Howie Hawkins 2020
Published by marco on
Howie Hawkins is the Green Party candidate for President in 2020. He’s a former teamster who, until 2018, was loading trucks for UPS. He’s been involved in socialist and green politics since…forever:
“He supported the Peace and Freedom Party in 1968, the People’s Party in 1972 and 1976, and the Citizens Party in 1980. Since its first national meeting in 1984, Howie has been a Green Party organizer.”
He lives in Syracuse, New York. He ran for governor of New York State 3 times. He has never been elected to public office.
The Green Party platform is that “[we] will be damned if we wait on the Republicans and Democrats to save the planet, confront racism, address spiraling inequality, and avert nuclear apocalypse.”
Their main issues are (the links lead to a lot of detail):
- Medicare for All
- COVID-19 Relief
- Green New Deal
- Community Control of Police
- Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems
- Economic Bill of Rights
- End Endless Wars
- Legalize Marijuana/End the War on Drugs
The article Third-Party Candidates Had An Impact In 2016. In 2020, They’ve Struggled To Gain Traction. by Rosie Gray (Buzzfeed) is one of the few interviews with Hawkins in anything approaching a mainstream source. In it, he addresses the Chomsky complaint that the Green Party should be working on down-ballot candidates and forget the presidency.
“If it were up to Hawkins, he told me before the event, he’d rather not be running for president at all; but decades of activism has taught him that the Greens must contend in the presidential race to gain any traction. He’d started out, with the birth of the Green Party in 1984, thinking presidential politics were irrelevant and that the party’s strategy should focus on bottom-up organizing. But this vision conflicted with the reality of the US system. “My attitude was that until we have a caucus in Congress, it’s not worth running for president. But what I didn’t understand that I understand now is that you need to be in those races to get your ballot line.””
The Democrats and Republicans have made it so that you can’t just run down-ballot—or you lose your spot on the ballot entirely. Hawkins acknowledges that he’s basically a token candidate—he’s very well-spoken and very down-to-earth.
“Hawkins had arrived early for the interview, wearing jeans, running shoes, and a Teamsters jacket. The thing that struck me most upon meeting him was his absolute normalcy. Hawkins is a retired longtime UPS worker and union member who got his start in political activism as a youth in the Bay Area. I asked him if it had been especially challenging to get his message out. “Very,” he said. “I have yet to speak to a network or cable news reporter or get a segment.” He’s done local NPR and local television interviews, but nothing national. “We just haven’t got the coverage that Jill Stein got,” Hawkins said. “Even Ralph Nader.””
He’s a smart dude with a good grasp of policy and what needs to be done. His background is working-class as hell and he’s been involved in politics since the 80s. What’s not to like? The Green Platform outlined above looks pretty good—it’s basically a good start. It’s highly unlikely that Hawkins will even get the 1% that Jill Stein got in the last election.
The following 45-minute video is a refreshing talk with a no-nonsense presidential candidate who isn’t trying to sell anything.
About 20 minutes in, Rall asked Hawkins about Edward Snowden and whistleblowers, to which Hawkins replied,
“I would ask Ed Snowden to be in my administration.”
When Rall asked him what the difference is between the candidates, Hawkins replied that,
“Biden would be better on public health, but not much else.”
Rall followed up with,
“Ted Rall: What would you do about the pandemic, on day one?”
“Howie Hawkins: Scale up. Use the Defense Production Act. Scale up testing, contact-tracing and isolating those exposed or infected in order to suppress community spread of the virus, so we can go back to work and to school safely. That’s what every organized society in the world has done, except this one. To me, that’s why the two governing parties are presiding over a failed state.
“I mean, Trump, he’s a loser: COVID won; he wants to move on. But Biden’s had the platform and he’s not clearly mobilized the public behind what we need. And if you’re in a position to act and you don’t, then that makes you complicit and that’s where we’re at. And I’ve been probably just as outraged about that from Biden as knowing his long history as a neoliberal hawk.
“He lives within commuting distance of the White House press corps. You know, he could have convened them in socially distanced news conferences, like Cuomo did early in the pandemic […] and pounded away and mobilized public opinion to get that kind of response.”
“I think our left intelligentsia has been co-opted into liberalism. They call themselves socialists but, in the end, when it comes to real politics, they always say support the lesser evil. I think what that means is that the Green Party, the left, has to develop its own spokespeople because these people give a good abstract reason on why we need to move beyond capitalism. When they get the option, they support the Democrats, which is the world’s second-most enthusiastic capitalist party.
“And it’s always an existential threat.
“But like I explained earlier: it’s not so much Trump. He’s really not that different from what the establishment wants. It’s the climate emergency, the new nuclear arms race, it’s declining life expectancy due to growing inequality. Those are the emergencies and that’s what the left should be talking about instead of saying ‘Trump is bad and Biden’s not good, but you need to get Trump out of there and then we’ll fight Biden’ You know, why don’t we fight the system now?”
A little later, they discussed the huge group of non-voters—100 million in 2016—and how there’s opportunity there for a truly grass-roots third party. Because neither the Republicans nor the Democrats seem to be interested in gaining new voters or actually offering half of the voting anything that will motivate them or inspire them.
“The largest bloc of voters are those that don’t vote. And they don’t buy that argument. They’re disgusted with both parties. People say they’re apathetic, but I’ve done a lot of door-knocking. I think people are alienated. And they feel powerless. And they stop paying close attention to policies because it’s painful, when you feel you can’t do anything about it, so you turn to private life. That’s the future of the Green Party.”
On militarism, he thinks Trump’s not really been effective at all, either positively or negatively (at least not on purpose).
“I don’t think it’s Trump, I don’t think he’s paying attention. I think it’s the national security state”
He calls for more local politics and briefly discusses the “community policing” plank in the Green Platform.
“We call for community control of the police, so that they don’t police themselves. […] Rid the force of the racists and the sadists. So that police work for the people and not for themselves.”
People used to argue that there’s “no way” someone like Ralph Nader or Jill Stein or Howie Hawkins could be president, that they’re not statesmanlike enough or well-versed enough in the nuance of leadership. Trump’s greatest gift to third parties has been to give the lie to that notion: it’s clear that their is no lower bar of competence or experience or statesmanship that precludes becoming president.
Even the Democrats have helped with the nomination of Biden: they took the ball that Trump hiked and ran with it. The Democrats looked at the Republicans and thought to themselves “that + 5% should do it”.
The Green Party Platform is actually quite good; their candidates are quite good; it’s a scandal that an interview with a presidential candidate has 57 views and 5 upvotes. A microcosm of politics in America.