By Iridian Casarez and Andrew George Butler
Does it feel a little more green around campus today? Jill Stein, the Green Party 2016 presidential candidate, is set to speak in the Kate Buchanan room at 6 p.m., March 8. Stein, who has made several trips to HSU in the past, will speak on a variety of issues concerning the nation such as climate change, political reform, and grassroots movements.
Q: Why are you returning to speak at HSU?
A: This is where the change begins. Humboldt County as a whole is a very forward looking place. The Arcata City Council was the first in the nation to have a majority of Green Party members. Humboldt State has been ahead of the curve for a while now, and I think the curve is finally catching up to us.
Q: President Donald Trump and his administration don’t believe in climate change or protecting the environment, what can we as students do to save our planet?
A: This is a critical situation. There are two things we can do. The first is to build a strong unified movement for social change; a movement for people, planet and peace over profit. The second step is to take power. It’s very important that in addition to mobilizing in the street, we seek office and legislative change.
Q: Do you think it’s possible for the Democratic or Republican party, with their ties to large corporations, to seek and achieve effective climate change reform?
A: History has been teaching us a lesson here. Under the Obama administration, even with two democratic houses of congress, our emissions and fossil fuel extraction increased. The track record is clear no matter which party is in power the motto remains “Drill Baby Drill.” The Democrats are good at putting a friendly face on their policies of war, climate change, immigration and deportation.
Q: How urgent is the climate crisis?
A: It’s as urgent as it gets. We need to realize as a nation that it is time to act. We are out of time. We need to save our skins, and no one in Washington is going to do it for us. There’s an old saying: You can’t teach a man something when his income depends on not knowing it, and that’s the problem.
Q: Why do you think the platform of the Green Party regarding free higher education and climate change turns away a lot of older voters?
A: The issue is that young people are living it, and older people have a safer niche socially and economically. Their not gonna be around much longer, so they see the world with less longevity. There tends to be this generational divide between the younger and older generations. It’s always the younger generations that create change. The younger generation is the cash cow in a predatory economy.
Q: Why do you think the U.S. government and its citizens respond to select natural disasters quickly but ignore larger issues such as global warming?
A: To my mind the biggest issue there is that the system change is not welcome by corporate media. They do not want to give voice to a real climate mobilization.
Q: Democratic and Republican parties get the most media attention while other political parties are left in the background with little to no media attention. What are some of the challenges that Green Party Candidates face when running for presidency? How fair do you think our election system is?
A: Our election system makes a mockery of democracy. It does that in a few ways through no debate time, through media that won’t cover non-corporate candidates, the role of big money in politics, the role of fear, and through voter suppression. All of these things have to be fought and that’s why you need a political party, because if we only fight one issue at a time we are divided and conquered.
Q: What made you want to be political?
A: I didn’t get political until I was 50. It was 50 years of experience that taught me it is a losing proposition trying to make change outside of politics. As a doctor, mother, health advocate I was fighting to create cleaner jobs and clean up our coal plants. We wrote proposals to be able to do just that, but it still wouldn’t pass because it’s the campaign contributions and the lobbyists who decide how our elected officials vote. We created a referendum that cleaned up the money in politics, but the democratic party repealed it and that taught me that change wasn’t going to come from the democratic party. I was then recruited by the Green party. They said “well why don’t you keep fighting these social battles but call it a campaign governor and run against Mitt Romney in Massachusetts.” I said to myself, well nothing else is working might as well try electoral politics.
Q: Will you be running for President in 2016?
A: I describe myself as a mother on fire. I will do whatever I can do to be most helpful. If there is a need for me to take that role, I could not say no in good conscience.