Why I Won’t Vote Green

A few months back, I vowed not to discuss the primary or general presidential election on Facebook. It had a lot to do with the divisive Democratic primary process, with my Hillary friends and my Bernie buds at loggerheads, and an unwillingness to sling any more mud after some testy exchanges. During one exchange, a friend who supported Bernie Sanders said that if Hillary Clinton got the nomination, he would instead vote for Dr. Jill Stein, the presidential candidate for the Green party.

Solely by political orientation, I should be a Green party supporter. I lean far left; I support taking action on climate change; I’m worried about the rate of species extinction; my college major was Environmental Studies.

But no. I will not be voting Green this November.

My understanding of current environmental issues comes from modern scientific consensus, backed by evidence. For example: not only do nearly all climate scientists believe that the average global temperature is increasing and is caused by humans, but there is ample data to back up that claim. Science, unlike what climate-deniers would want you to believe, is not based on belief, but on rigorous examination and replicable results.

Another example: GMOs, broadly speaking, do not pose a human health risk, according to the WHO. The scientific consensus is still early and fuzzy, as GMO is an umbrella term that incorporates broadly gene-spliced strains of staple crops to CRISPR-tweaked experiments, but fears of “frankenfoods” are likely unfounded.

The Green party has historically supported the scientific consensus on climate change, yet has also been anti-GMO. The platform for 2016 hasn’t yet been released, but past platforms have called for a moratorium on all GMOs, as has Dr. Stein as of 2015.

Okay, so maybe the GMO stance is an outlier of an otherwise science-backed platform. Unfortunately, no, as this Patheos article describes. What irks me the most is the support of “alternative medicine.” Dr. Stein — an actual doctor of medicine — should know better than to support homeopathy and similar quack practices.

The Green party, I would argue, isn’t a pro-science party. Its historical platform — and what would likely be its 2016 platform as well — is a hodgepodge of legitimate environmental concerns merged with some very Luddite fantasies. For example, if you’re in favor of phasing out fossil fuels, why would you also want to close nuclear power plants? We’re not quite ready to fully transition to renewable energy without some stopgaps. It’s an awful tradeoff, of course: preventing environmental instability in the next few centuries, in exchange for containing nuclear waste for several millennia in the future. But climate change is a more immediate threat. The Green party’s opposition to nuclear power is more inspired by NIMBY than Chernobyl.

(There’s also some historical opposition to the space program and some anti-vaccination rhetoric, but I haven’t found any further references to these issues, so I won’t speculate.)

The rest of their historical platform is more-or-less in line with mine: largely progressive, close to Bernie Sanders’s own policy positions. But “Bernie + Luddite + Anti-Science” doesn’t sit well with me at all. If we confront the challenges of the 21st century — climate change, rising xenophobia, income disparity — we have to be more flexible in our solutions, not more dogmatic.

Of course, I live in Florida, which is a swing state this year. Since I’ve already decided not to be a spoiler, I’m voting for Hillary. But even if Florida were solidly blue or red, I still wouldn’t vote Green.