Jill Stein's Dangerous Anti-Science Campaign

08/08/2016 09:20 pm ET Updated Aug 09, 2016
Gage Skidmore (2016)

On July 28th, 2016, Hillary Clinton became the first woman to ever be nominated for president on a major party ticket in the United States. Her primary battle was hard-won against democratic socialist Bernie Sanders, who ran an insurgent campaign within the Democratic Party. He attempted to paint Clinton as a corrupt, corporate Democrat without the will or ability to work toward genuine political reform. He eventually endorsed Clinton for president and moved to nominate her by acclamation at the 2016 Democratic National Convention. But among his millions of followers, another candidate’s name was beginning to circulate.

Dr. Jill Stein is a medical doctor and political activist who currently hails from Massachusetts. She graduated cum laude from Harvard University before going on to receive a degree from Harvard Medical School. Throughout the 1990s, she was known among environmentalists for her work fusing human health to environmental concerns. She also won the role of Town Meeting Seat in Lexington, Massachusetts in 2005 and was reelected to the seat once.

As Stein’s influence grew, she earned the nomination of the Green Party and ran for President of the United States in 2012, garnering less than half of one percent of the popular vote and securing no electoral votes.

This year, once again the Green Party nominee, she hopes to change that through a populist appeal to Bernie Sanders voters. Stein laid the groundwork by essentially offering Bernie Sanders the option of running as the Green Party nominee in place of her when he lost to Clinton. It was a shrewd move, as she knew he was going to stick with Clinton. Her offer, combined with his rejection, would signal to less politically astute supporters that he wasn’t serious about reform and caved to the Democratic machine.

Of course, this isn’t even slightly true. Sanders dramatically altered the Democratic Party platform, which was a huge victory for his movement and would’ve been impossible had he defected to the Green Party before the election cycle was complete. Only through supporting the Democratic Party could he hope to see his reforms fully adopted during a Democratic administration, and he’s shown himself willing to play ball, albeit begrudgingly.

Stein’s plan to court left-wing voters disillusioned with the Democrats worked better than political watchers had anticipated. Her media stock rose as she engaged in pointed anti-Clinton rhetoric. In Stein’s world, Hillary Clinton is irredeemably corrupt with an appetite for war and loathing for the environment. Never mind that Clinton’s actual voting record doesn’t support the caricature. Stein’s barbs aren’t meant to reveal truth, rather provoke. Her style is remarkably similar to Donald Trump in its vapidity. One of her nastiest tweets attacked Clinton as a mother.

Green Party pandering for media attention has begun to take a more dangerous turn as Stein winks at dangerous conspiracy theories. Her comments in seeming support of the anti-vaccination fringe raise alarm, especially because she’s repeated variations of them in multiple settings.

Here’s what Stein, a medical doctor, told the Washington Post:

“There were concerns among physicians about what the vaccination schedule meant, the toxic substances like mercury which used to be rampant in vaccines. There were real questions that needed to be addressed. I think some of them at least have been addressed. I don’t know if all of them have been addressed.”

Notice the Trumpian ending. Stein just doesn’t really know if vaccines are totally safe. This is disturbing stuff, given a trend of vaccine skepticism being promoted by medically illiterate celebrities and known fraudsters like Dr. Joseph Mercola, who’s been repeatedly warned by the FDA over federal law violations.

Stein was directly asked about the Green Party stance on vaccinations in a Reddit AMA and replied, “I don’t know if we have an ‘official’ stance.” She then continued with a paragraph full of conspiratorial fear-mongering about regulatory agencies, a favorite target of the anti-science homeopathy and “alternative medicine” movements.

Recently, Stein went so far as to suggest wireless signals are bad for children’s brains and punctuated her reckless statement with this alarmist soundbite: “We make guinea pigs out of whole populations and then we discover how many die.” (Apparently, for all Stein is vehemently against, casual references to animal testing doesn’t make the list.)

The stunning lack of medical and scientific literacy, from a seasoned medical professional who certainly knows better, continues in her food policy. Her official platform states, “Label GMOs, and put a moratorium on GMOs and pesticides until they are proven safe.” This is absurd, as GMOs have been repeatedly found to be safe. There’s zero serious scientific debate on this point, because the evidence is in and results are clear. GMO crops could save hundreds of thousands of children’s lives in a single year. Stein is trying to stop their development to satisfy anti-science extremists.

Her non-medical pandering often dips into comical absurdity, such as the time she suggested appointing fugitive Edward Snowden to her Cabinet if she won the election. I’m all for principled whistle-blowing, but the idea of nominating a guy who leaked government secrets to the media as Secretary of Homeland Security seems beyond ridiculous. Pardoning Snowden is probably the right thing to do, installing him in the White House is just frightening.

Another chuckle-worthy nugget related to national security, taken from her platform: “Ban use of drone aircraft for assassination, bombing, and other offensive purposes.” That’s the whole statement. Would she rather send manned aircraft and put more of our military in harm’s way? She’s not for disbanding the armed forces, so maybe that’s the case. Hard to say when her platform is little more than a talking points cheat sheet.

The whole charade of Stein’s media-driven candidacy covers the fact that the Green Party has no ground game. This is a one-candidate show, not a genuine reformist party working to change a system from the local level. Unlike the Libertarian Party, the Green Party doesn’t hold a single state house seat. If this was a party sincere about its mission, it would be building infrastructure from the local level.

Instead, we have what amounts to a celebrity campaign seemingly designed to foil the Democrats. In a year where our democracy is threatened by a terrifying demagogue, the Green Party is revealing itself to be reckless and full of hot air. A vote for Jill Stein is a vote that doesn’t go to the only candidate who can realistically defeat Donald Trump.

Liberals deserve better than Jill Stein. Luckily, with the assistance of Bernie Sanders, they already have the most progressive Democratic Party platform in history. Hillary Clinton may not be an ideological firebrand, but she listens to voters and makes serious policy proposals informed by their concerns. That’s what a democratic leader does, and that’s why she has my enthusiastic vote.

Jill Stein needs to head back to the drawing board and reevaluate her priorities.

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