We’re Trying To Predict How Each Candidate’s Presidency Might Play Out
This weekend, we’re publishing a series of articles that attempt to honestly, realistically predict what each of the four presidential candidates’ administrations might look like should they win. On Thursday we covered a Clinton presidency. On Friday, it was Gary Johnson. Tomorrow we’ll be doing Donald Trump. And today, it’s Green Party candidate Jill Stein’s turn.
Each of these articles are written under the assumptions that the candidates won in tight races, and that there’s no significant change to the House or Senate. If these people were president today, with things the way they are, this is how we think their administrations would play out.
Longtime FBL readers are probably expecting us to be super-soft on Jill Stein, seeing as how she’s easily the most progressive candidate in the race since the departure of Bernie Sanders. But like we said, we want these predictions to be realistic and honest… sorry Jill, we’re just keeping it 100!
The Presidency Of Jill Stein
Of all the presidential candidates running in 2016, Jill Stein’s victory would be the most historic. She’s trailing in today’s polls by such a major gap that her win is all-out improbable. Her winning really shows not only how much America hates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, but also how desperate America is for true progressive policies.
Before Stein even takes office, it becomes apparent that majorities of both Democrats and Republicans aren’t going to work with her. Stein is a Green Party candidate, which is basically the same thing as being an independent. Some Democrats embrace her victory and back her — the real progressives like Tulsi Gabbard, Nina Turner, Alan Grayson, Keith Ellison, and others — but the support Stein finds early on is spread pretty thin.
Jill Stein has great ideas — the best, really — but no real political experience, no major party backing her agenda, and no friends or allies on Capitol Hill. In a town where no one will so much as hold the door for you unless you agree to stick their gum to your shoe, Jill Stein quickly learns what happens when a symbolic run for the presidency actually results in a trip to the White House. Her “Power to the People plan” transforms from a progressive wish list of great ideas into an upsetting list of things that will mostly not happen during her four years in office.
Stein finds herself giving up the fights for single-payer healthcare, expanding entitlements, disarming our nuclear arsenals, cutting military spending, fair taxation, and more. She finds that it’s impossible to push for breaking up the big banks without help from at least one of the two parties, and campaign finance reform is an even bigger challenge.
So what does Jill Stein actually accomplish while in office? Only some (and definitely not all) of the bipartisan and nonpartisan stuff.
She works with Democrats to successfully raise the federal minimum wage to $10. She’s able to halt exploratory oil drilling and ban fracking on public/ federal property, but only for a year or two, before a federal judge sympathetic to dirty energy companies strikes it down. She gets the FDA to properly label GMO’s, and also makes election day a federal holiday. Of the things she entered office planning for, that’s about the best she can hope for.
President Stein eventually learns to work with Democrats, and passes some progressive legislation with their help, though those laws resemble more what Democrats want than Stein. The Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) is improved when more states take on Medicaid expansion, though premiums and copays continue to rise without a public option to counterbalance the private sector. Internet freedom is protected during her first term, though not through any lasting, long-term resolutions. The Democrats’ path to citizenship plans are passed, but only barely. And while Stein fails to legalize marijuana, eighteen new States manage to legalize it during her time in office.
Jill Stein’s Overall Performance
How do we sum up President Jill Stein’s first four years in office? Goodish.
Stein walks into the White House as a stalwart progressive visionary with a head full of dreams and a heart full of ambition. Four years later, she’s essentially a broken moderate Democrat who probably doesn’t want to even run again. Her lack of political experience and her naivety regarding how Washington really, truly works leaves her without many of her own goals accomplished. The public generally likes her, but the political machine has broken her down to the point where she’s not sure she wants a second term.
President Stein’s approval rating after four years sits between 55 points and 65 points, prior to any reelection bump. Progressives love her, moderates and independents think she’s okay, and conservatives hate her considerably less than they would Hillary Clinton, not that it’s enough to stop Republicans from trying to obstruct her at every turn, and certainly not enough to prevent conspiracy theories and other nonsense from the far-right.
After being unofficially adopted by Democrats, Stein does have enough of a backing to run for reelection. However, like Clinton, Stein is faced with a reelection primary fight, this one offered up by moderate Democrats who’d rather run their own horse who is loyal to their party. If Stein decides to run again, her chances at reelection are the highest of all the candidates named in this series: 45% to 70%. Perhaps in her second term President Stein might be able to pass more of her progressive ideas, but it’s as unrealistic that she’d run again as it is that she’d have won in the first place.
All told, President Jill Stein earns a respectable grade of C+, tying with Hillary Clinton. She gets less accomplished in her time, but she tries her best to push a truly progressive agenda, and that effort counts for a lot. Her presumptive, relative popularity also bolsters her score here. And with Stein being the least controversial and the least prone to the trappings of Washington, her score is made even better still.
All told, Jill Stein would prove herself to be an all-around competent President. It’s too bad her chances at winning in November are so abysmally poor; of the four candidates running today, she’s arguably the best choice.