COLLEGE PARK – Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein and her running mate Ajamu Baraka told several hundred people at a campaign rally Sunday they had more options than the major party nominees.
“You are what democracy looks like UMD,” Stein shouted to an audience of several hundred, populated largely by University of Maryland students. “We are in the middle of a mobilization that puts people, peace, and plant over profit.”
Speakers at the rally also included Green candidates from across Maryland including Senate candidate Margaret Flowers, 8th District Congressional candidate Nancy Wallace, 4th District Congressional candidate Kamesha Clark, and Code Pink national co-director Alli McCracken.
“There is a generation of young people that are in debt and they’re seeing that Democrats and Republicans have no solutions and they have been really self-mobilizing,” Stein said after the event.
“Four years ago, we were ahead of the curve, this time the curve has caught up with us,” she added when asked about her 2012 run.
“We bring ethics to politics,” said Wallace, who is competing against facing state Sen. Jamie Raskin (D-20), Dan Cox (R), and Jasen Wunder (L) in Maryland’s 8th District. “We have to fundamentally change the way the House of Representatives works to deal with the massive crises we have today.”
International Socialist, a student group active on the campus, was primarily responsible for bringing Stein and Baraka to the campus.
“The two party system is not only a problem in terms of choice but environmental destruction, wars abroad, the criminal injustice system are a bipartisan project,” said Jesse Zarley, a Ph.D. student and an organizer with the group.
“If we want any of those things to change, we need to build an alternative to the two party system” Zarley added.
McCracken, who connected with the audience by highlighting her work at Code Pink and recalling that armed conflicts in the Middle East have lasted most of her life, focused most of her speech on critiquing the foreign policy of the United States.
“A lot of people from both sides of the political aisle are concerned about the legality of conducting acts of war with countries that we’re not actually at war with, there are people worried the executive branch is over exerting it’s power by playing the judge jury and executioner” said McCracken after the event.
McCracken, whose organization refrains from endorsing candidates, noted she participated as an individual.
The Green Party formed in 1984 as a loose association of state parties to oppose nuclear proliferation and bring attention to environmental issues.
It has since grown to its current iteration to include a national committee with parties in 46 states including Washington, D.C. and the Virgin Islands.
“We are the only party without special interest money and the only party that realizes the human economy has to exist within the natural economy” said Tim Willard, a 2014 Green Party candidate for the Montgomery County Council.
The party stresses democracy, peace, ecology, and social justice, as its core values.
Universal health care, tuition-free public education, a $15 minimum wage, campaign finance reform, and peace over militarism are parts of the party platform.
During her speech, Stein claimed the campaign finance system prevents the Green Party from fairly competing with Democratic or Republican candidates.
With campaign finance laws in effect for Montgomery County’s 2018 election cycle, Willard went on to elaborate that he envisions a bright future for the Green Party.
Willard said he personally opposes the county’s term limit referendum but added, “I hope that people could vote out people rather than knee-jerk voting by party”
Although optimism at the rally was high, Zarley said Stein would not win the presidential election.
“The big message is we’re not going to win but it’s a platform that can bring people together which will be the basis for networks and relationships because no matter who wins everything that we’re against is not going away,” Zarley added.
According to the Federal Elections Commission (FEC), under current political finance laws, if a candidate of a minor party receives between 5 percent and 25 percent of the popular vote, the nominating party is eligible for $10 million of public financing in the following election cycle and receives greater ballot access.
“What has held us back is the censorship by the media and the debate commission, so we’re fighting to get that critical breakthrough to get to 5 percent,” Stein said.
Wallace said after the election, the Green Party will continue “articulating the needs of the people like universal health care, free public college and a $15-an-hour minimum wage.”