Jill Stein, Green Presidential candidate: a correctable mistake

Trump has defied the odds to become the Republican Presidential candidate in 2016, but that ensures that Clinton will win, right? Enter Jill Stein, Green Presidential candidate. Ralph Nader took votes only from the Democrat, Al Gore, causing the 2000 campaign to be knife-edge. This enabled reactionary judges to award the Presidency to George W. Bush. Bush was merely the front man for a posse who made the decisions. Nixon’s similarly dreaded Presidency was far more positive than expected despite ending in disgrace. He even almost managed to slip a Basic Income on to the statute book. Not a lot of people know that.

None of that reassures me. Jill Stein’s approach is almost identical to Nader’s: empowering the little guys as against the big ones, though Stein does lace it with more references than Nader did to Green issues. The 2000 mistake is about to be repeated with potentially far more disastrous results. Sanders has already said that he will not stand as an independent, for that reason. The crying shame is that Jill Stein’s Presidential run could be so different, with a vastly different outcome, so to pull out is not necessarily my plea to Jill Stein.

My one man campaign here in the UK to persuade Conservatives who are willing to pay a high price in return for a sustainable future, and to ask the Green Party to welcome them looks as forlorn as ever, but it has suddenly acquired urgency in the USA. Trump and Bernie Sanders demonstrate that there is a yearning for something different. A straight fight between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump would indeed probably end in a majority glumly voting for Clinton as the lesser of two evils, that not necessarily being too strong a description. But the campaign which Stein could run might produce an even more unexpected result.

Stein should lead with the Guaranteed, Citizens’ Basic Income. It should be in Stein’s portfolio anyway. Being drastically redistributive, it would fit naturally within her general message, but there is no mention of it. Instead, she would produce more jobs, not seeing the conflict between this aim and reducing CO2. But just as here in Britain, there are significant numbers who, like Tony Whittaker, one of the founders of the Green Party, did not identify with Thatcher or her successors,, there must be some Republicans who are worried by Trump, hence the unsafe assumption that he will fail as Barry Goldwater did in 1964. As in 1964, Trump’s apparent runaway success actually has quite a narrow base. Most voters will recognize that he is a loose cannon, who need keep none of his promises. The coalminers who must be made redundant on CO2 grounds, but whose jobs Trump has promised to save, will see the Basic income as a safer bet.

I make no apology for repeating what I have said many times.. One reason the Basic Income could transform American, indeed global politics, is because it allows market forces, a dreadfully ‘right’ wing’ idea, to make sense, for both neo-liberals and underdogs. The millions saddened by Sander’s gallant failure could all vote for Stein, if they could be assured that all Republicans who worry about Trump would do the same.

I must also remind readers that the Basic Income will make efforts to curb CO2 more realistic, which is what Green Parties were supposed to be about in the first place, because it allows growth as an unquestioned necessity to be – questioned. In Britain the ‘Limits‘  aspect gave the Green Party its biggest vote ever in 1989 – in Conservative areas. American Republicans may be more prone to climate denial, but are they all firmly convinced that there is no risk? It is precisely because Hillary Clinton is perceived as being flawed that Jill Stein may make serious inroads into her support, just as Sanders has done in the Primaries, but her present stance will not affect Trump’s vote.

There is a curious state of affairs which may have  some bearing on my apparently ridiculous suggestion. Guess where Ralph Nader gained 10% of the vote in 2000, far more than in any other state? Alaska, overwhwelmingly hard line Republican Alaska. As I say, there was little if any mention of Green issues, but Alaska has the Permanent Dividend Fund. This has a very different purpose from the Citizens’ Basic Income. It is the distribution to all citizens, including children, of a dividend from oil sales. Nevertheless as an unconditional payment to everyone, it has key features in common with its estranged cousin.  Whether cause or coincidence, Alaska vies with Utah as the most egalitarian state in the USA!

A Stein Presidency seems no more likely than a Trump Presidency did at the outset  of his campaign, or, for British readers, Corbyn’s huge successful margin did at the outset of his campaign, but at least Stein’s new stance featuring ‘market forces’ alongside redistribution would – no, will – reduce the risk of causing the worst of all possible outcomes.

 

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