The candidates speak

April 18, 2012 in 2012 Spring

By Jim Witters, Green Party of Delaware

As the presidential primary season whip­ped through the nation during the winter and early spring, the Party’s candidates found themselves battling a plethora of Republican races for the attention of the media.

Celebrity Roseanne Barr, of course, garnered immediate reaction when she officially announced her Green candidacy in February. But San Diego County air quality engineer Kent Mesplay and Dr. Jill Stein of Massachusetts found the battle much tougher.

Stein, for her part, toured the country, touting her “Green New Deal” and visiting Occupy sites wherever she went. Ac­cording to Stein’s website, as of March 23, the candidate had won all nine Green Party presidential primaries held.

Here are the candidates’ responses to Green Pages:

Jill Stein

What are your top two or three issues?

I will work to deliver a Green New Deal for America—an integrated package of emergency reforms that will put 25 million people to work, end unemployment in America, halt the recession, jumpstart the Green economy for the 21st Century, and combat climate change. The Green New Deal includes reforms to the economy, financial system, and to our democracy—and is inspired by the New Deal that got us out of the last Great Depression of the 1930s.

Our economic reforms will create living wage, community-based jobs that meet needs of communities and make them sustainable ecologically, economically and socially. It will create jobs in the traditionally green areas of the economy, in clean manufacturing, local organic agriculture, public transportation, and clean renewable energy—which also provide for real national security by making wars for oil obsolete.

Let me be clear: The Green New Deal will end unemployment in America. Of course, such a thing as ending unemployment would never occur to Washington politicians because their corporate backers depend on the threat of unemployment to keep wages down. But ending unemployment, and more, is front and center on the minds of Greens.

As Greens we are committed to im­proving the conditions of working people by an immediate halt to home foreclosures and evictions, and guarantying health care for everyone as a human right through Medicare for All.

Through the Green New Deal, we will forgive the crushing student debt burden and liberate an entire generation of young people who are being turned into indentured servants. And we will provide tuition-free public education from pre-kindergarten through college. This is an investment in our future that will pay off enormously, like the GI Bill after World War II that provided seven dollars in economic activity and increased tax revenue for every dollar that Congress invested.

Speaking of investments, the takeover of our economy by big banks and well-connected financiers has destabilized both our democracy and our economy. The Green New Deal will end the bailouts and corporate giveaways, and ensure that re­sources are available for investments in our communities, for consumers, cooperatives and small business.

Of course, we cannot hope to secure the economic reforms of the Green New Deal without enacting political reforms. We don’t have that in America today. For this reason, we urgently need to amend our Constitution to make clear that corporations are not persons and money is not speech.

The Green New Deal also strengthens democracy supporting economic cooperatives and participatory democracy at the local and state levels. And it strengthens media democracy by expanding federal support for locally owned broadcast media and local print media.

How do you feel your campaign will help to build the Green Party and independent politics?

In these early months of the campaign, we have already succeeded in getting a Green Party ballot line established in Utah, and our campaign has launched Green Party ballot drives in New Hampshire, Indi­ana, and New Mexico, and has already assisted Vermont, Virginia, Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, and Hawai’i in getting their efforts going. We are litigating for the ballot in Alabama and hiring staff for ballot access drives in Pennsylvania, Illi­nois, Indiana and, eventually, other states.

No other presidential campaign is do­ing this work, and the Green Party of the United States is relying on our campaign team to help get our party on the ballot across the country this year. We are aiming for 48 ballot lines, with a minimum of 40, and at the rate we are going, we expect to get there.

Let me add that we are attracting thousands of new people to the Green Party. We estimate that at least half of our supporters are people who have not supported Green Party candidates in the past. For these people, our campaign is an accessible and effective way to have a positive impact in the 2012 elections.

Finally, we have launched efforts to build support within organized labor, with students, the immigrant rights movement, and the climate justice and environmental justice movements for using the Green Party as an electoral bullhorn for their demands. We have visited Occupy sites in two dozen cities, as well as student hunger strikers in Virginia, striking workers in Massachusetts, and of course the Wis­con­sin uprising in Madison, where my national headquarters is now based.

We are uniting and growing our party as never before. In my 12 years as a Green Party activist, I have never seen the kind of energy and enthusiasm we are seeing now, and I am honored to have the opportunity to represent our courageous membership in the 2012 elections.

Roseanne Barr

What are your top two or three issues?

1. Legalize Weed: Listen, the fact that I’m not a politician isn’t a drawback; it’s an advantage. Do I need to know every micro-detail about a failed policy like our ridiculous “War on Drugs” to know that anyone who wants to buy some recreational drugs can probably do it, and that all we’re doing is making money for dangerous drug dealers and locking up users at a cost higher than a college education! The drug laws are written for the benefit of drug lords! And it’s a war on Marijuana smokers, mostly! YES THE EMPEROR IS NAKED AS A JAY BIRD-HE NEEDS TO PUT SOME DAMN PANTS ON!

2. Operation Slingshot: I will obliterate the “Two Party” System by becoming the first Green Party president of these United States as a result of our victory in the 2012 general election—with 99 percent of the votes. I also believe it’s essential to do away with the Electoral College, a system created by the 1 percent of the 1 percent—the super 1 percent—to enslave us all.

How do you feel your campaign will help to build the Green Party and independent politics?

The goal of any political party should be to grow. I’m throwing open the doors to the Green Party to a whole new generation of activists. Tough girls and boys who lived on the street so other people didn’t have to are beginning to attend Green Party meetings at the state level. To the youth of America I say, “The Green Party is ours to Occupy. The greater our numbers, the more ballots we Occupy. The more ballots we Occupy, the more offices we Occupy. The door stays open until the last one’s in. Occupy the Green Party!”

Kent Mesplay

What are your top two or three issues?

A hybrid economy is best. My main rival touts a federal jobs program that is dependent upon raising corporate taxes and slashing military spending. This will take time to implement, and lacks legislative support. My approach is more workable:

  • Focus on security arguments favorable to transforming our military into being trained to address the emergency conditions associated with drastic climate change (essential climate-related concerns include health care, emergency food production, the housing of masses of displaced citizens).
  • Provide tax incentives for businesses providing goods and services that help us be more sustainable.
  • Generate trustworthy bonds to stimulate investment in several key areas: re­newable energy, energy efficiency and conservation in housing and transportation.
  • Small-scale organic agriculture.

The top-down approach must be complemented by a ground-up approach that works with market forces (such as true, full-cycle cost pricing), allays skeptical, fearful people who learn to appreciate the security-enhancing properties of sustainability, and that looks beyond standard economic models to recognize that consumption outside our means is harmful and misguided.

The global economic and environmental catastrophe has solutions rooted in local action: scrip, time-banking, volunteerism, trade-and-barter, sharing and even philanthropy. Federal recognition of our state of emergency may clear the way for local governments to be more tolerant of citizen-driven solutions. We need to think beyond consumption and jobs and be allowed to meet more of our needs locally and directly and quickly.

Climate change matters. Climate change has long been a dire issue with me, as this threat to public health and safety and biodiversity, including human native biodiversity, is real. The solutions to climate change, in mitigation and preparation, are steps that reduce over-consumption of limited resources and that point the way to using less, needing fewer consumables, saving more, being more connected to earth, family and friends, and having an inherent “built in” baseline of living that is more secure, in terms of water, food and energy.

Sustainability is a key, core issue. Sus­tainability reflects ecological wisdom and concern for other species and those who are to come. At the base of the dominant culture must be recognition of the essential value of living sustainably. Sustain­a­bility is security: Especially with instability in climate, it is important to enact policies and behaviors encouraging less consumption, promoting local, independence-enhancing solutions and affording people of all levels of training and education to have basic economic well-being.

I am also an advocate of Native perspectives (including warnings about climate change), cultures, sovereignty and regained self-reliance.

How do you feel your campaign will help to build the Green Party and independent politics?

We grow the Green Party and the green movement by pointing out the security-enhancing features of sustainable living: better emergency preparedness, better ex­tended-emergency preparedness, less need for others to come to our rescue, once we learn better to care for ourselves and each other, locally.

When we talk, seriously, about living sustainably we demonstrate that this feature of decentralization is one that enhances and supports independence and diversity. The green movement is an independence movement, built upon recognition of our interdependence. By removing the corrupting influence of money in politics, such as through “Move to Amend,” good governance will bloom at all levels and independence will flourish.

In short, we need good governance, we need Green values and we need to get the influence of money out of politics. And we certainly need to cut bloated Penta­gon spending and waste and enact an independent, trusted system to audit military spending.