GREEN PARTY presidential nominee Jill Stein argues that Americans should not vote for the lesser of two evils. Instead of voting out of fear, they should vote for the most deserving candidate. Unfortunately for Ms. Stein, even if you accepted the logic, it would not lead this year to a vote for her.
Ms. Stein sat down with our editorial board Thursday, as Republican Donald Trump and Libertarian Gary Johnson have done previously. She stressed some important issues, especially climate change. As an activist in her home state of Massachusetts, she worked to shut down polluting, coal-fired power plants, and she says she would bring that activist’s sensibility to the Oval Office.
But Ms. Stein’s policy ideas are poorly formed and wildly impractical. Her “activist” approach, she said, involves building “broad coalitions,” but she criticized Hillary Clinton for reaching out to Republicans. She proposes to end all use of coal, oil, gasoline and nuclear power by 2030, guaranteeing a federal job to anyone who wants one along the way, and says she can accomplish this revolution for $500 billion — less than the cost of President Obama’s 2009 stimulus. Even this trifle would be recouped in health savings, she said, as her “Green New Deal” reduced the incidence of asthma, diabetes and other illnesses.
There would no doubt be health benefits. But Ms. Stein is nevertheless spinning up a fairy tale — an appealing fairy tale to some, but still a fairy tale. To support the feasibility of her plan, Ms. Stein cited experts whose models in fact envision an energy transition taking decades longer than she posits. To support her health prognostication, she improbably cited Cuba’s experience losing access to Russian oil after the fall of the Soviet Union, after which, she pointed out, Cubans became healthier. In fact, they became healthier because they could no longer afford to smoke or drink alcohol and because so many involuntarily lost weight. “Cubans survived drinking sugared water, and eating anything they could get their hands on, including domestic pets and the animals in the Havana Zoo,” Richard Schiffman recounted in the Atlantic. “They became virtual vegans overnight.”
On foreign policy, Ms. Stein expressed general accord with her running mate, Ajamu Baraka, who has decried the “unimaginable atrocities fomented by a demented and dying U.S. empire . . . and the gangster states of NATO,” though she said she might choose different language. Ms. Stein would “take a good hard look at NATO” and radically reduce U.S. military activity, preferring diplomacy to respond, for example, to Russian President Vladimir Putin. But when we asked what would make her diplomacy more successful than the Minsk process that has failed to end the fighting in Ukraine, there was not much of a response.
Ms. Stein did not exactly convey a sense of awe about how tough the presidency is. “I don’t believe that it is rocket science,” she said of administering the federal government. But that blitheness may not be surprising from a politician who cites climate change as a global emergency — and then argues the country would be no better off electing Ms. Clinton, who promises to continue Mr. Obama’s progress on warming, than Mr. Trump, who has said the whole thing is a hoax invented by the Chinese.
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