The 2016 presidential race features two of the most disliked candidates in electoral history, which has given a boost not only to the Libertarian Party's Gary Johnson, but to Jill Stein, a 66-year-old Harvard-trained physician from Massachusetts who's running on the Green Party ticket.
"We have every reason to be terrified of Donald Trump in the White House," says Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein. "But I don't think we should fool ourselves into thinking that we should sleep well at night with Hillary Clinton in the White House either. They're both dangerous and unacceptable in different ways."
Stein is currently polling at about 2 percent, trailing Gary Johnson, who is on track to take about 4 percent of the popular vote. Stein, who sat down last week for an interview with Reason, says this election year presents an historic opportunity for third parties.
"This is a realignment election," says Stein. "And you have this marriage of the Democratic and Republican parties now. And its important, I think, for Greens and Libertarians to be working together right now to just break through this stranglehold and be challenging them right out of the gate."
Stein says that if only the U.S. were to adopt a new system of voting, Americans wouldn't have to make this choice between voting their conscience or the lesser of two evils.
Stein and the libertarian Gary Johnson have a lot in common on topics like foreign policy, marijuana legalization, and same-sex marriage. But on economic issues, the two candidates couldn't be farther apart.
For instance, Stein favors a single-payer health care system, which she claims would cost taxpayers nothing. She also says she would pour federal money into the clean energy sector and end our use of fossil fuels by the year 2030.
Stein has been battling the perception that the Green Party is anti vaccine after she told the Washington Post that "there were real questions that needed to be addressed. I think some of them at least have been addressed. I don't know if all of them have been addressed" with regards to small amounts of mercury once found in childhood vaccines, despite a scientific consensus that there's never been a link between vaccines and autism or any other serious health problems.
Stein calls the media coverage of her statements misleading and characterizes it as the "birther" issue of this election, claiming that she's only calling for reforms to the FDA, which she sees as corrupted by lobbyists.
With the election just days away, both Johnson and Stein's poll numbers are slipping. One meaningful benchmark for both parties would be to win 5 percent of the popular vote. That would lead the Federal Election Commission to confer the classification of "minor party," which means they'd get easier ballot access and be eligible for matching public funds.
"It's outrageous that people should be struggling right now with this questions of, 'Do I prefer a fascist or a warmonger?'" says Stein.
Interview by Zach Weissmueller. Produced and Edited by Justin Monticello and Jim Epstein. Camera by Monticello and Alex Manning. Music by RW Smith.