Stein, technically the Green Party nominee, is running a longshot but aggressive campaign against a political system she feels has capitulated to corporate interests.
She sees no difference between the Democratic and Republican parties, and she thinks voters are tired of both of them. So she's calling for a "voter rebellion."
"We must occupy our elections just as we must occupy our banks and our schools and everything else," Stein said in an interview during a visit to Seattle to speak at Hempfest, in addition to other events. "Because they belong to us."
While the 62-year-old internist from Massachusetts isn't counting on winning the election, she said she hopes to get people thinking about the direction of America's democracy, which is "on life support." The Green Party is perfectly positioned to facilitate a conversation about the future, Stein said.
"The mythology is that it's all about the trees," she said of the party, which was founded in 1991. "It is about the trees, but in my view you can't save the world unless you save the people first. They're kind of a key element."
She's advocating a "Green New Deal," modeled after the set of social programs enacted by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in the aftermath of the Great Depression.
Her version would create 25 million jobs in the clean energy, environmental and transportation fields, she said, paid for by taxes on millionaires and savings from scaling back military intervention abroad.
Stein's platform also includes moving to a single-payer health-care system focused on preventive treatment and making higher education free for all students.
She holds no illusions about getting a chance to articulate her vision, however, in large part because of a presidential-debate system she calls "extremely arbitrary and exclusionary." The Commission on Presidential Debates, founded by the Democratic and Republican parties, stipulates that only candidates averaging 15 percent in the polls can participate.
In the polls that have included Stein, she has received 1 percent.
She compared the difficulty faced by third parties in the American political system to Egypt under former president/dictator Hosni Mubarak.
"There, it was illegal to have third parties," Stein said. "Here it's just impossible."
If she were to join the debates, Stein thinks she would dominate. The Harvard grad has experience going against one candidate, Republican Mitt Romney, during the gubernatorial race that Romney won in Massachusetts in 2002.
"It's a piece of cake to debate Romney, because all he does is spout talking points," Stein said, describing Romney as "a person whose humanity is somewhat hard to identify."
But that doesn't mean she supports President Obama.
She pointed to several issues in which she says the president has been more conservative than former President George W. Bush, including bank bailouts, civil liberties, free trade and the environment. "They may differ in degree," Stein said of Obama and Romney. "But they're absolutely the same in direction."
Stein is expected to be on the ballot this fall in about 45 states, including Washington.
OP: I though it'd be nice to see something on here about the third-party candidate.