‘Jill, Not Hill’
PHILADELPHIA—When Dr. Jill Stein, the presumptive presidential nominee of the Green Party of the United States, showed up at the Wells Fargo Center, she quickly drew much attention.
“This is not your convention—Get the f@#& out!,” shouted one person as Stein kept taking selfies and shaking hands.
“I think we should repeal Promesa,” Stein yelled back at me, as “Jill not Hill” chants began to sound off.
“It’s time to give them the dignity of a bailout and a full choice for their future…whether they want statehood or to be separate, we need to respect the people of Puerto Rico,” she added, after this newspaper’s reporter asked her for a quick thought on Puerto Rico’s current situation.
Stein concluded the short exchange by saying that the island has had “its wealth, labor and resources exploited as a colony.” Dozens of cameras, press and many more people got to the site shortly thereafter.
Many delegates of both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders were dismayed at seeing how Stein crashed the 2016 Democratic National Committee (DNC) Convention—concern over her take on the island could extend to some Puerto Rico creditors, U.S. politicians and federal government officials.
It is not the first time Stein has commented on Puerto Rico’s fiscal and political situation.
Two months ago, she tweeted that “Puerto Rico has given so much to us. We need to give back. I disagree with Trump, we should give P.R. bankruptcy protection that states have.” Another tweet said, “We need to free Puerto Rico from indentured servitude & build a working economy not built on debt, but on Green jobs & self-determination.”
Upon passage of Promesa, or the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management & Economic Stability Act, Stein released a statement saying it was “good news for the hedge funds and other financial predators but bad news for Puerto Rico and their impoverished residents.” The statement added that the federal law places too much power in a costly fiscal board, at the expense of funding cuts to education, healthcare and pensions.
A physician who graduated with two degrees from Harvard University, she would be making her second-consecutive run for the U.S. presidency under the Green Party, “an independent political party that is connected to U.S. social movements, and is part of a global Green movement,” according to its website.
Attracting disaffected Bernie supporters
Mostly associated with well-known consumer activist Ralph Nader, a five-time presidential candidate who ran twice under the Green ticket, the party is also seen as left wing and anti-establishment that mostly appeals to the young and liberals who feel disconnected with the Democratic Party.
The Greens have been pushing for years to break in as a legitimate third option in the U.S. political system, while shunning financial support from Wall Street or any corporations. Spurred in part by internal divisiveness and weak penetration, low voter turnaround since its inception in 1984 has kept them outside the mainstream.
This week, Stein named Ajamu Baraka, a human rights activist, as her vice presidential running mate under the Green Party’s alternative ticket for the 2016 elections. The party is holding its national convention in Houston this weekend, Aug. 4-7, where Stein is expected to be officially nominated as their presidential candidate.
During her short appearance inside the DNC’s convention, she certainly drew all kinds of reactions—enthusiasm from many Sanders’ supporters who have always felt connected to the “left winger, populist progressive,” as she is often described; with outrage from many others who felt she had just crossed the line.
For Stein and Company, scooping up former Bernie supporters who feel betrayed by their leader’s endorsement of Clinton seems to be a priority now, as she demonstrated not only by showing up at the Wells Fargo Center, but also at other events held throughout the city during the Democrats’ four-day gathering.
What’s more, instead of perhaps shooting for the stars, the Greens are proud of the small coups they have been able to register along the way at the local level, aided by a strong grassroots focus.
For their part, Dems argue that not adding Bernie votes would only better the odds of the Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump. This would add yet another item on Clinton’s to-do list as she attempts to win every single vote possible to tackle what is shaping up to be a tough election.
As for her remarks on Puerto Rico, Stein joins the detractors’ list of Promesa and its fiscal board, which is expected to begin work in just over a month.