Who is the Green Party's Jill Stein, really?
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Many liberals out there, still "feeling the Bern" and seeking an alternative to Democratic nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonO’Malley tells Dems not to fear Trump FBI informant gathered years of evidence on Russian push for US nuclear fuel deals, including Uranium One, memos show Pelosi blasts California Republicans for supporting tax bill MORE, have found a new hero: Green Party nominee Jill Stein. Unmotivated by the very real fear of Republican nominee Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpO’Malley tells Dems not to fear Trump Right way and wrong way Five things to know about the elephant trophies controversy MORE becoming president, they insist that Stein and her party represent a realistic alternative to the Democrats, whom, they say, have no stronghold on their vote.

But who is Stein, and what do her and her party stand for?

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Stein is a Massachusetts physician who resides in Lexington, where she has been elected to the town meeting twice, receiving (according to her Wikipedia page) a whopping 539 votes the first time. Although she's also been a candidate for governor twice, a candidate for secretary of the commonwealth, a candidate for the Massachusetts House, and the Green Party's nominee for president in 2012, the town meeting is the highest elected office she's ever held. Her website offers the soon-to-be short-lived distinction that she "holds the current record for most votes ever received by a woman candidate for President of the United States in the general election."

Stein has also been a strong advocate for energy reform, leading protests and fights for legislation. In fact, leading a "Green Revolution" is a large part of her current candidacy: She has promised to transform the United States into a green economy that will invest in renewable energy sources and lead the world in environmental technology, all the while creating millions of new jobs in what she posits will be an expanding sector.

Looking over Stein's campaign promises and the Green Party platform, you'll find a number of worthless platitudes, but also some legitimately good ideas: healthcare as a basic human right; abolishment of the Electoral College in favor of a direct popular vote; reenactment of Glass-Steagall Act; and universal child care, to name a few.

But you'll also find some truly bad ideas, such as cutting military spending by 50 percent and closing over 700 foreign military bases; cutting U.S. financial and military support to Israel because, according to the platform, it is a "human rights abuser"; unilateral nuclear disarmament; labeling genetically modified organisms, an idea that both scientists and economists oppose since it would wrongfully scare people, cause economic damage and possibly lead to a rise in food prices; and banning the use of drones.

Other platform "ideas" are ridiculously vague, such as the one that states that "America's youth should not be put in jail for offenses they commit."

There are also pie-in-the-sky type statements that offer no actual methods of implementation, such as the one that states we should "end discrimination against former offenders who have paid for their crimes." OK. How? Or the one that says we should "establish a foreign policy based on diplomacy, international law, human rights, and nonviolent support for democratic movements around the world." Again, how would that work?

Some ideas go even further, sounding more like communism than anything we've seen in a free economy. The platform states that "the unemployed would have an enforceable right to make government provide work." It also says that they would "outlaw scabbing on striking workers" and "impose an immediate moratorium on foreclosures and evictions."

Stein has taken some other pretty dangerous positions, such as questioning the integrity of our vaccine system.

But the biggest problem with the Stein candidacy and the Green Party in general is how untethered to reality they both are, as if they can win over electorates and pass legislation if only they're completely true to their purist principals, which are sometimes, frankly, delusional to begin with. Promising 0 percent unemployment, for instance, through a "Green Revolution" and government control of the economy not only ignores economic realities — it ignores political, ideological and constitutional ones as well.

Though, perhaps if you're willing to cast a vote for a candidate with no true experience on the national or international stage, reality is not what's important to you after all.

Rosenfeld is an educator and historian who has done work for Scribner, Macmillan and Newsweek.


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