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Jill Stein: Meet the White House hopeful stealing the hearts of Bernie supporters

Some Sanders supporters are switching their preference to the Green Party ahead of the November election.

Jill Stein campaigns in Philadelphia this week.
Jill Stein campaigns in Philadelphia this week.
Image: Associated Press

TWO OF THE biggest set-piece events of the US political cycle are over for another year – with the country’s main parties selecting two of the most divisive candidates for the presidency in recent history, at their respective conventions.

And while it’s all but certain that either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton will win November’s general election – it’s worth noting that there are a number of other candidates in the race for the White House.

Third (or fourth) party candidates haven’t had much of an impact on the race in the last few elections – at least, not since businessman Ross Perot claimed 19% of the popular vote back in 1992.

However, considering that so many voters are finding it difficult to countenance voting for either the Republican or Democrat candidate this time around, some political pundits reckon that could all change this year.

Gary Johnson, a former governor of New Mexico running under the Libertarian banner, was polling at 13% in a recent CNN poll, and is in with a chance of at least making an appearance at the marquee TV debates in the weeks before polling day.

And this week the Green Party’s Jill Stein – who’s polling in the single digits, but rising – made a passionate pitch for the votes of Bernie Sanders supporters, in a street rally outside the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.

Jill who? 

66-year-old Stein – a physician from Chicago – is making her second tilt at the presidency after winning around half a million votes in 2012.

A Harvard graduate with a long history of environmental activism, she was an elected official on the Lexington Town Meeting in Massachusetts between 2005 and 2011.

According to her website, Stein “became aware of the links between toxic exposures and illness emerging in the 1990s”.

From her biog:

She began to fight for a healthy environment as a human right, assisting non profits, community groups and Native Americans combating environmental injustice and racism in dangerous exposures like lead and mercury in air and water pollution, incinerators and landfills, toxic waste sites and more.

Jill_Charmaine_White_Face_Petuuche_Gilbert_-_about Source: Jill2016.com

A serial electoral candidate – amongst other campaigns, she’s taken on Mitt Romney for the Massachusetts state governorship (Romney won that one).

So far, Stein is on the ballot in 23 states for this year’s election – and is appealing for help getting herself included elsewhere (Johnson, the Libertarian candidate, is the only contender outside of the two main parties to make it onto the ballot in all 50 states).

What’s she campaigning on? 

Stein’s 12 key platform points cover everything from green jobs (no surprise there) to the economy and justice. For instance, she’d like to create “millions” of new jobs by transitioning to clean renewable energy by 2030 and “investing in public transit, sustainable agriculture, and conservation”.

Away from green issues, she also wants to break up “too big to fail” banks, end mass incarceration, expand women’s rights, “terminate unconstitutional surveillance” and end drone attacks.

No surprise then that she’s proving an attractive candidate for some liberal voters finding it difficult to come to terms with the fact that a certain senator from Vermont is no longer in the race.

The Bernie factor 

Stein spent three days in and around the Democrat convention venue in Philadelphia this week, making a pitch for the votes of disaffected supporters of Bernie Sanders, the self-described democratic socialist who lost out on the party’s nomination to Clinton.

“Your campaign lost in a rigged primary system with the Democratic National Committee and the corporate media in collusion with Hillary’s campaign,” she told a crowd of Sanders backers holding ‘Bernie or Bust’ placards, according to the Washington Times.

Do not go back into that campaign that has betrayed this movement.

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Hundreds braved poor weather to attend her events, the Times reported. And, to an extent, the message seems to be working.

“I’ll never vote for Hillary, I’ll vote for Jill Stein,” 66-year-old John Delahanty told AFP in Philadelphia this week.

To vote for the lesser of two evils is really a wasted vote. You’re not helping the democracy by doing that.

Patty Duffy, marching through the city with thousands of others in support of environmental policies, said she too was ready to cast her lot in with Stein and the Greens.

“I’m not scared of Trump, period,” Duffy insisted. ”I’m more scared of her [Clinton].”

We are no longer the Democratic Party we thought we were… We’ve got to go for somebody with principles.

Source: Fox Business/YouTube

Earlier this month The Guardian asked former Sanders backers how they planned to vote in November. 171 of 375 respondents said they intended to support Stein, more than double the number who said they would back Clinton.

That sample’s not necessarily reflective of a wider trend, however: a Pew poll found that 85% of Sanders supporters would opt for Hillary in the general election.

Some more left-leaning voters will no doubt be mindful of the impact Green candidate Ralph Nader had on the outcome of the 2000 election – when it’s claimed Nader’s presence on the ballot in Florida deprived Democrat Al Gore of the presidency (debate is still raging on that issue, it should be stressed).

Includes reporting from AFP.  

Read: Listen as Donald Trump challenges Russia to hack into Hillary Clinton’s emails >

Read: “The Democratic Party is in good hands” – Obama gives rousing endorsement of Clinton >

About the author:

Daragh Brophy

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