Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein says that for voters turned off by Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump, it's time to consider an alternative.
Stein, a doctor and environmental advocate who also headed the Green Party ticket in 2012, talked with Weekend Edition ahead of her campaign visit to New Hampshire.
Another presidential candidate was in New Hampshire not so long ago - Hillary Clinton was in Portsmouth accepting the endorsement of Bernie Sanders, a candidate for whom you once offered to step aside. You're now saying Sanders supporters should support you instead of the candidate he's backing. Why?
Because they don't want their hard work and all that they've accomplished over this past year to go back into the graveyard of the Democratic Party. It's very hard to have a revolutionary campaign in a counter-revolutionary party, and I think it would be too bad to wind up behind a candidate who unfortunately represents the opposite of what that movement is about.
So many have looked to my campaign to be Plan B in the event that they wound up faced with Hillary Clinton as the prospect of their candidate. It wasn't something that I had to suggested; it's just been pushed ahead by the members of the Sanders campaign who've really been looking for another place to go to make sure that their work continues and that they achieve this transformation of our economy and of our society that we desperately need and that people are demanding.
A look through your campaign platform finds things like a major push for clean energy job, opposing the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a $15 an hour minimum wage. Some of these are things you'll also find in the latest version of the Democratic Party platform, which Democrats are calling the most progressive platform the party's ever produced. But you're saying that's not the whole story.
I'm afraid not. The platform is a nonbinding document to start with, so this has been, I think, a diversion from the reality. Hillary Clinton has a very clear track record - the candidate of Wall Street, of Wal-Mart and what that represents about the economy, and of war. Hillary Clinton has really been leading the charge on all of those fronts - dismantling the social safety net for women and children, together with her husband, Bill, with whom she's been a political prisoner. Leading the charge for NAFTA and exporting our jobs. Leading the charge to deregulate Wall Street, that laid the groundwork for this unbelievable Wall Street meltdown that disappeared 9 million jobs and stole 5 million homes. And it's really created the climate of austerity and economic struggle that everyday people are faced with.
When Bernie gave his endorsement to Hillary, what he was basically saying is, isn't it great that she's not Trump? But he didn't have a whole lot of great things to say about Hillary because Hillary represents very much the opposite of what Bernie committed to. My agenda continues Bernie's and, in fact, it extends it. We call for 100 percent clean, renewable energy by 2030, which is the realistic timeframe if we are to stop climate catastrophe. We call for 20 million jobs; that's the number we actually need in order to put everyone back to work in this emergency jobs program, to solve the emergency of climate change. We also go further, calling for a foreign policy based on international law and human rights, rather than a foreign policy that is blowing back at us badly now, of economic and military domination, essentially a war on terror that has created more terror with each turn of the cycle of violence.
We're saying, in this race, it's time to forget the lesser evil and stand up and fight for the greater good, like our lives depend on it. Because they do.
Your New Hampshire schedule includes a march with supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement in Manchester. We're barely a week away from the deaths of Alton Sterling in Louisiana, Philando Castile in Minnesota and five police officers in Dallas. What, if anything, can be done so that we don't have another week like that?
We've had one week after another like that, and one day after another like this, and a total of deaths now at the hands of police, this year alone, that's approaching 600. This is the rule and not the exception for what police brutality looks like. It's been an incredible week because it was really up close and personal with these horrifying videos of what actually happened to Alton Sterling and to Philando Castile. It's important that we use this moment, this incredible moment of shock and mourning, including the blowback against the Dallas Police, so it's important that we do something different here.
First of all, we call for enacting the recommendations of the commission coming out of Ferguson, which is that we need citizen-based police review boards. In addition, we call for full-time investigators so that we have accountability, so that every case of death at the hands of police or in police custody is investigated as a matter of routine, that doesn't require a miracle from the Department of Justice in order to find out what happened and to hold any perpetrators accountable. In addition, we call for a truth and reconciliation commission to deal with the living legacy of the criminal institution of slavery, because there's been a continuous line from slavery to lynching to Jim Crow, the war on drugs which has been a war on black and brown people, segregation, police violence, mass incarceration, et cetera. This is something we need to understand and we need to address the violence of racism that is not limited to these interactions with police. This happens within our economy, within our health system, within our schools and housing. It really requires a comprehensive solution - it's not rocket science, we can do this - but as a society we need to get our hands around it and understand it and fix it.
You've said that "in times of great social upheaval, third parties are critically important." In history, third parties have often disappeared after influencing the two major parties. Is your goal to influence the major parties or to introduce the Green Party as a third major party?
The public is clamoring for an independent major party, one that's not corrupted by lobbyists, by corporate contributions, for super PACs. Right now I'm the only candidate in the race that brings that to the table. This is exactly what people are clamoring for. At the same time, people have rejected these candidates that they dislike and distrust at record levels. Remember, there are 42 million young people - and not-so-young people - trapped in predatory student loan debt. I'm the only candidate that will cancel that debt like we did for the crooks on Wall Street. 42 million people looking for a solution is actually enough to win a three-way presidential race. So I would say, hold onto your hat. We may look at a voter revolt that is well in the works if people find out about our campaign.
I'm also the only candidate who will be talking about Medicare for all, and a single-payer system, that the state of Vermont has been leading the charge on. So I encourage people: join the team, come to our website, make sure that we have a voice for single-payer and for an economy that works for all of us in the debates. We can get to 15 percent [the threshold for debate inclusion]; we've gotten halfway there without any help, really, from the corporate media whatsoever, just by word of mouth, by everyday people, by Bernie supporters and by young people standing up to say, this is the future we deserve and we want it now.