- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 26, 2016

PHILADELPHIA — No other presidential candidate would dare hit the campaign trail in a white tank top, but for the Green Party’s Jill Stein, it’s more about surviving the heat than making a fashion statement.

Ms. Stein has logged three frenetic days of political activity outside the Democratic National Convention, seizing the opportunity to lure disaffected Bernard Sanders supporters as they increasingly turn their outrage on the Democratic Party.

“Your campaign lost in a rigged primary system with the Democratic National Committee and the corporate media in collusion with Hillary’s campaign,” Ms. Stein told a crowd of Sanders backers holding “Bernie or Bust” signs.

“Do not go back into that campaign that has betrayed this movement,” she said. “Do not go into that party. We are going forward together.”

Her street-corner rallies and city-park revivals have provided a boisterous and bohemian alternative for Sanders backers unwilling to settle for Hillary Clinton, especially not after last week’s email leak showing that Democratic National Committee officials were working against Mr. Sanders during the primary.

Hundreds have braved the inclement weather to attend her events, even her Power to the People tent rally Monday at FDR Park that was cut short by a torrential downpour, chanting her new slogan: “Jill, not Hill.”

SEE ALSO: Bernie Sanders tells supporters to back Hillary Clinton, says choice ‘not even close’

“Let me tell you what they’re thinking up in the Wells Fargo Center: They’re scared,” said Chris Hedges, an activist and former New York Times reporter.

“There is a Democratic convention taking place in Philadelphia, but it is not in the aptly named Walls Fargo Center, it is here on Broad Street,” Mr. Hedges told a crowd Monday near the convention. “They’re scared. They’re scared because they know how corrupt and gamed and rotten the system is better than any of us do.”

Mr. Hedges is one of several high-profile supporters who has joined the Stein campaign for the street campaign, a contingent that includes former Ivy League professor Cornel West, who swung his support to Ms. Stein last week even though he served on this year’s Democratic Party platform committee.

“I’m going with Jill Stein. Why? Because the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton, they don’t own my vote, they don’t own my voice, they don’t own me. I’m a free man,” Mr. West told the cheering crowd.

The effort may be paying off: Her Facebook page has gained an estimated 50,000 followers in the last week, bringing the total to nearly 450,000.

Despite her growing profile, Ms. Stein, a Harvard-educated physician who was also the Green presidential nominee in 2012, has invited Mr. Sanders to step in and take her place, which seems unlikely.

SEE ALSO: Bernie Sanders’ runaway revolution

The Vermont senator has endorsed Mrs. Clinton and effectively ended the nomination process Tuesday by throwing his delegates to her, much to the dismay of many of his supporters.

“Bernie, and this is hard, but Bernie sold millions of us out,” said retired Philadelphia police Capt. Ray Lewis at a Stein rally.

“He had the strongest grass-roots organization ever. And to top it off, Jill Stein of the Green Party graciously was willing to vacate her position and give it to Bernie. He declined it. That killed it for me,” said Mr. Lewis. “Now, listen: Bernie is a politician. Jill Stein is a person.”

Mr. West isn’t willing to go there. “When it comes to my dear brother Bernie Sanders, I still have a love for my brother. I just think he’s wrong.”

“He made a strategic shift that I disagree with. But I appreciate his service,” said Mr. West. “We want to keep love at the center of it, but when we disagree, we want to be able to take a stand.”

Still, Ms. Stein hasn’t given up, issuing a statement Tuesday reiterating her “standing invitation to Sanders to meet with Greens in the near future to discuss potential collaboration.”

Given that her plank is even more progressive than that of Mr. Sanders, the danger for Democrats is that she may draw Bernie voters unwilling to vote for either Republican Donald Trump or Libertarian Gary Johnson, but also unwilling to sit on their hands in 2016.

For those who worry that a vote for Ms. Stein is in effect a vote for Mr. Trump, her campaign has a message: “Reject the lesser evil, fight for the greater good.”

Her platform includes abolishing student-loan debt, demilitarizing the police, opposing the Trans-Pacific Partnership, taking a hard line on climate change, creating a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants and mandating a $15 per hour minimum wage.

“What we learned in this last year in this very hard lesson that some of us have been observing for decades, which is that you cannot have a revolutionary campaign inside of a counter-revolutionary political party,” said Ms. Stein said at a recent appearance.

“This campaign, the Bernie movement, our movement, its future, is with independent politics in the form of the Green Party that will support this movement all the way until we prevail,” she said. “This is a movement that brings us together for people, planet and peace over profit, together.”

• Valerie Richardson can be reached at vrichardson@washingtontimes.com.

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