Jill Stein says time is right for third-party candidate

 

NEWARK — A third-party presidential candidate hasn’t won an electoral vote since 1972, but this year, Jill Stein says, could be different.

Dr. Stein, the Green Party nominee for president, believes the strong national dislike of both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, combined with a desire for change, could carry her into the White House and lead to real reforms.

Jill Stein

Jill Stein

She visited Newark Friday, speaking for about 45 minutes and then taking questions before an audience of approximately 70 people in the George Wilson Center. Dr. Stein blasted the two major political parties, the media and big business, while attempting to sell a vision of a new America.

The event had a drastically different feel from recent visits by presidential candidates, starting with the smaller crowd, the lack of security and the intimate nature. Only a few feet separated Dr. Stein from the front row of the crowd, which was bubbling with enthusiasm. One woman continually echoed Dr. Stein’s remarks, cheering and proclaiming her love for the candidate.

A number of supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders, who campaigned for the Democratic nomination for president, were in attendance.

Dr. Stein herself said the party “had to manipulate the process” to allow “their own favorite daughter” to win the nomination. The Democratic Party has a long tradition of going after progressives, she said, citing Sen. Sanders as an example of a victim of “smear” tactics.

Although more criticism was directed at the Democratic Party, Dr. Stein referred to the Republican Party as the “greater evil.”

Both parties, she said, represent special interests and the wealthy rather than the common people.

“Democracy is not deciding who we hate the most or who we fear the most,” she said. “Democracy needs a moral compass. It needs our vision.”

Many voters “are looking for a place to go,” she said, referring to the current political system as “two-party tyranny.”

A doctor by trade from Massachusetts, she garnered .36 percent of the vote in the 2012 presidential election, but polls say Dr. Stein and Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson could draw many more votes this time, thanks to a national distaste for the two major-party nominees.

Dr. Stein’s policies include ending the war on drugs, providing universal health care and taking serious steps to combat climate change.

She believes the $1 trillion-plus in student debt Americans have accumulated is “debt slavery” that needs to be forgiven.

“If our fearless leaders, or misleaders, found a way to bail out the crooks on Wall Street, it’s time to bail out the students,” she said to applause.

During the question-and-answer portion, one man pressed her about vaccines, leading to an outcry from other members of the audience. Earlier this year, Dr. Stein told the Washington Post she had “real questions” about vaccines, raising questions from some who thought she was lending credence to a largely discredited theory that posits vaccines cause autism.

She said Friday she believes a comprehensive study needs to be done to determine who developmental disabilities are increasing but “there is no evidence linking autism and vaccines.”

As the man continued to push Dr. Stein to go farther in repudiating the autism claim, interrupting her at one point, other listeners began calling for the next question, and the candidate turned her attention to another member of the audience.

She urged attendees to vote and help create a powerful movement that could lead to change — a higher minimum wage, no more wars and more accessible voting.

“If we can’t do this in an election for president, when in heaven’s name are we going to do this?” she said. “The American people deserve to be informed and empowered, to weigh in on our future. We are not deciding merely what kind of a future we will have but whether we will have a future or not.”

Reach staff writer Matt Bittle at mbittle@newszap.com

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