Voters who have their hearts set on supporting a left-wing secular Jew running an insurgent campaign still have a candidate. Jill Stein, the 2012 Green Party candidate, is making another run. And this year, with Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump both earning historically low popularity ratings, she hopes she can attract at least some of Bernie Sanders’ 13 million Democratic primary voters. With a far-left platform, Stein advocates government-guaranteed full employment, a national mobilization on the order of World War II to fight climate change and an initiative to cut military spending by at least 50 percent.
Stein isn’t gaining much traction now. According to RealClearPolitics’ average, she’s polling at 3.1 percent nationally, about half of where Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson is at, and far behind Clinton and Trump. Here are four things you need to know about the one Jewish candidate left in the race.
She grew up in a Reform synagogue in a Chicago suburb.
Stein was born in Chicago in 1950 and grew up in the northern suburb of Highland Park. Her family was Reform, and she attended North Shore Congregation Israel in the nearby town of Glencoe. She said Reform Judaism’s emphasis on social justice had a “huge” influence on her policies. Growing up, Stein said, she “really had the values of the Old Testament, the golden rule, really very much drummed into my upbringing.” Now Stein is in what she described as a “mixed” family.
She wants to end foreign aid to Israel and supports BDS.
One of the biggest differences Stein notes between herself and Sanders involves their respective positions on Israel. Sanders described himself as “100 percent pro-Israel” while advocating Palestinian rights, but Stein has had some harsh words for the Jewish state. Her campaign calls for ending all aid to Israel, and she has accused it of committing war crimes.
Like the Green Party as a whole, Stein supports the movement to boycott, divest from and sanction Israel, or BDS. She places Israel in the company of non-democratic American allies Saudi Arabia and Egypt. In tweets, she has accused Israel of “the pillage of Palestine.”
She’s a doctor who has held local office in Massachusetts — and was in a band.
Before entering politics, Stein was a practicing physician for 25 years. A graduate of Harvard Medical School, Stein transitioned into activism in the mid-1990s. She has fought for cleaner energy, campaign finance reform and more environmental protections in Massachusetts, where she lives with her husband, Richard Rohrer, also a doctor. In 2003, she founded the Massachusetts Coalition for Healthy Communities, a public health and environmental protection nonprofit.
Stein ran as a Green candidate for Massachusetts governor in 2002 against Mitt Romney, who won the election. She has also run for state representative and Massachusetts secretary of state. She was elected to two terms on the Lexington Town Meeting, her local government body.
While Stein wasn’t fighting for the environment in Massachusetts, she was making music. In the 1990s and 2000s, she was half of Somebody’s Sister, a folk-rock band that produced four albums.
Her top campaign promise is a “Green New Deal.”
Stein’s platform covers a range of issues, from criminal justice reform to education and foreign policy. But her top pledge is a “Green New Deal,” which would “create 20 million jobs by transitioning to 100 percent clean renewable energy by 2030.” She wants to end all subsidies for fossil fuel companies and phase out fossil fuel and nuclear plants.