Barack Obama will not be the only 2012 presidential candidate visiting Chicago for the NATO Summit this weekend.
Jill Stein, the Green Party's presumptive nominee, will be here too. Like Obama, she has strong ties to the Chicago area. She grew up in Highland Park, and her first political victory was for student council at Highland Park High School in 1968. She now lives in Massachusetts and ran against Mitt Romney for governor there in 2002.
Two of the things she will be talking about while she is here are her party's "Green New Deal" and the need to stop being spooked by the results of the 2000 vote in Florida, when Ralph Nader was seen as drawing enough votes from Al Gore to deny Gore a clearcut win in that state -- and an Electoral College win in the national race.
As for the Nader race, Stein says citizens do themselves a disservice by voting for front runners in what she calls the two "corporate-sponsored" parties instead of the one who most appeals to them.
"At the end of the day it is important to point out that this silencing of the public interest, the disappearing of our voices, has not been an effective strategy," said Stein, who earlier this month earned enough delegates to assure her nomination (the second-place candidate is Roseanne Barr). "The politics of fear has brought us everything we were afraid of."
Among the things it brought are wars, more global warming, the loss of good jobs and attacks on civil liberties, she said.
As for the "Green New Deal," it would include such things as forgiving student loans; free higher education; Medicare for everyone; a right to a job at a living wage; medical marijuana legalization; restructuring mortgages to affordable levels, and a foreign policy based on international rights, not militarism.
Stein's short-term goal is to get into the major debates with Obama and Romney, which requires gaining support of at least 15 percent in public opinion polls.
"People have hit the breaking point," she said. "We can use this election to turn the breaking point into a tipping point."
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