Hawkins, to protest and push progressive ideas

ENDORSEMENTS 2014: FOR GOVERNOR

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About Howie Hawkins

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.

Read more at Rochester City Newspaper>>

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Hawkins Ready To Debate Major Party Opponents

English: Howie Hawkins

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.

Green Party of England and Wales candidate Andrew Boswell elected to city council

Breaking News: Voters in the city of Norwich have elected Green Party of England and Wales candidate Andrew Boswell to city council. Boswell took over 56% of the popular vote, becoming the new representative for Nelson ward. The victory means there are now 15 Green Party councilors elected in Norwich!

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I’m Over Obama, and Over to the Green Party

By TIM SULLIVAN  at WNYC’s It’s A Free Country 

Opinion im over obama and over green party

After several years as a Democrat, followed by more than a decade as an unaffiliated voter, I decided to change my registration to the Green Party for this year’s election. I joined the Greens not because I support every plank of their platform, but because I am tired of voting for the least bad candidate. The response of both major parties to the 2008 financial crisis compels me to join a party that really believes in changing the power structure in the United States.

The Green Party seemed the most reasonable choice. I think it is now beyond arguable that voting for Democrats and/or Republicans is essentially voting to maintain the status quo, which is precisely what needs changing. The personnel in office is less important than the system that personnel serves.

A vote for Obama (not to mention Romney), is a vote for the status quo. I am choosing to vote for a party, and a presidential candidate in Jill Stein, that would actually change things if elected. Like a lot of independents who voted for Obama in 2008, I thought I was voting for change. I was not naive, I knew he was a politician from the Democratic Party Establishment, but I thought a liberal intellectual, our first black president, might change things in important ways, especially in foreign policy.

But I was wrong. He withdrew from Iraq, yes, but on Bush’s timetable; he escalated the war in Afghanistan; he spent a billion dollars intervening in Libya; he continued the “extraordinary rendition” program; and failed not only to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay, but even to prosecute its inmates in our civilian federal courts.

Domestically, I don’t even want to discuss Obamacare, which is not national health insurance by any stretch of the imagination, but we must. I still find it surreal that the Democrats, controlling the White House and both houses of Congress, failed to institute national health insurance, partly because the administration, and the party’s recent vice-presidential nominee (Joseph Lieberman), bowed to the insurance lobby.

On the energy front, the U.S. has not even begun a serious transition to alternatives to carbon fuels. And, somehow, the Democrats have become a party that supports capital punishment, despite massive evidence that it has failed miserably and is applied in a racist manner. Economically, the president extended the Bush-Paulson bailouts and acquiesced in renewal of the Bush tax cuts, despite repeated vows to the contrary.

As for social spending, I expect the Republicans to advocate cuts in Medicare and Social Security, but I’m still trying to figure out how the Democrats can, with a straight face, do the same.  Furthermore, in a policy that boggles the mind, Obama brags about having cut the payroll tax, the primary source of funding for Social Security.

The Green Party is on the other side of all those issues, foreign and domestic. I don’t agree with everything the Greens advocate, but on the issues that I consider most significant for America’s future, the Greens are on the right track. They certainly do not represent the status quo. For one thing, Green candidates do not accept corporate donations. Their program, which is called the “Green New Deal,” calls for a cut of 70 percent in military spending, massive public investment in renewable energy, a carbon tax, single-payer national health insurance, tax reform and limits on credit interest rates.

To my friends who argue for economic justice, tax fairness, and true campaign finance reform, I say: you will never see any of that if you continue to support candidates and parties that are beholden to wealthy donors, whether they be individuals, unions, or the financial, defense and insurance industries. The system works as well for the Democrats as it does for the Republicans, and I no longer think being an unaffiliated voter choosing between the two is a viable option.

I know Jill Stein has no more chance of getting elected than Ralph Nader had, but I reject the argument that a vote for her is wasted. Either Obama or Romney will lose the election, so by that reasoning a vote for one of them is going to be wasted, as well. Change has to start someplace. 

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Gar Alperovitz’s Green Party Keynote: We Are Laying Groundwork for the “Next Great Revolution”

From Democracy Now!: At the Green Party’s 2012 National Convention in Baltimore over the weekend, Massachusetts physician Jill Stein and anti-poverty campaigner Cheri Honkala were nominated the party’s presidential and vice-presidential contenders. We air the convention’s keynote address delivered by Gar Alperovitz, a professor of political economy at the University of Maryland and co-founder of the Democracy Collaborative. Alperovitz is the author of, “America Beyond Capitalism: Reclaiming Our Wealth, Our Liberty, and Our Democracy.” In his remarks, Alperovitz stressed the importance of third-party politics to challenge a corporate-run society. “Systems in history are defined above all by who controls the wealth,” Alperovitz says. “The top 400 people own more wealth now than the bottom 185 million Americans taken together. That is a medieval structure.”


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Running mate revealed: Green Party running mate, that is

Cheri Honkala

(CBS News) On the day before the Green Party’s presidential nominating convention, presidential candidate Jill Stein revealed her running mate to CBS News exclusively: homeless activist Cheri Honkala.

“She leads one of the country’s largest multiracial, intergenerational movements led by people in poverty, fighting poverty, homelessness and foreclosures,” Stein told CBS news. Honkala, a mother of two, and the national coordinator for the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign, spent some of her days homeless. She ran for sheriff of Philadelphia on the Green Party line in 2011 and based her campaign on a platform of halting evictions.

Stein, who defeated comedian Roseanne Barr for the Green Party’s nod, will be officially nominated at the party’s national convention in Baltimore, which begins Thursday. Stein, a physician, is from Massachusetts and has launched two unsuccessful bids for governor there, including against Mitt Romney in 2002.

Jill Stein

Stein spoke to CBS News this week in advance of her nomination:

What do you think about the president’s plan to extend the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts for those making less than $250,000 per year?

Stein: That’s a good thing. I think, well, partly a good thing. I think our tax structure is extremely unbalanced and our middle class and working families are generally overtaxed. If the president is set to reduce taxes below $250,000, that’s good up to a point but there’s so much more that can be done. If we really want to correct the severe inequities in the tax structure, we need to tax capital gains as income, we need to put a tax on Wall Street transactions not only to generate hundreds of billions of dollars, but also to reduce the speculation that has been so reckless and harmful to our economy.

As a physician, what is your response to the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the president’s health care bill?

Stein: It’s very problematic. I think the Supreme Court’s decision destroys the most useful part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) – that is the Medicaid extension. We have a track record here. We don’t have to just guess what he impact of the ACA will be. We already have it in Massachusetts, where I live. We’ve already had it for five years. It has not been a solution. The cost of health care continues to skyrocket.

On the other hand we have a real track record of what does work. It’s called national health insurance, Medicare for all. We actually achieve health and we do it in a way that provides health care to everyone at less than half the cost per person. We know that under Medicare for all, we would be saving trillions of dollars over the next decade because it eliminates the wasteful health insurance bureaucracy and it stabilizes medical inflation. This is the way to go.

You have a “Green New Deal” to employ “every American willing and able to work.” Is this your economic plan? And how do you plan to do it?

Stein: By using our tax dollars instead of to provide a stimulus package that’s predominately tax breaks for corporations, instead we use a comparable amount of money and put it into the direct creation of jobs. And again, this is not a hypothetical idea. It’s based on a plan that helped markedly to get us out of the Great Depression of the 1930s. This would not be a cookie cutter, top-down Washington-controlled program. Rather it would be nationally funded but locally controlled where by communities decide what kinds of jobs they need to become sustainable. It would create jobs in what we think of as the Green economy, but it would also create jobs meeting our social needs – hiring back teaches, nurses, after-school care [providers], violence prevention.

 You have a lot of proposals, including tuition-free education through college, Medicare for all, also known as Single Payer, how would you pay for it, since the country is already trillions in debt?

Stein: You need money to jump start this but these are investments that pay for themselves many times over. You jump start it by stopping the bleeding. We are squandering trillions of dollars on wars for oil that we don’t need and don’t make us more secure, on Wall Street and tax breaks for the wealthy. To look at, for example, the military budget, it’s costing us about a trillion dollars a year according to several different sources, so by reducing military to about the size it was in the early 2000s before it doubled under [President] Bush, we could free up hundreds of billions of dollars a year that could go a long way to pay for these costs.

Add to that: Tax reforms that begin to ask the wealthy to contribute their fair share. Corporations used to contribute about 5 percent GDP, their contribution is now about 1 percent.

And by ceasing to support bail outs for Wall Street, we can also free up a lot of money. When you actually sit down and you do the ledger, the money that can be saved by these boon dongles squandering money actually saves us money.

Right now there is no exit strategy for the severe recession we are really in. Neither Romney nor Obama has the beginning of an idea of how we really fix this. All they are doing is talking about restoring it to the same old phony economy of high finance that has taken us over the edge to start with.

We are talking about transforming our economy so it actually works for people, for our communities and for our environment.

Comedian Roseanne Barr says she is still in the running, are you confident that you are the nominee and what do you think of Ms. Barr’s candidacy?

Stein: I’m confident we have the nomination. We have over two-thirds of the delegates being appropriated. I am quite confident we have the nomination. I think more celebrities should do what Roseanne is doing. This is a good thing for celebrities to not only sit back in the comfort of their second homes, of their third homes, and to actually put themselves out there in trying to create a better world. I wish other people of great stature and wealth would do the same.

You launched two unsuccessful bids for the Massachusetts governor, including against Mitt Romney in 2002. Why the presidency?

Stein: Success is in the mind of the beholder. One way to measure success is winning the office. Another way to measure success is changing the dialogue. Right now we have a dialogue that is horribly misguided, a dialogue that is not only boring but attention repelling, to use the words of the New York Times to describe the Romney campaign. This race is not only about me. This race is about the American people, and the American people have indicated clearly over and over that they are not happy – not with the president, not with Congress, not with the Supreme Court, not with their jobs, not with their declining wages, not with the skyrocketing cost of health care and education and these endless wars for oil.

Right now the American people have not been given a lot of choices.

Why does the Green Party focus on national elections, such as the presidency, which has to be rebuilt every four years? Why not start to build a strong coalition at the local or state level?

Stein: It’s very important in our view to do both. When you do have real social progress you have both a social movement on the ground and you have an independent political party to help articulate that social movement. As Fredrick Douglas famously said, ‘Power concedes nothing without a demand – it never has, it never will.’ Our goal is to drive those demands forward into the broader political dialogue and thereby help leverage and strengthen that social movement.

Here in my state of Massachusetts, we have essentially used this model to build an opposition party. It’s true we did not win the office but we sure shook things up. The ideas I was bringing into the elections really started to move things in a way that the establishment politics got pretty nervous about it. We think that’s a good thing.