Cornel West Blasts Hillary Clinton And Endorses Green Party Candidate Jill Stein

Vocal civil rights activist Cornel West previously endorsed Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders for president early on in the Democratic race. Even after that fell through when Sanders lost the primary, he and West remained a team, fighting for their progressive agenda on the Democratic Party platform. But since, Sanders officially endorsed presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton last week after the former secretary of state adopted some of Sanders’ most important policy proposals, and West decided to follow a different path. Which takes us to West’s endorsement of the Green Party’s Jill Stein.

In an editorial by West published in The Guardian, he identified Stein as the “only progressive woman in the race,” and from there, the criticisms of Clinton only sharpened. West called the choice between Clinton and presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump a “lock-jaw situation,” properly identifying Trump as “a neo-fascist catastrophe,” and labeling Clinton “a neo-liberal disaster.” For clarification, the term “neo-liberal” is not a compliment to progressives, and refers to individuals who claim to support social progress but ignore how their support for fiscally conservative policies simultaneously undermine this.

“I have a deep love for my brother Bernie Sanders,” West wrote, offering some quick comfort to all of us who have found their bromance the only appealing aspect of the great roller coaster that has been election season. However, he proceeded to add: “But I disagree with him on Hillary Clinton. Her militarism makes the world a less safe place. Clinton policies of the 1990s generated inequality, mass incarceration, privatization of schools and Wall Street domination.”

It’s worth noting West ultimately abstained from the final vote on the Democratic Party platform, citing its “moral failures” on Palestine-Israel relations. And while Clinton has taken notable steps toward a more progressive platform, from pledging to end Citizens United and excessive money in elections to creating tuition-free public college and public healthcare plans similar to Sanders’, she’s previously promised a foreign policy more aggressive than President Obama’s, which West isn’t about to overlook.

Additionally, Clinton has offered minimal answers for her record of militarism in Latin America and the Middle East, and welfare and crime policies she’s historically supported that were disproportionately harmful to people of color, and West isn’t about to let her off the hook for that, either. “That’s why I am supporting Jill Stein. I am with her — the only progressive woman in the race — because we’ve got to get beyond this lock-jaw situation,” West wrote.

Stein, who has previously identified the Democratic Party as “counter-revolutionary,” claimed to be “honored” by West’s support in a statement released by her campaign, and identified him as “a great American intellectual activist who has tirelessly carried the torch passed by love warriors like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.” She added: “Dr. West’s truth-telling voice is especially needed now, with Americans across the country rising up against a morally bankrupt political system.”

West’s endorsement of Stein could potentially further complicate things among already conflicted progressive voters. Last month, nearly half of Sanders’ supporters refused to back Clinton in the general, but her policy changes and Sanders’ endorsement of her likely gave her a boost. Among millennials of voting age, however, a McClatchy-Marist poll found 15 percent supported Stein ahead of Sanders’ endorsement of Clinton, and it’s within the realm of possibility that Sanders’ endorsement of Clinton pushed some #NeverHillary folks over to Stein’s camp.

Former Green Party Presidential Nominee Makes Announcement On 2016 Race
CREDIT: Win McNamee/Getty Images

There’s no denying West made valid points about Clinton’s record in his endorsement of Stein, and that it’s problematic that so many situations in American politics hinge on choosing between “the lesser of two evils.” But for his own part, Sanders long ago promised to stand with the Democratic Party no matter who the Democratic nominee was at the end of the primary season, pointing out at the time that the differences between himself and Clinton were small relative to the differences between either of them and whoever the Republican nominee would be.

Here we are, less than four months away from the general. The Republican nominee is Trump, and Sanders’ rationale remains worth considering. No one’s denying that plenty of differences exist between Clinton and Stein — the question is whether or not those differences are worth a Trump presidency.