A few months ago, 2012 presidential candidate Jill Stein and a crew of her allies in the Green Party joined together to create a Green Shadow Cabinet. This shadow cabinet has no real power to enforce laws, but exists as a showcase of how things might be different if America had a Green Party president.
Now seems like a good time to consider the alternative history that the Green Shadow Cabinet represents, because the real president has led our country into a shutdown (Yes, I know, Democrats, that it’s actually all the Republicans’ fault and that Barack Obama had nothing to do with it, because he is the Victim In Chief and has no power to stand up for himself.)
So, what would Jill Stein do, if she had been elected President, to face down the House Republicans’ determination to shutter the national government of the USA? As it happens, RT, a news network aimed at Americans but based in Moscow, Russia, invited Dr. Stein on television to ask her that something quite close to that question. Here is her response:
“I think it’s more in the hands of the American people than Obama, to tell you the truth. We should not give in to extortion and blackmail on the part of a wing of the Republican Party that really represents the unhinged one percent. And I think it’s really the American people who need to kick in here in the same way we stopped the war, we need to kick in to say, ‘Let’s stop this government-by-extortion.’ We need to continue with the funding of the budget, we need to raise the debt ceiling, and let’s get down to restoring jobs, to creating our democracy, to solving the climate crisis, to downsizing our military. I think we need consistent public pressure, starting with, let’s fund the continuing resolution on the budget. I think we need to bombard Congress with phone calls.”
So… basically Jill Stein doesn’t have any ideas about how to handle the shutdown differently than Barack Obama. That’s not a sign that the Green Party is ready to lead. It’s a shame, because the opportunity for a coherent response exists. Here’s what I wish Dr. Stein had said:
“The root of this problem goes back to Obamacare. Barack Obama refused to even invite the proponents of single payer health care reform to the White House to be part of the negotiations back in 2009. The premise of that move was that, as flawed as Barack Obama’s health care reform package was, it was a package that could be passed into law and put into effect, because Blue Dog Democrats and moderate Republicans would accept its compromises.
The constant attacks on Obamacare since its passage, including the current government shutdown, show that this premise was faulty. Obamacare compromised, but still could not earn the approval of Republicans.
Right now, the one part of Obamacare that is getting support from Republican politicians is the plan’s slight extension of Medicare benefits. Republican governors are actually endorsing that provision.
So, what I would do, if I was in Barack Obama’s place, would be to say, “Okay, Republicans, if you don’t like Obamacare and its requirement to purchase insurance, that’s fine. We’ll scrap that plan, as you have urged, through legislation that repeals the 2009 law, and establishes in its place a more simple plan – an expansion of Medicare to everyone in the country. Families earning over $200,000 will be asked to pay an additional tax to cover their own costs, but everyone else gets it for free.”
Okay, now back to reality: Republicans are still insisting that the country doesn’t really need a federal government. Democrats are still insisting that Obamacare is the best thing since sliced bread. The Green Party still hasn’t figured out how to clearly present an alternative.