The Green Party is what it sounds like — a party pushing for clean energy, clean air and clean water — and that party’s candidate for Congress in Illinois’ 12th Congressional District vows to fight what she calls the “corporate occupation” of Washington, D.C.
The Nov. 8 election marks Paula Bradshaw’s third bid for that seat, having also run in 2012 and 2014.
Bradshaw, 63, of Carbondale, is originally from Los Angeles, having grown up in a barrio in a time when that part of the world was a world away from what it is now.
There wasn’t even a million people there. There were still orange groves and dairy farms. And now it’s loud. And whenever people say ‘We need to grow our way to prosperity,’ I think of L.A. and I’m like, ‘You people are idiots
Paula Bradshaw, Green Party candidate for Congress
“There wasn’t even a million people there. There were still orange groves and dairy farms. And now it’s loud,” she said. “And whenever people say ‘We need to grow our way to prosperity,’ I think of L.A. and I’m like, ‘You people are idiots.’”
Rampant expansion of L.A. and its surroundings helped form Bradshaw’s thinking. Having grown “from Santa Barbara to San Diego,” she said, that part of California now “is miserable.”
“And guess what? There are still poor people there. How about that,” she said.
Bradshaw came to Carbondale in 1993 when her husband — Rich Whitney, who Illinois voters may remember as the Green Party’s nominee for Governor in 2006 and 2010 — started law school at SIU.
I just watched the country slide downhill, it’s like ever since 1980 this has been a worse and worse place to be. There’s homelessness, there’s poverty, there’s hungry kids, there’s endless wars
Bradshaw, meanwhile, went to work right away in the emergency room at Memorial Hospital of Carbondale, a job she held for more than two decades. She says she’s now “kind of” retired.
She said she first became interested in public service decades ago.
“I just watched the country slide downhill, it’s like ever since 1980 this has been a worse and worse place to be,” she said. “There’s homelessness, there’s poverty, there’s hungry kids, there’s endless wars.”
The Green Party shuns war and opposes costly American intervention in overseas conflicts on the belief that it violates international law. The party also favors an overhaul of the country’s electricity generation infrastructure, preferring renewable energy over burning fossil fuels or splitting atoms in nuclear plants.
It’s a tall order the party believes would be met under the Green New Deal, a public works project reminiscent of the New Deal under President Franklin D. Roosevelt that delivered the U.S. from the grips of the Great Depression by drastically improving the country’s infrastructure, putting millions to work.
2012 When Paula Bradshaw ran for Congress for the first time in 2012, she earned 17,045 votes, or 5.6 percent of the vote
2014 When Bradshaw ran for Congress the following cycle in 2014, she earned 11,840 votes — also 5.6 percent of the vote
The Green New Deal, Bradshaw says, would address many issues affecting the 12th District, including putting steel workers back to work in Granite City because the project “would involve increased domestic demand for steel.”
She believes it also would ease hard times felt by coal miners and power plant workers in the 12th whose livelihoods are at risk thanks to new federal rules meant to curtail harmful emissions from coal- and gas-fired power plants. The party favors doing away with those plants anyway, so under the Green New Deal, those workers would take advantage of a massive retraining program. Slashing the nation’s huge defense budget would help pay for the program, Bradshaw said.
(Corporations) want something in return for the billions of dollars. They aren’t just doing it because they believe in good government. They want something out of it, and they’re getting it. They’re getting public land, they’re getting public water. They are trashing our country
Bradshaw also believes the Affordable Care Act — also known as Obamacare — should be repealed. Instead, “The Medicare Act of 1965 should be amended, by taking out the words ‘above age 65,’ which would then make Americans of all ages covered,” she wrote in a response to a questionnaire.
Further, she believes Medicare should be expanded to cover far more than it currently does. Paid for by an increase in federal Medicare payroll taxes, it would eliminate the need to collect state Medicaid taxes. Bradshaw also favors lifting caps on Social Security taxes, calling the current scheme “regressive” because poorer people pay comparatively more into the system than the wealthy.
Bradshaw believes the political system in the United States has been corrupted by corporations flooding money to candidates in exchange for favorable policies.
“(Corporations) want something in return for the billions of dollars. They aren’t just doing it because they believe in good government,” she said. “They want something out of it, and they’re getting it. They’re getting public land, they’re getting public water. They are trashing our country.”
Odds don’t favor third-party runs for office — even the law makes it far harder for those candidates to get on ballots — and Bradshaw’s last two runs for Congress prove it: She earned 5.6 percent of the vote in both of her previous campaigns.
I’m part of the resistence to corporate-occupied Washington, D.C. That’s what I feel, that they’ve taken it over and we are the resistence
So despite a populist message that might appeal, in theory, to many, Bradshaw well knows that a Green candidate winning the Illinois 12th is a long shot.
But she’s defiant, writing in a questionnaire response, “Only the Green Party rejects the widespread corruption that has overtaken our political system. ... Voting for me would put at least one representative in Congress for that purpose.”
“I call myself the resistance,” Bradshaw said recently in a cafe in Carbondale. “I’m part of the resistance to corporate-occupied Washington, D.C. That’s what I feel, that they’ve taken it over and we are the resistance.”