Much of the political world is paying attention to names like Marco Rubio and Hillary Clinton this weekend. But third party hopeful Jill Stein was in Albany Tuesday to get a firsthand look at the communities the so-called "oil trains" pass through. She referred to this portion of her "listening tour" as "the height of environmental injustice," and that's just one issue on Stein's list of priorities as she mulls over a run for the presidency. The listening tour is taking her to what she "the front line communities that are fighting real struggles." Stein, speaking with WAMC’s Dave Lucas rushed to criticize New York's new budget.
"In that we see really what was kind of a dirty trick, where an education bill that should have been debated in the light of day was bundled into the budget, and essentially, changes were railroaded thorough the budget that probably would not have stood public scrutiny, whereby teachers are now being evaluated by the scores of their students on a high-stakes testing system, which is more of an indicator of poverty and an indicator of social disability, rather than the teachers' capability.
Teachers are being judged by the social distress that they've chosen to take on or not. It's guaranteed to drive teachers out of challenged communities, which is where we need good teachers, and where we need to be supporting teachers. Needless to say, this also intensifies high stakes testing, which is a terrible way to educate our kids. And it's very heartening and encouraging, to see not only teachers fighting this but teachers and parents working together to say that the students are going to be opting out in large numbers. The parents that I've been talking to around the state, are, shall we say, up in arms about the attack on childhood. It's not only an attack on childhood, it's an attack on quality education, cause there is no argument that this kind of high stakes testing, this teaching to a test that really displaces teaches to the whole student for lifetime learning, which is what education ought to be about, this commodification of education, has no substance to it whatsoever. And true educators are very much opposed to this.
And another issue of great concern to New York is the Black Lives Matter campaign and this epidemic of violence, particularly police violence as well as the extrajudicial violence against people of color, African-Americans, others as well,but in particular African-Americans, who are not only the victims of physical violence and police violence, racist violence, but also economic violence that has hurt those communities harder than anyone."
Your expectations have been buoyed by Howie Hawkins' relatively robust run in New York's gubernatorial election. Far from winning the race, Hawkins cemnted the Green Party as a force to be reckoned with.
"If Howie was heard by more New Yorkers, I think we'd begin to see things move very quickly. I had an experience that Howie deserves to have.
When I was running for governor in Massachusetts back in 2002 against Mitt Romney, I was allowed into one debate, which we had to fight tooth and nail to get into, and, inside that debate I said all the things like we as people as citizens have a right to health care, through an improved Medicare for all that would greatly reduce the cost and improve everybody's health and broaden the coverage. We all deserve higher education as a human right. We have to downsize the military and put our dollars here where they belong and we need to create jobs as an emergency measure to treat both the economic emergency and the climate emergency.
I was putting those kind of things on the table back in 2002. Those ideas were completely ignored and marginalized in the debate and inside the TV studio. But the minute I walked out I was mobbed by the press who told me I won the debate on the instant online viewer poll. That was the last time they did an instant online viewer poll. If that kind of thing were done and people like Howie Hawkins actually had the access he deserved as a legitimate candidate, I think we would begin to see things change very quickly."
Certainly to mount a successsful third party campaign for president, you would need funding...
"Yeah, and here's how: partly social media, beginning to use digital tools for organizing, which we'd never been able to afford before. Over the last decade you could say we've been building capacity, and the question is, when is that capacity gonna reach breathrough. We've seen third parties suddenly come into major breakthroughs, like Syriza in Greece, the green party in the UK, Podemos in Spain. They're all fighting austerity. We are on that same trajectory. We will have a breakthrough. The question is when it will be and will it happen in time.
I really encourage people to go to our website which is Jill 2016 dot com and let us know. Do you want this campaign? We're an exploratory campaign. If people want to make it happen, it will happen. We have digital and online social media tools that are very cheap and in which everyday people can themselves become organizers and we can put tools into your hands to basically get the word out."
That was potential Green Party candidate Jill Stein speaking with WAMC's Dave Lucas. She finished fourth in the national popular vote in the 2012 presidential race.