Green Party rallies in Berkeley despite absence of Jill Stein

Leslie Yang/Staff

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Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein was scheduled to speak at Berkeley City Club Hotel on Saturday night for her last Bay Area rally before the Nov. 8 election; but she was unable to attend the event because of a recent hospitalization for pneumonia.

Nevertheless, the City Club ballroom was packed with supporters. The crowd heard from several activists and Green Party organizers who spoke about their backing of Stein and the Green Party’s political goals beyond the election. Issues discussed at the rally included the binary political system, environmental issues and misuse of public funds.

According to speaker David Cobb — a Green Party activist — many former Sanders supporters now back Stein. Cobb urged the remainder to follow suit, adding that their liberal ideals are more in line with Green Party beliefs than the Democratic Party’s.

UC Berkeley student Cody Strohl said he attended in order to gain a less publicized perspective, though he is a registered Democrat. Though Strohl did not have previous knowledge about the speakers, he noted the crowd was actively engaged and responsive to those speaking.

“Democrats aren’t as fired up,” Strohl said. “We need the Green Party to talk about issues that the Democrats aren’t.”

Regardless, Strohl affirmed that he would still be voting for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton on Election Day.

“Seriously asking people to vote for a third party is hard,” said registered independent and campus student Joseph Rowley. “I wish it wasn’t this way, but it is.”

Andrea Wilkum, a Green Party volunteer, first registered as a member of the Green Party in college because it best aligned with her personal views. Wilkum later re-registered as a Democrat when Bernie Sanders ran for the Democratic nomination and then returned to the Green Party when Sanders lost the nomination.

“No, she’s not going to win,” Wilkum said. “I want to vote for someone who I believe in.”

Jason O’Neal, a founding member of the UC Berkeley Green Party, sees the party as an outlet for people to have a choice when voting, an expression of their voice within a democracy.

As a senior society and environment major, O’Neal especially identifies with the Green Party’s emphasis on environmental issues as a central component of Stein’s platform for the presidency.

The Green Party recently embraced the term “ecosocialism” at its convention in Houston, Texas — making it the only party to address the root causes of climate change, O’Neal said.

“(The Green Party’s) goal is to maintain a front on the campus through the exchange of ideas,” O’Neal said. “Minorities’ ideas should be embraced — Berkeley is great at that.”


Contact Audrey McNamara at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @McNamaraAud.