Bernie supporters find political similarities with Jill Stein
By Ali Osgood
Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein spoke to an audience of nearly 400 Humboldt County community members on Wednesday night in HSU’s Kate Buchanan room. Among the crowd were human rights activists, environmentalists, future, past, and present politicians, and a large number of young people. Many of these audience members were also former Bernie Sanders supporters who looked toward Stein when Sanders was out of the running for president.
“There are lots of Berners who are burning green,” Stein said (a Berner is another name for Bernie Sanders supporters). “The important thing here is not to close your eyes to what history is telling us…If you think we have more time to keep beating around the bush, stay in the Democratic Party. If you don’t? Move on, move forward. The more of us the better.”
Throughout the night Stein, as well as audience members, tied in comparisons to Sanders’ platform. In the beginning of her speech, Stein addressed that she believes Sanders would have won the presidential election against Trump.
For Humboldt, Sanders was the top democratic pick in the 2016 primary election with a 40% lead over Hillary Clinton according to the Humboldt County elections office. Clinton went on to become the democratic candidate and many Humboldt Berners went on to support Stein over Clinton. Stein had over 3,500 votes locally, a thousand more than she received when she ran for president in 2012. Clinton had a thousand less votes than president Obama received in 2012.
Audience member Rob Jensen, Eureka, was one of the Berners who voted for Stein.
“When the Democratic Party forced out Bernie, I felt that the Green Party had a similar platform to his,” Jensen said. “People have told me I wasted my vote, but for me, Clinton wasn’t a viable option.”
As Stein covered topics including climate change and corrupt economics, she also discussed the problems with a two party system and how voters are more likely to vote against a candidate. Her campaign manager and 2004 Green Party presidential candidate, David Cobb, helped reiterate this concept.
“[It’s] a voting system that forces people to feel like they have to vote against the candidate that they hate rather than for the one that they want,” Cobb said.
Cobb, a Eureka local, saw a spike in Stein support after the 2016 Democratic National Convention(DNC) in Philadelphia where Bernie was beat out by Clinton for the nomination.
“It’s worth pointing out that even with every single dirty trick that they did, Bernie almost won the Democratic nomination. So it’s really a testament to the hunger that so many people had for the kind of platform that Bernie represented,” Cobb said.
According to both Sanders’ and Stein’s websites, they do have a lot of common ground in their political beliefs. Their policies on education, climate change, and a single payer health care system are nearly identical. This may have played a part in the 1000 percent fundraising increase Stein’s campaign saw after the DNC.
The spike in support for Stein, hitting as high as 20 percent in August in Colorado, according to MSNBC, helped get the Green Party ticket on 48 ballots of the 50 states.
The HSU Greens, a student club of Green Party members, helped organize Stein’s event on Wednesday. The president of HSU Greens worked with Stein and Cobb during the 2016 campaign and helped get Stein to Humboldt State. Aaron Zvirman, HSU Greens treasurer, helped organize the grants for Steins visit and coordinated with other groups on campus for the event.
“Having someone this high profile to the little town of Arcata is an excellent opportunity for people to play a more active role in politics and voice their opinions to someone with actual political standing,” Zvirman said.
After a 50 minute speech by Stein, the microphone was open to audience members to ask Stein questions. Stein was able to answer every person’s question, which went on for about an hour and a half. The crowd trickled out throughout the question panel, but about a quarter remained to see the evening through to its conclusion.
Stein ended her speech to a standing ovation. She closed with a familiar call to action that’s been heard throughout her 2016 campaign trail.
“We need a government that’s of, by, and for the people,” Stein said. “The power to create that world is not just in our hopes, it’s not just in our dreams. Right here and now, more than ever, it’s in our hands.”