Jill Stein. The story goes that if you say her name three times while standing in front of a mirror she will appear, yet so terrible is her reputation that few have had the courage to breath that third utterance. The Green Party’s 2016 presidential candidate is reviled as a treacherous agent of Moscow, a woman whose Keyser Söze-like history makes the Steele Dossier read like Pat the Bunny. She is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, the secret enemy of all she claims to love, the spoiler’s spoiler, and of course, she is the true reason why Donald Trump seized the White Throne.
Anyone curious about Jill Stein will encounter these blood libels without having to do much digging. But shockingly, it is not the sweating lunatics of Alex Jones’ radio audience who have built up the myth of the treacherous silver-haired doctor from Massachusetts, but America’s Middle Class liberals, who are just as eager to scapegoat their own heretics as the right’s MAGA-capped hicks are eager to lynch RINOs and cucks.
The incident that launched the Legend of Jillenstein took place in Moscow in 2015. There, at a conference hosted by RT (the Russian state-sponsored news network), Jill Stein happened to find herself seated at a table with none other than General Michael Flynn (later to become Donald Trump’s felonious national security advisor) and Vladimir Putin. A picture of this event has been widely circulated, proof, Stein’s detractors claim, of some cloak-and-dagger relationship between Stein, Trump and Moscow.
Yes, Stein has unrepentantly appeared on RT, which some allege makes her a naïve tool of Russian state interests. But other dissident American politicians, like New Mexico governor Gary Johnson and Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura, have appeared on that network as well. Stein’s own explanation of her moment spent with the President of Russia is enough to convince anyone who isn’t a 9/11 Truther of its coincidental nature. Despite this, the Senate Intelligence Committee investigating Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election is now scrutinizing Stein’s campaign. As of this date, no accusations of wrongdoing have been laid.
The leader of the Senate committee is Richard Burr, a Republican, and his attempt to smear Stein smacks of deflection, an attempt to prove to inflamed conservatives that the search for Russian malfeasance will go wherever it leads, even beyond Trump. Yet it is mostly Democrats who have thrilled to the shade being thrown at Jill. John Podesta, who chaired Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign, is also the founder of the Center for American Progress, whose news organ, ThinkProgress, has repeatedly painted Jill Stein as a Russian dupe. Zac Petkanas, also a member of Clinton’s 2016 campaign team, has frequently (and with juvenile fervor) taken to Twitter to paint Jill Stein as Putin’s most useful idiot . As conclusive evidence of this Zac offers that notorious dinner table photograph. (I humbly submit that photographs of Hillary’s rictus smile were much more beneficial to Putin’s agenda.)
This overreaction by Democrats reveals a truth more embarrassing than some third-party politician knoshing with the Russians. Never in modern memory has the Democrats’ national power been reduced to such dregs. They control no branch of the Federal government, are destined to lose control of the Supreme Court for decades to come, and hold a minority of governorships and state legislatures. The Green Party may be feeble, but they still stalk the Democrats as a reminder of the spirit of the genuine, labor-embracing, class-conscious leftism of American politics that the neo-liberal, Third Way DNC sloughed generations ago.
An increasing number of liberal voters want to see those grungy class concerns brought back to the fore in the progressive movement. This is a challenge to the antiseptic, focus-grouped identity politics that the Podestas of the world traffic in, which more than ever appears to be a cul-de-sac that may lead to the overturn of Roe, the evisceration of entitlements, and the reversal of all progress on health care reform.
There is no denying that Jill Stein carries a reputation as a kook amongst most mainstream liberals, but invoke her name and those liberals do not merely brush her off their shoulders like dandruff: they recoil as though she were a spider crawling on their neck. Stein, embodying as she does the public’s idea of an unreconstructed leftist, throws into stark relief the Democrats risk-averse philosophy (never better illustrated than in Rolling Stone’s lamenting endorsement of Hillary over Bernie) which cost them so dearly in 2016, and which keeps their hopes for a restoration in 2018 largely aspirational.
“Everybody Hates Jill”, written by Eve Payser, reflects this subliminal disdain for the left wing perfectly. In a warts-and-all interview with Jill Stein, Eve strikes a mostly equitable tone, but loads her article with warnings — never justified — that paint Jill Stein as the example to be avoided by the left wing (a sisterhood Eve is plainly hostile to since her every mention of the Left is loaded with suspicion). Stein is a “joke”, the Left at “its absolute wackiest”, nothing more than a hippy who probably has “dank as fuck” weed growing in her tomato patch. The Left are “do-gooders” whose embrace of Stein proves a “rigid mistrust of establishment politics” that “goes too far”. Why? Because the distinction between the Greens and Democrats is merely “the narcissism of minor differences,” a splashing contest between two siblings in a bathtub. If the Greens knew what was good for them they would simply get out and dry off.
Eve’s article links to even blunter sentiments from other archliberals whose opinions of Stein are nearly pathological. Remember: in 2016, Stein’s vote tally was one third of that of Gary Johnson, the Libertarian candidate. Nevertheless, her smidgen of votes sent sex columnist Dan Savage into a paroxysm of rage. He called Jill Stein “an asshole in every respect”, and the Greens “grandstanding, attention-seeking, bullshit-spewing charlatans”. Then blood shot out of his eyes with the cutting power of a laser.
Journalist Kurt Eichenwald threatened to punch one of his fans upon learning that he had voted for Stein. “A certain kind of liberal makes me sick,” he tells us in words that in his head must have sounded like a sermon from Jules Winfield . “These people traffic in false equivalencies, always pretending that both nominees are the same, justifying their apathy and not voting or preening about their narcissistic purity as they cast their ballot for a person they know cannot win.” He concludes by stating, “Adults now need to start fixing the damage you have done.”
I think we all know that the arrogance of voting for a long-shot candidate is nothing compared to the arrogance of some twerp journalist declaring himself the “adult in the room”, forced to clean up the mess that America’s preening idiots have made. Will Kurt also remember to tell the next Democratic nominee for President not to take Michigan and Wisconsin for granted?
The real joke, if Payser and her ilk could grasp it, is not the quixotic, granola-crunching leftism represented by Jill Stein, but the state of American liberalism: that immobile, beached manatee of a posture which occupies the dead center of the political spectrum and that mistakes its slow surrender to the force of gravity for some kind of momentum.
Jason Yungbluth always flushes his toilet, but only after he has photographed it’s contents. On a completely unrelated note, you should read his graphic novel Weapon Brown!