For immediate release: July 14, 2022
For more information: Howie Hawkins, 315-200-6046, [email protected]
Virginia Rodino, 202-465-0918, [email protected]
Hawkins Blasts Biden’s Failure to Call for Filibuster Reform
Calls for Expanded Pro-Democracy Movement
Howie Hawkins, the 2020 Green Party presidential candidate, blasted President Joe Biden today for failing to call for filibuster reform in order to get voting rights legislation through the U.S Senate.
“Biden’s voting rights speech in Philadelphia was a white flag of surrender by the feckless Democrats to the ruthless Republicans. The Democrats have the power to pass federal voting rights laws that can stop the Republican assault on voting rights and impartial elections in the states. Biden’s failure to take on the filibuster makes the Democrats complicit in Republican voter suppression,” Hawkins said.
“The Democrats have enough Senate members to reform the filibuster and pass federal voting rights legislation. Instead Biden spoke about voting rights as a 2022 mid-term election issue. By then it will be too late. The Republicans are positioning themselves with new state election laws to take control the House and Senate by partisan gerrymandering, voter suppression, and meddling with election results,” Hawkins said.
Hawkins called for a new pro-democracy movement that is independent of both major parties with an expanded agenda of pro-democracy demands.
“We must be in the streets in the coming weeks demanding filibuster reform and passage of the voting rights bills and, in the coming elections, Greens should run against the democracy deficit of both major parties,” Hawkins said
“The democracy crisis we face is more than new Republican state laws for voter suppression and partisan election administration. It is also Democratic suppression of third parties in states like New York and Nevada. Party suppression is a form of voter suppression. It is what authoritarian states do and what the Democrats specialize in here in the United States,” Hawkins said.
Democratic operatives succeeded getting Democratic judges to take the Green presidential ticket off the ballot in 2020 in Montana, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin on what Hawkins said were legally dubious grounds. He also decried New York Democrats, who passed a law in 2020 that tripled the vote required to retain a ballot line, which resulted in the elimination of the Green Party from ballots in that state.
In addition to ballot access laws that are far more onerous than in other credible democracies around the world, Hawkins said, “The single-member-district, winner-take-all plurality voting system excludes most voters from electing representatives of their own choosing. Voting rights should include the right to vote for who you want once you get your ballot and the right to representation in legislatures that is proportional to the support for your party in the electorate,” said Hawkins, who has received between 35% and 48% in several city elections in Syracuse, New York, where the Democrats control 100% of the representation on city council.
In addition to filibuster reform to enable enactment of the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Right Act, Hawkins called on progressives in Congress to introduce or support existing bills for a constitutional right to vote, nonpartisan election administration, fair ballot access, proportional representation, abolishing the Senate, full public campaign financing, and replacing the Electoral College with a ranked-choice majority popular vote for President.
“Greens running for city councils, state legislatures, and the House should demand that self-styled progressive Democrats commit to legislation for fair ballot access and proportional representation. If such Democrats do not commit, the Green candidates should challenge their right to the progressive label,” Hawkins said.
“The Republicans’ openly racist and autocratic election laws are plain to see. But it is time to call out as well the Democrats’ support for autocratic party suppression though repressive ballot access laws and exclusionary single-member-district, winner-take-all plurality elections,” Hawkins said.
Hawkins has posted a summary of his 7 Pro-Democracy Demands on his website. His fuller discussion of these reforms appeared CounterPunch on July 2. He will be discussing these reforms in an online workshop on “Ranked-Choice Voting and Proportional Representation” at the national Green Party meeting on July 16.