Much has been made of Green Party’s Jill Stein and her take on vaccinations. The criticism is not without warrant. The fear-based and anti-science anti-vaccination (“anti-vax”) movement throughout the United States is creating a public health crisis particularly for people with autoimmune deficiency. This is a problem of course for anyone who claims universal healthcare. Additionally, anti-vax claims have been aiding the stigmatization of autism. Stein uses language that seems to neither support nor deny the anti-vaxx movement, saying, for instance that they have brought up legitimate questions that have not been answered. One could argue that Stein is taking a necessarily tact-based approach to dealing with anti-vaxxers, but there is also the charge that much of the Green Party faithful is of a privileged demographic (White, upper middle class, liberal) to which the anti-vaxx population belongs, and that she is trying to not lose that base. So these are legitimate criticisms, however….
However, what is interesting is that this and this alone is Stein’s chink in the armor. No Democrat who brings up the anti-vax waffling also brings up Stein’s other points of salience or her vision for America. The same Democrats argue that we shouldn’t harshly judge Hillary Clinton by one, two, three, eighteen relevant and critical points of criticism.* These same liberals complain about Purity Politics and the neglect of Hillary over valid criticism. They seem to ignore that despite multiple efforts to correct Clinton’s support of the Crime Bill and her use of the term “superpredators” to define poor black men (and thus harm their families), she still pandered to the pro-police movement four times in her acceptance speech before even mentioning – tepidly and in a manner that centered the police rather than families hurt by racist & militarized policing – police reform.
Is militarized, racist policing and mass incarceration not a public health issue? Is toxic air, water, and land not a public health issue? The lack of universal health care – which Hillary claimed we would never, ever get? The glut of living wage jobs in black, brown, and rural communities? The fact that 45% of children in the US live in poverty is not a public health crisis? Homelessness and housing insecurity? For that matter, supporting coups and despots while destabilizing regions and assassinating entire families throughout the world through the US military and State Department is also a public health and safety issue.
These are all issues that Jill Stein talks about and supports but because she is not part of the oligarchical two-party system, she is silenced and only one issue – a non-issue since she will not negatively effect vaccination rates, really, even if she were to become president – is talked about.
Are these not issues that disproportionately affect and harm People of Color and the working class? Poverty rates for African Americans and LatinX children are three times higher than those of white children. Three times as many unarmed black and Native people are shot and killed by the police as white people – though in general it happens more often in poor communities.
And maybe that’s the point. These issues are not talked about because the realization of them would drastically improve material living conditions for the working class and people of color. To keep them silent is to limit our collective imagination and political dialog, which means we can stick with the least amount of political power possible for the people. While the Republican Party has its heart set on turning us into the mole people, living underground and being afraid of the light, the Democratic Party seems content with merely tokenizing us for our own votes in a cynical ploy of cheap Identity Politicking.
We need to occupy the Democratic Party for collective people power. And that may mean taking our votes elsewhere until they are not taken for granted and we are no longer tokenized.
*It’s important to note, because people are confused due to a two-party system, that not supporting one major party is not the same as supporting – tacitly or otherwise – the other main party, even in an effectual two-party system. But we’ve already said this. So, no, we do not support sexist, racist fascist fuckhead Donald Trump, nor do we support rightwing criticisms of Hillary Clinton, particularly their misogyny and xenophobia)