While many people in the country are debating whether to elect Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, the International Socialist Organization has its eye on another candidate — Green Party candidate Jill Stein.
“The most important reason why the ISO endorses Jill Stein … is because it’s important, I think, in building independent political alternatives to the status quo,” Ryan Powers, a member of the Athens branch of the ISO, said.
Powers said the mainstream Democratic and Republican parties are corporate institutions and that the country needs to break away from the idea that the biggest two parties are the only options.
But Powers said a victory in the general election isn’t necessarily what the group is looking for.
“We should be realistic,” he said. “We still think (people) should vote for Jill Stein even though she’s not going to win. It’s important to start building that left-wing alternative and to break away from the idea that we have any friends in the Democrats or the Republicans.”
Bobby Walker, another member of ISO, agreed that an electoral victory is not the point of their support.
“We don’t think Jill Stein will win the election,” Walker said. “We are in it for other reasons. The biggest reason is (that) we are tired of conceding and compromising.”
Powers said although the ISO has officially endorsed Stein, that doesn’t mean it supports everything she says.
“It’s a critical support,” Powers said. “Although we are critical of some things, we do believe it’s an important way to build a political alternative.”
Walker said even if Stein was able to win, she wouldn’t be able to fix everything. She also said although she may disagree with some of Stein’s stances, she believes that Stein is receptive to criticism.
“I think it’s hard to ever agree with any sort of politician, and I know there have been critiques of Jill Stein,” she said. “We have been engaging with those criticisms and not trying to sweep them under the rug.”
Powers also said that more concrete results can be achieved if people vote for Stein. According to POLITICO, if the Green Party wins at least 5 percent of the popular vote, it would qualify for a public grant that could be used toward campaigning in the 2020 presidential election. Green Party officials have estimated those funds to amount to more than $10 million.
Not everyone is sold on the idea of ISO’s support for Stein. Caitlyn Lowe, a junior studying child and family studies, said she can see where the group is coming from. However, she’s not sure it’s the right time in this election.
“I think (voting for Stein) is a really good idea, but I think it can hurt the overall election,” she said. “Maybe it’s a better idea for another election, but I think in this one it’s a little too detrimental.”
Walker said that compromise in the political system is what has given the country Trump and Clinton as the choices in the two mainstream parties — two choices she sees as unfavorable.
“It’s not that we don’t believe in voting for the lesser of two evils — we want an alternative to those sort of politics,” she said. “Deconstruct the idea that we only have two choices.”
Powers also said he understood that some people feel like they must vote for the “lesser of two evils.” He said he would tell those people that they can actually use their vote in a meaningful way.
“(You’d be) using it to basically propagate or spread a message that there is an alternative being proposed,” he said.
Powers said while voting can help make a statement, he doesn't think it's the main way people can make change.
“Voting alone isn’t going to change anything,” he said. “We also need to build our collective power and our ability to put pressure on the system in order to make the system adjust.”