What Does the Green Party Offer for Black Voters that Differs from Clinton and Trump?

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Jill Stein and Ajamu Baraka, Green Party presidential and vice presidential candidates (YouTube)
Jill Stein and Ajamu Baraka, Green Party presidential and vice presidential candidates (YouTube)

Is the Green Party the way for Black voters, and are they considering it as an option? In a presidential race where Donald Trump is viewed as a racist who must be stopped at all costs, and Hillary Clinton is regarded by some as the lesser of two evils with an unresolved sketchiness factor, what does the Green Party offer?

The third party had its nominating convention in Houston over the weekend, selecting physician and activist Jill Stein as its presidential candidate, and human rights activist Ajamu Baraka — founding executive director of the U.S. Human Rights Network — as her running mate.

And as NPR reported, it was a rare opportunity for the progressive political party to grow by attracting disaffected Bernie Sanders supporters.

“Are you going to try and go inside there and reform this party that has demonstrated in every way, with every opportunity, that they really do not give a flying f— about one thing that you care about?” said Yahne Ndgo, a vocal “Bernie or Bust” supporter, according to NPR.

Ndgo accused the Democratic National Committee of rigging the Democratic primaries and stacking the deck in favor of Clinton.

“Or are you going to open up your mind to the possibility that there is something in place, a national organization that’s already in place that actually wants to hear from and represent your needs, your interests and your leadership? To me, it’s not a hard decision.”

In a two-party system that discourages third parties and keeps them out of debates, independent political movements are regarded by critics as spoilers. Recent polls have the Greens capturing 4 or 5 percent of the vote, and 16 percent of voters under 30, according to Politico. And the Green Party has faced criticism in the past for not being serious contenders, and for attracting mostly white support. But in this season of discontent and political movement building, from Black Lives Matter and other circles, at least some Black voices are taking a look at the Green Party.

Speaking on Power 105.1’s “The Breakfast Club” in New York, Morehouse College professor and VH1 host Marc Lamont Hill said he supports the Green Party, and that there is no such thing as the lesser of two evils.

“We can afford to lose an election; we can’t afford to lose our values,” he said.

Hill expressed his disappointment over the Democratic National Convention, which he believes used the patriotism language of the Republicans.

“I wouldn’t vote for her,” he said of Clinton. “I’m voting for the Green Party. … They’re not going to win this election. But if the differences between the two candidates aren’t vast enough, then I would rather introduce a third candidate to build a movement. Because every four years we say, ‘The third party can’t win.’ So we never invest in the third party. We never grow the third party. If they get five percent of the vote, they can be in the debates. And if they’re in the debates, now we can change the conversation.”

Further, Hill offered that he is not scared of Trump, but rather is scared of the country moving in the wrong direction, and is tired of voting for imperfect candidates.

“I would rather have Trump be president for four years and build a real left-wing movement that can get us what we deserve as a people, than to let Hillary be president and we stay locked in the same space where we don’t get what we want,” he noted, calling for a radical disruption of the status quo, and a system that is working as it was intended.

“We’re in this model where we keep saying the system is broken, and it’s not. The system works exactly the way it’s supposed to,” he said. “Instead of saying, ‘The system is broken, let’s fix it,’ we should be saying, ‘The system is working, and let’s break it.’ ”

Further, Cornel West, who supported Sanders, is now backing Jill Stein. West told “Democracy Now!” that he cannot support Clinton, a “neoliberal disaster” who he says supports mass incarceration, deregulates banks and markets, has promoted regime change in Libya and Honduras, and has undermined efforts on behalf of working people in Haiti:

I think after a magnificent campaign of Bernie Sanders, the next step is a green step. The next step is a progressive step. And when you’re calling for reparations, you’re calling for the release of prisoners who have been historically unfairly treated, especially tied to nonviolent crimes, and then saying they should vote and that vote should never be taken away, when you’re calling—putting people and planet and peace before profits, Sister Jill Stein, for me, is somebody that’s worth fighting for. And she’s not a spoiler. You know, a lot of people use that term “spoiler.” If Hillary Clinton can’t make the case to progressives, she doesn’t deserve our vote.

The Green platform is a sweeping progressive one, with a living wage for everyone who needs work, a full employment program, guaranteed access to food, water, housing and utilities as a human right, and free, universal child care. The party also advocates for health care as a guaranteed right, the abolition of school college debt, and free public education from preschool to university. In the area of criminal justice, the Greens would abolish the death penalty, and end the failed war on drugs, mass incarceration, institutional racism and police brutality. In addition, the Green platform would demilitarize the police, cut the military by half and invest in communities instead.

In the area of housing, the Green Party would desegregate housing, impose a moratorium on all evictions and foreclosures, advocate for affordable housing at a cap of 25 percent of one’s income, and create a federal bank to take over homes with distressed mortgages and make them affordable. Further, in the area of elections and democracy, the Greens would “enact electoral reforms that break the big money stranglehold and create truly representative democracy: full public election financing, ranked-choice voting, proportional representation, and open debates.” Their platform calls for expanding the right to vote, restoring voting rights to offenders while still in prison, and abolishing the Electoral College.

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