’s record on environmental issues, calling her “the fracking queen,” and added, “As scary as Trump talks, Hillary has a scary record for warmongering.”
Stein told The Guardian she is confident that whether or not Sanders gets on board, her party has a viable “near term goal” to reach 15 percent popular vote mark that will allow a third party nominee to appear in a televised debate against nominees of the major parties. The Guardian reports Stein still may struggle to secure 5 percent, which would enable the Green Party to receive federal funding in the next election season.
Despite the fact that roughly 43 percent of Americans identify as Independent and oppose the two-party system, an estimate from 2015 that has likely only increased with all that’s happened over this past year, offering one’s vote to a third-party candidate is such a rare phenomenon because of how stigmatized it is. Voting for a third-party candidate, even if their platform better reflects voters’ values, is often cast as throwing one’s vote away or helping the other major party.
This line of thinking isn’t exactly untrue, and is certainly understandable given how dramatically different Democrats and Republicans are on such critical issues as abortion rights, LGBTQ rights, the environment, and foreign policy. But it ultimately explains why, as resented as the two-party system is, we’ve never been able to move away from it. Essentially, there is a substantial risk in voting third-party, especially this election season, but contrary to popular belief, given federal rules about third-party candidates who reach the 5 and 15 percent thresholds, it’s not exactly useless.
The closest we’ve come in recent history to moving away from the two-party system is arguably heightened awareness of the Democratic Party’s progressive shortcomings, raised by Sanders and his supporters, which is why Stein is so intent on winning him over. She’s even made it clear she isn’t above the use of emotional manipulation, essentially telling Sanders he’ll “leave many of his supporters very disappointed” if he supports Clinton, and that his beloved political movement can’t “bury itself in the graveyard alongside Hillary Clinton.”
Let’s all take a minute to consider the very difficult situation Sanders has been in since the end of the primary season. He’s bound to disappoint his most radical supporters if he supports Clinton, as Stein points out, but will also further earn the spite of Democratic allies, whose help he’ll need in Congress down the road, if he backs Stein and inadvertently helps Trump by splitting progressives.
Despite Stein putting everything on the table, Sanders is still expected to formally endorse Clinton at a joint rally this week. However, this shouldn’t disappoint Sanders supporters who know this is probably only happening due to a string of recent concessions by Clinton which Sanders has been campaigning for since day one.