AS brings Third Party candidate Jill Stein to speak at SMC

The Associated Students of Santa Monica College welcomed Green Party Presidential candidate Jill Stein to speak at the school Wednesday, September 25. Stein visited the campus shortly after a long road trip, where much of her energy was spent getting the party on the ballot, she said. Stein conceded almost immediately that nothing short of a truly herculean effort would produce meaningful results.

“We’re only beginning to run a real campaign,” she told the small but dedicated crowd. Numbers from a recent CNN poll showed two percent of registered voters favored Stein over incumbent Obama.

Stein’s address was preceded by comments from former Associated Students President and Green Party member Harrison Wills, who played a key role in bringing the candidate to SMC. Jean and Wills both ran for Green Party City Council in LA County earlier this year.

“We have a lot of things to engage in, in a meaningful way,” he said.  Wills cited student protests in April that led to the cancellation of Contract Ed as a victory against what he says was an unfair education policy.

Current AS President Parker Jean also spoke briefly about his commitment to the Green party. “A small group who know the truth is better than a big group that’s blind,” he said.  Jean’s administration officially invited the candidate to speak.

Stein addressed the school directly calling the Contract Ed program  a symptom of a struggling public education system. She decried what she called “draconian tuition hikes” and “special favors for those who can afford it.” Statewide tuition for California community colleges increased in 2012 from $36 to $46 per credit hour.

“Our campaign is insisting on forgiving student debt,” she said, adding that she’d like to make public higher education completely free.

Despite the enthusiasm shown by student leaders, not everyone was supportive of the AS efforts to court Stein. The Corsair interviewed an SMC faculty member who wished to remain anonymous due to his proximity to the AS.

“The AS are elected to represent the students and further the mission of the college, how does bringing Jill Stein to the campus do that?” he said.

“I see a lack of transparency about their own political values and how it drives their agenda,” he said. “If we’re an educational institution, why bring one candidate from one party just to speak?”

At first Jean said there were no plans to ask anyone else.  “They have their own agendas, I have mine. I have no intention to reach out to other candidates but I’m extremely open to having other candidates come out here.”

Jean later added that he was in the process of asking both President Obama and Mitt Romney to appear on campus.

Stein’s economic plan is called a “Green New Deal,” a reference to President Roosevelt’s New Deal of the 1930’s, calls for a drastic downsizing of the military and an entirely defensive national security strategy.  With savings drawn from the cuts to the military as well as a financial transaction tax or “Robinhood tax,” according to Stein, the federal government would have the resources to “step in and create more jobs.”

Stein estimates 16 million jobs will be directly created by building new infrastructure, such as public transit systems, bike paths, and parks- all of which, she explained, encourage a healthier lifestyle and reduce carbon emissions. This “solves a whole bunch if crises at once,” she said.

Other major reforms include an “economic bill of rights” designed to protect consumers and increase financial literacy, and providing free government healthcare via the single payer or “Medicare for all” system. Stein also proposed reforming the tax code and raising taxes on the wealthy, and breaking up big banks.

Stein is awaiting a response to an application for federal matching funds that could inject as much as $20 million into her campaign.  The Green party is on the ballot in 45 states, including Ohio, Florida, and Colorado, which are battlegrounds in a close race between Obama and Romney.

Stein’s focus included highlighting the ideological differences between her campaign and major parties’ by showing their similarities. Stein criticized the Obama administration’s public policy, and cited what she called a “war on our civil liberties.” She further emphasized that Obama had “embraced” many of the policies of his Republican predecessor George W. Bush with energy, education, and national security being most prominent.

Stein credited former President Bush for ending the Iraq war, noting that Bush had set the deadline for withdrawal of American troops prior to Obama taking office.  Further proof, she insisted, that the policies of the two major parties were indistinguishable.

She also called for an end to what she described as an “illegal boycott of Gaza,” and labeled the government of Israel as an “apartheid regime.”

Asked if she has any shot at winning, Stein said, “I’m not holding my breath, but I’m not ruling it out either.”