WASHINGTON – Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein is campaigning in Chicago on Thursday, a homecoming for the candidate raised in Highland Park.
The seeds for Stein’s left of left activism were planted growing up on the affluent North Shore in the ‘60s while battles were raging over the Vietnam War and civil rights.
“I was very involved in a vigil in front of the Highland Park Library on the corner, where there was a group of us protesting the Viet Nam war before it became the norm for our generation, before we left high school,” Stein told me.
Stein, barring a miracle, has no chance of winning the White House. There are not enough disaffected Bernie Sanders progressive Democrats defecting to the Green Party to give her the jump-start she needs.
Her very best polling puts her at four or five percent. Stein is competing with Libertarian Party presidential nominee Gary Johnson, a former New Mexico Republican governor, in arguing that supporting Republican Donald Trump or Democrat Hillary Clinton is a wasted vote.
The first presidential debate is Sept. 26 at Hofstra University in New York. Stein and Johnson are pressuring the Commission on Presidential Debates to be included even if they don’t make the commission’s self-imposed 15 percent polling threshold. It’s a long shot that Stein and Johnson can persuade the group – run by Democrats and Republicans – to set aside their own rules.
“I think the American people are not going to take it sitting down because in this election more than any other, the American people have rejected the two major candidates as the most disliked and untrusted people in our history,” Stein said.
The Lexington, Mass. resident has made multiple bids for office. This is her second presidential run; she collected .36 percent of the vote in 2012.
Stein, 66, was born in Chicago. Her family moved to 1349 Lincoln Avenue South in the northern suburb when she was a toddler. Her father, Joseph was an attorney at Rothbart, Stein & Moran. Her mother, Gladys, was a homemaker. Her parents are deceased.
She’s a product of Highland Park schools: Lincoln Elementary, Edgewood Middle and Highland Park High, a member of the class of 1968. Stein headed to Harvard for her undergraduate and medical degrees. She became a doctor and a musician as her path also led her to lefty politics.
As a kid, during summers, Stein would spend days on Lake Michigan steering her family’s Sunfish, a small sailboat, hanging out at Highland Park’s North Shore Yacht Club — which, despite its fancy name, is just a low-cost home on the beach to sailors, kayakers, paddle-boarders and power boaters.
Stein said she was well aware as a youth that she was surrounded by affluence.
“The division between Highland Park and Highwood was a big deal for me, seeing there were Italian and Latino people living right next door to us who did not have the privileges that we had,” she said.
Steins’ views on social activism were shaped in part at North Shore Congregation Israel in Glencoe where she sang in the choir.
The reform synagogue “had a big impact on me,” though as time went on, “organized religion didn’t mean so much to me anymore. … The grounding that I had in community responsibility, social responsibility, that never left. … I carry Jewish culture around with me.”
Stein holds controversial positions on Israel.
She is a backer of the BDS – Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement — as a way to solve the longstanding Israeli-Palestinian conflict. As the Anti-Defamation League put it, “while supporters of the BDS movement claim to embrace the tactic as a nonviolent way to pressure Israel into negotiations, the campaign is clearly a biased effort to demonize Israel and place the entire onus of the conflict on one side: the Israelis.”
Stein’s signature proposal is to erase all student debt, no matter their wealth or income. “I am the only candidate that will bail out the students like they bailed out the crooks on Wall Street who crashed the economy.”
Stein is banking on luring youthful voters with her alluring student loan relief plan. This would be very difficult to impossible to get through Congress. Lawmakers have not even approved measures to allow refinancing student loans.
Stein is in Chicago on Thursday for what her campaign is billing as a “reality tour” on the West Side and a rally starting at 7 p.m. at the Peoples Church, 941 W. Lawrence Ave., in Uptown.
Said Stein: “Progressives are looking for a new place to hang their hats, so they are discovering us by the droves.”