Dr. Jill Stein’s Stiff Dose of Progressive Medicine

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Jill Stein believes her Green Party stands to capture disaffected voters from both major parties. Bryan Woolston/Reuters

I spoke to Dr. Jill Stein just days before she received the Green Party’s nomination for president. A Harvard-trained doctor, Stein also ran for the presidency in 2012, when she received about a half-million votes. Today, though, she hopes to pick up votes from many of the progressives who felt the Bern and have no interest in supporting Hillary Clinton, even though she’s running against Donald Trump. The following interview has been condensed and edited for brevity.

Do you feel that you’ve received adequate coverage in your campaign?

We’ve had, really, just a handful of minutes’ worth of mainstream TV coverage. The American people are clamoring for something else. I hope to ensure that they get to hear about that something else, and I expect that we will continue to come up in the polls as word gets out and we get better coverage.

There are people who are afraid you may play the spoiler in November.

Really?

Yes.

And would you like me to comment on that?

Please.

Hillary and Donald are the most disliked and untrusted candidates ever. I think it would be not-friendly to democracy to say that the people should be denied another choice and another voice. 

If the two major parties so poorly represent the people, why did millions of people vote for both Trump and Clinton?

It would be hard to say that people have really been informed about their choices, when I’ve had only a handful of minutes on mainstream media, and Donald Trump has had $2 billion dollars’ worth. And Hillary has had $1 billion. And Bernie [Sanders] was at a great disadvantage. Furthermore, how many actually chose Trump and Clinton as nominees? It was 9 percent of America, according to the New York Times analysis. The majority of Hillary supporters don’t actually support Hillary. They’re just afraid of the only other candidate they know about—Donald. My campaign is the only one that is not poisoned by lobbyist money, by super PACs and corporate money.

Aren’t corporations just aggregations of people? Why is that assemblage of people any worse than any other assemblage of people?

You’ve been studying up with Mitt Romney or something?

I’m just asking a philosophical question.

Corporations are privileged economic entities. They are extremely powerful entities that accumulate wealth—enormous amounts of wealth—which then gives them the ability to buy their influence in government.

But doesn’t that wealth just go to shareholders? Who are just ordinary people?

The shareholders who get it are not ordinary people. The people who are the shareholders are the powerful few. Yes, a little bit does trickle down through pension funds and so on, but the vast majority of these earnings are going to the wealthy 10 percent or so.

Do you support Sanders’s call for a political revolution? Or even a class revolution?

Yes, absolutely. I support a peaceful revolution of democracy and justice.

Are peaceful revolutions possible?

Put it this way: If they’re not possible, it’s over. It’s not looking good if they’re not possible.

I want to talk about two recent controversies relating to science. One was about your stance on vaccines. Can you unequivocally say that the vaccination schedule of the federal government is safe and doesn’t cause autism or any other disorder?

What I can tell you is that I am not watchdogging that schedule now. As a member of Physicians for Social Responsibility, there were concerns among our scientists some years ago about that schedule. I am now practicing political medicine, because it is the mother of all illnesses. So I want a regulatory agency that is above the fray and that is not subject to influence peddling. The best way to restore confidence and improve our vaccination rates is to get the big money out of politics—and that includes pharmaceutical money—and to stop the revolving door between industry and regulatory agencies.

But—just to put this to rest—you do not believe that autism is caused by the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine or any other vaccine administered to the American public?

I do not know of any evidence to that effect. 

The other controversy is your statements regarding electromagnetic waves in wireless communication. What are your concerns regarding that?

These aren’t my concerns. These are questions that are raised by scientists in the area of environmental health. There was a very important study released one month ago, done by none other than the National Institutes of Health, that reignites cancer questions about electromagnetic radiation. What I will say is that this too requires a regulatory agency to look at it. Wi-Fi is invaluable, as are cellphones. I use them. My family uses them. But we shouldn’t deny the science. I know that the industry would like us to deny the science.

I hear you saying that our regulatory bodies are fundamentally corrupted. 

They have taken a very long time to recognize some really critical health threats out there. I mean, look at Vioxx. This is not a secret. 

Let’s move on to foreign policy. Would you end our special relationship with Israel?

I would have an ethical relationship with Israel. As an American Jew, I have a relationship with Israel. Unfortunately, Sheldon Adelson contributes a huge amount of money to [Israeli President Benjamin] Netanyahu. Why should the Sheldon Adelsons of America be messing with the politics of Israel? If I was living in Israel, and I knew that one of the major funders of a very oppressive right-wing government was coming from outside of my country, I would be up in arms about it.

Would you still offer Israel billions of dollars in military aid?

Certainly not. This would be decisively against our common values, to support apartheid, to support home demolitions, to support occupation, to support violations of international law. And this is not just new policy towards Israel. I would bring ethical foreign policy to all countries. We should not be selling weapons or funding armies of countries who are violating our basic values of human dignity and human rights. I would go to Israel—and to Saudi Arabia—with all humility, because nobody has been a bigger violator of these rights and values than our own country.

Has President Barack Obama served this country well?

He has done the best that he can. I don’t fault him for being who he is, but I think we need to turn the page.

What newspapers do you read?

I read snatches of a lot of stuff. I tend to read The New York Times every day. I watch Democracy Now! avidly. I read aggregator blogs.

What about the last great book that you read?

Gabriel García Márquez, Love in the Time of Cholera.

Last question: Are you a protest candidate?

By no means.