Jill Stein: Are Vaccine Statements Being Used To Overshadow Her Popularity Growth, Platform?

What has been labeled the #Demexit as the Democratic National Convention concluded last week has been seen as a boon for Green Party candidate Jill Stein. For months, the similarities between the Green Party platform, and that of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, were well known.

From stricter gun control, to prioritizing the effects of climate change, to more well-known Sanders positions like breaking up big banks and free college, Sanders and Stein share much of the same vision. Still, there is a definite split with Bernie over his opinions over war and the military, on which he mostly sides with the pro-war Democratic Party.

As Nation of Change reported, within 24 hours of Bernie Sanders’s endorsement of Hillary Clinton earlier in July, Stein’s campaign donations had shot up over $80,000. This would turn out to be a foreshadowing event, as the DNC, which was intended to be a celebration of unity, evolved into a showcase of bitter divides over the treatment of Bernie Sanders and his supporters.

The article also shows that interest in Stein’s campaign, via her Reddit subpage, increased exponentially as well. Likewise, her campaign’s social media accounts saw similar increases in traffic after Sanders’ gave his endorsement to Clinton.

AOL News also documented the Green Party candidate’s increased popularity, reporting that visits to her subreddit page had jumped from 37,000 views in June to over 215,000 over the course of July.

Given the extra attention, the media too has paid more attention to Jill Stein in recent weeks, though this seems to have come at a cost. As interest in Stein has grown, so too has an almost pedantic scrutiny of her stance on vaccines.

Writing for Forbes last week, Emily Willingham attempted to take Stein to task for allegedlly unconvincing responses given by the candidate in a Washington Post interview.

“Stein’s use of boo-bringing buzzwords like ‘corporate’ to dance around scientific evidence and as a way to snow a hoped-for constituency into buying her bona fides isn’t just annoying. It’s damaging.”

Stein has repeatedly stated that she supports vaccines, but is distrustful of the corporate lobbying which may compromise public trust in the FDA. And it doesn’t stop there as Jordan Weissman, this time for Slate, also went after Stein over vaccines, using the same Washington Post interview as the basis for his critique.

“Let’s consider this statement carefully. Stein is invoking her authority as a medical professional to say that there were legitimate reasons to be concerned about the toxicity of vaccines, and that she doesn’t know if those issues have been resolved. Stein is not saying vaccines are necessarily unsafe. But for all she knows, they might be—some way, somehow. She is leaving open the possibility.”

Is she, though?

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The people at Snopes have taken to fact-checking this claim which keeps popping up throughout the expanse of alternative media sites, and even the Huffington Post. After contacting the Stein campaign to clarify their position, Snopes did receive a response.

“I think there’s no question that vaccines have been absolutely critical in ridding us of the scourge of many diseases — smallpox, polio, etc. So vaccines are an invaluable medication… We have a real compelling need for vaccinations.”

As voters have several more months to figure out where to land candidate-wise, the Jill Stein campaign has made no secret that it wants to attract disillusioned Bernie Sanders supporters.

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With the Republican and Democratic Parties both running historically unpopular candidates, the 2016 election seems to be a proving ground for third parties with Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party and Jill Stein polling at record numbers amid increasing media coverage as the campaign season carries on.

[Photo by Alex Brandon/AP Images]