Jill Stein to Bernie Sanders: Run on the Green Party Ticket
With Hillary Clinton claiming victory in the Democratic race, Stein is attempting to start a dialogue with the Sanders campaign.
In an open letter in April, Stein wrote, "In this hour of unprecedented crisis—with human rights, civilization and life on the planet teetering on the brink—can we explore an historic collaboration to keep building the revolution beyond the reach of corporate party clutches, where the movement can take root and flourish, in the 2016 election and beyond?"
Stein joins us from Albany ahead of this weekend’s New York Green Party convention. Watch here:
Here’s the transcript of the interview:
Juan Gonzalez: We turn now to the race for the White House. Hillary Clinton has dominated this week’s news after claiming victory in the Democratic contest, setting her on a path to become the first woman to win a major party’s presidential nomination. With only one primary to go in the District of Columbia, Clinton has an insurmountable lead in pledged delegates over her challenger, Bernie Sanders. But Clinton’s pledged delegate count falls short of the 2,383 needed, meaning she will need to rely on the support of unelected superdelegates to officially secure the nomination at next month’s convention in Philadelphia.
But Hillary Clinton isn’t the only woman aiming to be on the ballot in November. Jill Stein is moving closer to securing the Green Party nomination. On Tuesday, Stein won the Green Party’s primary in California. She has so far won 20 of the 21 contests ahead of the party’s national convention in August in Houston.
Amy Goodman: Jill Stein first announced her candidacy on Democracy Now! last June. She also ran for president on the Green Party ticket in 2012. In April, she wrote an open letter to Bernie Sanders urging him to consider joining forces to, quote, "ensure the revolution for people, planet and peace will prevail," unquote. Jill Stein joins us now from Albany, New York, ahead of Saturday’s nominating convention of the New York Green Party.
Jill Stein, welcome back to Democracy Now! Can you respond to what happened this week, Hillary Clinton clearly saying in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, before thousands of people, that she has secured the Democratic Party’s nomination, she is the presumptive nominee?
Dr. Jill Stein: Yes and good morning, Amy and Juan. It’s great to be with you. You know, this is kind of what many people have foreseen all along. It was kind of in the cards. The Democratic machine has very steeply tilted the playing field, from the beginning, by limiting the debates, limiting the exposure of Bernie Sanders, some very questionable election practices, 100,000 voters disappearing from the rolls in Brooklyn, some very questionable things that happened in the Democratic primary in California where independent voters thought they could just show up at the polls and cast a vote for Bernie Sanders but were unable to, by large numbers and huge discrepancies between the polls in advance and the actual outcome of the elections. So, you know and needless to say, the superdelegates have massively tipped the playing field. And the announcement the night before by major news organizations that Hillary Clinton had already clinched it, you know, hard to call that just a coincidence, seems tailor-made for discouraging people from actually turning out and exercising their right to vote.
So, this is what the Democratic Party has done for decades—many decades, in fact. And after the election of George McGovern in 1972 as a peace candidate—I should say his election to the nomination of the Democratic Party, the party changed the rules to steeply tilt that playing field, creating superdelegates and Super Tuesdays that make it very hard for a grassroots campaign to prevail. And over the years, the party has allowed principled candidates to be seen and heard, but has, at the end of the day, sabotaged them in one way or the other, often through fear campaigns and smear campaigns, in the same way that Bernie is being called a spoiler now and has been for some weeks. Dennis Kucinich was redistricted and basically, you know, taken off the political map. We saw Jesse Jackson the victim of a smear campaign. People remember the Dean scream that was used against Howard Dean as a peace candidate who was doing well. So, in many ways, the Democratic Party creates campaigns that fake left while it moves right and becomes more corporatist, more militarist, more imperialist. This is why we say it’s hard to have a revolutionary campaign inside of a counterrevolutionary party. That’s why we’re here as the Green Party to build a place where a revolutionary movement can truly grow with a political voice.
Juan Gonzalez: Well, Jill Stein, you’ve been trying for months to reach out to Bernie Sanders, because you acknowledge that there are many similarities in your program and his, to join forces. What’s been the response from the Sanders campaign and what are you hopeful for now?
Dr. Jill Stein: Well, the response over the last several weeks has been the same as the response over the last several years. And in fact, the Green Party reached out to Bernie Sanders before the last election to see if he might be interested in running on the Green Party ballot line. And that was in 2011. And basically, we haven’t heard back yet, so I’m not holding my breath that we are going to. And in fact, I think it was just yesterday that Senator Sanders announced that he would be meeting with President Obama to basically stay the course and to essentially move his campaign inside of the Democratic Party, which I think is a mistake and would be essentially an abandonment of the movement that has been built. We’ve seen many very principled and powerful efforts to reform the Democratic Party from within over the course of many years and Democratic Party keeps marching to the right. So, you know, my hope, as Senator Sanders himself said, is that this is a movement, it’s not a man. And my hope is that the movement will continue. And we’ve offered—I’ve offered, basically, to put everything on the table and to see how we can work together and explore the—what it would take in order for that to happen—
Amy Goodman: Well, let’s go to Bernie Sanders—
Dr. Jill Stein: —to run a joint ticket, for example.
Amy Goodman: So, let’s talk about that for a minute. Let’s go to Bernie Sanders last July speaking at the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, when he was asked if he would run on a third-party ticket if he failed to win the Democratic nomination.
Sen. Bernie Sanders: If it happens that I do not win that process, would I run outside of the system? No, I made the promise that I would not and I’ll keep that promise. And let me add to that: And the reason for that is I do not want to be responsible for electing some right-wing Republican to be president of the United States of America.
Amy Goodman: So that is Bernie Sanders last July. You talked about the possibility of a joint ticket. Are you saying that you would—I mean, you are not the presidential nominee of the Green Party yet. You’re running in different state primaries and conventions. But are you suggesting that the Green Party would consider him being the presidential candidate, whether or not he would consider this?
Dr. Jill Stein: It would obviously take a major change of rules for that to happen. But what I’m saying is that if Senator Sanders made the case that now he understood, after the very, you know, disturbing experiences of the last many months and the way that he’s been mistreated and beaten up by the party, perhaps he has a different view of the potential to create revolution inside of a counterrevolutionary party. Maybe he has come to see the necessity for independent third parties to actually move this movement forward. That would be—you know, that would be a game changer if he made the case that he has come to understand the critical need to build the Green Party as the political voice of that revolution. If that were the case, I think many things would become possible at that point for making the rules changes. I can’t change those rules, but I can have those discussions with him and lay the groundwork for it. It would probably have to be taken to the Green Party convention. But in terms of my own view, you know, I’m a physician, not a politician. I don’t have a vested interest in a particular political career or a particular political office. My job is to do everything that I can to create an America and a world that we can live in and that we can survive in. And I would be very interested in having this discussion. I am not holding my breath that it’s going to happen. And I think it’s important that our campaign be plan B, if not for Senator Sanders, then for his supporters.
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- Your gut is home to trillions of bacteria that are vital for keeping you healthy.
- Some of these microbes help to regulate the immune system.
- New research, which has not yet been peer-reviewed, shows the presence of certain bacteria in the gut may reveal which people are more vulnerable to a more severe case of COVID-19.
You may not know it, but you have an army of microbes living inside of you that are essential for fighting off threats, including the virus that causes COVID-19.
How Do Resident Bacteria Keep You Healthy?<p>Our immune defense is part of a complex biological response against harmful pathogens, such as viruses or bacteria. However, because our bodies are inhabited by trillions of mostly beneficial bacteria, virus and fungi, activation of our immune response is tightly regulated to distinguish between harmful and helpful microbes.</p><p>Our bacteria are spectacular companions diligently helping prime our immune system defenses to combat infections. A seminal study found that mice treated with antibiotics that eliminate bacteria in the gut exhibited an impaired immune response. These animals had low counts of virus-fighting white blood cells, weak antibody responses and poor production of a protein that is vital for <a href="https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1019378108" target="_blank">combating viral infection and modulating the immune response</a>.</p><p><a href="https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0184976" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">In another study</a>, mice were fed <em>Lactobacillus</em> bacteria, commonly used as probiotic in fermented food. These microbes reduced the severity of influenza infection. The <em>Lactobacillus</em>-treated mice did not lose weight and had only mild lung damage compared with untreated mice. Similarly, others have found that treatment of mice with <em>Lactobacillus</em> protects against different <a href="https://doi.org/10.1038/srep04638" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">subtypes of</a> <a href="https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-017-17487-8" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">influenza</a> <a href="https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.ppat.1008072" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">virus</a> and human respiratory syncytial virus – the <a href="https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-39602-7" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">major cause of viral bronchiolitis and pneumonia in children</a>.</p>
Chronic Disease and Microbes<p>Patients with chronic illnesses including Type 2 diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease exhibit a hyperactive immune system that fails to recognize a harmless stimulus and is linked to an altered gut microbiome.</p><p>In these chronic diseases, the gut microbiome lacks bacteria that activate <a href="https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1198469" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">immune cells</a> that block the response against harmless bacteria in our guts. Such alteration of the gut microbiome is also observed in <a href="https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1002601107" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">babies delivered by cesarean section</a>, individuals consuming a poor <a href="https://doi.org/10.1038/nature12820" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">diet</a> and the <a href="https://doi.org/10.1038/nature11053" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">elderly</a>.</p><p>In the U.S., 117 million individuals – about half the adult population – <a href="https://health.gov/our-work/food-nutrition/2015-2020-dietary-guidelines/guidelines/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">suffer from Type 2 diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease or a combination of them</a>. That suggests that half of American adults carry a faulty microbiome army.</p><p>Research in my laboratory focuses on identifying gut bacteria that are critical for creating a balanced immune system, which fights life-threatening bacterial and viral infections, while tolerating the beneficial bacteria in and on us.</p><p>Given that diet affects the diversity of bacteria in the gut, <a href="https://www.umassmed.edu/nutrition/melody-trial-info/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">my lab studies show how diet can be used</a> as a therapy for chronic diseases. Using different foods, people can shift their gut microbiome to one that boosts a healthy immune response.</p><p>A fraction of patients infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 disease, develop severe complications that require hospitalization in intensive care units. What do many of those patients have in common? <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6912e2.htm" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Old age</a> and chronic diet-related diseases like obesity, Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.</p><p><a href="http://doi.org/10.1016/j.jada.2008.12.019" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Black and Latinx people are disproportionately affected by obesity, Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease</a>, all of which are linked to poor nutrition. Thus, it is not a coincidence that <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6933e1.htm" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">these groups have suffered more deaths from COVID-19</a> compared with whites. This is the case not only in the U.S. but also <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/blacks-in-britain-are-four-times-as-likely-to-die-of-coronavirus-as-whites-data-show/2020/05/07/2dc76710-9067-11ea-9322-a29e75effc93_story.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">in Britain</a>.</p>
Discovering Microbes That Predict COVID-19 Severity<p>The COVID-19 pandemic has inspired me to shift my research and explore the role of the gut microbiome in the overly aggressive immune response against SARS-CoV-2 infection.</p><p>My colleagues and I have hypothesized that critically ill SARS-CoV-2 patients with conditions like obesity, Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease exhibit an altered gut microbiome that aggravates <a href="https://theconversation.com/exercise-may-help-reduce-risk-of-deadly-covid-19-complication-ards-136922" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">acute respiratory distress syndrome</a>.</p><p>Acute respiratory distress syndrome, a life-threatening lung injury, in SARS-CoV-2 patients is thought to develop from a <a href="http://doi.org/10.1016/j.cytogfr.2020.05.003" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">fatal overreaction of the immune response</a> called a <a href="https://theconversation.com/blocking-the-deadly-cytokine-storm-is-a-vital-weapon-for-treating-covid-19-137690" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">cytokine storm</a> <a href="http://doi.org/10.1016/S2213-2600(20)30216-2" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">that causes an uncontrolled flood</a> <a href="http://doi.org/10.1016/S2213-2600(20)30216-2" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">of immune cells into the lungs</a>. In these patients, their own uncontrolled inflammatory immune response, rather than the virus itself, causes the <a href="http://doi.org/10.1007/s00134-020-05991-x" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">severe lung injury and multiorgan failures</a> that lead to death.</p><p>Several studies <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.trsl.2020.08.004" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">described in one recent review</a> have identified an altered gut microbiome in patients with COVID-19. However, identification of specific bacteria within the microbiome that could predict COVID-19 severity is lacking.</p><p>To address this question, my colleagues and I recruited COVID-19 hospitalized patients with severe and moderate symptoms. We collected stool and saliva samples to determine whether bacteria within the gut and oral microbiome could predict COVID-19 severity. The identification of microbiome markers that can predict the clinical outcomes of COVID-19 disease is key to help prioritize patients needing urgent treatment.</p><p><a href="https://doi.org/10.1101/2021.01.05.20249061" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">We demonstrated</a>, in a paper which has not yet been peer reviewed, that the composition of the gut microbiome is the strongest predictor of COVID-19 severity compared to patient's clinical characteristics commonly used to do so. Specifically, we identified that the presence of a bacterium in the stool – called <em>Enterococcus faecalis</em>– was a robust predictor of COVID-19 severity. Not surprisingly, <em>Enterococcus faecalis</em> has been associated with <a href="https://doi.org/10.1053/j.gastro.2011.05.035" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">chronic</a> <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/S0002-9440(10)61172-8" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">inflammation</a>.</p><p><em>Enterococcus faecalis</em> collected from feces can be grown outside of the body in clinical laboratories. Thus, an <em>E. faecalis</em> test might be a cost-effective, rapid and relatively easy way to identify patients who are likely to require more supportive care and therapeutic interventions to improve their chances of survival.</p><p>But it is not yet clear from our research what is the contribution of the altered microbiome in the immune response to SARS-CoV-2 infection. A recent study has shown that <a href="https://doi.org/10.1101/2020.12.11.416180" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">SARS-CoV-2 infection triggers an imbalance in immune cells</a> called <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/imr.12170" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">T regulatory cells that are critical to immune balance</a>.</p><p>Bacteria from the gut microbiome are responsible for the <a href="https://doi.org/10.7554/eLife.30916.001" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">proper activation</a> <a href="https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1198469" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">of those T-regulatory</a> <a href="https://doi.org/10.1038/nri.2016.36" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">cells</a>. Thus, researchers like me need to take repeated patient stool, saliva and blood samples over a longer time frame to learn how the altered microbiome observed in COVID-19 patients can modulate COVID-19 disease severity, perhaps by altering the development of the T-regulatory cells.</p><p>As a Latina scientist investigating interactions between diet, microbiome and immunity, I must stress the importance of better policies to improve access to healthy foods, which lead to a healthier microbiome. It is also important to design culturally sensitive dietary interventions for Black and Latinx communities. While a good-quality diet might not prevent SARS-CoV-2 infection, it can treat the underlying conditions related to its severity.</p><p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/ana-maldonado-contreras-1152969" target="_blank">Ana Maldonado-Contreras</a> is an assistant professor of Microbiology and Physiological Systems at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.</em></p><p><em>Disclosure statement: Ana Maldonado-Contreras receives funding from The Helmsley Charitable Trust and her work has been supported by the American Gastroenterological Association. She received The Charles A. King Trust Postdoctoral Research Fellowship. She is also member of the Diversity Committee of the American Gastroenterological Association.</em></p><p><em style="">Reposted with permission from <a href="https://theconversation.com/a-healthy-microbiome-builds-a-strong-immune-system-that-could-help-defeat-covid-19-145668" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" style="">The Conversation</a>. </em></p>
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