Jill Stein is a physician, activist, and two-time Presidential candidate. In 2012, she ran for President on the Green Party ticket, receiving more than 450,000 votes, and plans to do the same in 2016.
Stein has received extra attention in 2016 as the Presidential hopes of Socialist-turned-Democrat Bernie Sanders have started to look more and more dire. Stein has supported Sanders in the 2016 election cycle despite nominal opposition as a fellow candidate, and several in the “Bernie or Bust” faction of Sanders supporters are considering her as an option to participate in the general election. While it’s almost impossible for a third party to win the election, Stein says her target is 15 percent of the vote, a number which would grant her access to Presidential debates where she could spread the Green Party message.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. She’s a Harvard-Trained Doctor
Stein was born and raised in Chicago, and attended Harvard’s undergraduate and medical schools before starting a private internal medicine practice in 1979. According to the bio on her campaign website, issues Stein saw in her medical practice inspired her to pursue a political career:
As a practicing physician, Jill became aware of the links between toxic exposures and illness emerging in the 1990s. She began to fight for a healthy environment as a human right, assisting non profits, community groups and Native Americans combating environmental injustice and racism in dangerous exposures like lead and mercury in air and water pollution, incinerators and land fills, toxic waste sites and more. She helped lead the fight to clean up the “Filthy Five” coal plants in Massachusetts, raising the bar nationally to a cleaner standard for coal plants. She helped close a toxic medical waste incinerator in Lawrence, MA, one of the poorest communities in New England. She played a key role in rewriting the Massachusetts fish advisories to better protect women and children, Native Americans and immigrants from mercury contamination. She also helped preserve the moratorium on new toxic trash incinerators in Massachusetts.
Stein began working with the Greater Boston chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility, a doctors’ group formed “to address the health consequences of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction…the health consequences of environmental pollution and degradation, and also the reduction of violence and its causes.”
2. She Ran for President in 2012 & Massachusetts Governor Twice
In 2002, Stein “foolishly accepted” a Green Party nomination for Governor of Massachusetts. She garnered roughly 3.5 percent of the vote, making her the highest-polling third-party candidate and showing, she claims, that the people were “hungry for discussion.” Stein followed up her showing with runs for the Massachusetts Congress and Secretary of Commerce and two terms on the Lexington Town Board. She ran for Massachusetts governor again in 2010, finishing fourth with 1.42 percent of the vote.
In 2012, Stein announced her run for President of the United States. She received so little support that one campaign event attendee, upon hearing “Jill Stein for President,” asked her, “…of what?” Relegated to third-party debates like the one seen above with Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson, Stein finished with less than 1 percent of the vote. This result nonetheless made her the most successful female Presidential candidate in US history.
3. She’s Been Arrested Twice on the Campaign Trail
In 2012, Stein was locked out of the 2012 Presidential debate, as all candidates who are not polling at least 15 percent. Stein showed up at the Hofstra debate anyway, as seen above, and was arrested for trespassing upon attempting to enter the hall. Stein spoke about the issue to The Guardian:
We are on the ballot for 85% of voters. Americans deserve to know what their choices are. The police said they were only doing job. I said, ‘This is about everyone’s jobs, whether we can afford healthcare, whether students will be indentured.’ There are critical issues left out of the debate.
“Ninety million voters are predicted to stay home and vote with their feet that neither Barack Obama nor Mitt Romney represent them. That’s twice as many voters than expected for either of them.
Later in 2012, Stein was arrested at a Keystone XL Pipeline protest site after attempting to bring food and candy to protesters. Stein was attempting to help resupply a tree blockade of the pipeline’s intended route, where protesters climbed trees intended to be cut down to stop progress on land-clearing.
4. She Offered to Support Bernie Sanders in 2016 Despite Running Against Him
Stein stated in an open letter to Democratic contender Bernie Sanders that she would be open to working with him “outside the Democratic Party” to lead a “revolution” in American politics:
It’s critical that the break-through work of your campaign not be thwarted by a corporate political machine.
In this wildly unpredictable election where the old rules are giving way one by one, can we think outside the box and find new and unexpected ways to synergize beyond obsolete partisan divides?
In this hour of unprecedented crisis – with human rights, civilization, and life on the planet teetering on the brink – can we explore an historic collaboration to keep building the revolution beyond the reach of corporate party clutches, where the movement can take root and flourish, in the 2016 election and beyond?
Sanders has not responded to her offer, and is committed to contesting the Democratic convention. Many in the Sanders camp, meanwhile, are thinking of supporting Stein in the likely event that Sanders does not make it to the general election ballot. Stein’s “Green New Deal” is similar to the Sanders “political revolution” on the subjects of healthcare, education and minimum wage.
5. She Supports GMO Labeling & a ‘Moratorium’
On the subject of genetically modified food, Stein’s platform includes the following provisions:
Label GMOs, and put a moratorium on GMOs and pesticides until they are proven safe. Protect the rights of future generations.
Stein, who prepared her own organic meals on the campaign trail in 2012, doubled down in a Treehugger interview:
Our campaign is not only for labeling but also a moratorium on GMOs until such a time as they are established as safe, for the environment, for our health—and there are many red flags out their now in the health literature that there may be substantial risks to GMOs. The public deserves to have these risks studied and understood, before we are all subjected like guinea pigs to the potential risks here. If a president wanted, she could instruct the EPA to actually take this into their purview, as part of protecting the health of the environment and public health.