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With Bernie Sanders out of the US presidential race, his supporters, of which I was one, have some tough decisions to make. The ones who didn’t really understand democracy in the first place may just stay home; the ones who were seething with bigotry will vote for Trump; the ones who just want to avoid a fascist government at this point will vote for Clinton (that’s me); and the ones who don’t want to give up the dream of immediate, radical change will vote for a third party candidate, neither of whom will ever be president in our or anyone else’s lifetime. Amongst those, the ones who skew conservative will vote for the libertarian Gary Johnson and the ones who skew liberal will vote for the Green Party’s Jill Stein, who is actually the candidate who most resembles Bernie Sanders out of the entire field.
Because I’m a filthy hippy, I have a number of friends who favor Stein, so I’ve been interested in her policies. Again, she will never, ever be president of the United States. I doubt her ability to become president of her homeowner’s association. But that said, it’s still worth taking a critical look at her beliefs, since she’s attracting a decent following of former Sanders supporters.
A lot of her policies mirror Sanders’s, or take them a step further. She’s in favor of a single payer healthcare system, eliminating student loan debt, legalizing marijuana, protecting lgbt rights, and ensuring safe access to abortion.
When it comes to science, though, she’s pretty hit or miss. She believes in global warming and wants to fight it, but she also thinks genetically modified crops are dangerous and wants to ban them. As a reminder, there’s simply no compelling scientific evidence that suggests GMOs are dangerous.
Stein also thinks that wifi may be dangerous to human health, and wants to establish a regulatory agency to oversee it. She points to poorly done one-off studies to support her assertion, which is par for the course for conspiracy theorists.
Possibly her worst quality, though, is her pandering on vaccines. Stein is an actual medical doctor, so she should be well aware of the mountain of evidence we have that shows absolutely no link between vaccines and autism, no link between vaccines and any serious injury, and no problem with the current vaccine schedule. But when asked direct questions about her opinion on vaccines, she always waffles. Take her Reddit AMA, in which she answers a question about whether vaccines are dangerous by blathering on for several paragraphs about how people are right to be skeptical of Big Pharma influencing the FDA.
She talked around the issue again when interviewed for Newsweek, causing the interviewer to have to ask her twice to actually get a clear answer. When nailed down and asked for a direct answer to the question of if she believes vaccines cause autism, her best answer is “I do not know of any evidence to that effect.”
I actually do think Stein knows vaccines don’t cause autism, but she is so focused on not losing the support of people who do think that way that she refuses to be direct. This has never been shown more clearly than last month when musicianColin Meloy asked her on Twitter, “Hey @DrJillStein, do you believe vaccines cause autism?” Stein responded with “There’s no evidence that vaccines cause autism. Let’s do more to support autistic people & their families,” which is a great fucking answer! But that answer was quickly deleted, and replaced with a second Tweet reading, “I’m not aware of evidence linking autism with vaccines. Let’s do more to support autistic people & their families.”
All politicians may pander to some extent, but I can’t support someone who claims to be a radical revolutionary who doesn’t even have the courage to stand up for her own beliefs on an issue as important as this one. Even though she’ll never win an election, any politician pandering to anti-vaccination activists only makes them stronger.
photo credit: https://www.flickr.