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Jill Stein Wants Free Higher Ed, Abolish Student Debt

Almost unnoticed by the corporate media, Dr. Jill Stein announced last week as the national Green Party candidate for President of the United States. She’s calling for free higher education, abolishing the $1 trillion student loan debt saddling 43 million Americans, and stressed that the Greens are the only national party not taking corporate funding.

Only one major network, ABC, covered Stein’s announcement, evidently a continued effort by major corporate media to freeze other parties out of the presidential race, leaving it to the Republicans and Democrats. The two main parties blocked other parties from the 2012 presidential TV debates, leaving it only to C-SPAN, RT America, and “Democracy Now!” to cover any debates of the other national parties.

jill stein

Dr. Jill Stein announces her 2016 candidacy.

In 2012, we wrote about debates of the minor party candidates — including Stein — for The Clyde Fitch Report. That column, “The Third-Party Debate: Candor, Caring and Clarity”, noted how during the hour and a half airing, America briefly seemed to be a democracy.

Stein noted in her announcement a lawsuit was being filed against barriers to entry in presidential debates, i.e., the two major parties’ effort to block other parties from the national television jawing that are far from true debating; in fact, even far from the hour-long, one-issue, question-answer sessions in which John Kennedy and Richard Nixon inaugurated the TV “debates” in the 1960 presidential race.

Kicking off her campaign with a formal announcement followed by a TV interview on “Democracy Now!”, Stein explained her campaign’s funding:

…as a people-powered campaign that is working towards matching funds, there are all kinds of rules that we follow to minimize those contributions and ensure that we are not bought out by the big money, which is running the other parties. And that’s essentially the difference between my campaign and other campaigns, that we are part of a party that does not accept corporate money and that does not accept money from lobbyists nor from corporate CEOs or surrogates of corporations.

That appeared to be a direct slap at the corporate-magnate brothers Charles and David Koch. In a May radio interview, David Koch let it be known the two brothers would provide Republicans with $900 million for the 2016 presidential campaign.

Amy Goodman, “Democracy Now!” host, noted that U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders is espousing that the federal government should belong to all the people, not a handful of billionaires. Sanders, a socialist who was elected and has served in the Senate as an independent, has decided to run for president as a Democrat to avoid being blocked from any TV debates.

Asked about her view of Sanders, Stein commented:

I wish that he had run outside the Democratic Party. There are many similarities, obviously, between his vision and my vision. The difference is that I’m running in a party that also supports that vision, so when our campaign comes to an end, that vision will not die. It will not be absorbed back into a party that is essentially hostile to that vision and which has basically disappeared similar very principled, wonderful reform efforts within the Democratic Party that have basically allowed the party to keep marching to the right.

Goodman also asked Stein to contrast her view on issues to those of Hillary Clinton, an announced Democratic candidate. Stein said:

With Hillary, you know, I think, across the board, Hillary is the Wal-Mart candidate. Though she may change her tune a little bit, you know, she’s been a member of the Wal-Mart board. On jobs, on trade, on healthcare, on banks, on foreign policy, it’s hard to find where we are similar.

In the 2012 election, Stein and the Green Party were on the ballot in 37 states covering nearly 85 percent of voters. When she showed up at one of the presidential debates at Hofstra University, she was arrested for simply being outside with an American flag, making a statement. She noted how she and her running mate were treated:

…[We were] surrounded by 16 Secret Service and police, handcuffed tightly to metal chairs for about eight hours, until the crowds had gone home. They were that afraid that word would get out that people actually have a choice that reflects their deeply held beliefs and values.

jill stein arrest

Stein (left) and running mate arrested outside 2012 debate at Hofstra University.

Roger Armbrust

Roger Armbrust's articles and columns have covered labor and management, Congressional legislation, and federal court cases, including appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court. He formerly served as national news editor of Back Stage in New York City, where he also taught a professional writing course at New York University. His recent book of sonnets -- oh, touch me there: Love Sonnets -- is available from Amazon and other book sites. He is an associate curator of The Clyde Fitch Report. He is also co-founder and co-curator of reality: a world of views.

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