HOUSTON (CN) — Saying American voters have lost their taste for “lesser-evil politicians” in this strange political year, Dr. Jill Stein accepted the Green Party’s nomination for president at their national convention Saturday.
Stein’s running mate is Ajamu Baraka, a founder of the U.S. Human Rights Network, an associate fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies and a former college professor.
Both Stein, a physician, and Baraka addressed student debt, health care, the environment and racial profiling by police in their acceptance speeches.
Stein said student loan debt was a pressing issue, as it affects so many American voters — so many, she said, that it could bring the Green Party “a winning plurality of the presidential vote.”
The Commission on Presidential Debates requires that candidates poll at least 15 percent in five national polls to qualify for the televised debates, of which three are scheduled this year.
According to RealClearPolitics, Stein averaged only at 4 percent July 25 and Aug. 4. Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson averaged 8.4 percent, while Democrat Hillary Clinton was at 43.2 percent and Republican Trump 36.7 percent.
On Friday, a federal judge dismissed a joint lawsuit from the Green and Libertarian parties, who claimed the Democratic and Republican National Committees violated antitrust laws by excluding minor parties from the televised debates.
Undismayed, Stein said Americans are tired of having to choose between the lesser of two major party evils.
“We are saying no to the lesser evil and yes to the greater good,” she told an enthusiastic crowd.
Stein bashed both major party candidates in her acceptance speech, singling out Trump by saying, “We don’t need a frickin’ wall; we’ve just got to stop invading other countries in the first place.”
Nor did she have kind words for Clinton, saying the Clinton Foundation has accepted money from Saudi Arabia, a “major funder” of “jihadis,” making Clinton, in Stein’s words, a “war-mongering corporate criminal.”
Stein said U.S. foreign policy needs a major overhaul, especially in the Middle East.
“We have a new offensive for the Middle East: it’s called the peace offensive in the Middle East,” she said.
Keynote speaker YahNé Ndgo, a singer and activist, also has lost her patience with the two-party system. “In Texas, it’s so red a blue vote is a wasted vote,” Ndgo said during her Saturday keynote speech.
Baraka praised his running mate, saying, “Dr. Jill Stein understands that you can’t change the system without a struggle.”
Citing the dismissal of the Green and Libertarian parties’ lawsuit, Stein said the courts were not likely to help force through changes in the political system, but “court of public opinion” might.
Green Party candidates for lesser offices lamented the disenfranchisement of their party from the U.S. political system.
Dr. Margaret Flowers, candidate for the U.S. Senate in Maryland, said she joined the Green Party because of the major parties’ legislative impotence.
“I’ve tried to work within the system that we’re in, both at the state and at the national level, and that was really an awakening to me, to see the level of corruption by money of both major political parties, and how there really was no interest in passing policies that benefit the people,” Flowers said during a convention meeting Friday.
Two days of workshops preceded the formal nomination, including “The Next System: Changing the Rules of the Game,” by community organizer and human rights advocate Dana Brown, who pressed for a universal basic income, reparations and “participatory budgeting,” to democratize public funding in a community.
Hillary Kane, treasurer of the Green Party’s Philadelphia chapter, spoke of how to get out the vote in “Planning Your Next Four Months,” which outlined campaign strategies.
Because of the party’s minority status, Kane said, it’s important to identify “targeted canvassing to maximize Green Party turnout.” This includes radio ads — less expensive than TV — and “knocking on doors.”
Arn Menconi, a former county commissioner and U.S. Senate candidate for Colorado, spoke of the difficulty of competing against major party candidates — in his case, one who already has raised $12 million.
Darryl Cherney, an Earth First! member from California who sought the Green Party presidential nomination won by Stein, looked to young people for the future of the party.
“Among young people in this country, this is a four-way race,” Cherney said.
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