Columbus Democratic Socialists of America

Name: Howie Hawkins

Preferred Pronouns: he/him/his

Election Info

Position sought, with city or district: President of the United States

Election Date: 11/03/2020


Do you support the abolition of the existing prison system in the pursuit of restorative justice?

Do you support the institution of private property?

Do you support an emergency moratorium on residential evictions for lack of complete payment?

Do you support freedom to protest, including the occupation of public and commercial space?

Will you push to increase city funding for services for LGBTQ youth, especially services to address housing instability?

Do you support abolishing money bail?

Do you support abolishing police department vice units?

Will you introduce legislation creating a civilian review board for your police department?

Will you introduce legislation prohibiting your police department from sending prisoners to the Franklin County Jail until all human rights issues – including but not limited to abuses committed against LGBTQ prisoners – have been remedied?

Should Columbus create a universal public childcare/pre-K system?

Should public safety funding for schools prioritize counseling services over policing?

Do you support the creation of a municipal ID, available to all residents regardless of immigration status, in your city?

Should Columbus, as a sanctuary city, categorically refuse to cooperate with US immigration enforcement – including, but not limited to, arresting peaceful protesters, supplying information, or contracting with any immigration enforcement agency or their data providers?

Will you introduce legislation prohibiting city participation in fossil fuel extraction processes and prohibiting the transportation and disposal of hydraulic fracturing waste products within city limits?

Do you support widespread free vaccination against communicable disease?

Do you support universal free access to reproductive healthcare, including abortion on demand, provision of all contraceptive methods, fertility support, and prenatal and obstetric services?

Will you push to increase city funding for mental health services for at-risk youth populations, including LGBTQ youth and young people living in violent environments?

Regardless of potential threats from state government, should your city enact a municipal minimum wage for all workers, tipped and untipped, of at least $15 per hour?

With the exception of labor unions and related entities, do you pledge to accept no contributions from any of the following? Corporate PACs, lobbyists employed by for-profit corporations, principals and/or executives of real estate development or fossil fuel companies, recipients of city contracts, operators of charter schools or charter school management companies, or political consulting LLCs.

Do you support granting the right to vote in municipal elections to non-citizen immigrants?

Short Answer
Eleven Questions. Please answer these questions to the best of your ability and to how you see fit. If you would prefer to not answer any of them, write “No Answer”.

What steps would you take to combat the negative effects of gentrification?

As a candidate for president, I will discuss federal policies in these answers.

Universal Federal Rent Control to prevent the displacement of current residents from gentrifying neighborhoods, as the US did during the World War II.

Public Housing: A 10-year, $2.5 trillion program to build 25 million units of quality public housing so every person has access to affordable housing. Like public housing in Europe, the public housing will be mixed-income, available to all, so professionals and middle-income workers will live next to low-income people in order to reduce race and class segregation. 10 million units will be set aside for low-income people so the 7.8 low-income people without access to affordable housing today will have access.

Who is your political hero?

Tom Paine – proto-socialist international revolutionary democrat, freethinker, abolitionist, suffragist

What does racial equity mean to you?

Self-determination for racially-oppressed groups. Black power is the way to defeat white supremacy. We shouldn’t wait for white racists to reform themselves. Our program should enable the self-empowerment of racially-oppressed communities to get rid of racist gatekeepers such as employers, landlords, real estate agents, bankers, lawyers, and other upper and upper-middle class people who segregate, discriminate, and deprive people of color of employment, housing, education, credit, and other resources. It means community control of jobs, schools, housing, businesses, and other resources in communities of color so white racists can’t decide who has access to them. It means reparations to uplift racially-oppressed people who have been impoverished by generations of segregation, discrimination, and exploitation.

How do you define the word “socialism?” Using that definition, would you consider yourself a socialist?

I am a socialist. To me, socialism is the movement for self-emancipation by working class and oppressed people.

Socialism means democracy. Rosa Luxemburg: “There is no democracy without socialism, and no
socialism without democracy.”

Socialism means economic democracy through social ownership and democratic administration of the major means of production and distribution.

Socialism means independent political action by the exploited and oppressed, speaking and acting for themselves from below through their own political party. The socialist movement needs its own distinct message and identity as an alternative that is opposed to the capitalist parties, Democrats and the Republicans.

Socialism means uprooting racism and all other forms of oppression, discrimination, and segregation based on ethnicity, gender, sexuality, immigration status, religion, disability, and other invidious distinctions. We can’t have working class solidarity and power without uprooting oppression based on various statuses within our class. The capitalist and professional/managerial classes have promoted racism in particular throughout American history to divide working people and protect their own unearned income and other special privileges. The failure to prioritize anti-racist perspectives and practices, including respecting and supporting freedom movements initiated by racial minorities, has been the Achilles’ heel of American progressive reform movements throughout our history because it has divided and weakened our movements.

Socialism means internationalism. International solidarity by the working class and oppressed people across borders is essential because the capitalist system is global and the fight for freedom, equality, peace, and the environment is worldwide and indivisible.

What kinds of policies would you support to protect vulnerable communities from the prison-industrial complex?

Community Control of the Police: As long as the police are able to police themselves, they will continue to get away with assaults, murder, and other crimes, like the civil asset forfeiture racket. We need to go beyond review boards that are appointed by the politicians – and the real estate power structure that finances their political careers in cities – for the purpose of policing the school district and municipal lines of the New Jim Crow by keeping downscale people, particularly black people, down and out of upscale communities. We need police commissions that are publicly elected, or better, selected by lot like juries, with the power to hire and fire police chiefs, set policies and budgets, and investigate and discipline police misconduct.

Defund the Police and Military: We should redirect resources away from over-policing for low-level offenses and non-criminal behavior to social services like homes instead of vagrancy charges for the homeless, medical treatment instead of criminal charges for the addicted, and mental health experts instead of clueless cops for people living with a mental illness. But there is not enough money in police departments to provide the services needed. We also need to redirect a major portion of military spending to jobs, schools, housing, health care, and other services in racially-oppressed communities that have been impoverished by generations of segregation, discrimination, and exploitation.

Legalize Marijuana and Decriminalize Hard Drugs: The war on drugs feeds the prison-industrial complex, the largest prison system in the history of the world. Drug abuse is a health problem, not a criminal problem. Adult use of marijuana should be legalized, regulated, and taxed. Hard drugs should be decriminalized. Instead of a criminal charge, possession of hard drugs for personal use should be a violation that summons one to hearing with a doctor, social worker, and lawyer to assess what can be done to improve your situation, such as a job, drug treatment, and/or counseling. Portugal instituted this program in 2001 and it radically reduced overdoses, HIV, and drug-related crime and fewer people use hard drugs. This approach is needed now to stop mass opioid deaths.

How can your city better support the school district or districts which serve its children?

As president, I would enact federal policies and programs to ensure that every person has equal access to high-quality, lifelong, tuition-free public education, from child care and pre-K through university, technical, and continuing adult education. Each of us should be able to go to school as far as our interests and abilities take us.

I would:

  • End all federal support for the privatization of public education through voucher systems and privately-managed charter schools.
  • Defend elected school boards and oppose their replacement by mayoral or state control.
  • End all federal support for high-stakes testing and support teachers and parents in local school districts to provide their students with a well-rounded education.
  • Oppose educational tracking that reproduces existing race and class inequalities and limits students’ learning opportunities. All students should have access to both academic and vocational learning throughout their education.
  • Establish federal financing of all public education paid for by progressive federal income and wealth taxes instead of unequally distributed and regressive local property taxes.
  • Enact federal legislation and funding to reduce the student-teacher ratio to 15 to 1 in all public schools.
  • Enact federal legislation and funding to provide universal access to free child care in the schools and extend public schooling for pre-K children starting at age 3 on a voluntary basis.
  • Fully fund and staff the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights.
  • Take affirmative action to end racial discrimination and segregation in school systems, including federal legislation requiring the redrawing of school district lines that now serve as lines of race and class segregation in order to create racially and economically integrated schools.
  • Strengthen and increase funding for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act to ensure that students with disabilities and special needs have equal access to a high-quality education.
  • Tie federal public school funding to an increase in teacher pay to a starting salary of no less than $60,000 tied to cost of living, years of service, and other qualifications.
  • Invest in school infrastructure to repair, construct, and upgrade public schools for health and safety; disabled access; heating, cooling, and lighting conducive to learning; and up-to-date technology, including high-speed internet.
  • Fund community schools, particularly in low-income communities, that provide education, health, and social services to students and their families, including healthy meals, preventive health care, dental care, vision care, mental health care, English as a second language, and adult education, and after-school and summer education and recreation programs.

Democratic Socialists of America supports “democracy in the workplace.” What does “democracy in the workplace” mean to you, and what will your campaign do to prioritize it?

Repeal Repressive Labor Laws: Repeal the sections of the Taft-Hartley Act, the Landrum-Griffin Act, the Hatch Act, and state “Right-To-Work” laws that have crippled labor’s ability to organize by outlawing or severely restricting labor’s basic organizing tools: strikes, boycotts, pickets, and political action. This should include putting in place Card Check which extends union bargaining status to majority sign-up or card-check recognition.

A Workers’ Bill of Rights: Enact a set of legally enforceable civil rights, independent of collective bargaining. This should include:

  • Extending the Bill of Rights protections of free speech, association, assembly, and privacy into all workplaces.
  • Establishing workers’ rights to living wages, portable pensions, information about chemicals used, report labor and environmental violations, refuse unsafe work, and participate in enterprise governance.
  • Funding OSHA adequately to protect workers and communities and workers, empowered to fully enforce safety and health regulations without political appointee interference.
  • Freedom from discharge at will, employer search and seizure in the workplace, sexual harassment, and unequal pay for work of comparable worth.
  • Workers’ right take independent legal action to stop wage theft.
  • Subsidized, high quality child care and elder care.
  • Six weeks of paid vacation annually in addition to federal holidays.
  • One year of parental leave for each child with no loss of seniority or other benefits.
  • For every seven years worked, they should receive one year of paid educational leave.

Worker Cooperatives: Establish a public US Worker Cooperative Bank to provide low-interest loans, loan guarantees, and technical assistance to workers and unions that want to start-up worker cooperatives or purchase the businesses they currently work in and convert them to worker cooperatives. Bank policy would encourage union co-ops where workers elect a board of directors to hire management as well as a union committee to negotiate with management over wages, hours, working conditions, and benefits. Give Workers and their Unions the Right of First Refusal, with assistance from the US Worker Cooperative Bank, to buy and convert their company to a worker co-op when it goes up for sale, is closing, or is moving. Give Workers the Right Convert Their Businesses to a Worker Cooperative. Worker-initiated conversions would be a three step-process. The first step would the signing of authorization cards by a majority of the company’s workers. The second step would be a business plan for conversion developed with the assistance of a Worker Cooperative Center or, for multi-state and multi-national companies, the national US Worker Cooperative Bank. The third step would be a secret ballot referendum in which the workers approve or reject the conversion plan.

Public Enterprises and Services: In the industries we want to socialize, such as a public energy system and a national health service, these utilities and services should be democratically controlled by workers and the public. We advocate community-controlled energy and health care systems where local board are elected, two-thirds by the public and one-third by the workers. These local boards would in turn elect state and national boards for larger scale planning and coordination.

How would you improve current laws designed to aid people with disabilities?

First, I would more strongly enforce the Americans with Disabilities Act and other laws against discrimination against people with disabilities.

I would strengthen enforcement and increase funding for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

I would enact an Economic Bill of Rights to guarantee a decent standard of living for people with disabilities.

My 10-year, $2.5 trillion program to build 25 million units of quality public housing will include set asides to make sure people with disabilities have access to affordable housing that enables mobility and provides support services to people with disabilities. This housing will integrate units for people with disabilities into the housing developments rather than segregate the disabled in their own separate group homes.

Climate scientists agree that carbon neutrality must be achieved by 2030 in order to maintain the long-term habitability of the planet. What is your plan for achieving this goal in your city, and how will you fund it?

The ecosocialist Green New Deal budget on my website at details how we will use public enterprise and planning, particularly in the energy, transportation, and manufacturing sectors, to transform all productive systems to zero-to-negative greenhouse gas emissions and 100% clean energy by 2030.

We fund the initial 10-year, $27.5 trillion investment through more a combination of:

  • More progressive taxation of income and wealth.
  • The reallocation of 75% of current military spending to the Green New Deal.
  • Borrowing through a Green quantitative easing program to bail out the people and the planet this time instead of the banks.

In the long run, the investment cover its costs from revenues from public services and enterprises, including electric power bills, transit fares, housing rents, public broadband fees, and leases of Green New Deal factories to worker cooperatives.

How would you fight to protect and expand tenants’ rights?

I will push for federal tenants rights legislation to give every tenant the right to a renewal lease and to require landlords to have “just cause” to evict a tenant.

I will push for increased federal funding for the Legal Services Corporations to a level where all low-income people can have competent legal representation in civil cases, including tenant cases.

I will push for federal universal rent control to prevent the displacement by big rent hikes.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists recently moved its Doomsday Clock the closest it has ever been to midnight. The US has withdrawn from one nuclear weapons treaty after another, from the Iran nuclear deal to the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. The last bilateral nuclear weapons treaty between the US and Russia, the New START Treaty concerning strategic nuclear forces, expires next February 5.

I propose a set of peace initiatives as a way out of this life-or-death emergency. The U.S. should:

  • Cut military spending by 75%.
  • Withdraw from the endless wars abroad.
  • Pledge “no first use” of nuclear weapons.
  • Disarm to a minimum credible deterrent.

On the basis of these tension-reducing peace initiatives, the US can credibly approach the other eight nuclear powers to negotiate complete and mutual nuclear disarmament. The US would enter disarmament negotiations with world public opinion on its side. 122 non-nuclear nations agreed to the text of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in 2017. The International Campaign for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons received the Nobel Peace Prize for that achievement.

Yet very few Americans know about these developments because none of the leaders of the Democratic and Republican parties and none of their presidential candidates are addressing this crisis. My campaign seeks to make this life-or-death issue a top campaign issue.

Howie Hawkins 2020

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