Why We Must Have a Green Party Candidate in 2020

In One Chart.

During a recent interview on Fox News, Nomiki Konst outlined why she supports Bernie Sanders for 2020:

“He has a movement of millions of working activists across America who are ready to fight, and have been fighting, for things like Medicare for all, cancellation of student debt and a Green New Deal.”

Nomiki Konst is that rare breed of Democratic Party insider that I really like. She has been a member of the Democratic National Committee Platform Committee, and the Democratic Unity Reform Commission. She was a surrogate for Bernie Sanders, and served as an occasional host for the Young Turks Network. She knows her stuff. When she speaks of the “millions of activists,” I am inclined to agree. But I have a problem with her statement.

Medicare for all. Cancellation of student debt. A Green New Deal.

This was not Sanders’ platform in 2016. It was Jill Stein’s 2016 platform.

Yes, Sanders and Stein both supported Medicare for all, but Sanders failed to counter the “how do you pay for it?” argument by tackling the bloated billions squandered on the Pentagon. They diverged even more sharply on the other two points. While Stein proposed a total cancellation of student debt, Sanders’ 2016 platform was clearly against this. He would only “ALLOW AMERICANS TO REFINANCE STUDENT LOANS AT TODAY’S LOW INTEREST RATES.” Where the Stein campaign pushed explicitly for the Green New Deal, a federal program that would guarantee jobs to all Americans by converting our national infrastructure to 100% renewable energy (and make the Pentagon pay!), Sanders’ “Rebuild America Act” only tinkered around the edges.

But Nomiki hits on a critical point, that there are millions of activists ready to fight for these policies. So if Sanders runs again, I have no doubt that he will take them up in some form. These and other policies at the heart of the Green Party platform are wildly popular among Americans at large. People just never knew they even had the opportunity to vote for them.

Jill Stein was the first candidate in a presidential General Election to campaign on eliminating student debt (2016) and the Green New Deal (2012, 2016), while Medicare for all has been a staple of every Green presidential campaign. No Democratic nominee in the modern era has ever done that. Same for marriage equality, ending NAFTA, and ending the War on Drugs.

The Polls tell the story.

A recent poll of 966 registered voters conducted by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication gives a perfect illustration. A whopping 81% of respondents supported the Green New Deal — when it was described to them. But 82% of those respondents had never heard of it. To put it simply, when Americans learn what Green policies are, they love them. The 2020 Green Party presidential campaigns are where they will hear about them.

So Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez won a stunning victory campaigning in part on the Green New Deal, a key point in her platform. Where did she get it from? Not from Bernie Sanders. Not from Elizabeth Warren. Most certainly not from Hillary Clinton. The Green New Deal came to her — either directly or indirectly — from Jill Stein, who has been talking about it since Cortez was 21 years old.

Bernie Sanders and Ralph Nader had been political allies until 1996. That year, Sanders broke with Nader to support Bill Clinton, while Nader ran on Medicare for all, free college, a living wage, and ending the trade deals. It was only 20 years later that Sanders caught up with the Green Party. Such has been the pattern for decades.

Consider the following table:

Issue Adopted by
Democratic
Nominee
Adopted by Green Nominee Issue
Currently
Polls at:
Medicare for All Never Ralph Nader (1996, 2000)
David Cobb (2004)
Cynthia McKinney (2008)
Jill Stein (2012, 2016)
70%
Free College Never Ralph Nader (1996, 2000)
Jill Stein (2012, 2016)
60%
Living Wage
(adjusted for inflation)
Never Ralph Nader (1996, 2000)
David Cobb (2004)
Cynthia McKinney (2008)
Jill Stein (2012, 2016)
63%
End NAFTA Never Ralph Nader (1996, 2000)
David Cobb (2004)
Cynthia McKinney (2008)
Jill Stein (2012, 2016)
None available
Abolish ICE Never David Cobb (2004)
Cynthia McKinney (2008)
Jill Stein (2012, 2016)
32%
Break Up Big Banks Never Jill Stein (2012, 2016) 58% (2015)
Legalize Marijuana Never David Cobb (2004)
Cynthia McKinney (2008)
Jill Stein (2012, 2016)
61%
End War on Drugs Never Ralph Nader (1996, 2000)
David Cobb (2004)
Cynthia McKinney (2008)
Jill Stein (2012, 2016)
None available
Green New Deal Never Jill Stein (2012, 2016) 81%
End Foreign Wars Obama (2008) Ralph Nader (1996, 2000)
David Cobb (2004)
Cynthia McKinney (2008)
Jill Stein (2012, 2016)
None available
Marriage Equality Never Ralph Nader (1996, 2000)
David Cobb (2004)
Cynthia McKinney (2008)
Jill Stein (2012)
N/A

The corporate media can be counted on to try to bury the Green Party, to keep it from getting its message to the American people. Whoever we nominate in 2020, the Green Party — 100% corporate influence-free — can be counted on to stay on the right side of history and put its solutions before the American people. As shown above, our policies have now gone mainstream. You can count on our continuing to develop sound, innovative, policies that will address the housing and homelessness crisis, mass-incarceration-for-profit, violence against the Black community and the financialization of our economy. The pundits will ignore us, even vilify us, and encourage you to do the same.

Some of the best of the Democrats will even be running on some of Jill Stein’s 2012 platform. But what will be left after they have gone through the Democratic Primary meat-grinder? You can count on the Green Party to take it all the way.

I will finish with a quote from Cenk Uyger. Uyger is the founder and face of the Young Turks, a large online media network that bills itself as the “Home of Progressives.” Although the Young Turks was one of the few networks to give any airtime to Jill Stein, they ended up urging their viewers to vote for Clinton. Last September, Uyger reflected on an interview he had done with Stein during the 2016 campaign:

“When Jill Stein came on the program in 2016 and I interviewed her about her presidential run, she said one of her policy planks was just getting rid of all the student debt in the country. Not just college for all like with the Bernie Sander’s program. No, the federal government had to just pay off the student debt, the $1.5 trillion. I have to be honest with you I thought that was crazy … But now, look at the situation we’re in. They just passed a tax cut for the rich that is at last estimate $1.9 trillion … The Fed apparently had $4.5 trillion to print to give to the bankers. If we’re subsidizing the rich and subsidizing the bankers, why can’t we get rid of this albatross around our neck, which would actually help the economy far, far more?”

You said it, Cenk! A radical solution would have been a good idea. Stein 2016! And I say it now, Green Party 2020! Radical times demand radical solutions. Besides, if the Greens don’t run in the 2020 presidential, what ideas will the Dems have to steal for 2024?

— LeBeau Kpadenou
Co-Chair, Green Party of Florida
January 12, 2018