Between calling for Middle Eastern peace and additional renewable energy sources, Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein discussed her campaign and the 2016 election with 200 Rutgers students and visitors Saturday night at the College Avenue Student Center.
Part of her speech addressed the news that only the Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican nominee Donald Trump would be able to participate in the first presidential debate later this month.
“We think it’s wrong that two minority parties can actually obstruct the will of the people, 76 percent of Americans want an open debate,” she said. “The two majority-party candidates are the most disliked and untrusted ever in our history, so what’s wrong with this picture? This is not what democracy looks like.”
Don Courter, the general secretary of the All Marxists-Leninists Union, introduced Stein by calling for "not only a political revolution, but also a social revolution," one that would help students graduate college debt-free, end racism and improve the political environment.
“We basically want third party voices to be heard because we believe the country has been in economic discord for a very long time, the world is heading toward environmental destruction, all these reasons are why people support the Green Party,” the School of Arts and Sciences senior said.
The organization’s main goal is to introduce Stein to voters, many of whom he said may never have heard of the Green Party.
Stein said an increasing number of voters will look for a third party in the upcoming election, and reforms on the ballot can help them decide their next president.
"(The government) could fix this voting system anytime they want by creating a ranked voting system," she said. "You pick your first choice … your safety choice, rank them from top to bottom."
Green Party Chairperson Julie Saporito-Acuna agreed that having a ranked voting system would make it easier for Americans to vote.
Having a “first past the post” system does not accurately represent the electorate, she said, adding that third-party candidates cannot succeed in an environment where only two are allowed to debate or are discussed in polls.
“We need a ranked system, we need to change how we vote because the lesser of two evils is always what we have,” she said.
She said the current election system is rigged against third-party candidates.
“The presidential debate commission is completely rigged, the 15 percent threshold is unconstitutional, the Supreme Court ruling saying that they are not going to interfere or get involved in any way is a farce,” she said. “I mean you have the American public watching these televised debates because their presidential candidates are going to be on TV debating, but they just ruled it’s a private matter.”
Stein said it is important to spark discussion that would help voters, especially younger voters who face a changing climate and increasing student debt.
"We can bail out students, it's about time," she said. "We bail out the crooks on Wall Street, wouldn't you say it's time to bail out their victims?"
Forgiving student debt would require $1.3 trillion, less than the $16 trillion needed to bail out banks during the financial crash, she said. The difference between students and large banks is students have various skill sets which can benefit society.
Stein’s immediate goal is to participate in the presidential debate on Sept. 26, she said. If left to themselves, neither Clinton nor Trump will address certain issues which she feels must be discussed.
"We are in full crisis mode right now, whether you look at the climate ... the nuclear arms race, we have 2,000 nuclear weapons on hair-trigger alert right now, this is madness," she said. "We should be disassembling them, but these issues will not even be discussed (at the debate)."
Neither of the major-party candidates support full solutions for climate change, she said. Trump, in particular, does not believe that climate change exists.
While Clinton agrees climate change exists, Stein said her solution involves fracking, which is not a cleaner source than coal.
In March, Clinton said she would not support fracking in any communities that are against it or if methane is released or water is contaminated. Companies would also be required to list every chemical they use in the process.
Green Party members and other Stein supporters will be protesting the first debate on Sept. 26 by assembling outside Hofstra University, she said. Their goal is to open the debate to third-party candidates so that voters can learn more about both her and Gary Johnson.
“We think that democracy is about free speech. Two-party tyranny is not democracy, and we will be there at Hofstra,” she said. “(We) encourage everyone to come join us and push as hard as we peacefully can to restore our right to have all voices heard.”
Nikhilesh De is the news editor of The Daily Targum. He is a School of Engineering senior. Follow him on Twitter @nikhileshde for more.