Howie talked third parties with Newsy.
And only 34% have a favorable view of the Republican Party. But this isn’t a new development. You’d actually have to go back to 2015 when NBC News found one of the parties had a net positive rating. If you’re curious, that was the Democrats. Now there are other parties to vote for. And you’ve probably heard of at least one, the Green Party, a grassroots organization made up of activists, environmentalists, and voters who are tired of big money in politics. The party’s co creator and former presidential candidate Howie Hawkins joins us tonight. Thank you for being here. Well, thanks for having me. So off the top. I gotta take you back. Why did you decide to create a third party Well, I came up in the 1960s and I saw both parties dragging their feet on civil rights and then the war on poverty was lost in the war in Vietnam. So I thought we needed another party that you know, there was no compromise on civil rights and uh, didn’t want to go to war with a country that didn’t do anything to us. So I’ve been interested in that since the 1960s. We had a peace and freedom party in 68, The People’s Party and 72 and 76 and the Citizens Party in 80 In 1984, after the German Greens Elected about 30 people to their Congress called the Bundestag. We said, well, maybe that’s what we should do in this country. So we had a meeting out in St Paul Minnesota and we’ve been Active added ever since. We’ve we’ve been more persistent than the earlier efforts since the 60s. Right I mean, it’s been a growing movement for sure I and something we’ve been learning, you know, throughout this hour so far, is just how difficult it is to get a third party started. So, I want to ask you why you think it’s difficult to start a third party and really get it on the ballot Well, ballot access in this country is much more difficult than other democracies. If you look at you want to run as an independent for Congress. Uh it’s different in every state, but in, you know, my state New York is 3500 signatures in Georgia, About 20 over 20,000 Alabama, over 30,000 Indiana over 40,000. Um You go to the United Kingdom. You want to run as an independent for the House of Commons. It’s 10 signatures, you want to run for the parliament New Zealand is an independent, it’s two signatures, the 100 in Australia, it’s 100 in Canada and in this country, in many states, it’s thousands or tens of thousands. So just getting on the ballot by petition is the first obstacle. But I think the biggest obstacle is that we have a single member district winner take off system so that every district election, you have the spoiler problem. So there are a lot of people that want to vote for the greens, they like our platform, but they’re afraid of the Republicans, particularly as it’s become more extremists. So they settle for the lesser evil the Democrats to stop the Republicans. So they don’t get to vote for what they want. Most democracies have a system of proportional representation Where if you’re a 20% party, you get 20% of the seats in the legislature. If we move to that, we would have a multi party system. And I think that 62% of Americans that want another party would be happy. Right I mean, I just have to say thank you for putting it into context with other countries when it comes to those signatures, because I mean, the difference between two and 30,000 40,000 signatures is clearly vast. You know, it makes me wonder, I mean, what did you do right Or maybe differently than other groups that may have struggled, you know, with getting on the ballot I think we started at the, at the local level. You know, over the years, we’ve elected about 1500 people, the local offices and those victories sustain people plus, I think, And this has been a tradition of 3rd parties throughout our history. We bring issues to the fore that have been neglected. Take the Green New Deal, which is now, you know, a term of national debates and picked up by some of the Progressives in the Democratic Party. That was the Green Party’s signature issue in the 2010th. I was the first candidate in this country to run on it for governor of New York in 2010. Our presidential candidate in 2012 and 2016, Jill Stein ran on the theme of the Green New Deal for America And it got picked up. And if you go back in history, it goes back to the Liberty Party, 1840, they ran against slavery. When the wigs and the Democrats didn’t want to touch the issue. And you can trace 3rd parties putting issues on the ballot from, you know, antimonopoly during the gilded age too. Direct election of senators and social security from the socialist and various Progressive parties in the early part of the 20th century. So even though we don’t always win elections, we can move the debate by getting in elections and raising these issues and competing for votes. You know, if we don’t compete for the votes, then, you know, the Democrats who are closer to us than the Republicans can take us for granted and the people that support our demands. Because what are they gonna do They’re not gonna vote for the Republicans. So that gives us leverage even when we don’t win offices well. And I think that’s important for you to bring up. Because I think something that, you know, some people will think is, you know, really, what sway is there, you know, what, where do they fall in our history And you really just walked us through different, you know, historical points where the third party has done something to sway or shift the direction of the rest of history. I want to ask, you know, why do you think that we’re stuck in this two party system mindset It seems very difficult to get out of. Well, the people, as you cited the poll from Gallup, that’s, you know, more and more people want alternatives. But when they get to the actual election, particularly for higher office, particularly with the Republican party becoming so extremists, you know, antidemocratic, a lot of racism. Most center and Progressive people are like, we’ve got to stop the Republicans so They feel they can’t afford to vote for the 3rd party like the Green Party, they may prefer. So that dynamic it issues from the single member district winter takeoff system. Most districts are not competitive. The political scientists will tell you, 95% of state legislative districts, 90% of congressional districts. Our one Party districts, you know, the Democrats or the Republicans have enough of a majority that the other party can’t compete. Um So a lot of people say why bother voting I already know who’s gonna win. Um So that’s another reason why, you know, the nonvoters win most elections, they get more than either party. One thing we like to do around here is ask our guest a bottom line question to really drive it home for our viewer. So my bottom line question for you is what would it take to make third parties mainstream I think proportional representation, we’ve had advancing on ranked choice voting and most of these are for single seats. Can you explain really quickly what ranked choice voting is Sure you rank your choices in order of preference 123. So a Progressive that likes to greens more than the Democrats but is afraid of Republicans. They can vote. The green is their first choice, the Democrat is their second and not worry about helping the Republicans that will open up the process and We have more jurisdictions in this country doing that now than we’ve ever had. It’s over 50 and most of those have come in the last two years. So we’re gaining momentum on that and I would like to see it go further to have ranked choice voting from multi member districts for legislative bodies and that way you get proportional representation of the parties in the legislature’s got it. Well, it certainly is something we will be keeping our eye on Howie Hawkins. We appreciate you joining us tonight on the Y thank you so