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Edgeleft: The Case for Howie Hawkins for NY Governor

English: David McReynolds speaking at a party ...

David McReynolds

by David McReynolds

Election day is just a week away and I am sending this to my Edgeleft list, and to others – if you are in New York state, please consider Howie Hawkins and if you are outside of the state, send it, if you can, to friends in New York.

Howie Hawkins is the Green Party candidate governor.  (He is also a member of the Socialist Party and Solidarity, and has wide support from the democratic left  in New York).

I know Howie, I’ve been up to his district and know he has a solid base in the community. His background is important – he has worked in construction, helped build a worker cooperative, is a former Marine who helped organize opposition to the Vietnam War and in the 1970’s and 1980’s was a leader in the anti-apartheid divestment movement in the US.

He works at UPS unloading trucks, and is a member of Teamsters Local 317 and is active in Teamsters for a Democratic Union, US Labor Against the War, and the Labor Campaign for Single Payer Healthcare

You can find his platform on the internet – I am more concerned with why one should vote for him here in New York, which is slightly complicated by the fact that Governor Cuomo, the Democratic Party candidate, is also running on the line of the Working Families Party and so, for liberals, there is a question of whether to vote for Howie or to vote for Cuomo on the Working Families Party line.

Good people set up the WFP, in an effort to pull the Democratic Party to the left, filling the void after the old Liberal Party collapsed.

The problem is that thus far the WFP has pretty much followed the path of the Liberal Party – never really challenging the Democrats, but simply making it possible to “vote Democratic on a different ballot line”. In the current campaign there was a serious challenge in the WFP’ primary by Zephyr Teachout, whom the NY Times came close to endorsing. But the WFP chose to endorse Cuomo.

There is a reason for this, of course, which is that the ballot status of any party in New York is determined by the % of the vote it gets in the governor’s race. (I think it is 1% – Howie had gotten that in 2010, which gave the Greens their current ballot line). The WFP was fearful that if they ran Zephyr Teachout against Cuomo they would not get enough votes to keep their ballot line.

There was less excuse some years ago – in my view a sort of “crossing the Rubicon” for the WFP – when Hillary Clinton was running for Senator and there was a qualified, and decent guy running against her in the primary and this was at a time when the Iraq War dominated public attention (damn, it still does!). Hillary supported the war.  Her opponent was absolutely against the war. It should have been an easy choice – but WFP chose to endorse Hillary. From my point of view that spelled the end of any hope of the WFP providing a voice for the democratic left.

So the issue is whether one is going to support Cuomo or Howie Hawkins. (And obviously, if your politics is to the right, there is a Republican and a Libertarian candidate on the ballot).

Howie has my vote. He is a good man. He actually stands for things which Cuomo won’t touch. A vote for Howie will keep the Greens on the ballot. And, important for socialists, Howie has expressed the hope (in the campaign rally I attended last Saturday) that socialists would make use of the Green Party ballot line in an effort to build a strong progressive “united front” against the present system.

If you are fed up with politics as usual, with elections going to the highest bidder, do consider voting for Howie Hawkins (and the full Green Party slate) in Tuesday’s election.

David McReynolds

(David McReynolds was the Socialist Party’s candidate for President in 1980 and 2000 and the Green Party’s candidate for US Senate from New York in 2004. He was on the staff of the War Resisters League for 39 years. Retired, he lives in low income housing in Lower Manhattan with his two cats. He was the subject of Martin Duberman‘s dual biography: The Radical Lives of Barbara Deming and David McReynolds. He can be reached at: davidmcreynolds7@gmail.com)

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