Introducing The Next Generation Of Leaders And Thinkers

Affinity Interviews Jill Stein!

via Elle
via Elle

With the general election quickly approaching, millions of young voters still find themselves in a moral dilemma. Polls are showing that millennials are contemplating voting for third party candidates more than any other generation- and even those set on voting for Hillary Clinton feel they are choosing the “lesser of two evils”.

So, with that said, is voting for a third party candidate a valid choice? Affinity Magazine has offered both perspectives. But now, we are offering readers even more than the opinions of our writing staff.

We were able to speak with Dr. Jill Stein, the leader of the Green Party, over the phone and ask her about her experiences as a politician, her perspectives on hot button issues like the crisis in Syria and student debt, and how the Green Party is overcoming its media blackout. The questions were selected by Affinity’s writing staff as a whole — meaning they’re questions that young, progressive voters much like yourself care about. While our discussion was unfortunately brief, Jill graciously took time out of her jam-packed schedule to speak with us while waiting in the airport for a flight to another event, we hope that it will help our still undecided readers make an informed choice during what could be the most critical election of our lifetime.

Is Jill Stein a candidate worth your vote? Are her policies what’s best for America? Will voting third party actually hand the election to Trump? We can’t answer those questions for you, but we can answer some burning questions you may have about Jill Stein, the Green Party, and what’s at stake during this election.

Megan Hunt: The first question we have from our writers is, throughout your campaign and career, have you found that being a female politician has had any specific advantages or disadvantages?

Jill Stein: There are obviously challenges for women, and people of colour and immigrants because it is a very money-dominated, machine-dominated system, so it works very much against candidates who are not tools of the machine. But I never expected it to be easy, because it’s actually my mission to not fit in with the machine. I’m glad to be an outsider, fighting to reform a very corrupt system.

MH: Even though registered independents make up more of the voting block than Republicans and Democrats, third party candidates definitely see a lot less media attention. How do you think this influences the success of third party candidates, and how does your campaign try and overcome this problem?

JS: Yes, it certainly does create a problem. Donald Trump has received almost two billion dollars of free media. From the start, that’s what launched his campaign. Hillary Clinton for that matter has received almost a billion dollars. Bernie Sanders got half of what Hillary got, and of course, for independent candidates who are really trying to change the system, nothing. Nothing from big media. It’s a huge disadvantage, but the advantage we do have is that this is where the majority of the American people are, that are being thrown under the bus — on jobs, wages, student debt, police violence. So we’re very good company, being the outsiders for Americans. Millennials, as you know, are very good at networking on social media, and we are the only campaign that will cancel student debt, like we did for Wall Street. We want to do it for Wall Street’s victims, so you know, it’s kind of a self-propagating movement out there, and as word begins to get out, we’re really excited to see where we can take it.

MH: A lot of young people want to hear about your stance on issues that haven’t gotten a lot of attention in the mainstream media, and one of them is foreign policy. What is your stance on the Syrian refugee crisis?

JS: America played a huge role in creating this crisis. Syria is a really big part of the bigger crisis in the Middle East, and this is really a product of regime change, and these wars for oil, and the War on Terror that has really only brought on more terror. ISIS, for example, came out of the war on Iraq and al-Qaeda came out of US and Saudi policy in Afghanistan that basically created jihadi terrorism in order to fight the Russians in Afghanistan. So, US policy, along with our allies, which have been all about getting our hands on Middle East oil and securing very oppressive regimes to hold onto that oil have played a huge role in the crisis in Syria. (Jill had to abruptly end the first part of our two part phone call, literally to catch a flight, and her website claims that the Green Party’s official platform is to “make more aggressive use of executive authority to provide relief for refugees fleeing extreme violence”.)

MH: A question that’s been really common for both yourself and candidates like Bernie Sanders is, how do you expect to get these progressive, revolutionary ideas past a very conservative Congress? How is the Green Party planning on making real change should you be elected?

JS: The bottom line is, if we were to get elected, that would mean that a whole lot of people have become engaged. Unlike the current president, who had a lot of grassroots support, but when he actually got into the White House, he sort of put it on the shelf and went to work for Wall Street. We would be a very different administration, one that would be working for everyday people, and we would not let people off the hook. If you come out and vote, know that it doesn’t end on Election Day; you keep going because we have an agenda, and if you have millions of people who are not leaving their Congressmen and women alone, you know you change their vote. That’s what it takes to overcome the power of big money. With an organized movement, it can be done.

MH: Just to build off what you said about student debt, how does the Green Party approach making post-secondary education more affordable?

JS: Well, in our view, education is a right. It’s not a privilege, it’s a right, and in the twenty-first century, you need to have post-secondary education in order to really survive in the new economy. In the same way that parents don’t throw their children into the water and hope that they can swim, we owe it to our younger generations to actually provide the education that is essential to have a fighting chance. So that means college, vocational school or community college should be offered for free, there are countries around the world that already do that, and in fact we used to do that in this country, and it worked out great. We know from the GI Bill that followed the Second World War that it pays for itself. Seven dollars returned for every dollar put in. It’s nothing short of a conspiracy by the economic elites that kind of prevents this from happening, it’s really outrageous that it’s not provided. We, if we have the opportunity to serve, would make higher education free, but we would also cancel the student debt, because that was part of a bargain. Wall Street’s part of the bargain was to provide the jobs and have a decent economy for students to pay the debt back, but Wall Street crashed the economy with their waste, fraud and abuse and then our leaders felt it was necessary to bail out Wall Street. Now, it’s about time we bail out the victims of Wall Street. So we would do that through what’s called quantitative easing- that’s a little hat trick, a little magical trick- that was used to cancel the debt of Wall Street to the tune of about four trillion dollars, and student debt is a tiny portion of that. So, we can easily arrange to do that for young people, and it would be far better for the economy. Really, it would be a great stimulus for the economy, whereas bailing out the bankers was not. It simply enabled them to take more risks with taxpayer dollars. So this would be a good thing for the economy, and it would liberate a generation of young people who are already leading the way on social change, whether it’s Black Lives Matter, or immigrant rights or the climate justice movement. It’s really young people who have taken the charge, so society needs this to make progress. So this is a win-win to bail out young people- and another thing I should mention, there are 43 million people who are locked in student debt. That is a winning majority, that is a winning number in the Presidential race. That’s actually enough to win the race, by getting the word out to young people. Friends don’t let friend stay at home and in debt, when they could go out, spend an hour and vote, and cancel their debt. So we need to get the word out and create the voter revolt that they wouldn’t expect in a million years.

If you are curious about the Green Party’s other stances, you can find out more information at their website.

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