Hey there. I’m here in an attempt to convince you of something that may, at first, seem crazy. I want you, as a traditionalist conservative, to vote for Green Party Candidate Jill Stein for president. Go ahead, get the laughs out, I’ll wait. Ok, done? Good, then let’s talk.
First off, Mr. O’Shea, in his defense of voting for Governor Romney declares that conservative politics must be about the possible, and therefore, the traditionalist must remain within the two-party framework, hoping beyond hope that the Republican candidate governs conservatively. What he forgets is that third parties historically have had a significant impact on American politics, even without electoral success. Dr. Stein and the Green Party are also thinking of the possible; they aren’t expecting to win, and in fact, the front page of their website implies that getting as little as 1% of the popular vote would be a success. This is because simply by taking away votes from the major parties can be enough for one of them to coopt the party’s positions in the next election in order to gain more voters. The beauty is that this works, if you take a look at the Populist Party platform from 1892, or any of the Socialist Party platforms under Eugene V. Debs, you’ll see that these parties managed to get plenty of legislation passed without ever winning an election.
Are you with me so far? A vote for Jill Stein isn’t cast in order to win the 2012 election, voting for her means you’re playing the long game (but you’re a conservative, so you should love the long game). But why vote for Dr. Stein of all people, isn’t she the one the people to the left of Obama are going to be voting for? Certainly, and last I checked, traditionalist conservatives have a lot in common with the American left, especially on issues such as foreign policy, the importance of community, society as an association that extends beyond the living, and the belief that successful acquisitive individualists should not, by default, rule because of their successful acquisitiveness. In order to look at these similarities more closely, I’m going to go straight to the Green New Deal, the platform that Dr. Stein is running on this year.
Let’s start with foreign policy, shall we? I think that after watching the last debate, we can agree that the next four years are going to be, at best, the same as the last four, and at worst, will result in the invasion of Iran. As far as I’m concerned (and I believe there’s something called a Constitution that backs me up on this) this is the most important aspect of President’s job, the area where he has almost unilateral power. As a conservative, a dealer in what’s possible, this is where you should be looking when you cast your vote, because let’s be honest, nothing is going to be possible domestically with a divided congress for at least two more years.
What does Dr. Stein say on foreign policy? Let me pull out a few choice quotes. For her, the problem is not vague Middle Eastern “terrorism,” but rather, “we must protect our liberty from those who would frighten us into surrendering our freedoms in the name of security. The Green New Deal will repeal the Patriot Act and those parts of the National Defense Authorization Act that violate our civil liberties. It will prohibit the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI from conspiring with local police forces to suppress our freedoms of assembly and of speech.” A good start, right? She continues, declaring that, “Protecting our liberty requires one additional, important step. Washington and Eisenhower, both generals who became president, warned us about the military industrial complex. They warned us about the dangers of empire.” Wait; did she just cite a founding father (I thought librools hated them!) and a Republican as examples? Whaaat?
There’s no talk of Wilsonian internationalism or the Bush doctrine here, her policy position is includes “a 50% reduction in military spending and the withdrawal of U.S. military bases from the over 140 countries in which our military is now located. It calls for restoration of the National Guard as the centerpiece of our system of national defense. It creates a new round of nuclear disarmament initiatives. Overall, it requires shifting from an economy in which the majority – the majority – of our discretionary budget is spent on war and the occupation of other countries, to an economy that provides the secure, just, peaceful future we all deserve.” If you’re looking for the candidate who wants to end the American Empire, I think you’ve just found her.
I’ll be honest with you though, you could also vote for Gary Johnson for the exact same foreign policy reasons. So what else does Dr. Stein have to offer? How about something that Governor Johnson certainly doesn’t stress, the importance of community. While Dr. Stein and the Green Party certainly use the symbolism of FDR in their party platform, a closer look reveals that the use of the term “New Deal” might be a bit misleading. Rather than large-scale federal programs, Dr. Stein calls for federal money to be implemented locally. For instance, “Our Full Employment Program will directly create 16 million jobs through a community-based direct employment initiative that will be nationally funded, locally controlled, and democratically protected against conflicts of interest and pay-to-play influence peddling. The program will directly create jobs in the public and the private sector. Instead of going to an unemployment office when you can’t find work, you can simply go to the local employment office to find a public sector job.” Notice that the point is to work, not receive unlimited unemployment insurance.
The emphasis on local implementation is not incidental, she continues by saying, “This program will not be run from Washington D.C. Our job in Washington will be limited to insuring that you have a say in how this program runs. Local communities will be responsible for putting this jobs program into practice through a process of broad community input and democratic decision-making involving you, your neighbors and local government – not corrupting monied interests.” Um, isn’t that like, you know, the definition of subsidiarity? And, if you happen to be a traditionalist with an agrarian bent, you might just be a fan of the idea that some of the jobs created at the local level will be in “regional food systems based on sustainable organic agriculture.” Yes. Jill Stein is also the Jeffersonian candidate.
Let’s stick to this point for a minute, because I think it is, perhaps, the strongest reason why anyone who calls himself or herself a traditionalist conservative should vote for Dr. Stein. She continues by detailing one of these subsidiarity-driven programs, the “Green Transition Program,” which “will provide grants and low-interest loans to grow green businesses and cooperatives, with an emphasis on small, locally-based companies that keep the wealth created by local labor circulating in the community rather than being drained off to enrich absentee investors.” Take out the name “Green Transition Program” and it sounds exactly like something a traditionalist who admires Tocqueville might vote for. The emphasis on community also carries over to transportation, where one of the publically created, community-based projects is the creation of “’complete streets’ that safely encourage bike and pedestrian traffic.” Fact: Jill Stein wants to reduce the effects of the “Mechanical Jacobin.”
As you might expect, the Green Party is also interested in the environment. Of course, there’s nothing terribly un-traditional about this stance either, after all, didn’t Burke say that, “Society is indeed a contract. It is a partnership in all science; a partnership in all art; a partnership in every virtue, and in all perfection. As the ends of such a partnership cannot be obtained in many generations, it becomes a partnership not only between those who are living, but between those who are living, those who are dead, and those who are to be born.” Dr. Stein is clearly in this spirit then when she says that, “A business model that destroys our forests, our fisheries, our topsoil, our water supplies, our health, and our climate – is a business model that will inevitably collapse upon itself. And an economy that is addicted to ever-increasing supplies of oil is not only doomed, it is a national security disaster just waiting to happen.”
Finally, Dr. Stein rejects the notion that successful acquisitive individualism is a legitimate reason to hold power. She believes that, “the takeover of our economy by big banks and well-connected financiers has destabilized both our democracy and our economy. We do not need and should not tolerate the dictatorship of bankers and financiers who manipulate money without doing productive work and who enrich themselves at the expense of real businesses and real working people. It’s time to take Wall Street out of the driver’s seat and to free the truly productive segments of working America to make this economy work for all of us.” Note that this is not a call to a revolution, a takeover of the means of production by the proletariat, or a wholesale rejection of the good that capitalism brings. Rather, it is an emphasis on the dignity of both labor and ownership that has suffered at the expense of financial gamesmanship.
There are many more examples in the Green New Deal of things that traditionalists would agree with (and certainly some things they wouldn’t), but here’s the thing, there is no other candidate in this race who emphasizes the dignity and importance of the local like Jill Stein does. Sure, her candidacy will attract all the hippies and crunchy co-op people, but lets face it, traditionalists have a lot more in common with them than they’d like to admit.