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Third-Party Politics: The Greening of Jill Stein

jill stein

“Why would you throw your vote away by supporting a third-party candidate? Especially for president of the United States? They have no chance of winning.” Have you heard that old line on Facebook? Or at your family dinner table?

In America, partisan Democrats and Republicans have lambasted the “wasted votes” of independents for generations. Their blame is misplaced (say it out loud, “Nader haters”), but such is to be expected from defenders of the status quo. Indeed, if all responsibilities were left to party insiders, few things would ever change at all.

Depending on where you reside, you may want to consider voting for a third-party candidate. If you live in a non-swing state, where your votes in national elections don’t seem to count anyway due to a crush of red or blue around you, then there may be some good that you can do without having to live with the guilt that you helped Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton get elected to the White House. If you live in a donkey haven like Massachusetts, as I do, where Clinton is expected to win by close to a million votes, there’s nothing to lose, and one can pull for an indie with ease. Imagine that: Being able to vote without having to hold your nose.

Need even more convincing? Two critical words: marijuana reform. This is an area where Green Party candidate Dr. Jill Stein shines. A Massachusetts physician who speaks for working people, Stein whipped Mitt Romney in debates when she was running against him for governor in 2010. As for the leafy-green issue, Stein “supports legalization of marijuana in all 50 states,” according to her campaign website. And there’s more: “Marijuana is a drug that is dangerous because it’s illegal. It isn’t illegal because it’s dangerous. There are drugs in use that are far more harmful than marijuana, such as alcohol. Legalize marijuana and the dangers go away. Regulate it so that children can’t buy it on the street corner.” Amen.

Trump and Clinton are a long way from making these kinds of statements; Stein has been saying these things for some time. While campaigning to be governor six years ago, she proposed a Cannabis Reform Commission to bring marijuana sales under a new regulatory framework, and spoke at the 2010 MassCann/NORML Boston Freedom Rally in favor of repealing pot prohibition. Regarding the upcoming legalization ballot initiative in Massachusetts in November, she supports Question 4.

If Stein is too liberal in other areas for some voters, then perhaps you’ll want to consider Gary Johnson, the former governor of New Mexico, who is running for the White House on the Libertarian ticket. Though he gave up toking for this race, Johnson is an actual cannabis user, and has even worked in the industry as the President and CEO of Cannabis Sativa Inc., a producer and distributor of medicinal oils.

Third-party campaigns are important and worth supporting. Despite the cries of partisan haters, Stein and Johnson—win or lose— can help advance change. Their exclusion from the debates only adds to voter disillusionment over the perceived lack of options.

A vote for Stein or Johnson is a vote for reforming federal marijuana laws. A vote for a third-party candidate isn’t a waste at all, whether you’re in a swing state or a solid blue oasis, like me.

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