The Green Party candidate styles herself as a successor to the Sanders campaign. And she has been making the rounds in Philadelphia in the midst of the Democratic convention. When Sanders supporters protested Clinton’s nomination, Stein was spotted in the crowd. On Tuesday, she showed up at a Bernie-or-Bust rally in downtown Philadelphia, reminding the crowd: “Whatever happens, you know my campaign is here. We are going to continue this movement.” As she works to channel the dismay of Sanders loyalists toward her campaign, Stein says perhaps “Bernie will see the light, come over, and join us at some point down the line.”
The thing is though, Sanders has already promised his political revolution won’t end. At the same time, he has undeniably signaled a willingness to make peace with the establishment. Stein seems skeptical. “It’s hard to have a revolutionary campaign inside of a counterrevolutionary political party,” she cautioned at the rally. “Every time, there’s been a rebel inside the Democratic Party, a candidate with integrity, they have been sabotaged, like Bernie,” Stein tells me as we walk out of the subway and into 90-degree heat. “All their claims about having a movement that will live on inside the Democratic Party, it just doesn’t happen.”
Stein may be right, but that doesn’t mean her revolution will fare much better. The Harvard-educated physician has barely made a dent in national polling. A YouGov/Economist poll from late July put her at just 3 percent. And while Stein may win some votes from Sanders supporters ready to defect, the vast majority of people who voted for the senator appear to already have lined up behind Clinton. Among consistent Sanders supporters, Pew Research found a full 90 percent plan to support Clinton.
Even the anger on display at the convention may soon be a distant memory. Despite threats of protest from Sanders supporters against Tim Kaine, Clinton’s vice-presidential candidate, there was no revolt when the Virginia senator took the stage on Wednesday. As Angie Aker, a Sanders delegate, put it on Tuesday evening inside the arena as she held a sign that read, “Silenced by Her,” above her head: “It’s really hard to maintain sustained outrage. It’s just tiring.”
So, can Stein really lead a political revolution? Her diagnosis of the problems plaguing the country isn’t so different from Sanders’s assessment. Like the senator, she sees a country overrun by big money and corporate power. She wants to make health care a right, break up big banks, and ensure that high-quality education is accessible for Americans. Stein has also embraced positions that put her to the left of the senator. At the Bernie-or-Bust rally, she called for reparations as part of a conversation on fighting racism rooted in the “criminal institution of slavery.”