Just two short days before one of the most nail-biting elections in America’s history, Green Party Presidential candidate Jill Stein and her running mate Ajamu Baraka paid a visit to the Stamp Student Union’s Grand Ballroom.
Stein and Baraka were the last two of many people to speak throughout the event, but the afternoon opened with UMD International Socialist Organization member Brendan Sullivan.
“It is well past time that we have our own political party that expresses our needs and our viewpoints and aids in the struggle for rights and justice, instead of sending militarized cops to break peaceful protests from Occupy [Wall Street] to Standing Rock,” Sullivan said. “And not just talking, but standing in the front lines of these protests like Jill Stein did at Standing Rock.”
Sullivan went on later to introduce Baraka, who gave a speech about his history in politics, his growing understanding of the way race, climate and economy intersect , as well as the power of the Green Party in this election. He closed his speech by encouraging people to vote Green so the party can get enough votes for ballot access and public funding.
“They have all of these artificial barriers to keep us from competing, but if we get 5 percent [of the vote], we get automatic ballot access to many states across the country,” Baraka said. “If we get ballot access, then we get access to public funding… we believe every campaign should be funded by the public. Eliminate all of this corporate money from elections… So tell your friends that they can be a part of this mission to reform democracy, to build an authentic democracy, that they can be, in fact, a part of history.”
Emcee Joe Corbett took stage to introduce Stein, who gave a speech about the harmful effects of the two-party system, and talked about her policy platform – which included passionate rhetoric on the environment, America’s involvement in war and more.
“We call for a new way forward, an America and a world that works for all of us, that puts people, planet and peace over profit. That world is not just in our hopes and dreams, that world is actually within our reach – and that means standing up and rejecting these politics of fear,” Stein said. “They are trying to fear monger you right now, and we are seeing that fear campaign backfire out on the campaign trail as more people come out with more wild enthusiasm than we have ever seen. People are standing up and saying, ‘We will not be good little boys and girls and keep voting for the parties that have thrown us under the bus. We are standing up, and we are investing our votes in the future we deserve,’” Stein said.
Earlier in the rally, Maryland Green Party co-chair Michael Cornell, a UMD alum and “recovering democrat” who left the major party in 1980, gave a speech on why he’s now a part of the Green Party.
“I am just so incredibly overwhelmed to be here today, this is such an outpouring of support and interest, and it’s about time,” Cornell said while addressing a full Grand Ballroom in Stamp Student Union. He went on to encourage the audience to vote Green and get involved with the Green Party. “Please, get active. Take this energy, take this drive, take your passion and push this country forward into the future that we all deserve,” Cornell said.
Cornell also introduced Kamesha Clark, a Green Party candidate for the US House Representatives in Maryland’s 4th District, Nancy Wallace, a Green Party candidate for the US House of Representatives in Maryland’s 8th District and Maryland’s Green senate candidate, Margaret Flowers.
Flowers told of her struggles as a Third Party candidate while focusing on her platform and taking issue with this year’s presidential race.
“Now that your eyes are open, you can’t close them,” Flowers said of the WikiLeaks exposure of corruption within the Democratic National Committee earlier this year. “You are awake at a time when the system wants you to be asleep.”
Next to speak was Alli McCracken from CODEPINK, an organization that mobilizes women to protest war, as well as promote peace and human rights. She used her platform to discuss the harmfulness of US militarism in the Middle East and the ways the Green Party could work to fix them.
“People who cast their vote for third parties are accused of enabling the worse of two evils. But the first step to breaking the iron-clad grip that the two parties have over this system is to dismantle this stigma. We won’t be intimidated by these narratives and we will vote for the candidates that represent our values. On Tuesday, we are expected to vote for the lesser of two evils but I refuse,” McCracken said.
The event concluded with a Q&A with Stein and Baraka, which gave supporters a chance to ask the candidates about issues that matter most to them, such as race and problems with the monetary system.
The afternoon was one of passion – loud exclamations of disapproval of the nation’s current government and political system from candidates and supporters alike.
“So what should we do? For those of us who want an alternative to the two parties of profits and destruction this week, first, go vote for Jill Stein and Ajamu Baraka on Tuesday,” Sullivan said, a statement that the audience followed with huge cheers. “And on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and every day after that, make it clear that the world that we’ve been given is not the world that we want, and that we will not rest until we get the world that we deserve!”