‘When Plan A Meets Plan B: Talking Politics and Revolution with the Green Party’s Jill Stein’

jill stein
(Forgiveness being more easily obtained than permission, I hope Paul Street won’t mind my using so much of his interview with Stein; it’s not at BAR yet, where everything is listed as Creative Commons.  It’s so long, even though I snipped out a hella lot.)

Sanders v. Stein: Looking Beneath Bernie’s “Revolution”

“Okay, so what,” I asked Dr. Stein – playing devil’s advocate from Iowa – “about Bernie? Sanders says he’s for single-payer health insurance, big green jobs programs, tackling climate change, a significantly higher federal minimum wage, serious campaign finance reform, and a financial transaction tax along with the other forms of genuine progressive taxation. He even sometimes calls himself a ‘democratic socialist.’ What’s the problem here? Why not just line up behind Bernie?”

Stein praises Sanders for “giving voice and legitimacy” to key majority-progressive policy sentiments but asks a basic and critical question: “how long will a campaign calling for ‘revolution’ be tolerated by a counter-revolutionary party?” She elaborates:

“Whether our campaign is a Plan B for Bernie supporters when the [corporate-Democratic Party] empire strikes back [a process now underway – P.S.] or whether we’re Plan A because we need a real movement that is independent of the corporate interests that dominate the Democratic Party from top to bottom, it’s important to ensure that this revolution lives on in way that is deep and that will grow strong …and you really have to discount the last decades of experience to think that the Democratic Party is going to just roll over and allow this to happen…Many of our supporters are backing both campaigns and that’s just fine, but you don’t want to pledge allegiance to a Democratic Party that is at best, even under Sanders, pushing for a military budget that is bankrupting us financially and morally, a war on terror that is creating more terror, and treating the Saudis like they’re the solution rather than a cause of terrorism.”

Sanders has endorsed Obama’s disastrous, jihad-fueling drone war program and “doesn’t stand up to the [Orwellian national security] deep state,” Stein notes. “Bernie treats Edward Snowden like a criminal rather than a hero.” Sanders backed the F-35 fight jet boondoggle on the grounds that it would create jobs in his state, a striking expression of his commitment to military Keynesianism (employed to undermine social-democratic welfare-state Keynesianism after World War II). And Sanders “supports governments that commit egregious human rights abuses,” including Israel, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia, the most reactionary government on Earth, which fuels terrorism across the world. Bernie’s “treatment of the Palestinians” is horrific, Stein notes.

“Does Sanders fail to seriously confront the Pentagon System,” I asked Dr. Stein, “because he is himself a loyal man of U.S. global Empire?”

“Who knows what goes on in his head?” Jill Stein answered. The “reality is that he supports the war on terror,” which has “cost $6 trillion over the past fifteen years. That’s $75,000 per household…That’s why we need a real revolution, a deep revolution against the military industrial complex (MIC).”

Stein’s differences with Sanders go beyond his commitment to global empire, the surveillance state and the MIC. Where Sanders merely wants to audit the Federal Reserve, Stein calls for its nationalization.

Sanders is a longstanding supporter of high-stakes standardized testing in K-12 education, something Stein rejects as part of the corporate class’s anti-teacher, anti-democratic, and anti-intellectual schools-privatization agenda.

Sanders calls for free college tuition but does not fully tackle “the continuing enslavement of a generation to predatory student debt.” Stein calls for the abolition of that debt. “We did it for the bankers whose waste, fraud, and abuse crashed the economy…isn’t it time,” she asks, “to do the same for the victims?”

(a paragraph on Sanders ‘covering for ObamaCare)

And she notes – no small matter – that Bernie’s progressive if flawed domestic policy agenda cannot be paid for unless and until the United States drastically slashes its giant “defense” (empire) budget, which accounts for half the world’s military spending and 54% of US federal discretionary spending. That is a step that Sanders has shown no sign of wanting to take.

(then a section “They Find a Way to Stop Rebels in Their Ranks” including this)

“The Democrats, Stein also noted, “have a very effective kill switch when it comes to destroying progressive campaigns, whether deeply progressive or moderately progressive. Whether it’s the ‘Dean Scream’ or the smear campaign against Jesse Jackson or redistricting Dennis Kucinich, they find a way to stop rebels in their ranks. If, I should say when that happens with Bernie, our campaign is here.”

(a Lesser Evilism Has a Track Record including this snippet):

“The Lesser Evil argument has failed,” Stein notes. “It has a track record. And what have we gotten from it? The politics of fear” has under Obama “delivered everything we’re afraid of”: Wall Street bailouts, endless war, further climate meltdown, escalated attacks on civil liberties, persistent rampant institutional racism within and beyond the criminal justice system. The once supposedly antiwar Obama has intensified America’s disastrous imperial presence in the Middle East and overseen drastically escalated U.S. military incursions across Africa. He is dangerously provoking China with his (and Hillary’s) “pivot to Asia.” Now “he wants to quadruple the US military budget in Europe to intimidate Russia,” a nuclear power with real reasons to fear U.S-led NATO expansion in Eastern Europe. [snip]

With the Teapublican right wing victories of 2010 and 2014, the corporate Democrats under Obama helped create their own excuse for failing to advance a progressive agenda: newly empowered Republican “obstruction” in Congress.

(Stein on Beyond Simple Identity Politics of the female and the Negro sort)

 “State of Emergency”

Democracy,” Jill Stein told me, “needs a moral compass” [snip]

“And furthermore,” Stein adds, “we’re running out of time…we have to block the corporate stranglehold” on U.S. politics “because the clock is ticking.” Stein mentions three core crises. The first is the “the next crash,” which will result from a “financial situation” that is “more ominous than 2008” since “the banks are much bigger, more leveraged, more corrupt, and more concentrated” than even before. Forget the bailout. Now the nation’s leading financial institutions are “ready to do the BAIL-IN,” that is, to “seize whatever little security the average family has left.

Wd here: echoing The Public Banking Institute’s Ellen Brown)

The second is anthropogenic climate change, brought to us courtesy of the predatory-capitalist carbon-industrial complex. “We don’t have very long, maybe a couple of decades before we are looking at the breakup of the ice sheets,” Stein told me, citing the latest Earth science and adding that we could well see a 20-30-foot rise in sea levels by 2050. “This is a not a hit we can survive. We are well into the sixth great extinction, which we also will not survive.”

“We are in a state of emergency and it requires a new way of thinking and political independence to stand up not just for what we can get but what must have if we are to survive as a human species, as a biosphere. …It’s now or never. This is our Hail-Mary moment.” We are approaching an existential chasm: we either take the deeply-revolutionary leap or its game over. The need to address climate change is humanity’s pass-fail moment.”

The “Catastrophism” Charge: “Just Dumb”

What, I asked Dr. Stein, about the argument some “Marxists” have made that such fears about climate change are an exercise in neurotic, politically self-defeating, and paralysis-inducing “catastrophism”? She reached back to her clinical past to give what I think is the perfect, bulls-eye response. “Patients,” Stein reflected, “have a right to know what they’re facing. As a doctor you wouldn’t just throw a diagnosis at people without a treatment plan. The ‘catastrophism’ charge is just dumb. You cannot fight life-threatening illnesses or life-threatening environmental problems or militarism or the rest unless you’re clear about both the extent of the problem and how to fix it.

A key thing “left” critics of “catastrophism” fail to appreciate, Stein added, is that climate change is “eminently fixable.” Affordable technologies and methods for a sustainable, zero-carbon renewable economy are now in place. The real problem is political – the “corporate stranglehold” and “oligarchy” that we can break by going beyond the self-fulfilling “politics of fear” to form a great independent social and political movement for transformative social, political, economic, and environmental justice.

Wd here: Now that’s one place she loses me: the Green Cornucopiaists forget to factor in too many climate-toxic externalities of those technologies, as well as the bolded incomplete Van Jones mention downstream.)

(a section on The Working Class and the Green Agenda, including this):

I asked Dr. Stein about the skittishness that many in the labor movement and working class feel about environmentalism thanks to decades of business propaganda claiming that policies favorable to livable ecology will destroy jobs. “No problem,” Stein replied, noting that the Green Party’s centerpiece policy agenda, the Green New Deal, includes “full employment with good wages in lines of work that are actually good for you and good for the community and the planet.”

Stein recently went to Texas to support striking oil workers. She found “fossil fuel workers” very enthusiastic about the notion “of a good job that isn’t going to kill them.” Workers in oil and gas drilling and fracking face significantly increased mortality risks due to the carcinogenic nature of their tasks. “We put their health up front.”

Moreover, the conversion from a rapaciously extractivist carbon-burning economy to one based on wind, water, and solar power and sustainable practices will be a big job-creator. That’s something that Van Jones has gotten right even if he has foolishly subordinated his politics to the Lesser Evilism of the Democrats.   “A dollar spent on renewable energy and conservation creates three jobs compared to one job created for every dollar spent on fossil fuels,” Stein notes.

The Green New Deal is a “three-fer,” attacking the intimately interrelated economic and ecological crises at one and the same time while rolling back the military and security state that feeds perpetual war and economic inequality.

Immigration: “We’re Going to Stop Causing It”, a snippet:

“People ask me ‘what are you going to do about immigration?’ I say we’re going to stop causing it…though wars and NAFTA, the war on drugs, coups, and military interventions…We need to connect the dots” on U.S. policy, “free trade,” global poverty, and migration, Stein says, adding that “people are not stupid. They can and will get it when you make the connections.”

(then: Reasons for Hope: “The Floodgates Are Going to Open(well, we’ll see about her Hopium™…) including:

Most Americans, Stein notes, have long told pollsters that two parties are not enough to represent the true spectrum of opinion in the country. And “when Bernie begins to be marginalized by the Democrats and people begin to see the true colors of the Democratic Party,” Stein says, “the floodgates are going to open” for independent and progressive political activity outside the reigning Business and War parties.

Hillary Clinton, Stein agrees with me, has considerably less capacity to deceive and bamboozle progressive and young voters than Barack Obama enjoyed in 2007-08. “Obama,” Stein notes was fairly new on the scene. Hillary,” by contrast, “has been a warmonger who never found a war she didn’t love forever!”

A lot of young adults may be “wild about Bernie” right now, Stein says, but the passion will fade as they “go through the ringer” for the first time. They face a useful lesson when the nominal democratic socialist Sanders tells (as promised) his followers to vote for the dismal, demobilizing dollar Democrats.

After Pearl Harbor, Dr. Stein notes, the U.S. took just six months to convert to a full-blown war economy to help defeat the leading global threat of fascism. The current ecological crisis, Stein argues, “makes Pearl Harbor look like small potatoes.” And once again, to update Rosie the Riveter for the 21st century, “we can do it”: transform our economy to address what is now the world’s leading threat – environmental collapse rooted in predatory capitalism [2]. Getting to a 100% renewables-based economy is entirely achieve-able by 2030, Stein notes, provided that we have the courage and decency to reject the viciously circular and self-fulfilling politics of fear and to make the real revolution required. [snip]

But, Dr. Stein ads, “social movements need and deserve an independent political voice.” I have tended to quietly concur beneath all my recurrent social movement emphasis and critiques of electoral politics. That’s why I always take the admittedly brief amount of time needed to vote for left third party presidential candidates rather than just completely sit the “quadrennial electoral extravaganzas” (Chomsky’s term).


Want to help the Greens this year? (see if she’s on the ballot in your state, etc.), but he notes: “The Green New Deal is the transitional revolutionary demand for our times (see note 2). It is also a basic material and social necessity an existential leap we must take. It’s about “what we can get” and “what we must have” at one and the same time.”

Wd here: Now another thing I wish she’d said is that it’s not remotely possible for USians to keep all our gadgets and material consumption (in a throw-away society to boot) to ever be sustained by ‘sustainable energy’, including the folly of biofuels.  Nor do the Big Green Brands, either, I hasten to add.  Most believe in Green Consumerism and public/private partnerships to make profits by Green-washing the Capitalist economy.  Creating a system of public banks all over the nation would be a good call, but then…maybe more is on her website.  How about Kucinich’s pledege to create a Cabinet level ‘Department of Peace’?

Now I’ve read criticism of the New Green Deal here and there, but sometimes it’s been conflated with other Green ___ fill in the blanks, including sell-out 350.org board member Van Jones’ ‘Green Collar Economy’.  So I went hunting further, and this is the group’s official website, and included at the top of the home page is ‘US presidential candidate backs the Green New Deal; US Green Party Presidential Candidate Dr Jill Stein has backed the Green New Deal – which she looks to have lifted wholesale from the work of this group. In an interview with Elle magazine she said:  “The Green New Deal is an emergency solution to two big crises…”

Their About the Group lists members, directors, I dunno, really, but these are the names listed, their brief bios are on the same page:

The Green New Deal Group is, in alphabetical order:

Larry Elliott, Economics Editor of the Guardian, Colin Hines, Co-Director of Finance for the Future, former head of Greenpeace International’s Economics Unit, Tony Juniper, former Director of Friends of the Earth, Jeremy Leggett, founder and Chairman of Solarcentury and SolarAid, Caroline Lucas, Green Party MEP, Richard Murphy, Co-Director of Finance for the Future and Director, Tax Research LLP, Ann Pettifor, former head of the Jubilee 2000 debt relief campaign, Campaign Director of Operation Noah, Charles Secrett, Advisor on Sustainable Development, former Director of Friends of the Earth, Andrew Simms, Policy Director, nef (the new economics foundation).

Wd again: But good grief, maybe it was Bernie who’d ramped up her energy; when she was on TRNN in February, 2015…she seemed to be just phonin’ it in. Now I’m not sure this more energetic version of herself will cause me to vote for any candidate for federal office, but I do respect the brand-busting Paul Street enough to be surprise at his approbation of her policy positions and the reasons underpinning them.

Also see:

Louisiana Tribe Now Officially Community Of Climate Refugees

American Cartel: How America’s Two Major Parties Helped Destroy Democracy, by Frank Castro

16 responses to “‘When Plan A Meets Plan B: Talking Politics and Revolution with the Green Party’s Jill Stein’

  1. It will be interesting to see what happens if Clinton becomes the nominee and not Sanders. What will all those Sanders supporters who have called Clinton evil and warmonger and everything in the book do when Sanders tells them to get behind Clinton. Could that become a push toward Stein and the Green Party, or will most of them do as they’re told and vote Clinton? We don’t have long to wait now. Which reminds me of when Sanders first entered the race, many were criticizing his run with the Dem party partly because it would hinder a independent movement from forming. Which I can’t believe under the circumstances isn’t forming. But a big part of that is the impact of the election, particularly Sanders being in it. If the elite wanted a distraction to keep the people from really fighting back, they couldn’t have planned it much better with Trump and Sanders and this farcical election. Purposeful or not, it’s worked out well for them.

    • interesting question, indeed, big al. i apologize for clipping out what shed said about that in attempts to shorten the piece; i just pasted it back in:

      “Hillary Clinton, Stein agrees with me, has considerably less capacity to deceive and bamboozle progressive and young voters than Barack Obama enjoyed in 2007-08. “Obama,” Stein notes was fairly new on the scene. Hillary,” by contrast, “has been a warmonger who never found a war she didn’t love forever!”

      A lot of young adults may be “wild about Bernie” right now, Stein says, but the passion will fade as they “go through the ringer” for the first time. They face a useful lesson when the nominal democratic socialist Sanders tells (as promised) his followers to vote for the dismal, demobilizing dollar Democrats.”

  2. oh, fiddlesticks. i’d meant to include a link to her ‘power to the people plan‘ that i’d run into serendipitously at TRNN. good stuff, including this i’d hoped for:

    “Peace and Human Rights:

    Establish a foreign policy based on diplomacy, international law, and human rights. End the wars and drone attacks, cut military spending by at least 50% and close the 700+ foreign military bases that are turning our republic into a bankrupt empire. Stop U.S. support and arms sales to human rights abusers, and lead on global nuclear disarmament.”

  3. The major opportunity for the Green Party in this election is in capturing seats in Congress and getting on the political map as the notional left-wing counterbalance to the Freedom Caucus of the Republican Party. If the Greens in Green strongholds can get 175,000 voters to vote Green in two or three districts, geographically distributed, that would be a major change in US politics. If Dr. Stein is not so wrapped up in the idea that she will become President this year but uses her Presidential campaign to pull off these Congressional victories from both “Republican” districts and “Democratic” districts, she will make an opening in the electoral system that Greens can build on. And later make possible a Green Party candidate who can reasonably expect to win the Presidency.

    If you are going to play the electoral politics strategy, play to win what you can and nibble your way to power. Strong egos find this difficult (Nader is the textbook example), but strong egos are necessary to carry such as seemingly hopeless fight.

    Anyone promising a New Green Deal should keep counsel with the sobering words of John Michael Greer else they subsidize more Elon Musks and Google driverless cars.

    Some surprise Green victories in Republican strongholds are as important as expected Green victories in progressive Democratic strongholds. Louisiana after Bobby Jindal’s governorship should be available for organizing an alternative. The new Democratic governor is a return to Louisiana’s traditional Democratic song and dance.

    Oklahoma, Kansas, and Michigan are awash in environmental disasters from Republican rule and prior Democratic complacence.

    As for Democratic strongholds, the sacrifice zones of California should be opportunities for the Green Party if they can master organizing farmworkers and folks who have suffered from the dought.

    In short, Greens have to get out their suburban enclaves through hard organizing and patient organizational development that builds from one election to the next and begins working on the next cycle the moment the current one ends. Greens as a persistent presence in local, state, and national politics has not yet occurred. They have for the past few cycles been a pre-election phenomenon seeking to soak up disgruntled Democrats. That has built some strength but has not broken through yet. The Shadow Cabinet attempted to build some continuity after the 2012 election but did not follow up with shadow cabinets in the states and cities and shadow candidates for Congress building a reputation.

    And for a lot of progressives, wishing of progressive losses in one party in order to build your own party has a taint of unseemliness, a betrayal of solidarity.

    A Stein-Sanders debate in turf where neither are well-known, such as San Antonio, Texas, could create some different electoral politics, with effective generation of attendance. I think the definition of the differences between Sanders’s democratic socialism (Michael Harrington version) and Stein’s Green Party revolution would provide some more options for those people who are voting.

    But where is the external movement outside of electoral politics that get put in tension with these two parties? That is when the interesting politics begins. Possibly interesting enough to capture the interest of the Wall Street media. After all, there are no experiments this year with non-marketing-driven campaign strategies.

    • i haven’t any idea how well-organized the greens are, but clearly if they wanted to be a force to be reckoned with, we’d have heard more from the Green Shadow Cabinet as some of us said on her DN! interview .thread. ooops, looks like even after that (Jan. 2015, iirc) the most recent essay at their website is june 2015. mmmm.

      dunno about a movement between them that would show the tension, but clearly the putatively Offishul Occupy newsletter i get is totally down with the bern.

      • There’s something strange about an official newsletter of an autonomous movement, isn’t there?

        • pretty creepy, especially by now. there used to be a few different versions kicking around in the day, with attendant kerfuffles over content.

          and dubbing bernie ‘the occupy candidate’, that used to be verboten. but then cornell west gaggingly called him ‘of the prophetic fire tradition’ or close. sure, he wants a gig with him.

  4. Greetings!

    I have an uneasy feeling that the passing of Scalia will push more than a few ‘Bernie Only’ Democrats back into the usual LOTE voting mode. I’m particularly concerned that this will be true of younger and/or lower info Dem-leaning voters.

    Also, I truly suspect that the Dem Establishment will do whatever is necessary to push Bernie out of the race (unless it really is beyond their control). Although I have no idea what their modus operandi would be, it is hard for me to imagine that they don’t have ‘something’ up their sleeves. According to all the mainstream media reporting that I hear, this Administration is convinced that Hillary ‘must win’ in order to save the President’s agenda/legacy.

    Thus far, no one has ever been able to explain to me ‘how’ Senator Sanders throws his support to Hillary (if/when he loses the win nomination), campaigns for her, and then leads an independent revolution–all the while maintaining his creds as an honest broker. (In the eyes of the Dem Party Establishment, that is).

    Hey, if anyone has the magic cure for the cognitive dissonance that I experience every time that I try to picture this scenario, please, I’m all ears. ;-)

    Have a good one!


    • “and then leads an [ineffective] independent revolution”. Relieved? Good point about the threat of another supreme toad killing dumbocrats cognitive dissonance.

      • Hillary must win for the Obama people because that and the Secretary of State nomination was the bargain to release Hillary’s superdelegates in 2008. Quid pro quos must be honored.

        • You imply that O will sabotage his SC candidate-selection to keep the pressure on. Ya think Bernie’s gonna put that in play?

  5. sorry, i just turned into a pumpkin.

    dream of a better world…or at least may your nightmares be helpful in sorting out your inner worlds, and mine. the blackbirds will escort us all into the sky soon enough; grab their wings and rejoice!

    (argh; the video came with a franklin graham political tour spiel. beware the coming reganesque religious demagogues, oh, yes.)

  6. Here’s my dream for a better world: Bernie passes the D baton to H, but does a metamorphosis before his followers catch their breath, returning to his socialist roots and dissing the D’s – says the only way he could get what the little people want out into the arena was to play along with media attention being the name of the game. Says Jill has the full package, and whilst he’s got your attention (maybe during his concession speech to H) take a look at what this country’s been doing in the Middle East!

    Well, that’s what Jimmy Stewart would do.

    • i vaguely recall a jimmy stewart movie like that. not ‘meet john doe’, but one like it ‘mr. smith goes to washington’?

      well, i could like your dream, juliania in some respects, save for the fact that bernie IS a D, and not really a socialist, just the social dem sort. also, my main chich with him (which stein addresses pretty darned well) is that he is indeed an Imperialist, and an interventionists, and wants the US to have ‘the strongest military in the world’.

      jeffrey st.clair put up a partial list of his militarism, but he’s down with the war on terror, war against ISIS, but reckons the saudis ‘should get their hands dirty’ and make war on them. they might, of course, and on the ground (as if their hands aren’t dirty enough already). but for me, all of that is a total deal-breaker.

      • Yup. I know all that; concur, said it was a dream. ( I was trying to resolve Blue’s cognitive dissonance.)

        The year is young. After all, with Fiji overwhelmed by a Cyclone called Winston (and ‘overwhelmed’ is putting it mildly) in a hemisphere “far” from our own, sturm und drang takes on new meaning even for politicians.

        On the road to Damascus . . .

        • i know you do know all that, juliania. i was speaking to the room at large, including blue, given that at C99, ian welsh’s, and naked capitalism, counterpunch, jacobin, tra la la. some Smart Commenters™ seem so blithely dismissive in minimizing his military adventurism. there are three accepted answers which i won’t repeat, since you’d be able to anticipate them rather easily. ;-)

          yes, cyclone sturm and drang, but for politicians in the US? dunno about that, really.

care to comment? (no registration required)

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s