With chatter about suggestions that the Clinton camp should call for a recount in several states due to the possibility of vote manipulation, an unlikely voice has jumped into the conversation pushing for the same: Green Party candidate Jill Stein. Her party is attempting to raise
$2.5 million $4.5 million (they reached their original goal and have now increased it) in order to fund the recounts. Their statement:
The Stein/Baraka Green Party Campaign is launching an effort to ensure the integrity of our elections. With your help, we are raising money to demand recounts in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania– three states where the data suggests a significant need to verify machine-counted vote totals.
A bit odd considering Stein despises Clinton:
It’s entirely possible that Stein is sticking to principles that she believes in: the vote should be free and fair, even if that means going out of her way to see whether the candidate she thinks is far more dangerous deserves to have won.
Allow me to be more cynical. Clinton is good for Stein’s brand, and by that I mean the Green Party only gets any attention when there’s a big Democratic target. Stein nearly tripled her vote count from 469,627 in 2012 to 1,385,685 this year, and this is the best showing for the Green Party since Nader in 2000 (2,882,955) and the second-best showing in the party’s history. A lot of that has come from taking potshots at Obama during the course of his presidency, and more recently from criticisms of Clinton during her campaign.
Stein’s supporters are almost all leftists, with progressive liberals and disaffected Dems contributing, too. One reason Stein garnered more support than usual this year is that she positioned herself well enough as the ideal leftist/progressive candidate for those who believe their immediate individual actions hold more moral weight than the inevitable conclusion of those actions.
But it will be a lot harder for Stein to appeal to that left-liberal base four years from now assuming the Trump administration is the disaster it’s poised to be (or at least is enough of a disaster in the eyes of liberals and Democrats to motivate them to the voting booth) and that the Democrats field a better candidate than Clinton. By Stein’s own admission, Trump is the better choice when compared to Clinton, so without the big Democratic bogeyman in the White House from whom she can siphon votes, her message doesn’t work. With someone like Trump as president, it’ll be hard to convince voters of a left-liberal persuasion that they should willingly waste their vote (that’s right, waste their vote) on someone who can’t possibly win to protest a not-quite-progressive-enough Democrat when the incumbent is a far-right basket of unpredictable deplorableness.
She doesn’t really think Trump would be worse than Clinton. To believe Trump is the better option is to compromise the progressive values she claims to stand for. She says that because she wants to position herself as the real progressive candidate, and her best chance of her or her party (because she could very well not be the nominees come 2020) gaining prominence is by being the alternative to an establishment Dem—but there has to be an establishment Dem to attack in order for that ploy to work. With Trump as president, it gets a whole lot harder to keep deflecting that you and your supporters didn’t play some role, however major or minor, in getting him elected. So, no, sorry, I don’t believe Stein is doing this solely because she wants the election to be free and open—she also wants it to go in a way that’s strategically valuable to her.
But who knows? Maybe Stein has an ulterior motive:
They’ve reached their goal of $4.5 million and have now bumped up their goal to $7 million.
Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo is also suspicious about this, though for different reasons, and he’s admittedly not as cynical as I am.
One more note that I didn’t have in my original post: Another reason Stein would prefer Clinton to Trump (despite the fundraising page insisting this isn’t true) is that whatever progressive awakening or revolution Green Party-types claimed would happen in the wake of electing Trump is almost sure not to happen. It didn’t happen when Bush was elected in 2000. I don’t have faith that people inclined to vote Green will notice a pattern of their votes helping to elect a terrible candidate coupled with the always-impending progressive awakening.