6/30/20: Hespress Interviews Howie Hawkins

While the Democrat and Republican parties dominate American politics, the Green party presents itself as a left wing party that passes laws to protect the environment, achieve social justice, gender equality, stand against racism, and end wars.

Hawkins acknowledges that given the strength of the Democratic and Republican parties, the fortunes of his party in the upcoming election remain slim. He stresses, however, that the goal is to put the issues that he is advocating for on the table, and to push for social programs.

A leader in GPUS, Hawkins asserts that his party depends only on small donations and doesn’t accept money from corporations or special interests groups. He stresses that his party stands with the working class and marginalized communities.

Question:  Can you give us a glimpse of the Green Party and its participation in the upcoming elections?

Answer:  I present myself as a defender of the working class, and our party defends the working class. The Green Party has been in the political arena since 1984, and we are trying to work to build an independent left wing party as a replacement for the Republicans and Democrats, which are funded by major corporations and do not defend the interests of the average American citizen.

Question: What distinguishes your party from the Democrats?

Answer:  First of all, we are not dependent on corporate money or money coming from special interest groups. Unlike the Democrats, we only receive donations from individuals. These individuals comprise a large base of small shareholders as opposed to a small base of large shareholders.

Politically, we advocate for a democratic economy, specifically ecosocialism, by working to build an economy based on social ownership that responds to the need of all people without destroying the environment. That is what we call ecosocialism.

We disagree with the Democrat’s theory that only private institutions have the solution to our problems, this is also Republican thinking. Therefore, I believe there is a big difference between us. We stand for peace, and an end to nuclear proliferation and the arms race, while the two parties share ambitions for developing nuclear weapons and ending weapons treaties with Russia.  This issue isn’t even on the agenda of the two parties in the next election. Protecting the environment. addressing climate change, and ending the nuclear arms race, are matters of life and death for the Green Party.

Question: What are some aspects of your platform at the local and presidential levels?

Answer: We advocate for a number of social demands, and we consider these demands a matter of life and death as well.  The average age of the working class is declining in the United States, so we call for an economy that guarantees human rights for this class, providing housing and education for all, ensuring health care for all, and ensuring comfortable retirement for Americans.

The current COVID-19 crisis showed that the two ruling parties are leading a failed state, which has failed to provide programs for testing, contact tracing, and quarantine, such as with most developed countries, and so deaths and injuries are escalating at a rapid pace.

Trump is headed towards a loss, and has given up on COVID-19, but where is Joe Biden?  He can lead efforts in Washington to develop testing and quarantine programs, but he hasn’t.  He is absent, and this is what makes everyone angry about this situation, not only ethnic minorities but also whites who watch what is happening on TV.  When we talk about change, we’re not talking about changing some police practices and putting money into social services, but towards working to provide a decent life for all.

Expenditures for the military should be cut and re-directed to marginalized communities, job opportunities, health coverage, and education for all.

Question: We will talk about the topic of defunding the police and the current protests later, but I have a question about what drives the party to participate in elections under the current system in which the competition between the Democratic and Republican parties is limited. What is the point of participating if you cannot expect to win?

Answer: First of all, we are building a third party, and participation is part of this process. So while the probability of winning remains small, we will come out of these elections stronger than we were before. Plus, we want to put issues that the party is fighting for on the table, issues that the Democratic and Republican Party don’t discuss. Issues such as preserving the environment, providing health care for all, and peace initiatives. This was the historical role that the third parties played in the United States, such as with the Freedom Party that contributed to the issue of slavery, and in the nineteenth century they set the agenda for abolishing slavery, not the two main parties. The popular movement raised the issue of monopolies, agricultural reform, and banks in the nineteenth century, they laid the basis for social insurance programs that were identified during the twentieth century. Even if we don’t win the elections, we have a big influence on the political scene.

Question: If Joe Biden wins the election, will you support the Democratic Party in the next stage?

Answer: We will push them to adopt more progressive positions, such as developing the health sector and providing health care for all, as well as adopting real policies addressing climate change, and they are welcome to use our platform and adopt our policies.

Question: Would you have participated in the election if Senator Bernie Sanders won the Democratic primary, given his progressive policies?

Answer: Our position wouldn’t change and we would participate, because we need a third party in this country. We can’t wait another four years to reach real solutions. Bernie Sanders presented good health care policies, and policies confronting climate change, but he didn’t offer anything in terms of reducing the military budget and ending foreign wars.  He ignored these issues, and didn’t raise the issue of electoral reform.

The current system is not democratic, and the president is chosen by the electoral college. It’s not based on counting the votes of voters, but rather, the votes of this body, and this corrupts the democratic process.

We advocate for these issues, and if we don’t participate in elections, they won’t be raised in the elections.

Question: Don’t you think that your participation in the upcoming elections will divide the voices of liberals and progressives in these elections, especially in states that have fierce competition between the two parties – such as Pennsylvania and Wisconsin – and will swing the presidency to the Republicans?

Answer: Theoretically, yes. But I rule out that this will happen during the upcoming elections, because Trump is drowning this time. His popularity is declining and it’s difficult to recover. Biden outperforms him in many swing states, as well as at the national level as a whole. And when we reach the date of the elections, the economic recession will continue to worsen, and Trump has no answers about these problems that Americans face.  Nor have additional policies to tackle the COVID-19 crisis been passed in Congress. It is as if the Republicans were deliberately trying to lose the elections. Therefore, I am not concerned about this.

We cannot wait additional years to advocate for social and economic issues, and we bring new voters to the polls. If you look at opinion polls in 2016, only 15% of Jill Stein voters said they would vote for the Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton. Most of them stated that they would either stay home on election day, or vote for a third party candidate.

Therefore, Democrats should worry about their own electoral base, while we’re targeting people who didn’t vote at all, the majority of which are working class youth and non-white minorities. This is the future of the Green Party.

Question: You’ve run in many elections before, whether for Congress or governor of New York, how is your current participation in the presidential elections distinguished?

Answer: This current participation is more complicated. Because we want to contest the elections in 50 states and the District of Columbia, in order to appear on the ballot, we must fulfill the requirements of each state, whose laws differ from one state to another. This issue is very complex, given the different deadlines and requirements for submitting and signing petitions. Applying for the presidential elections is more difficult than the state elections because some states refuse to allow our participation, which makes us have to go to court in order to ensure our participation.

Question: The United States is the greatest world power. What are the positions of the Green Party regarding American foreign policy?

Answer: We would like to see the United States as the world’s greatest humanitarian power, rather than the strongest military empire. We must devote our resources towards development. Instead of building 800 military bases across the world, fighting wars, engaging in  conflicts with Russia and China, we should use diplomatic means that help countries in the Global South achieve development goals.

A small part of what we allocate towards weapons should go towards providing clean water, health care, education, and helping other countries of the world – whether countries of the Global South or other countries like Russia – to adopt clean energies, like solar and wind energy, in lieu of fossil fuels.

I think that if we do this, we will contribute to ensuring world peace. And instead of relying on military force everywhere, we will take the diplomatic approach.

Question: What do you think of the anti-racism protests in the United States and the demands it raises? Specifically with regards to defunding the police.

Answer: I believe that the demands being made are insufficient.  Police intervention only deals with 5% of violent crimes, and perhaps 15% are property related crimes, but more than 80% of what the police do is linked to the harassment of citizens because of things that are not even illegal.  Instead of providing housing for the homeless or treatment for drug addicts, they are sent to prison instead of being sent to medical care centers. If a person suffers from a psychological or a mental disorder, the police – who have nothing to do with psychology – should not be sent to handle the situation. Therefore, the budgets allocated to the police must be reallocated to social investments at the federal level. A new “Marshall Plan” must be adopted, based on providing housing, schools, health care and jobs in communities that have been marginalized for decades.

Question: How do you see the future of the Green Party at a time when the two party system remains in control of the American political scene?

Answer: In order to become a major party power, it is necessary to build a political vision from the bottom up, and so I think the Green Party must be elected to thousands of local offices, and after that, we will go towards the presidential election. And the presidential election affects participation and voting in 50 states and the District of Columbia. When we get 3% of the votes, this greatly aids the local candidate in the polls later, which paves the way for obtaining thousands of signatures to run for Congress or state legislature.

Therefore, what we are doing now is building the framework that we can work under, and building a grassroots base that works at the local and state levels, and then we can use that program that we aspire to achieve.

Link: https://www.hespress.com/interviews/476458.html?



Posted on

June 30, 2020

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