Lightning struck and thunder rolled over downtown Miami Friday as little-known presidential candidate Jill Stein brought dire messages of rising seas to South Florida.
“The climate is in an all-out meltdown. No one is at greater risk than the state of Florida,” Stein said, dismissing Republican and Democratic interest in curbing fossil fuel consumption during a visit to Miami Dade College’s Wolfson Campus. “In this election, we’re not just deciding what kind of world we’ll have, but whether we’ll have a world or not.”
Stein, 66, is probably hoping her polling numbers rise faster than the seas.
The Green Party nominee is currently running a distant fourth behind Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson. Polling at 2.3 percent according to RealClearPolitics.com, her chances of becoming the 45th president of the United States are slim at best.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Miami Herald
But Stein is determined. And on a soggy Friday evening, a rowdy crowd of about 400 Stein loyalists and the just-plain-curious dribbled into Miami Dade College to see the alternative candidate speak. With some of her staunchest supporters waffling on whether to vote for the “lesser evil,” she implored her audience to vote their conscience.
The climate is in an all-out meltdown. No one is at greater risk than the state of Florida.
“These are the most distrusted and unliked presidential candidates in our history, even their own supporters don’t actually support them,” Stein said of Clinton and Trump. “What is wrong with this picture? Democracy is not a question of who do we fear the most?”
Stein, who says the current two-party system for presidential elections is “rigged,” railed against the bank bailout, an American oligarchy, drone strikes and police oppression of African Americans. Her campaign platform includes moving the country entirely to renewable energy by 2030, implementing a $15 minimum wage, eliminating student debt, and overhauling the nation’s industrial-agricultural system.
She’s going heavy after millennials, and drew an audience that skewed young and ended in a group selfie. Among her supporters were Black Lives Matter activists and 9/11 truthers (Stein has called for a new investigation of the terror attack.)
Some Miami Dade College students, though, spent their Friday night learning about her for the first time.
“I heard she was part of the Green Party and I assumed it had to do with marijuana,” said 20-year-old Christian Lopez, who heard of Stein for the first time Friday. “I came to see what this is all about.”
Stein, a physician who ran unsuccessful campaigns for Massachusetts governor before taking the Green Party presidential mantle, needs all the attention she can get. While she says she can win, a more realistic goal might be cracking 5 percent of the popular vote, which would qualify the Green Party for public campaign funds to use in the 2020 presidential election.
I heard she was part of the Green Party and I assumed it had to do with marijuana.
MDC student Christian Lopez
Either way, in a region some consider ground zero for climate change, Stein warned that the country is facing a “climate emergency.” She said unless voters begin demanding a change in government, they’ll find themselves in over their heads.
“Democracy needs more voices and more choices, not silence. The clock is ticking on climate change,” she said, drawing roaring applause and flashing a peace sign. “This is the time to say we reject the lesser evil, we will fight for the greater good. Because our lives depend on it.”