About 200 people gathered at De la Guerra Plaza in downtown Santa Barbara Saturday morning as Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein castigated the “lesser of two evils” choice posed by the Democratic and Republican parties in this year’s presidential campaign and lambasted the mainstream media for not covering the full spectrum of political debate. Stein also objected at being shut out of Sunday’s presidential debate between Democratic Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump, as was Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson.
The gray-haired Stein — wearing a bright blue jacket and black slacks — spoke perched atop a utility box located underneath the plaza’s three flag poles and urged those assembled to vote their hopes not their fears, making the case that hers is not a lost cause. If all 43 million adults — millennials and older — saddled with serious college debt voted for her, Stein said, she could win. Stein not only advocates debt forgiveness, she’s calling on free tuition for higher education. For every dollar invested, she said, the economy grows by $7. Stein took a dim view of the much-heralded economic recovery, stating it’s only benefitted the “top 5 percent,” leaving millions forced to find multiple part-time jobs to get by.
Stein noted the last 24-hour news cycle has yielded reports damaging for both Trump and Clinton. The release of the 2005 video of Trump boasting about grabbing women by their genitalia demonstrated that he’s “a star in his own soft-core porn film and a scumbag.” But that, she said, only confirmed what most people already had come to expect. The new reports, courtesy of Wikileaks, of paid speeches Clinton delivered to various Wall Street groups, Stein said demonstrate “you can trust absolutely nothing that Hillary Clinton says.” Stein alluded to a 2013 speech Clinton made to National Multi-Housing Council in which she reportedly stated, “So you need to have both a public position and a private position.”
Clinton’s campaign has yet to confirm the accuracy of the transcription and has insisted that Wikileaks has been “weaponized” by the Russian government as part of its effort to influence the outcome of this year’s election. Her speech was part of a broader conversation on engaging high level negotiations and some of the challenges involved. Trump, as widely reported, has acknowledged making the remarks in question, apologized for them, while at the same time accusing Bill Clinton of saying far more lewd things, and attacking Hillary Clinton of engaging in character assassination against the women who went public about their affairs with Bill Clinton.
Stein said carbon dioxide and methane emissions got worse, not better, under the administration of Barack Obama because it was so hospitable to fracking. “It’s been a disaster for climate,” she said. “It was actually worse than drill-baby-drill under George Bush.”
She took exception to the climate accord passed last year in Paris as being “totally voluntary.”
Stein said that under Trump, the Republican Party is being “run off a cliff,” and GOP leaders find themselves forced into the arms of the Democratic Party, thus bringing about the creation of “one big happy Demo-Republican Party.” That’s not a real choice, she stressed. In this context, it’s especially unfortunate that third-party alternatives have been excluded from presidential debates. “That’s not democracy,” she said. “That’s two-party tyranny.” She faulted Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson for his ignorance of the Syrian city of Aleppo — the locus of intense violence between the Syrian government and anti-government rebels. The Libertarian Party, she added, grew out of an initiative funded by one of the Koch brothers.
Stein said the “catastrophic wars” started and supported by both the Republicans and Democrats are responsible for half the national deficit and consume roughly one-half what’s paid in income taxes. If the United States hopes to enact meaningful immigration reform, she said, “Let’s stop causing it in the first place. You need to stop invading other countries.”
The stakes, Stein said, could not be higher. “It’s not just what kind of world we will have. It’s whether we will have a world tomorrow,” she said. “We are fighting as if our lives depended on it, which, in fact, they do.”