How Progressives can invest in future elections on Nov. 8

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Voters are disheartened, with polls showing much dislike for both Trump and Clinton. But to paraphrase Michelle Obama, even as this presidential race has brought us “low,” we can still go “high” by effecting change beyond 2016.  We have an opportunity to contribute to a more representative, democratic electoral future by considering other presidential candidates —“third parties”– who represent important populist issues neither Trump nor Clinton do.

For example, there’s the Green Party’s candidate Dr. Jill Stein, whose positions are closest to Bernie Sanders. His disillusioned supporters have been averse to voting for Clinton.  These and other reluctant Clinton supporters may worry that Trump would win Connecticut if they vote for Stein.  Highly unlikely.

Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight estimates that Clinton has a 96.4 percent chance of winning Connecticut’s seven electoral votes. The latest national poll by USA Today (end of October) shows Clinton with a comfortable lead at 47 percent of the vote to 38 percent for Trump, 4 percent for Libertarian’s Gary Johnson, and 2 percent for the Greens’ Jill Stein. Connecticut has not voted for a Republican presidential candidate since 1988.  Our entire congressional delegation is Democratic.  Even former Republican Congressmen Chris Shays endorsed Clinton.

As a “safe state” for Clinton, Connecticut is safe enough for progressive voters to think ahead to 2020 and to invest in our future by voting for something new.

For starters, it takes lots of money for a third party candidate to compete at all because of burdensome ballot access laws across the U.S.  In the case of the Green Party/Stein Campaign, it actually cost $558,000 –raised from single donations as the Green Party takes no corporate money— just to get on the ballot in enough states to theoretically earn the 270 electoral votes needed to win, including Connecticut.

But here’s the deal.

If Stein —or Johnson– got 5 percent of the vote nationally, their parties would be officially classified as a “minor party” by the Federal Election Commission (FEC).  In Stein’s case, the Green Party would receive up to $10 million in matching funds from the FEC: Green candidates could automatically appear on the ballot in a number of states in the future. A tremendous financial boost would have been given to a progressive U.S. political party, which could then increase visibility for Green candidates and make voting “Green” a genuine option, especially for millions who feel neither the Republicans nor Democrats represent them.  It would mean investing in more choice in the future.

To illustrate, here are some important issues on which Stein differs significantly from Clinton, Trump, and Johnson (also on the ballot in CT):

Support for single-payer health insurance or ‘Medicare-for-all’

Dr. Stein/the Green Party see health care as a human right.  Indeed, a majority of Americans —58 percent — want to replace the increasingly costly Affordable Care Act (ACA) with single-payer:  including 73 percent of Democrats and 41 percent of Republicans. A national survey of physicians showed 59 percent supported single payer.

Even with ACA, there are still 28.5 million uninsured Americans and premiums are expect to rise next year by an average of 25 percent.  Decades of research show that single-payer health insurance would be universal while being more efficient than ACA’s for-profit insurance system by reducing administrative costs/profits and negotiating down the price of medications.

A comprehensive, effective response to the emergency of global warming

Combating catastrophic climate change and concern for environmental sustainability are fundamental pillars of the Green Party and Dr. Stein’s platform.  She proposes an emergency “Green New Deal,” rather like a WWII scale national mobilization.  Funding would come from introducing a carbon tax yielding around $360 billion in revenues annually and by increasing the estate tax to its level under Reagan.

This plan would create 20 million jobs in the transition to 100 percent clean, renewable energy by 2030, and would include investing in public transit, sustainable agriculture and restoration of critical infrastructure including ecosystems.

Calling for a ban on new fossil fuel and nuclear infrastructure, Stein is mindful of those workers who would be most affected by this transition to a “green economy” and advocates their financial support as they retool.  Stein estimates that costs of this transition would be largely offset by money saved —including billions related to healthcare cost from illnesses related to exposure to fossil fuels like asthma, emphysema, and cancers. She opposes the Keystone XL Pipeline and found it dignifying to personally protest the Dakota Access Pipeline on the Standing Rock Sioux reservation.

Opposes endless wars and our bloated military budget

The Green Party favors diplomacy in a foreign policy based on human rights and international law.  It opposed the Iraq war, and opposes our 15 years of seemingly endless war and bloated military budget whose expenditures equal the next seven largest military budgets worldwide, combined. The Greens/Stein would push to significantly decrease that budget, redirecting those monies to real domestic needs, and call for an end to U.S. political support and arms sales to human rights abusers, like Saudi Arabia and Israel in its occupation of the Palestinian Territories.

Connecticut voters do have a choice this election cycle, especially for the future.

Justine McCabe, Ph.D., lives is New Milford and is the former Co-Chair of the International Committee of the Green Party U.S.

What do you think?

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