I am ready to debate Trump and Biden, but are they ready to debate me? Their Commission on Presidential Debates — which sounds like a government agency but is in fact a private corporation controlled jointly by the two major parties — is designed to keep their competition out
The Covid-19 pandemic shows that the two governing parties of the United States are presiding over a failed state. With 4 per cent of the world’s population, the US has 25 percent of coronavirus deaths. The US is on pace to have a quarter of a million Covid-19 deaths by the end of this year.
Trump is a loser. He’s given up. Coronavirus won. Now, like a modern Typhoid Mary, he is infecting his own supporters at his super-spreader rallies. Even his supporters now see this emperor has no clothes. He’s down double digits in the polls.
But where is Joe Biden? As the Democrats’ presumptive nominee, he has the national stage. When you think of Biden, what issue is he the champion of? Biden should be mobilising the public behind a federal test, trace, and isolate programme to suppress the virus like most other organised countries are doing – and he should be the driving force behind universal mail-in balloting so everyone can vote in this pandemic.
The month-long uprising against police brutality has also revealed how the centuries-old pandemic of racism means the US is a failed state for people of colour. Trump’s call for the military to suppress the demonstrations was rebuked by the generals. But Biden rebuked the protesters’ demands to shift funding from over-policing communities of colour to the public resources and services these communities need.
Biden’s long record as a crusader against busing for school desegregation, as well as his involvement in the legislative architect of mass incarceration, and his long-held position as a fiscal hawk and a war hawk leaves progressives in the US with a miserable choice. They are supposed to choose, apparently, between the incompetence and mean-spirited racism of Donald Trump and the conservative policies of Joe Biden that would fit comfortably into the centre-right parties of Europe.
Americans deserve another option. We need real solutions to the life-or-death problems we face: Covid-19, racism, economic inequality, climate change and the new nuclear arms race.
For Covid-19, our campaign demands a federal test, trace, and isolate programme and emergency protection of people’s incomes, employment, homes, and healthcare during the crisis.
To address systemic racism, we call for community control of the police, ending the war on drugs, and reparations for African Americans. As a downpayment on reparations, we call for a Marshall Plan for the cities – sustained federal investment in jobs, schools, homes and healthcare to rebuild the racially oppressed communities who suffer from generations of discrimination and exploitation.
Trump calls climate change a hoax, but Biden acts as if it is a hoax with his pro-fossil fuels energy policy. Our eco-socialist Green New Deal will employ public enterprise and planning in an emergency program to rebuild the economy for zero-to-negative carbon emissions and 100 per cent clean energy by 2030.
Working-class life expectancy is declining in the US after 50 years of growing economic inequality. We call for an Economic Bill of Rights to end poverty and economic despair, including a job guarantee, a guaranteed income above poverty, affordable housing, Medicare for All, lifelong tuition-free public education, and doubling social security benefits for a secure retirement.
The new nuclear arms race has compelled the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists to move its Doomsday Clock the closest it has ever been to midnight. We call for peace initiatives: a 75 per cent cut in military spending; US troops home from the “endless wars”; pledging no first use of nuclear weapons; and disarming to a minimum credible nuclear deterrent. On the basis of these tension-reducing initiatives, we’ll approach the eight other nuclear powers to negotiate complete and mutual nuclear disarmament with the support of the 122 nations who agreed to the text of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in 2017. None of the major party leaders or candidates have addressed this crisis. It should be a top campaign issue.
While this programme is drawing Bernie Sanders supporters to us, our main target is the 100 million voters who sat out the 2016 election. They are disproportionately working class, people of colour, and young. They are the future of independent left politics in the US.
The Democrats call us “spoilers”, but we say it’s the Democrats who are the spoilers. They refuse to embrace the solution to the spoiler problem we have advanced since the Ralph Nader’s Green Party campaign in 2000: replace the Electoral College with a ranked-choice national popular vote for president.
I am ready to debate Trump and Biden on these issues, but are they ready to debate me? Their Commission on Presidential Debates – which sounds like a government agency but is in fact a private corporation controlled jointly by the two major parties – is designed to keep their competition out.
We will take our case to the voters. We are running out of time on the life-or-death issues of the pandemic, racism, economic inequality, climate, and nuclear arms. Real solutions can’t wait.
Howie Hawkins is the presidential nominee of the Socialist Party USA and presumptive nominee of the Green Party of the United States, which holds its nominating convention on 11 July.