Progressives in America aren't happy. In fact, for the first time in recent memory, progressives are finally good and angry at the political establishment. Leak after leak, lawsuit after lawsuit, the facts just keep rolling in like so many punches, again and again exposing how the DNC methodically shut out and shut down the first candidate many of them had gotten excited about in years. Thousands of man hours and millions of dollars, many of those dollars pinched from the tightest of household budgets, poured into what turned out to be a totally rigged election. Ouch.
And what's worse, the DNC won't let them leave -- literally. The Democratic Convention resembles a hostage situation right now, with a lockdown in place to maintain control of the delegates after they staged a walk-out protest on day one. Outside of the convention, progressives are subject to a giant global guilt-fest, being shamed into staying with the party or be forever blamed for Trump, while the party itself is already showing signs of disassembling the progressive platform the campaign fought so hard to. They feel like they're being held hostage to a party that only wants them for their votes; not for their hearts and minds.
Enter Jill Stein.Eyes were already starting to move toward the Green party. When Sanders endorsed Clinton two weeks ago, Jill Stein's campaign was flooded with an immediate 1,000 percent increase in donations, and even though it's still early in the game, the neo-liberal think-tanks are working overtime to nip that movement in the bud before it can get off the ground.
"Nader!" is the first attempt at a shutdown. "Remember Nader!"
They are, of course, referring to the last Green party candidate to make any sort of splash in the U.S. presidential race, Ralph Nader, who took only three percent of the popular vote in 2000, but has been accused for the last 16 years of costing Al Gore the election in Florida. This is, in fact, a baseless and easily-refuted accusation the Democrats cooked up to ensure party loyalty; but that isn't what this article is about.
This article is about the ways in which 2016's Jill Stein is much different, and in fact much better, than 2000's Ralph Nader as a presidential candidate.1. The Internet Has Changed Everything.
The chief factor keeping the Democrats and Republicans in charge of everything in America is the billions and billions of dollars in free advertising from the mainstream media, who consistently ignore third party candidates. Widespread access to the internet and social media means that the American public is now far less dependent on mainstream news outlets for new information and ideas and is much, much better at circulating that information and ideas than it was in 2000. As the historic success of the Sanders campaign proved, a media blackout isn't the crippling handicap that it used to be. Which brings us to our second point.
2. The Sanders Campaign Changed Everything. Forever.
Despite the aforementioned media blackout and continuous acts of sabotage from his own party (which Stein wouldn't have to deal with), Bernie Sanders nearly ran away with the Democratic nomination. In 2016, it is no longer a legitimate thing to say that a progressive outsider cannot win. You can say it'll be hard, you can say it's a long shot, but you can no longer say it's impossible. There have been models put forth that had Sanders winning a three-way race against Trump and Clinton. Stein plugs into those models better than anyone on the ballot and will have the same respect Sanders had for refusing corporate money and super PACS.3. Two Historically Unpopular Candidates.
The year 2000 saw a lot of shrugging public apathy toward Bush and Gore's agreement-fests, but there wasn't anything like the record-shattering levels of revulsion toward both candidates we're seeing today. Google searches for third-party candidates skyrocketed 1,150 percent last week as voters began to come to terms with the dismal choice that's being imposed upon them, and it's got the Democrats scared. We know that because, if they weren't scared, they wouldn't be slamming the Green party with a misinformation campaign so aggressively right now.
If there's one thing progressives and moderate Democrats can come together on, it's that Donald Trump would be a terrible president. Hillary Clinton's polls began plummeting after the Republican convention, before the WikiLeaks drama even dropped, and she's now completely lost the nine-point lead she'd been enjoying over Trump a couple weeks ago. Clinton is historically incapable of overcoming downward polling trends, because the more people learn about her, the less they like her. If this trend continues, and it's likely to, people will start looking for another candidate to keep Trump out. If Jill Stein picks up steam, she will be that candidate. Moderate Democrats may just have to do exactly what they're demanding progressives do: hold their noses and vote for their less-than-ideal candidate.5. People Are Energized.
The year 2000 was a notably apathetic voting year for a presidential election (remember the Daily Show's election segment "Indecision 2000"?), but now progressives are shaken up. They're angry. And when the heartbreak of watching their beloved Bernie shuffle back to the Senate finally clears, they're going to be aggressively energized, already organized, and expertly experienced from the Bernie campaign. It's a very good year for getting progressives to the polls.
6. First Woman President.
Come on. You know it's true. Every Berniecrat in America has felt a twinge of sorrow for not being able to get behind a woman candidate. And now we can! A female candidate who hasn't devoted her life to propping up all the sickest aspects of the patriarchy, no less, and isn't known for those traditionally masculine traits of being both hawkish and money-hungry.
7. People Will Fall In Love With Jill Stein.
Ralph Nader is a good man, a hard-working man, and the Greens loved his platform, but he was never beloved as a person. Jill Stein is charming, witty, compassionate, intelligent, and delightful. The humor and insight in her Twitter account alone rivals all the dankest memes of the cleverest Sanders supporters, and she's demonstrated that she can hang and debate with the goon squads of CNN and Fox News with grace, strength and composure. People are going to fall in love with her. And as the old adage goes, conservatives fall in line with their candidate, progressives fall in love with theirs. This year, progressives have been asked to fall in line. But we all know they'd rather fall in love.A little over a year ago, the word "socialist" was a one-word shut-down. A whole lot has changed in just twelve months, let alone 16 years. There is no reason why we can't have what we want, rather than spend another election just trying to avoid what we don't want.
We all want a vibrant, progressive party with a platform that excites us, and a future we can't wait to start creating. Let's have it. Let's take what we want now.
[Image by AP Photo/Alex Brandon]