Ashley Smith’s “A Socialist in the Senate? The Unfortunate Truth about Bernie Sanders,” (November 15, 2006) tells the tale of how the political Left gets thrown under the relentless wheels of the military-industrial complex by supporting candidates who do not consistently serve the interests of peace. The decimation of the forces for peace is predictable as they are sacrificed and offered up to the gods of electoral politics. The marginalization in each electoral cycle of the Left is a testament to how relentless the political/economic system is in guaranteeing its outcomes vis-à-vis war and peace.
A few years ago an email communication from Senator Elizabeth Warren, a steadfast supporter of an economic egalitarianism and regulation of the forces that control capital, left me with the same sense of how business as usual about U.S. war making has all but captured and controlled dissident voices. Only those on the fringes (not the fringe of significant and importance) of the political process are left to stand and are effectively marginalized and silenced. In the email the senator expressed her steadfast support of the war on terrorism.
Most voters will likely never know her name, let alone cast a vote for her at the ballot box, but that’s not deterring Dr. Jill Stein from running for president in 2016.
Stein was the Green Party’s presidential nominee in 2012 and is expected to announce Friday the she’s exploring another White House bid in 2016.
Prior to making the announcement, Stein sat down exclusively with “Power Players” to explain why she’s stepping forward as an alternative to the current field of likely presidential contenders that she characterizes as “corrupt and sold out.”
“There are rules that make it possible for the very rich to buy politicians — that’s what’s going on,” Stein said. “There’s a horse race around grabbing the money right now, and I think it speaks volumes about what a really sorry state our political system has come to.”
In her 2012 campaign, Stein received fewer than half a million votes across the country – less than 1 percent of the total popular vote – and was even arrested for trying to get into a televised debate from which she was excluded.
Stein recalled the arrest – and subsequent holding – as “the most bizarre experience you can imagine.”
“For trying to get into that debate, I was actually arrested, taken to a dark site where no one knew where I was — the site was secret — and held handcuffed to metal chairs for approximately eight hours,” Stein said. “It speaks volumes about how terrified the political system is that the voices of principled opposition may actually get heard.”
Before entering politics, Stein was a practicing doctor and authored two books on medical topics. Now, Stein said she’s practicing a different type of medicine.
“What I’m doing now is practicing political medicine, which I call the mother of all illnesses,” Stein said. “If we want to fix what’s ailing us — both our health, our jobs, our foreign policy — which is generating incredible blowback … we need to fundamentally fix our democracy and the political system.”
On a quest against the current political system that she believes has been “bought and paid for by the one percent,” Stein acknowledged that she is waging an uphill battle.
That battle is particularly steep given the Green Party abstains from collecting any corporate donations, at a time when Super PACs and dark money bankroll most major political campaigns.
“What we will raise will be a drop in the ocean compared with what the Koch brothers are spending,” said Stein, who estimates that her 2012 campaign raised a total of around a million dollars. That’s compared to the $900 million that the conservative billionaire businessmen Koch brothers alone plan to spend in the 2016 cycle.
“If we as Americans allow our electoral system to be just bought and sold and that’s it, then there’s really not very much hope going forward in the future,” Stein said, defending the Green Party’s decision not to collect corporate dollars.
In the 2000 presidential election, some Democrats blamed third party candidate Ralph Nader for taking votes away from Democratic nominee Al Gore and helping advance President George W. Bush’s narrow victory.
As a third party candidate herself, it’s a critique Stein is used to hearing – and dismissing.
“We’ve heard of that, what we call the politics of fear, that tells you, ‘You have to be very worried about secondary effects of your vote,’” Stein said. “If you don’t stand up and vote for what you want and you need, then you’re never gonna get it and the system won’t get it.”
For more of the interview with Stein, including why she disagreed with President Obama’s declaration of a strong economic recovery in his State of the Union address, check out this episode of “Power Players.”
ABC News’ Ali Dukakis, Gary Westphalen, Richard Norling, and Shari Thomas contributed to this episode.
ALBANY—The Working Families Party released a statement Wednesday criticizing Andrew Cuomo, the party’s candidate for governor, for his comments comparing the state’s public school system to a “public monopoly.”
“Governor Cuomo is wrong on this one,” the W.F.P.’s state director Bill Lipton said in a statement to Capital.
“His proposed policies on public education will weaken, not strengthen our public education system, and they would represent a step away from the principle of high quality public education for all students. High stakes testing and competition are not the answer. Investment in the future is the answer, and that means progressive taxation and adequate resources for our schools.”
Earlier this week Cuomo told the Daily News editorial board that, if he’s re-elected, he intends to “to break what is in essence one of the only remaining public monopolies,” vowing to challenge public school teachers by supporting stricter teacher evaluations and competition from charter schools.
Those comments drew some cautious criticism from the state teachers’ union.
But the union later released a statement, in which president Karen Magee said: “Public education is for the public good. It is not a monopoly. It is the centerpiece of our democracy and what makes our nation great.”
A labor-backed advocacy group, Alliance for Quality Education, also criticized the governor’s comments, using harsher language.
“Gov. Cuomo has laid clear plans to expand his frontal assault on our public schools through high stakes testing, starving our public schools and privatization,” Billy Easton, the group’s executive director, said in a statement. “It’s not that shocking when you look at the enormous pile of cash he has raked in from the Wall Street billionaires who are investing in charter schools. He is rewarding his financial backers at a devastating cost to our children.”
Teachers lashed at out Cuomo on Twitter throughout the day, using #CuoMonopoly.
The W.F.P. statement marks an unusual rebuke for a party of its own candidate, less than one week before the general election, and comes amid ongoing tensions between Cuomo and the left-leaning party.
The W.F.P. endorsed Cuomo earlier this year only after extracting significant concessions from him to support some key components of the party’s platform, including his promise to push for Democratic control of the state Senate, seek an increase in the minimum wage, and pass the Dream Act, which would allow undocumented immigrants access to public college tuition assistance.
But Cuomo and the party hold very different positions on education, and the governor, who has become a champion for charter schools, notably did not sign on to the party’s education platform as part of the terms of his endorsement deal.
Endorsing Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins is a form of protest, but it’s also an endorsement of Hawkins’ dogged effort to put important, progressive ideas before the public.
Hawkins has received almost no coverage in this campaign. The media seem to mention him (along with Libertarian candidate Michael McDermott) simply because he’s on the ballot. And some dismiss him as having ideas too far out in left field to pay attention to.
Some of Hawkins’ ideas are indeed not realistic. Others may be sound, but they’re expensive, and Hawkins’ tax-reform proposals aren’t likely to pay the full cost. But on many issues, progressive New Yorkers are more in sync with Hawkins than with Andrew Cuomo. And that’s likely true of many moderates as well.
Hawkins’ position papers contain more detail, and more food for thought, than those of all the other candidates combined. And through them, he is painting a picture of the kind of New York many of us wish we could aspire to.
On Hawkins’ list of reforms:
• A $15 minimum wage and “a living income above poverty level” for everyone who can’t work.
• A publicly funded single-payer health care system.
• An end to high-stakes testing, Common Core, and Race to the Top. Free tuition to SUNY and CUNY.
• Tax credits for renters. A moratorium on home foreclosures. Requiring that all mortgages be refinanced at the homes’ current market value. Construction of new, high-quality mixed-income housing. Expanded public transit and construction of intra-urban rail lines and high-speed long-distance rail lines.
• A ban on fracking. No new fossil-fuel infrastructure: no trains, trucks, or barges carrying shale oil through the state. No storage of natural gas, liquefied propane, or liquefied butane in the Seneca Lake salt caverns. Closure of the Indian Point nuclear power plant and phasing out of all the others.
• An end to “corporate welfare.” Requiring the state to pay for services it mandates local governments to provide. More progressive estate taxes and an increase in taxes on the wealthiest New Yorkers, taking them back to the levels of the 1970’s, which, Hawkins says, would enable the state to reduce taxes for others and could fund investment in infrastructure and other initiatives.
• Publicly owned power and fuel companies. Universal access to high-speed internet. Preservation of net neutrality and blockage of the Comcast-Time Warner merger.
• Restoration of funding for the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation. Promotion of a “zero-waste solid waste policy,” including boosting reuse and recycling efforts. Stronger wetland protection.
• Ending segregation in housing and schools. Establishing a state civil rights department. Banning solitary confinement, expanding educational opportunities for prisoners, and restoring voting rights for convicted felons.
• Requiring 12 weeks of paid family leave. Subsidized high-quality child-care and elder care. Extension of labor rights to farmworkers. Medicaid funding for abortions. Restoration of state funding for homeless-youth centers. Public financing for campaigns.
There’s much, much more on Hawkins’ website (howiehawkins.org): progressive ideas on agriculture, women’s rights, criminal justice, immigrant rights, LGBT rights, ethics in government.
Hawkins has no chance at becoming governor. Sadly, few of his proposals stand any better chance at getting adopted. That’s proof of the drift of the state and the country away from the progressive philosophies of the past, when measures like Social Security and national park protections could get adopted and Republicans like Theodore Roosevelt thought that huge companies had too much power.
There was a time when New York political campaigns included a robust discussion of progressive ideas. Now, only people like Hawkins are talking about them, and Hawkins is routinely ignored.
That’s an indication of the strength of the conservative movement. And Hawkins deserves support in his effort to push back.
Posted September 28, 2014 Comments Off on Hawkins Ready To Debate Major Party Opponents
Howie Hawkins (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Howie Hawkins said today that while he is looking forward to participating in a gubernatorial debate in Buffalo with Governor Cuomo and Republican Rob Astorino, he said that all debates should be open to all candidates on the ballot.
“The law should be changed so that if you want to run for office in New York State, you have to agree to participate in a series of public debates with all candidates who meet the legal requirements to be on the ballot,” said Hawkins.
Hawkins noted that after Jesse Ventura’s first debate in Minnesota, his support doubled, and after seven more open debates, he was elected Governor. At 9% in the polls, Hawkins is polling better than Ventura was before debates were held.
“New York State has a progressive majority and I am the only progressive left on the ballot. New York progressives have a right to have their candidate in all the debates,” Hawkins said.
“Debates aired over the public airwaves, co-sponsored by a public radio station, should include all candidates. The arbitrary selection of who is allowed to participate in debates is an affront to the democratic process,” Hawkins said, in reference to the sponsorship of public radio’s WNYC and the Wall Street Journal of a debate to which Hawkins has not been invited. The Wall Street Journal’s own September 24 poll showed that 78% of voters want all of the candidates on the ballot in debates.
Hawkins’ poll numbers have steadily increased during the campaign season since he polled 4% in June in the first poll that included him. A Siena poll released on Sept 23 showed Hawkins at 24% in his hometown of Syracuse. Hawkins is polling better than any independent progressive statewide candidate in New York’s history. Polls released the week of September 22 show Hawkins at 9% (Marist) and 7% (Siena) statewide.
Hawkins has accepted the debate invitation from The Buffalo News and WNED-WBFO. Hawkins has also accepted an invitation to a televised debate proposed by WRGB (CBS) the Sinclair Broadcasting Group.