I have been asked by a good number of Greens around the country to run for the Green Party nomination for president.
In my discussions with Greens who are encouraging me to run, we have conceived of a campaign that would center around two purposes: building the Green Party and advancing an ecosocialist platform.
So I am announcing the formation of a Hawkins 2020 Exploratory Committee.
What Do You Think?
Please read my thoughts below about how I would campaign. I want to know what you think. I want to know if there is enough support to run a campaign that makes a real difference.
If you want me to run, please go to the Hawkins 2020 Exploratory Committee and sign up, send your comments, make a contribution, and share this message on social media.
If I decide to run, up to the first $250 you contribute will be doubled by primary matching funds.
If I decide not to run, I will send your contribution to the Ballot Access Committee of the national Green Party.
As the Green Party candidate for New York governor in 2010, I was the first US candidate to campaign for a Green New Deal. Our Green New Deal campaigns in 2010, 2014, and 2018 qualified the Green Party for ballot status in New York. I have run as a Green many times in partisan races for local office in Syracuse. I came close to winning my district city council seat with 48% in 2011. In 2015, I received 35% citywide for city auditor.
I got active in “The Movement” for civil rights and against the Vietnam War in the 1960s as a teenager in the San Francisco Bay Area. The racism and warmongering of both parties made me ask, “Where is my party?” I became 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. Since participating in the first national meeting to organize a US Green Party in 1984 in Saint Paul, Minnesota, I have been a Green Party organizer.
Along the way, I studied at Dartmouth College and enlisted in the Marine Corps when my draft number came up while remaining enlisted in the antiwar movement. In the mid-1970s, I cofounded the antinuclear Clamshell Alliance, the anti-apartheid divestment coalition in the Northeast, and a workers’ cooperative that specialized in energy-efficiency, solar, and wind applications. Over the years, I have been constantly organizing in social justice, antiwar, pro-democracy, labor, and environmental campaigns. I made my living as a construction worker in the 1970s and 1980s, a co-op organizer in the 1990s, and a Teamster unloading trucks at UPS in the 2000s until my retirement last year.
More important than me as an individual is what we together can achieve in a 2020 Green Party presidential campaign.
The year 2020 will be a tough one for Greens. The broad center-left is focused on replacing Trump and the far-right Republicans with Democrats. They are right to repudiate the open racism and ultra-right extremism of Trump. But the Democrats don’t have real solutions to the life or death threats we face—climate chaos, nuclear annihilation, and the crises so many working people face every day as economic inequality and insecurity keep growing.
The Democrats won’t enact Medicare for All. They won’t enact a Green New Deal. They have no plan for affordable housing. With few exceptions, they support Trump’s war for oil in Venezuela while the planet burns from global warming. They partner with the Republicans in the bipartisan consensus supporting the US global military empire to make the world safe for exploitation by global corporations.
The Democratic leadership remains committed to a suicidal “all of the above” energy policy. At current emissions rates, the world has only six years left until we blow through the global carbon budget that would give us a 50/50 chance of stabilizing the climate at a 1.5ºC global temperature rise. Beyond that lies dangerous climate change as we move toward 2050: accelerating extinctions and collapsing ecosystems, failing agriculture, mass hunger and poverty, hundreds of millions of climate refugees, and social conflict and wars for what’s left. By 2100, scientists warn, the phytoplankton that provide two-thirds of the planet’s oxygen may die back due to ocean warming and acidification to the point where most animal life will face extinction.
Real solutions can’t wait. We are running out of time. The Green Party cannot sit this presidential election out. The two old capitalist parties have no solutions. Now is when the Green Party must begin growing rapidly into a governing party in the US.
The Democrats call us spoilers who help elect Republicans. But it is the Democrats who perpetuate the spoiler problem by failing to support solutions that Greens have long advanced, including Instant-Runoff Voting and Proportional Representation. That is precisely why the Green Party must be in this election—to advance solutions the major parties resist.
The Green Party needs to grow rapidly into the 2020s when the Democrats are likely to return to power and disappoint progressives. We need to build a viable political home for those progressives. We need to root the party in the multiracial working-class majority. That majority is alienated from politics and votes in low numbers because they know that neither major party really cares about them. They are the future base of a Green Party majority.
While a presidential candidate runs for the top office, my campaign would focus on building the Green Party from the bottom up. We want to:
- Secure more state ballot lines.
- Help every volunteer participate in campaign activities.
- Train organizers to strengthen and build more local Green Parties.
We want to come out of this campaign with a much bigger, better-organized, and well-funded Green Party that is capable of winning local elections for municipal offices and seats in state legislatures and Congress as we move into the 2020s.
The climate movement is forcing presidential candidates to take a position on the Green New Deal. As the original Green New Dealers, the Green Party has a ready-made platform from which to speak out for an ecosocialist Green New Deal.
The ecosocialist Green New Deal starts with realizing the full promise of the original New Deal as articulated by FDR in his 1944 call for an Economic Bill of Rights, including the rights to a living-wage job, an income above poverty, decent housing, comprehensive health care, and a good education. We call it the Green New Deal because its centerpiece is an emergency program for 100% clean energy by 2030 as the economic stimulus to build the sustainable foundation for both climate and economic security.
Universal economic rights must be guaranteed by government in a race-conscious way in order to repair the dispossession and impoverishment of people of color by oppression and discrimination. Race-conscious injuries require race-conscious remedies. It means strengthening and enforcing anti-discrimination laws. It means affirmative action to desegregate housing, schools, and jobs. It means empowering racially oppressed communities through community control of housing, schools, police, and businesses so they are no longer subject to the decisions of racists with the power to discriminate and oppress.
The ecosocialist Green New Deal would expand upon the original New Deal’s experiments in public enterprise, from the Tennessee Valley Authority to the production-for-use projects that reopened factories under government control to employ the unemployed producing needed goods. Ecosocialism means economic democracy based on social ownership of the major means of production, starting with public power utilities and big oil and gas to enable the clean energy transition. Social ownership with workers’ self-management will give us the democratic power to carry through our program. Social ownership means a large sector of public enterprises in basic industry and services operating within an economic plan for production sufficient to meet everyone’s basic needs within the bounds of a sustainable environment.
A green socialist planning system should have a democratic, decentralized, federated structure. Locally elected boards would do detailed local planning and send representatives to state boards, and in turn to federal boards, to develop larger-scale plans from the bottom up. Public enterprises would function as public utilities, operating at cost for public benefit rather than for profit for absentee owners.
Social ownership and democratic planning are required to uncouple capitalism’s cancerous growth imperative that has no sense of balance or reciprocity with the biosphere. Instead of endlessly producing more until ecosystems and human society collapse, we must produce less and distribute it fairly. By regenerating ecological productivity instead of destroying it, a green socialism will produce enough for all to enjoy a decent material standard of living and high quality of life.
Within a framework of social ownership and democratic planning where an ecosocialist mode of production is predominant, a green socialist economy will provide greater freedom and support for small- and medium-sized businesses in the private sector. It will increase opportunities for innovators who want to bring their ideas to market and people who just want to be in business for themselves. It will support family farmers, working owners of small businesses, and self-employed people. It will encourage business conversion to and new start-ups of worker and consumer cooperatives in order to expand economic democracy in the private sector.
First-class public infrastructure, utilities, and economic plans will provide the public avenues for this private commerce. Planning, a job guarantee, and cooperative labor in public enterprises and worker cooperatives will largely replace capital and labor markets. While the planned social provision of basic goods and services will expand, there will remain a large sector of commercial markets for other goods and services. Co-ops and other private businesses will thrive in these markets, supported by public infrastructure and services and free of unfair competition from today’s giant monopolistic corporations.
The ecosocialist economic structures sketched here would be transformative. They would give the people the democratic power to implement solutions that the capitalist oligarchy and its political representatives in both major parties now obstruct. This outline is just the beginning of a full ecosocialist program. I have more thoughts on the perspectives and policies a Green presidential candidate should advance here.
Should I Run?
The only way a Green presidential campaign can make a real difference is if many thousands of us work together to make it happen.
Please go to our Hawkins 2020 Exploratory Committee website and send me your comments. If you support me running for president, please sign up, donate, and share this message on social media.