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Jill Stein is in the papers this week. She went to Standing Rock where thousands of Native Americans are protesting an oil pipeline, ignored the wishes and tactics of those Indians, and spray painted a bulldozer. Her Facebook page is filled with stories about her arrest, yet no stories about the pipeline or protest that don’t center her. It’s the kind of action one expects from white activists.
It’s also a perfect example of who Jill Stein is, and the shallow nature of her politics. Stein can recognize that a big for profit oil company, funded by big banks, running an environmental hazard through Native land, in advance of a law suit by the Standing Rock Souix Nation and a possible injunction, is a bad thing. But rather than asking the Souix people how she could best support their efforts, she spray painted a bulldozer and got arrested. It was a stunt, as surely as Trump handing out Play-Doh in flooded New Orleans.
Another thing Stein and Trump appear to share is a fictitious understanding of the powers and responsibilities of president. On the Platform page of Jill2016.com there are several promises that as president she would enact various laws, an impressive feat as legislation is the task of the legislative branch. Stein promises to pass the Employee Free Choice Act, a pro union bill with insufficient support in the House of Representatives. She also promises to cut military spending by 50%, yet Congress holds the nation’s purse strings.
In addition to speaking as if the president was the sole legislator, Stein seems to believe the president has the power to overturn Supreme Court rulings by fiat and declares she’ll throw out Citizens v. United and create a new amendment ensuring voting rights, all by herself. My tenth grade American Government teacher must be tearing his hair. What three branches of government? What checks and balances? Stein doesn’t seem to know.
Jill Stein promises jobs for everyone, “replacing unemployment offices with employment offices”, and the one and only mention of disabled people in her entire platform is an assurance that she would “oppose two-tier wage systems (e.g., for young people and individuals with disabilities)”. First, let’s take a moment to marvel at her use of ” person first” language that still omitted the word people. The concept of people who are not wage earners in the traditional capitalist system, like many mothers, caretakers, and disabled adults, does not even occur to her. Stein promises to end poverty by ensuring everyone has paid employment, perpetuating the devaluation of women’s labor.
Queer people get an equally brief and even more vacuous nod in her promise to ” protect LGBTQIA+ from discrimination.” That’s a nice sentiment/bit of ally performance art but it’s not exactly a clear vision. How exactly is she going to protect us? Is she going to override the will of states, Congress, and the Supreme Court to force through queer protection legislation? Is she going to make AirBnB hosts accept queer house guests? Is she going to personally patrol the alkleys outside our bars as a vigilante keeping us safe from violent homophobia? How exactly is she going to protect us?
For a politician supposedly opposed to American force against other governments, Stein still imagines she will be able to make sovereign nations, as well as Congress and the Supreme Court, do what she wants. “We should create a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East and require all nations in the area to join.” Because getting all the nations in that region to agree to things is super easy! Why hasn’t anyone thought of it before?!
Stein does not simply advocate for executive overreach within government, but within private sector affairs as well. She swears to “impose an immediate moratorium on foreclosures and evictions.” I’m sure she has images of big banks picking on dutiful homeowners as she says this, and not roommates turned squatters, or abusive partners. The fact is there are many legitimate and lawful causes for eviction and foreclosure and total bans, particularly without exit plans, are a symptom of rigid, inflexible, simplistic thinking.
In addition to promising illegal acts of benevolent dictatorship and sharing fanciful delusions of grandeur, Stein vows to do useless and contradictory things. She swears to both outlaw pesticides and encourage organic farming, a combination that yields inedible crops. She also vows to require GMO labels and “put a moratorium on GMOs and pesticides until they can be proven safe.” The problem is GMOs already have been.
Jill Stein was an environmental activist working at the local level when she was her most effective. The Green Party did the world no favors by having her run in failed election after failed election, at the district, state, and national level. Her problem is not that she is third party. It’s that her ideals are not policy. Stein has not pored over the boring, dull, nitty gritty details of governance. She hasn’t even got the basics down. In that she is the anti-Hillary: unapologetically incompetent and ineffective.