Think Twice Before Voting Green in 2016

This election cycle, Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has ignited a political revolution that, despite his withdrawal from the Democratic primaries, has had a lasting influence. Many voters still supporting his progressive proposals have expressed contempt at the Hillary Clinton, the Democrats’ nominee. As a result, those on the #Bernieorbust train have decided that if Sanders isn’t the nominee, they would refuse to vote Democrat in November. Instead, they’ll vote Republican, Libertarian, or Green. Out of all of the options, many Sanders supports have opted to go Green.

The Green Party’s nominee, Jill Stein, a political activist and practicing doctor, ran in 2012 and captured less than 500,000 votes, a meager 0.36% of all votes collected. Yet given the circumstances this election season, where a growing number of people are willing to support a third party candidate, many Sanders supporters believe that Stein has an actual chance at winning the election. Stein is running on a highly progressive platform, very similar to that of Sanders, a major reason why she is becoming increasingly popular – she’s now polling at 3%.

But aside the main argument not to vote third party in November – it gives Donald Trump a much higher chance to win over Clinton – there’s still a lot of reasons to not pick Stein.

GMOs: The Green Party’s platform states, “Label GMOs, and put a moratorium on GMOs and pesticides until they are proven safe.” A complete shutdown on the use of GMOs in America would be disastrous; GMOs are integral to the success of the agriculture industry and they’re proven to be safe and beneficial to the environment, something that the Green Party cares about. In fact, more than 100 Nobel laureates have signed a letter requesting Greenpeace to ends its fight against GMOs.

Nuclear Energy: A few months ago, Stein tweeted, “Nuclear power plants = weapons of mass destruction waiting to be detonated. Time to shut them down. #EndNukes.” While clean, safe energy is a must for America in the future, Stein’s position on nuclear energy is absolutely ludicrous. Nuclear reactors, apart from very few accidents, are extremely safe, and they don’t contribute to climate change. If America wants to turn to clean energy, nuclear power is absolutely necessary. Dismantling every single nuclear power plant because of a minuscule chance of an accident isn’t a feasible way to get America on the right track to renewable energy.

Defense: Stein’s platform states that the US should “restore the National Guard as the centerpiece of our defense” while cutting “military spending by at least 50%.” Making the National Guard the main component of the military, like during the 1800s, isn’t very realistic in the 21st century. Currently, the National Guard is essentially a pseudo-militia whose members train once in every month and are usually used in event of weather-related emergencies. Revamping the standing army to a part-time militia won’t do anything to help America’s security or reputation. And decreasing America’s defense budget is necessary, yes, but radically by 50% is going to do much more harm than good. Stein also doesn’t make any recommendation of what to cut or how cuts are going to be timed. The military budget is definitely excessive, and Stein has an opportunity to show specifically what she would do to control spending in her platform. But she doesn’t.

Stein & the Green Party have potential. Many parts of their platform, like fighting poverty, supporting human rights, and reforming the election process are significant and worthy of discussion. But time and time again, Stein has shown that she’s simply not the candidate for the Presidency; the only elected office she’s held is city council. In one interview, she argued that quantitative easing, a monetary policy used to help the US recover from 2008’s recession, could be used to erase student loans. She then stated that QE “is a magic trick that basically people don’t need to understand any more about than that it is a magic trick.” What?

In other instances, the Green Party is simply impractical. They want America to be 100% clean energy by 2030 (which is just 14 years away) and a “Medicare for all” healthcare system that would be wildly expensive. The Green Party is striving for criminal justice reform, a stronger education system, and a just economy. We need that. But the way the Green Party is tackling many of the issues is unrealistic at best and nonsensical at worst.

Idealism is admirable, but realism is necessary.

[Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore]