Boulder Democratic Socialists of America

2020 Candidate Endorsement Application


Name: Howie Hawkins
Candidacy & Affiliation: President of the United States, Green Party
Email: [email protected]
Website: https://howiehawkins.us
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/runhowierun2020
Twitter: https://twitter.com/HowieHawkins20
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/howiehawkins2020/
YouTube: https://hawkins20.us/youtube


Biography:

I am a retired Teamster living in Syracuse, New York.

I became active in “The Movement” for civil rights and against the war in Vietnam in the 1960s as a teenager in the San Francisco Bay Area. Repelled by the racism and warmongering I saw in both major parties, I asked, “Where is my party?”

From the start, I was committed to independent working-class politics for a democratic, socialist, and ecological society. I supported the Peace and Freedom Party in 1968, the People’s Party in 1972 and 1976, and the Citizens Party in 1980. When the Socialist Party re-established itself as an independent party in 1973, I joined and remain a member. I am also a member of Solidarity, a socialist, feminist anti-racist organization.

I participated in the first national meeting to organize a Green Party in St Paul, Minnesota in 1984 and have been a Green Party organizer ever since. As a Green Party candidate many times for local office in Syracuse, my vote grew from 3% for at-large councilor in 1993 to 48% for a district council seat in 2011. In 2015, I received 35% of the citywide vote for city auditor. As the Green Party’s candidate for governor of New York in 2010, 2014, and 2018, I received enough votes each time to qualify the Green Party for a ballot line for the next four years. The 5% we received in 2014 meant Gov. Cuomo had to start competing for our votes by adopting some of our demands that he had opposed before, including the $15 minimum wage, paid family leave, and a ban on fracking, which I had been campaigning for since before the 2010 gubernatorial campaign.

I was the first candidate in the US to campaign for a Green New Deal in 2010. Coming out of the Great Recession when New York faced a severe fiscal crisis, I advocated progressive tax reforms to fund a universal public healthcare system, increased public school funding, tuition-free public college, and major investments through a public energy system to lead a 10-year transition to 100% clean energy. It was an economic recovery and economic justice program as well as a climate action program. We presented it as the Hawkins Prosperity Plan vs. the Cuomo Austerity Plan.

My electoral work has been an extension of my social movement organizing. When my draft number was called in 1972, I enlisted in the Marine Corps to participate in the GI resistance to the Vietnam War.  After studying at Dartmouth College, I helped organize a worker cooperative that specialized in energy efficiency and solar and wind installations. In 1976, I was a co-founder of both the anti-nuclear Clamshell Alliance and the anti-apartheid Northeast Coalition for the Liberation of Southern Africa. I have continued to this day as a constant organizer in peace, justice, union, and environmental campaigns.

My articles on politics, economics, and environmental issues have appeared in Against the Current, Black Agenda Report, CounterPunch, International Socialist Review, Labor Notes, New Politics, Peace and Democracy News, Z Magazine, and many other publications. I am the editor of, and a contributor to, Independent Politics: The Green Party Strategy Debate (Haymarket Books, 2006). I recently published an ebook available on my campaign website called The Case for an Independent Left Party: From the Bottom Up.


Top Issues:

I have framed the presentation of my platform around three “life-or-death” issues:

1. Climate Crisis

I advance a 10-year, $27.5 trillion budget and plan, an Ecosocialist Green New Deal to get to zero-to-negative greenhouse gas emissions and 100% clean energy by 2030. It features public enterprise and planning in the energy, transportation, and manufacturing sectors in order to rapidly rebuild all productive systems for zero-waste and clean energy, not just for the energy sector but also for the transportation, buildings, manufacturing, and agricultural sectors.

2. Economic Inequality

Inequality kills. Working class life expectancies have begun declining in the US after 45 years of wage stagnation and growing inequality. The Green New Deal I advocate has always included an Economic Bill of Rights to a living-wage job, an income above poverty, affordable housing, comprehensive health care, lifelong tuition-free public education from child care and preK through college and trade schools, and a secure retirement funded by doubled Social Security benefits.

3. Nuclear Arms Race

I call for a 75% cut in military spending, US troops home from foreign deployments, a pledge of No First Use of nuclear weapons, disarming to a minimum credible nuclear deterrent, and, on the basis of those tension-reducing initiatives, going to the eight other nuclear powers to negotiate mutual and complete nuclear disarmament with the support of the 122 non-nuclear nations who agreed three years ago to the text of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

Recent events have thrust two more life-or-death issues on to the center stage: the Covid-19 pandemic and the centuries-old pandemic of racism in the US.

4. Covid-19 Pandemic

The Covid-19 pandemic has revealed for all who look how the two governing parties are presiding over a failed state. Trump was incompetent and now indifferent. Biden was invisible and now incoherent. Biden has the national stage  but doesn’t use it to point toward what’s needed: a national test, trace, and quarantined program to suppress the infections and deaths, and federal protections of the people’s incomes, jobs, health care, homes, and small businesses.

5. Racism Pandemic

The nationwide uprising against police brutality and racism following the police lynching of George Floyd has revealed for all who care to look how the US has always been a failed state for Black America. Trump wants to call in the military to suppress the demonstrations. Biden answers the call to Defund the Police and replace police harassment with social services in communities of color with $300 million in federal funding to “reform” police departments. I’m calling for a Marshall Plan for the Cities and an Economic Bill of Rights, Community Control of the Police, and the Jonny Gammage Law to require federal investigation and prosecution when law enforcement violates a person’s civil rights, including injury and death.


Questions about your campaign: 
For this section, we would like to get a sense of your political position and the intentions of your campaign. Please answer each question in a few sentences. 

How do you identify your political tendency (e.g. progressive, anarchist, libertarian socialist, etc.)? 

I am identifying as an ecosocialist in this campaign.

I have always identified as a democratic socialist who is opposed to one-party states calling themselves socialist or communist.

Since 1967, I have been strongly influenced by two particular socialist schools of thought, the libertarian socialism of Murray Bookchin and the revolutionary democratic socialism of Hal Draper. Bookchin’s eco-anarchist essays convinced me that the vision of a decentralist-federalist form of democratic socialism and ecological balance was possible. Draper’s “Two Souls of Socialism” and other literature from his Independent Socialist Clubs convinced me of the need for an independent mass-party of the left to advance a democratic socialism.

I worked closely with Bookchin in the 1980s. While he posed an exclusive focus on municipal politics to radicalize and federate cities and towns as a democratic counterpower to the capitalist state and corporations, I have always remained convinced that a mass socialist party is also needed to protect this movement from below, to take power from the capitalist state and giant corporations, and help decentralist-federalist forms of political and economic democracy to take hold.

How will you convey or incorporate your anti-capitalist perspectives during your campaign and in your elected role? 

My vice-presidential running mate, Angela Walker, and I, are campaigning as veteran socialists and for a democratic and ecological socialism.

I emphasize that we need socialism, not a New Deal liberalism that calls itself socialist. We can’t just tax the billionaire class to fund progressive social and environmental programs because that leaves concentrated economic power that translates into concentrated political power, which the billionaire class uses to resist and roll back the social and environmental programs.

We need a socialist economic democracy based on social ownership of the major means of production in order to have political equality and democracy and the power to choose to meet everyone’s basic needs on an ecologically sustainable basis.

Why are you seeking the endorsement of the Boulder County DSA? In what ways do you believe your campaign aligns with our mission and platform? 

A major goal of my campaign is to build solidarity across the nonsectarian independent left. I am the nominee of the Socialist Party USA. I was endorsed in the Green primaries by Solidarity. I have a commanding lead in the primaries for the nomination of the Green Party of the United States. I am seeking the nominations of independent progressive state parties like the Oregon Progressive Party and the South Carolina United Citizens Party. I am seeking the endorsements of socialist organizations like DSA affiliates. My campaign aligns with DSA’s mission and platform to advance democratic socialism.

What is the relationship between your campaign and the Democratic Party?

We are running in opposition and as an alternative to the pro-capitalist Democratic Party and its presidential candidate, Joe Biden. We are appealing to grassroots progressive Democratic voters, urging them to vote for what they want and not waste their vote on a politician and party that opposes everything they want, from Medicare for All and a Green New Deal to anti-imperialist peace initiatives.

Are you running this campaign to win elected office, or are you running as a protest candidate?

We want to win and are ready to serve, but know the odds of winning the office are very long.

We are not running to merely protest but to build an ecosocialist movement and an independent ecosocialist party that can contest for power in the near future. With a presidential vote of a few percent – it varies by state from 0.5% to 20% – we can win ballot lines for the next election cycle in up to 40 states. Those ballot lines will enable independent left candidates to much more easily get ballot access and win elections in local races, including the local districts of state legislatures and Congress. We want to put the independent left in a position to win thousands of local races as we go into the 2020s.

Just as Bernie Sanders gave voice to the popular demand for Medicare for All and moved the national debate, we also expect advance our demands in the national political debate, for example, by giving those who support a full-strength Green New Deal a way to vote for it and by making nuclear disarmament, which no major party candidate has talked about, a top campaign issue.

Will you take corporate campaign contributions?

No.

In general, what role should corporations play in politics? 

None. We are campaigning for the We The People Amendment to the US Constitution to abolish the doctrines of corporate personhood and of money equals political speech. That amendment will trump previous court decisions that prevent full public regulation of public elections. With full public regulation, we can eliminate the role of private money and corporations in elections.

I support the Clean Money model of full public campaign financing where ballot-qualified candidates receive equal campaign funding grants and receive and spend no private money. Arizona and Maine have adopted this system for their state elections. For federal elections, the Clean Money model also requires federally-licensed broadcasters to provide equal time for messaging to all candidates.

I oppose the matching funds systems of partial public campaign finance because the public money is just added on top of private funding, which then still dominates campaign funding. The matching grants also magnify the funding disparities between candidates with greater and lesser amounts of private money that is matched. The matching funds system is a reform that doesn’t really reform.

We are nonetheless qualifying for federal presidential primary matching funds, just as we are accepting individual private contributions, because that is the system we have to run under now. In fact, we are the only campaign in the country that will qualify for matching funds. None of the other third party campaigns are raising enough to qualify, which requires raising $5,000 in each of 20 states in individual cumulative contributions of no more than $250. None of the major party candidates wanted to qualify because accepting matching funds required them to spend no more than $50 million on their primary campaigns and that was not enough for them.


Questions about specific issues: 
For this section, we would like to get a sense of your stance on various issues. Please answer each question in a few sentences. If you have a history of working on any of these issues, include an explanation of that work in your answer.

Please answer the following questions for each topic: 1) What do you see as the main problems plaguing the issues below and what are their major causes? 2) How will you use your campaign and elected position to address these issues? 

The Housing Crisis

The for-profit housing industry has never and can never provide decent affordable housing for all because it can make more money catering to upscale clientele. My ecosocialist Green New Deal budget calls for a 10-year, $2.5 trillion program to build 25 million new units of public housing to provide affordable housing for all who need it.

Homelessness

My Green New Deal public housing program sets aside 40% of new units, 10 million units, for low-income people. That would more than cover the 7.8 million unit shortfall of affordable housing for low-income people in the US.

Healthcare and Reproductive Health

Health care should not be a buy-or-die commodity. It should be a public service and a human right.

Medicare for All as national health insurance is not enough. In addition to replacing private health insurance companies with a single public payer, we need to replace for-profit drug companies, and healthcare delivery institutions that maximize fees-for-service to the detriment of quality care and cost control, with a fully socialized medical system.

I call for Medicare for All as a Community-Controlled National Health Service. In the first year, national health insurance would pay for all medically necessary services—including abortion, hormone replacement therapy, and other reproductive health services—through a single public payer and free at the point of service for consumers. Over the next ten years, we would socialize delivery as well as payment of health care. Hospitals, clinics, and drug and medical supply companies will be publicly owned. Doctors, nurses, and other health care workers will be salaried public employees. The whole system will be governed by locally-elected health boards that federate at the state and national level for overall planning and coordination.

Workplace organizing, diminished labor power, and workplace democracy

Labor unions raise about $10 billion a year from member dues, but most unions squander it on corporate campaigns instead of organizing members and the unorganized to use their own power to act and speak for themselves, and on Democratic Party candidates who take labor support for granted. As someone who has long participated in union reform efforts through the Labor Notes network and Teamsters for a Democratic Union, I don’t believe we will democratize the unions and displace the cautious and conservative labor bureaucracy until we have a mass party of the left with the perspective and organizational capacity to carry through such a union reform program.

In terms of public policy in these areas, my 2019 Labor Day statement outlines a fuller program than I can cover here in a few sentences, but highlights include:

  • Labor Law Reform including majority card check union recognition and the repeal of repressive sections of labor law that have crippled labor’s ability to organize by outlawing or severely restricting labor’s basic organizing tools: strikes, boycotts, pickets, and political action.
  • A Workers’ Bill of Rights as a set of legally enforceable civil rights, independent of collective bargaining, including First and Fourth Amendment rights in the workplace, freedom from discharge at will, six weeks paid vacation, and a paid sabbatical every seven years.
  • A Just Transition program to provide up to five years existing wages and benefits to workers displaced by conversion from military to civilian production and from fossil and nuclear energy to clean energy.
  • A Worker Cooperative program to provide financing and technical assistance to start-ups and conversions of businesses to worker cooperatives.

Environmental degradation

Capitalism is killing the planet. As a system of endless growth driven by competition for profits, it is consuming the natural conditions that sustain the human economy. As a system that prices commodities according to market demand, capitalism cannot account for the externalized environmental costs of resource depletion and ecosystem degradation by pollution.

Immediate environmental protection measures should feature bans—not just regulating or pricing—on toxic chemicals, a ban on fracking and new fossil fuel infrastructure, and habitat and ecosystem restoration. The Ecosocialist Green New Deal includes employing 4 million people in a new Civilian Conservation Corp to work in the US and abroad to protect species, restore ecosystems, and draw carbon out of the atmosphere through afforestation, the restoration of carbon-intensive habitats like wetlands and mangroves, and the conversion of agriculture to organic methods that restore living soils.

To solve the ecological crisis will require a rapid conversion of the economy to an ecologically sustainable mode of production will require system change from capitalism to a democratic ecosocialism. The Ecosocialist Green New Deal plan we propose will not only plan production systems to be powered by clean energy, but also to produce with zero-waste systems that minimize resource extraction and waste disposal.

Wealth Inequality and growing poverty

The normal and natural operation of capitalism increases wealth polarization and poverty because it pays as low a fixed wage as it can get away with to workers and gives the surplus value they create with their work to elite wealthy owners of capital who didn’t work for it.

Immediate measures to reduce inequality and poverty include an Economic Bill of Rights to guarantee a decent minimum living standard for all and much more progressive taxation of income, wealth, estates, and profits. The solution to economic inequality is a socialist economy where income distribution at the point of production is equitable because people earn income according to their work contribution and nobody takes as income the value that others produce, except for the public goods and services that everyone uses and contributes to through progressive taxes based on their ability to pay.

Oppression of marginalized groups

Racism, sexism, and other forms of oppression intersect in capitalist economics and its ideology that promotes getting ahead at the expense of others. Moving to a socialist economy is a necessary but not sufficient condition for ending the oppression of dominated groups. Each form of oppression has its own particular history and ideological justifications that must be confronted with education and action.

Each form of oppression is carried out by living, breathing oppressors. While we should help these people reform themselves, the oppressed should not wait for them to reform. The program of liberation for oppressed groups is power and self-determination. For example, the program to defeat white supremacy is black power. The program is to replace the racists who discriminate, exclude, and segregate with democratic and collective black community control of its police, schools, housing, and businesses. The same type program is needed for every oppressed group. Instead of counting on anti bias training for biased gatekeepers, we must push for empowerment of the oppressed.

Mass incarceration and police repression

The carceral police state we have was designed that way to exploit and contain the oppressed, particularly communities of color, and to protect the privileges and profits of the power structure’s elites. We need a completely new system of public safety based on decriminalizing drugs and sex work, providing appropriate services instead of police for most social problems (housing for the homeless, medical treatment for the addicted and mentally ill, etc.), and community control of police who are limited to solving violent and serious property crimes, apprehending those who commit them, and held accountable without special shielding for crimes they may commit.

Achieving that new system of public safety requires replacing capitalist economy—where the power elite’s profits and privileges depend on maintaining the intersection of racial oppression and class exploitation—with a socialist economy where everyone receives the full fruits of their labor and nobody can get rich off the labor of others.

Howie Hawkins 2020

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