The 2016 presidential campaign in Connecticut began on Saturday with its first visit from a presidential hopeful.
The Green Party’s 2012 presidential nominee, Dr. Jill Stein, spoke at Portland Waverly Senior Center in Portland, Connecticut, to discuss “the Green Party’s views on a permanent war status” and a “’Green New Deal’ to create thousands of jobs and help the environment.” Stein recently announced her intention to form an Exploratory Committee to seek support for a presidential campaign in 2016, according to a Green Party press release.
Stein’s speech was the focal point of a four-hour event, sponsored by the Green Party of Connecticut. Commencing at noon, the event also included a performance by musician and Green Party supporter Baird Welch-Collins.
In 2012, Stein received 469,501 votes for president, was on the ballot in 37 states (though not in Connecticut) and received write-in votes in another seven states, according to the Middletown Press. She also received endorsements from activists and intellectuals such as Noam Chomsky and Chris Hedges.
Green Party spokesman Tim McKee called her “the most successful female presidential candidate in U.S. history. She was the Green Party candidate in 2012 and has been organizing for the Greens ever since. She was arrested for trying to enter and debate with the Democratic and Republican candidates.”
During her campaign for president three years ago, Stein and running mate Cheri Honkala were arrested outside of Hofstra University in New York while trying to enter the debates organized by the Democratic and Republican parties.
The Green Party, and Stein in particular, have been critical of the Obama administration for not taking a firm progressive stance on contemporary issues. As part of the Green Party’s response to President Obama’s State of the Union Address in January of this year, she said, “The past decade of endless war on terror has been an unmitigated disaster which is now blowing back at us in the proliferation of extremist groups. ISIS was directly out of the chaos that we seeded in Iraq through ten years of vicious warfare and sectarian conflict that was promoted by our policies in Iraq.”
She also criticized Obama’s economic policies saying, “Ninety-five percent of economic gains and recovery have gone to the top one percent, corporate profits have doubled under Obama’s watch… 40 million students are in debt, a million are about to lose food stamps, we are in a state of emergency. We are not in a state of recovery.”
The “Green New Deal,” a major focus of the discussion in Portland, intends to echo Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal implemented in response to the Great Depression and the Wall Street Crash of 1929.
Stein said that the Green New Deal would create a jobs program based on living wages and a green economy.
Her plans include to “zero out our climate emissions by 2030, make wars for oil obsolete and establish the infrastructure for health,” by reducing the military budget and energy expenditures.
“The savings drastically outweigh the costs,” Stein said.
The party’s outlook is optimistic, but on a national scale Green candidates have received little attention in the last few presidential elections. Stein’s 469,501 votes in 2012 amounted to only 0.36 percent of the popular vote in 2012, which was its lowest since Ralph Nader won 2.74 percent in 2000. In Connecticut, Stein received a total of 863 votes, which amounted to 0.06 percent of the state’s total.