The Democratic Party has not been progressive in decades.
That was the charge leveled by several Green Party members and Jill Stein supporters at their presidential candidate’s campaign stop at Capital University in Bexley on Friday. Stein delivered a speech, answered questions from the crowd and took a group selfie with supporters.
Wary of Hillary Clinton’s ties to Wall Street and what they considered a hawkish foreign policy by the former secretary of state, Green Party volunteers and members are hoping Stein will appeal to liberal voters who aren’t satisfied by the Democrats’ nominee.
“Clinton is a pro-war corporate capitalist, and (Republican presidential nominee) Donald Trump is a right-wing nationalist,” said Bob Fitrakis, co-chair of the Franklin County Green Party. “The Green Party is the only progressive party in the election.”
Stein, who arrived at 2 p.m. — two hours later than scheduled, after accidentally flying to Cincinnati instead of Columbus — addressed a crowd of about 150, focusing much of her speech on millennials, the economy and the environment.
“We need an economy based on people, not profit,” said Stein, touting her platform’s Green New Deal program, which ties economic, social and environmental concerns under one banner. “You need not just a job, but a job with a living wage.”
The Green New Deal lists jobs, education and health care as human rights. Stein offered guaranteed employment, free public higher education, debt-free private higher education and a public option for health care. Stein also called for a truth and reconciliation commission to address racial tensions and injustices.
Stein also used her time on the college campus to address student loans, which she intends to forgive.
“No civilization has ever survived by devouring its youngest generation,” she said.
Though the campaign stop fell into some far-left tropes — there was free vegan pizza, copious amounts of peace signs thrown and the Grateful Dead played over the speakers — the event was still heavy on policy.
“It’s time to end endless wars,” Stein said, taking issue with Clinton’s roles in US military intervention in Iraq and Libya, which she attributed to the rise of Islamic State.
Stein proposed to cut discretionary spending marked for the military by 50 percent, and instead spend that money elsewhere.
“Imagine cutting that budget, and making this country more secure with more jobs, hospitals and schools,” said Stein.
Stein is polling at 3.1 percentage points, according to a Real Clear Politics average of polls that also includes Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson, who is at 7.8 percentage points. Stein and Johnson are both challenging the Commission on Presidential debates, which requires candidates to be polling at 15 percent average. Both candidates are on the ballot in enough states to hypothetically win the presidency in November.
Jaime Kennedy, a first-year at Capital, said she’s voting for Stein not because she takes issue with the Democratic Party, which isn’t as far left as the Green Party, but because she doesn’t trust Clinton.
“I think she has good intentions, but there’s a lack of trust,” Kennedy said. Kennedy also said she was comforted with Stein’s stances on gun control, which she said she would increase at Friday’s event.
Kennedy readily acknowledged the difficulty Stein faces in getting elected.
“It’s difficult (for Stein to win) but if people don’t choose the lesser of two evils and pick Jill, Jill has a shot,” Kennedy said.
Though Stein said it’s an “election in which the old rules have been thrown out,” she also said she realizes the difficulty she faces getting to the White House.
“It’s possible, but it would be much more difficult,” Stein told The Lantern regarding getting elected if she doesn’t make it into the debates.
Still, she hoped she would not be passed over by voters.
“As a candidate, my burden is much smaller than young people, who are really confronting this rather hopeless future,” Stein told The Lantern. “So when people say (to me) there’s no chance, they’re saying to millennials there’s no chance you’re going to get out of debt, there’s no chance you’re going to get a job, there’s no chance you’re going to be able to afford health care, and I think that’s just unacceptable.”