Editor's Note: While most presidential candidates try their best to avoid jail, the Green Party's Dr. Jill Stein is regularly touted away from protests or political rallies in handcuffs. Days before the 2012 election, she was arrested in Texas for resupplying Keystone XL pipeline protesters. Liberals and Occupier types praise her as a breath of fresh air — a politician who does more than talk the talk. Is she willing to try at it again in 2016? Creative Loafing spoke with Stein via telephone from her home in Massachusetts days before she's set to arrive in the Queen City for the North Carolina Green Party's Spring Gathering at the Golden Green Hotel on April 12. The following transcript has been edited for brevity and clarity.
Creative Loafing: What odds did you give yourself for winning the presidential election last year?
I went into it with very realistic expectations, knowing that in a rigged system, you really don't judge your results by the outcome of the road. What you really have to look at is, do you build the party, do you help change the debate, and do you help challenge the incredibly lethal mythologies that are out there about the climate, economy and Wall Street. We got to challenge these mythologies and building a lot of support. In my mind, the election was an incredible win.
What were your odds in North Carolina?
Greens don't have access to North Carolina's ballot because the rules are written to silence all but the political establishment, the corporate sponsors, and establishment parties. North Carolina is one of the few states where we did not even try because it would have been too expensive. It would have required so many volunteers and staff to get on the ballot.
You ran against actress/comedian Roseanne Barr in the Green Party primaries, among other challengers. What was it like to debate her?
She was new to the party, so there was a lot that she didn't know. It's very hard to come into a political party and understand how it works and how it ticks. Roseanne made a very heroic effort to do that. I really enjoyed getting to know her.
Do you support Obamacare?
I have lived with a version for five years or so here in Massachusettes, and it's proven to be a failure. Polls here show that people who are chronically ill actually have a harder time getting coverage now than they did before. It's great if you're not sick. It gives you a piece of paper, and that illusion is very comforting. But when you actually get sick, it doesn't do the job. The real fix here is Medicare for all. That's how we ensure we provide healthcare not just for the unbelievably poor and downtrodden but everybody.
How do you decompress? Any guilty pleasures?
I've gotten to appreciate being an organizer. It's given me a social life. Also, I've been happily married for 30 years — we have two sons — and I adore being with my family. Hikes with them recharge my battery.
What brings you comfort when you're away on the road and away from your family?
I carry a kitchen on the road because I find if I don't eat super healthy, I fall victim to all those little ailments: not sleeping well, catching a lot of colds, and not being able to remember my facts. My favorite snack is blueberries.
Regardless of party affiliations, women in politics are unfairly scrutinized for their appearance, a la Hillary Clinton and her hair when she was secretary of state. Have you ever fallen victim to it?
I certainly feel it from the political establishment. Sometimes the way they go after me, as a Green candidate, is to criticize my shoes, which is totally irrelevant. A fairly well-known political analyst and Democratic party faithful went after me in a 2010 gubernatorial debate because I dared to go on stage in open-toed shoes. Here was some woman who pretended to be a proponent of political equality for women who couldn't find anything more worthy of critiquing in my debate performance.
But I've felt very supported by the Green Party. I had a woman as a running mate, and the last two presidential/vice-presidential candidates were also women. The Green party has been very supportive of gender equity on all fronts.
Are you going to run again for president in 2016?
As a party and an opposition voice, we are just getting started. It doesn't end in 2016. I'm in this for the long haul and as 2016 comes closer, we'll see. I haven't ruled it out.
For more information on the North Carolina Green Party, visit www.ncgreenparty.org.